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BEFORE we are able to characterize priesthood by comparing this order with other social classes, we have to define which those classes are. Not to make too long a digression, we must, however, restrict ourselves to a few indications upon the subject. The difficulty is to decide in what classes, in societies at large, we are able to recognize a certain uniformity whenever we meet with them. It is even in no way self-evident that such exist at all. Although we must carefully leave classes in general out of our scope, a few remarks as to the prevailing social gradations seem necessary, in order to reveal some mutual likenesses and differences between priesthood and the other classes.

To begin with, then, we have to set apart the sacerdotal class from those others which, by way of contrast, we shall style the lay classes. By these I understand the gradation of the members of a community in homogeneous groups, which, chiefly maintaining their number through hereditary succession, differ in respect to mutual precedence and privileges.

The question of classes in general, as is the case with most of the political institutions, regarded from a sociological point of view, has hardly as yet been made the object of any systematic investigation. But owing to their conspicuous character, certain facts concerning this subject have attracted the attention of every ethnologist. It is, for instance, beyond doubt that a number of peoples, in a very rude stage of civilization, , have no lay classes whatever, though from this it does not follow that all the members of their communities are equal in respect of authority and influence. Speaking of the Australian tribes in general, Mr. Oldfield says:

> Each member is esteemed by the rest only according to his dexterity in throwing and evading a spear. No man claims any peculiar privileges, or seeks to be exempt from the laws which are binding on the others.» 1 Similar statements meet us from different parts of the Australian continent. Mr. Schürmann asserts of the Lincoln Port natives:

»All grown-up

men are perfectly equal, and this is so well understood that none ever attempt to assume any command over their fellows; but whatever wishes they may entertain with regard to the conduct and actions of others, they must be expressed in the shape of entreaty or persuasion.» 2 Among the Kurnai, also, influence is, as a rule, only attached to age: »It follows from this,» writes A. W. Howitt, »that there is no hereditary authority and no hereditary chieftain.>> 3 In Central Australia »every member of the community is at liberty to act as he likes, except, in so far as he may be influenced by the general opinions or wishes of the tribe.» 4

The Bushmen and Hottentots also are devoid of any distinction of classes. »No one,» says Lichtenstein of the former people, »obtains any ascendency over the rest by hereditary rank: bodily strength alone procures distinction among them.» 5 » Universal equality prevails


Oldfield, 'Aborigines of Australia,' in Trans. Ethn. Soc. N. S. üi. 256.

2 Schürmann, 'Aboriginal Tribes of Port Lincoln,' in Woods, Native Tribes of South Australia, p. 226.

Fison and Howitt, Kamiraloi and Kurnai, p. 211 sq. 4 Eyre, Journals of Expeditions into Central Australia, ii. 315. • Lichtenstein, Travels in Southern Africa, ii. 194.



in his horde, is the consonant remark of Mr. Barrow respecting the same people, ? and M. Thulié, somewhat more circumstantially, gives us the same statement: »L'égalité la plus complète,» he writes, »règne dans ces petites bandes non seulement au point de vue de l'autorité, mais encore au point de vue de la possession; personne n'a rien en propre, ce que l'un possède tous le partagent, tout est a tout.» 2 Again, respecting the Hottentots, Le Vaillant states that »in a country where there is no difference in birth or rank, every inhabitant is necessarily on an equality.»

Mr. E. H. Man, in his description of the Andaman Islanders, does not explicitly affirm that they have no classes, but such an inference may be deduced from certain passages of his statement. Mentioning the native chiefs, he says social status is not merely dependent »on the accident of relationship, but on skill in hunting, fishing, &c., and on a reputation for generosity and hospitality.» This statement is confirmed by Mr. Portman, who asserts that »every man is a law unto himself in general, but the elders of the tribe have a certain authority. - The Andamanese are not fond of obeying other persons, and only band together and obey one Elder when it is manifestly to their interest to do so. 5

To the same conclusion we arrive, when regarding the Wild or Forest Veddahs. Several authors inform us that these aborigines live in pairs or small family septs and only occasionally assemble together, which implies

1 Barrow, Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa, i. 244:

? Thulie, 'Instructions Avthropologiques aux voyageurs sur les Bochimans,' in Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie, T. iv. Série iii. 410.

Le Vaillant, Travels from the Cape of Good-Hope, ii. 67.


4 Man, 'Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands,' in Jour, Anthr. Inst. xii. 109, 356.

Portman, History of our Relations with the Andamanese, i. 40 sq.



that they cannot possibly be divided into classes. Mr. Bailey also makes mention of »the equality of rank» prevailing among them, 2 and Messrs. P. and F. Sarasin remark that they have no slavery nor any system of castes.

Unanimous statements prove that the Fuegians live in a state of complete equality. They did not appear,» writes Captain Cook, »to have among them any government or subordination: none was more respected than another.» 4 Admiral Fitzroy expresses the same opinion. » There is,» he says, »no superiority of one over another, among the Fuegians, except that acquired gradually by age, sagacity, and daring conduct. » • Darwin makes mention of »the perfect equality among the individuals composing the Fuegian tribes,» 6 and finally we read of them in a paper by M. Hyades that »il n'y a ni roi, ni chef, ni aristocratie, ni castes, ni hierarchie sociale, ni esclaves; c'est le régime de l'égalite dans toute sa pureté. » 7

Respecting the Western Eskimo Mr. Seemann writes that »slavery, even in its mildest aspect, is totally unknown; everyone is on a perfect level with the rest of his countrymen.» »An Innuits, to quote Mr. Hall, »is subject to no man's control. » 9 It is true that among





De Butts, Rambles in Ceylon, p. 149. Davy, Account of the Interior of Ceylon, p. 118. Bailey, 'Wild Tribes of the Veddahs of Ceylon,' in Trans. Ethn. Soc. N. S. ii. 281, 282.

2 Bailey, loc. cit. N. S. ii. 307.

Sarasin, Ergebnisse naturwissenschaftlicher Forschungen auf Ceylon, iii. 488.

Cook, An Account of a Voyage round the World, Hawkesworth's Ed. ii. 58.

5 Fitzroy, Surveying Voyages of Adrenture and Beagle, ii. 178. • Darwin, Voyage of Beagle, p. 229.

7 Hyades, 'Ethnographie des Fuegiens,' in Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie, T. iv. Série x. 335.

Seemann, Voyage of Herald, ii. 59 sq.
Hall, Arctic Researches, p. 571.



the Central Eskim), according to Dr. Boas, men who are not able to provide for themselves are sometimes adopted by others and may alniost be considered as servants. » The position, however, » the author adds, »is a voluntary one, and therefore these men are not less esteemed than the self-dependent providers ». 1 By Mr. Hearne we are told that the Eskimo on Hudson's Bay »live in a state of perfect freedom; no one apparently claiming the superority over, or acknowledging the least subordination to another.» 2 Describing the Greenlanders, Crantz declares that »no one desires to usurp the least authority over another, to prescribe to him in the least, to call him to account for his actions, or to demand any rates or taxes for the public want or weal. For they have no overplus nor riches; they have a natural antipathy against all compulsion, and the whole country stands open to each of them.» 3 Mr. Astrup writes of a tribe in the vicinity of Smith's Strait, in North-Western Greenland, that their community is based upon the principles of a complete equality.

These instances serve to show that arbitrarily divided classes are by 110 ineans universal among mankind. Turning to peoples with which social differentiation has taken place, we meet with a variety of higher and lower classes. Also the number of classes and subclasses varies very much, some peoples having only two, others a considerable number. Among these miscellaneous divisions we have to find out the general types. From peoples with a simple and unadulterated organisation of classes, we can best judge which classes are to be regarded as typical. The lowest grade met with in any community, are the slaves, who form perhaps the best



Boas, 'The Central Eskimo,' in Smithsonian Reports, vi. 581.

2 Hearne; Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort to the Northern Ocean, p. 161, note.

Crantz, The History of Greenland, i. 180.
Astrup, Blandt Nordpolens Naboer, p. 253.



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