11 FEBRUARY 1882, Page 40

KAMILAROI AND KURNAL* Tim chief object in writing this book

with both the authors has been to support the theories of the American author, Mr. Morgan ; but Mr. Howitt has done something more useful than that, for he has given a very interesting account of some natives never described before,—the Kurnai tribes of Gippsland. The. Kurnai were thirty years ago a flourishing people. They are, now reduced in numbers to a hundred and forty, have been demoralised and impoverished by the advent of Europeans, and. wander in little bands about their ancient hannts—from which new-comers have ousted them—dressed in white men's cast-off clothes, and neglectful of their native customs—through press

' Kamilaroi and Kurnai Group Marriage and Relationship, and Marriage by Elopement; also, the Ramat Tribe, iheir Customs in Peace and War. By Lorimer Filson, MA, and A. W. Rowitt, F.G.S. With an Introduction by Lenin 11: Morgan, LL.D. Melbourne: Goorge Robertson. 1833. of circumstances, the contagion -of imported vices, and the in- fluence of imported religion. It is surprising that Mr. Howitt should have learned so much about them as he has done. It cannot be at all surprising that the information he offers about them is not all of equal value. We think he has fallen into some frightful blunders, his discovery of marriage by elopement being the largest and the worst. But we gladly acknowledge the meritoriousness of his researches, and they have produced results of considerable value. Of the book which Mr. Fison and ' he have written, apart from the account of the Knrnai, so much cannot be said. It is vitiated by theories which do not bear looking at, some of them being almost too much for human patience. Theory, pure and simple, however irrational, never does much harm. But, especially in Mr. Fison's part of the book, suppositions taken from theories are so persistently mixed up with facts, or put in place of them, that the reader, unless he is very careful, is pretty sure to be mystified and misled.

It is to be feared that few of those who read this have ever heard of the Malayan and Turanian systems of relationship (so Mr. Morgan has named them), and to make them intelligible in brief space is no easy matter, but this must now be at least ' attempted. For Mr. Howitt believes in the theories on which Mr. Morgan accounts for those systems, and Mr. Fison says it has been a main object with him to support one of these theories, —though, in fact, he seems to accept neither of them, and pro- pounds a hypothesis of his own to account for the Turanian system which, though allied to and suggested by Mr. Morgan's hypothesis, is different from it, and must be considered its rival. Roughly speaking, then, the Malayan system—which is found in the Sandwich Islands and some other rather backward places —classes all persons who are related to one another, however remotely, according to age, as grand-parents, parents, and brothers and sisters. All relatives of my grandfather's genera- tion are my grandfathers and grandmothers, all of my father's generation my fathers and mothers, all of my own generation my brothers and sisters,—that is, they are all so addressed ; and it is always so that they are addressed, the people who use this nomenclature (and most of those who use the Turanian) having a repugnance to the mention of their personal names. The Turanian nomenclature, coinciding with the Malayan in other respects, includes a class of uncles consisting of a mother's brothers and all whom she addresses as " brother," a class of aunts consisting of a father's sisters and all whom he addresses as " sister," and relatively to these, a class of nephews and nieces, being a man's " sister's " children, and a woman's " brother's " children ; while the children of all the persons who are one's uncles and aunts fall into a class of cousins. The Turanian terms are employed over a vastly greater area than the Malayan, and may be found lingering, used in their original sense, in most European countries still.

Mr. Morgan's theory is that all those terms denote real relation- ships ; and as to the Malayan terms, that originally all the men whom they class together as fathers were co-husbands, all the women whom they class as mothers being their wives, and that all these men or women were, or considered themselves to be, brothers and sisters, as well as husbands and wives. He says that, " as near as the parentage of children could be known," :the Malayan terms accurately express the relationships that would arise in this " Consanguine Family." But it may be seen at once that what should he the most important of all these terms does not express the true relationship ac- curately,—and that makes an end of this wonderful hypo- thesis. Parentage through the mother being always known, the relationship between a child and one woman as its mother would have existed even in the Consanguine Family,—if rela- tionship were thought of at all; And the Malayan system gives a child a -large class of women as its mothers. Be- -sides this, that there should be any tracing of relationship where parentage cannot be known is a very large assumption. Mr. Morgan's second hypothesis is even more fantastic, and the oddest thing about it is that it is of no sort of service to him. He accounts for the Malayan system without it, and he -accounts for the Turanian system without it, and although he .could get on better without it than he does with it, it is as the 'very apple of his eye. This is the hypothesis of the Punaluan iamily. It is with this that Mr. Fison's hypothesis enters into competition, and his, at any rate, is the better of the two. Mr. Morgan says that the Punaluan family must have existed during ages, and that it existed in two forms. A group of tribal " brothers " married, and had in common wives who were not their " sisters," and not the " sisters " of each Other,— that was one form of it. A group of tribal " sisters " married men who were not their " brothers," and not the " brothers " of each other,—that was the other form of it. This extraordinary hypothesis was suggested to Mr. Morgan by a hint he got of South-Sea naughtiness, and the name comes from a Sandwich- Islands' word, "punalua," used between brothers and sisters in law, and signifying intimate companion. He seed it at first to account for the Malayan nomenclature, but he found it was of no use for that. He has found it equally unfit to account for the Turanian terms, so far as they coincide with the Malayan. The reason is, that there being, by supposition, two forms of the Punaluan family, the relationships arising in the one form of it would not be the same as the relationships arising in the other. From the first form of it, Mr. Morgan, with the reasoning that satisfies him, could get the Turanian sense of "father," but not the Turanian sense of "mother." From the second form, he could get the Turanian sense of "mother," but not the Turanian sense of "father." That is, the hypothesis breaks down, even if we let Mr. Morgan's own reasoning pass current. The difficulty of explaining, on the view of relation- ships how a man could have an indefinite number of mothers, is, of course, as conclusive against this, as it is against his other hypothesis.

Mr. Fison's hypothesis (in which Mr. Howitt believes, as well as in the Punaluan family), is, as we have said, rather an improvement upon Mr. Morgan's,—it is not one which even its author knows to be in need of buttressing. It is that, at first, somehow—he does not know how, but probably it was through the intervention of a " higher power "—every society of men was divided into two intermarrying divisions, each con- taining men and women who were brothers and sisters in the Malayan sense, and that all the men in each division were by birth jointly the husbands of all the women of the same genera- tion in the other. He thinks this hypothesis accounts for the Turanian terms, as being really terms of relationship. It will be noticed that it makes the joint husbands always brothers and the joint wives always sisters, and so far, for purposes of explanation, it has an advantage over Mr. Morgan's hypothesis. But it has the same crazy family look. As with Mr. Morgan's hypotheses, even if it be admitted that, nobody's child being everybody's child, all the men of a group could, in some sense of the word "relationship," be said to be the fathers of all the children born to it, there occurs the insuperable difficulty of accounting, on any sense of the word "relationship," for a. man having a whole group of women for mothers. But there appears, more clearly than the same thing appears in Mr. Morgan's state- ments,what is a fatal weakness in the hypothesis itself. Mr. Fison supposes—and without this, he could not even pretend to prove anything—that, in marriage, each "generation " of men and women kept itself separate from every other generation of men and women. But what is a generation ? It will be found rather hard to define. And is it credible that generations—or, let us say, men and women, the elderly, the middle-aged, and the young—were ever classified together, and each class kept separate from the others, as Mr. Fison's theory requires ? Such a question must be settled by appeal to experience, and experience is conclusive against Mr. Fison. Among savages—and particularly among the Australians, by whose customs he tries to support his hypothesis—the elderly men are usually husbands of nearly all the women, and especially of the young women, a young man scarcely ever getting a wife, unless he runs away with her, or can get a cast-off old one. Here'we see the mixing of genera- tions, not the separation of them, to be the rule ; and the tend- ency for different generations to mix must have preceded the existing practice. After this, it is scarcely necessary to mention that Mr. Fison, in deducing the Turanian nomenclature from his hypothesis—on which it is plain that the paternity of children would commonly be uncertain—always reasons pre- cisely as he would have done in a case in which relationship through males was fully established.

It may now, perhaps, be thought clear that it is idle to try (as Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fison have done) to account for the Malayan and Turanian systems as consisting of terms of rela- tionship ; and that to explain the growth of real relationships by what may be called marriage on the large scale is altogether

hopeless. As to the real nature of the Malayan and Turanian terms, it may be said that these terms are used in addressing one another by people who carefully conceal their names, and

that many little facts which Yr. Fison mentions go to show that they are t be regarded as terms cf address. When any of them are more than that, it is either because they coincide with the acknowledged relationships, or because the feelings of the people who use them are in advance of the established system of relationship, so that changes in it are at hand. But that matter cannot here be further considered ; and Mr. Fison's minor views and theories must be passed by, with the observa- tion that some of them are quite astounding,—for example, the explanation of the origin of marriage by elopement (the discovery into which poor Mr. Howitt has blundered), and the demonstration that " group relationships " are real relationships, by means of such facts as that a man may not marry his wife's mother. What remains for us to do is briefly to set forth the facts, or rather, the misconceptions which Mr. Fison regards as justifying his theory of group marriage.

Among the Kamilaroi, and a good many other Australian tribes, there is found a peculiar system of naming. A Mr. Lance, a farmer, who lived near the Kamilaroi, thought that they were divided by their names into castes ; and, in 1853, he told Mr. Ridley, a missionary of Sydney, and Mr. Ridley told the world, that they were all, men and women, in castes, that there was no marriage within the caste, with one exception, and that the men of one caste could marry only women belonging to one other caste. The Kamilaroi castes are to be read of in Pritchard and other such authorities ; but it was not till 1871 that Mr. Fison heard of them, which he then did from Mr. Ridley. He forthwith framed his hypothesis of group mar- riage, that is, he jumped to the conclusion that all the men and women of castes which might intermarry had originally been conjointly married to one another. Later in 1871, however, Mr. Ridley again visited the Kamilaroi, and—knowing more of their language than he had done at first, and knowing better what to look for—he found that he had been misled. He has paid them several visits since, and each new inquiry has shown an increased amount of error in the original statement. What we now know from him is that the Kamilaroi are divided into totem clans—that is, bodies of kindred each named after some animal, which is in some degree sacred to them ; that each person has three names, a personal or given name (carefully concealed), a " caste " name, and a totem name, the two latter being taken through the mother ; that persons of the same totem may not marry ; that persons of the same "caste," but not of the same totem, may marry ; and that persons of the

castes which originally were described as intermarrying castes are never of the same, totem, and are free to marry. What appears so far, is that the notion of " castes " was pure miscon- ception, and that marriage is permitted between persons who are not of the same totem,—that is, not of the same kindred. A portion of Mr. Lance's statement is still uncontradicted. But it was all based upon an impression now known to have been false, and no part of it can be taken as true merely because it has not yet been contradicted. Of the information about castes, or, as he calls them, classes, which Mr. Fison has himself collected, all we can say is that most of it is, if possible, of less value than the first impressions of Mr. Lance. He has, upon authority not mentioned, in some degree departed from the statements as to the Kamilaroi made by Mr. Ridley ; but Mr. Ridley is the only person known to the world who can be deemed anything of an authority about them. For the rest, having inquired about "classes," his correspondents have found classes for him. But we find totem clans described as classes ; the word "blood-relations," interpreted by Mr. Fison himself as if it could mean nothing but classes ; and even the Kurnai are heated as divided into classes, though, besides bodies of kindred which probably are totem clans, they are only divided, like all other people, into men and women. Mystification only can result from collecting and interpreting facts as Mr. Fison does, and that is much more to be deprecated than the making of untenable theories.