LESSON 55.

ENDOGAMY AND EXOGAMY.

424.     In order to understand and appreciate the testimony of the O. T. to the early dignity of woman, and how her subordination was brought about, we will need first to give some space to a description of how woman’s early dignity was discovered,¾in other words, what constitutes proof in this case.

425.     Mr. J. F. McLennan soon followed Bachofen with a book on Primitive Marriage, now incorporated with his Ancient History, dealing wholly with this same subject. He writes most interestingly, informingly, and for the most part logically. Beginning with the symbol of capture in the marriage ceremony, he shows, convincingly, that such a symbol never could have come to be considered an essential part of the marriage ceremony unless as the outcome of a previously existing actual capture of the bride. He describes, first, those peaceful marriage ceremonies which still retain the symbol of capture, as they may be witnessed to the present time (or existed in the near past) all over the world. Then he describes the actual capture of the bride, as it has prevailed or does prevail at the present time.

426.     A single illustration or two, of each kind, will serve our purpose. Description of a wedding among the Circassians: “The wedding day is celebrated with noisy feasting and revelry, in the midst of which the bridegroom has to rush in, and with the help of a few daring young men, to carry off the young lady by force; and by this process she becomes his lawful wife.” He quotes from Lord Kames, who in 1807 describes the following custom as prevailing in Wales: “On the morning of the wedding day, the bridegroom, accompanied with his friends, who are mounted on horseback, demands the bride. Her friends, who are likewise on horseback, give a positive refusal, upon which a mock scuffle ensues. The bride, mounted behind her nearest kinsman, is carried off, and is pursued by the bridegroom and his friends with loud shouts . . . When they have fatigued themselves and their horses, the bridegroom is suffered to overtake his bride.”

427.     This symbol of the capture of the bride, as an essential part of the marriage celebration, existed among the Romans and Spartans as well as among other ancient peoples. It exists among the Bedouins, Tartars, certain African tribes, the North and South American Indians, and among many other peoples. In some places a transitional stage between actual capture and a friendly agreement may be observed. The bride is actually taken, after which the bridegroom enters into friendly negotiations with her people to keep her. It is not unlikely that Shechem, in Genesis thirty-forth chapter acted up to his best light as to the proper method of obtaining Dinah for his wife,¾though shockingly, from our modern standpoint.

428.     Real capture of the bride prevails among certain tribes of American Indians. Such customs existed up to recent times in other places; such as Deccan and Afghanistan. But notably it prevails among the aboriginals of Australia, where a man will first stun a woman with a club and carry her off half-dead and unconscious to make her his wife. A horrible description of another method of capture among the Australian blacks is given: “Sometimes two men join an expedition for the same purpose, and then for several days they watch the movements of their intended victims, using the utmost skill to conceal their presence. . . . They wait for a dark, windy night; then quite naked, and carrying their long ‘jag spears’ they crawl through the brush until they reach the vicinity of the campfires, in front of which the girls they are in search of are sleeping. . . . Then one of the intruders stretches out his spear, and inserts its barbed point amongst her thick flowing locks. Turning the spear slowly around, some of her hair speedily becomes entangled with it; then, with a sudden jerk she is aroused from her slumber, and . . . feels the sharp point of another weapon pressed close against her throat. . . . She knows that the slightest attempt at escape or alarm will cause her instant death, so . . . silently rising, she follows her captors. They lead her away . . . tie her to a tree, and return to ensnare their other victim in like manner. Then they hurry off to their own camp, where they are received with universal applause.”

429.      McLennan reasons thus, by exclusion, upon these facts: “If members of a family or tribe are forbidden to intermarry with other families or tribes, and free to marry among themselves, there is no room for fraud or force in the constitution of marriage. The bride and bridegroom will live together in amity among their common relatives . . . A woman will become the wife of a suitor peaceably. If a suitor forces her, or carries her off against her will or that of her friends, he must separate from these to escape their vengeance:” the symbol of capture could not, hence, have arisen among tribes which marry within their own tribe. The form of marriage within a tribe McLennan calls endogamy,¾a name widely adopted by later writers on the same theme.

430.     Next McLennan points out the existence of tribes with practice exogamy, by forbidding marriage between members of the same tribe. Such tribes oblige their young men to secure wives from other tribes,¾and in those primitive conditions tribes are always at enmity one with another, so that the method of securing a bride outside one’s own tribe must be by capture, excepting in those cases where the man joins the wife’s tribe. He calls attention to the frequent existence of exogamous tribes, and argues that even when the mere symbol of capture remains it is a proof of a previously-existing actual capture. Then he proceeds to account for the origin of that curious custom of exogamy, which obliges men to marry outside the tribe to which they belong. He declares: “Perhaps there is no question leading deeper into the foundations of civil society than that which regards the origin of exogamy.” Up to this point McLennan’s logic has been so clear and convincing as to carry all with him, excepting as to a theory of primal promiscuity. But as to the origin of exogamy few writers agree with him, or with each other.

431.     The Khonds of Orissa consider marriage within the tribe incestuous, and punish it by death. Certain Russian tribes are exogamous. The same can be said of Circassians, who are forbidden to marry within fraternities which may consist of thousands of members. Native Siberians cannot take wives within their own tribes, nor Kaffirs, nor some tribes of India. Traces of similar exogamous laws exist among the American Indians, in Australia, and they existed among the early Celts. The remarkable thing about these laws of exogamy is that these peoples are always at war, one with another, and women for wives can be secured by no other means than capture.

432.     We make no attempt to complete the list of the exogamous peoples which exists, or are known to have existed. As to tribes which employ the symbol of capture, we may mention, further, the American Indians, the blacks of Australia (who also practice actual capture), the Maoris of New Zealand, the inhabitants of a many of the islands of the Pacific, Mongolians, Russians, Deccans, Afghans, and formerly the Irish, French, Welsh, and other peoples of Europe and Asia. McLennan says that this widespread symbol of capture “carries us back to a remote antiquity when marriage and prowess in war were closely associated.” Yes, indeed, had this unbeliever in the Bible turned to the 4th Chapter of Genesis, he would have found proof of his statement.

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