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relating to marriage, some of which are so curious that it will be well to give a brief description of them. The strangest of these is the general avoidance of intercourse between children and parents-in-law, in which the one is often forbidden to look at or mention the name of the other. The reason, or the origin of these customs, or of the many strange forms which these assume, is not clear to us, and we can only give some instances of their general character.
Under the peculiar Fijian system, known as the tabu, the husband and wife are forbidden to eat from the same dish. In other places, the father is not permitted to speak to the son after the latter is fifteen years old. Among many races the woman is absolutely forbidden to speak to her son-in-law. This system prevails generally among the American Indians.t Among the Omahaws neither the father nor mother in law will hold direct communication with their son-in-law. I
Under the social system of the Mongols and Kalmucks a similar restriction appears, the wife being forbidden to speak to her father-in-law, or to sit in his presence. With the Ostiaks of Siberia, a similar rule holds.
In China, customs of a like nature exist, and also in some of the Pacific islands. In some cases this peculiar system assumes the strangest and most decided form. In Central Africa, the lover carefully avoids seeing either the father or mother of his future bride, taking great precautions to avoid an encounter. If he is of a different camp, this prohibition extends to all the members of the lady's camp, except a fow special friends, with whom he is permitted to have intercourse. He avoids passing through the camp, and, if obliged to do so, carefully covers his face. |
• Williams's Fiji, vol. i, p. 136. f Origin of Civilization, p. 7. # James's Exp. to Rocky Mountains, vol. i, p. 232.
§. “Un fille mariée évite autant qu'il lui est possible la présence du père de son mari, tant qu'elle n'a pas d'enfant; et le mari, pendant ce temps, n'ose pas paraître devant la mère de sa femme. S'ils se rencontrent par hasard, le mari lui tourne le dos, et la femme se couvre le visage."-Pallas, vol. iv, p. 71.
| Callie's Travels to Timbuctoo, vol. I, p. 94,
This appears to be a relic of the old system of capture, in which the captor would approach with the greatest stealth, and carefully avoid being observed by the inmates of the opposite camp, as in the case of the Australians above described.
Another custom widely prevalent, and of a yet stranger character, is that known in Bearn as La Couvade. It consists in putting the husband to bed on the birth of a child, and nursing him with the greatest care, while the mother goes to her usual duties. In some cases the poor fellow is put on such a strict regimen that he really becomes sick. There are, in fact, cases in which his peculiar sufferings are continued for several months,and he is so hardly dealt with that a real sickness would be far more endurable. Cases of this description occur in various parts of America, and in many regions of Europe and Asia, taking often the strangest forms.
The idea thus symbolized is that the child is affected by anything happening to its nearest parent, and that any intemperance in eating, drinking, or otherwise, seriously affects the health of the child. Under the idea of male kinship, the father was considered the nearest parent; hence, was obliged to perform this peculiar penance. Max Müller says that the poor husband was first tyrannized over by his female relatives, and afterwards frightened into superstitiously making a martyr of himself, until he became really ill, or took to his bed in self-defence. *
Lafitau regards it as rising from a dim recollection of original sin, rejecting the Carib explanation that if the father engaged in rough labor, or was careless in his diet, “ cela feroit mal à l'enfant, et que cet enfant participeroit à tous les défauts naturels des animaux dont le père auroit mangé.” +
Only lack of space forbids our extending this article so as to include numerous other illustrations, as striking as those given. But what we have advanced will suffice to show the peculiar course of development of the marriage system, from its rude state among the lower savages to its present high standard.
• Chips from a German Workshop, vol. ii, p. 281. † Vol i, p. 259.
The consideration of this question is an important feature in any research into the progress of mankind from savagery to civilization; and, short as is the time since it. was first specially considered, it is already, as may be seen from the preceding observations, attaining a scientific completeness which will greatly aid future investigators, and which enables us to combine into a regular system the scattered observations of numerous preceding writers.
Art. V. Presidential Messages, Proclamations, Reports of
Nominating Conventions, Speeches in Congress, Investigations of Frauds, &c., &c. 1869-1872.
It is but seldom we have performed so disagreeable a task as that which we now undertake. No doubt
think that to all reviewers the language of censure is more agreeable than that of approbation. We can only speak for ourselves, but can truly say that our feeling and disposition are the reverse of this. Nor are there any whom we are more sincerely unwilling to denounce, ridicule, or condemn than those chosen by the people of the United States as the chief officers of the republic. Our respect for the nation constrains us to respect those placed at its head as long as it is possible for us to do
That this is no mere pretension is amply proved in our pages, for it has restrained us many a time from showing how sadly unworthy has been the conduct of General Grant as President of the United States.
Nor would we deviate from that forbearance now had he contented himself with occupying his present exalted position for one term. But when he attempts to extend, and, if possible, to perpetuate, the power which, to use the most moderate language, he has used in a manner so injudicious and so selfish, then we feel that we should be recreant to our duty did we not at least ask all whom we can influence
to pause and reflect before they contribute in any way to prolong the domination of such a man for a single week.
Nor can it be pretended that we are actuated by any malice against General Grant. We have never asked an office of any kind from him for ourselves or anybody else. Although we have visited the national capital often enough since his accession to office, we have never troubled him for an interview-no one has ever seen us waiting in his antechamber for an instant. In no sense, then, can we be ranked among the “sore-heads ; " and still less, if possible, can our opposition to him be attributed to political partisanship.
Our politics differ in nothing to-day from what they were three, four, or seven years ago ; for they have always consisted mainly in our wishing to see the ablest and most honest men placed in the highest positions without reference to their political creed. We advocated the election of General Grant, but it was not because we regarded him as qualified, for we never entertained any such opinion for a moment.
We did so because, defective as his qualifications were, they seemed no worse, upon the whole, than those of his rivals; whereas, he had a strong claim to public consideration, while they had very little or none. This claim was, indeed, the only argument which could be justly adduced in his favor.
It was his good fortune to have succeeded in putting down the rebellion after several other generals had failed to do so. The more intelligent portion of the public fully understood that none of his predecessors had so large or so well disciplined an army as he had under his command; it was also well known that none of our generals were so wasteful, at least so careless, of the lives of their own troops, or so willing to squander their blood; and it was further known that before General Grant gained any of his principal victories the Southerners had become disheartened and pretty nearly exhausted in their resources.
But the people of the North were too much rejoiced to see the rebellion put down—at any cost—not to feel more disposed to gratitude than to criticism—in the case of General Grant; and far be it from us to condemn that sentiment. Our readers may remember that we fully participated in it ourselves; but they may also remember that while we yielded to none in our appreciation of the brilliant and valuable services General Grant had rendered in putting down the rebellion, and preferred him on this account to his rivals, we distinctly admitted that it would have been different had a man like Judge Chase or Mr. Sumner been nominated by any of the great parties. In other words, we urged the election of General Grant for having contributed so much to the salvation of the republic from dismemberment, because, although we did not believe he had any knowledge of statesmanship, his rivals were little, if anything, better in that respect than he, while we felt certain that he was more honest and less selfish than they
It is chiefly because we must acknowledge that we never made a greater mistake than this—because he has convinced us himself by his conduct that he is neither more honest nor less selfish than Mr. Seymour, or any other politician that has ever received the nomination from any of our great parties for the presidency of the United States, that we now most earnestly oppose his re-election.
We say “chiefly” because if he were even as honest and free from selfishness as the great Washington himself, we should consider his intelligence too limited, his administrative abilities too far below mediocrity, and his tastes too vulgar and grovelling, to be able to discharge the duties of chief magistrate of the republic in a manner to do credit either to himself or the country. That he has not done credit to either, but brought discredit on both during the past three years, no intelligent, candid person, not blinded by partisan prejudice, or some more selfish feeling, would for a moment deny.
We are quite aware that to those who have devoted little attention to the subject this will seem harsh ; but few, if any, of our readers will require any elaborate arguments to con