Front Page Titles (by Subject) LECTURE VIII.: THE GROWTH AND DIFFUSION OF PRIMITIVE IDEAS. - Lectures on the Early History of Institutions
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LECTURE VIII.: THE GROWTH AND DIFFUSION OF PRIMITIVE IDEAS. - Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Lectures on the Early History of Institutions 
Lectures on the Early History of Institutions, 7th edition (London: John Murray, 1914).
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THE GROWTH AND DIFFUSION OF PRIMITIVE IDEAS.
Mr. Tylor has justly observed that the true lesson of the new science of Comparative Mythology is the barrenness in primitive times of the faculty which we most associate with mental fertility, the Imagination. Comparative Jurisprudence, as might be expected from the natural stability of law and custom, yet more strongly suggests the same inference, and points to the fewness of ideas and the slowness of additions to the mental stock as among the most general characteristics of mankind in its infancy.
The fact that the generation of new ideas does not proceed in all states of society as rapidly as in that to which we belong, is only not familiar to us through our inveterate habit of confining our observation of human nature to a small portion of its phenomena. When we undertake to examine it, we are very apt to look exclusively at a part of Western Europe and perhaps of the American Continent. We constantly leave aside India, China, and the whole Mahometan East. This limitation of our field of vision is perfectly justifiable when we are occupied with the investigation of the laws of Progress. Progress is, in fact, the same thing as the continued production of new ideas, and we can only discover the law of this production by examining sequences of ideas where they are frequent and of considerable length. But the primitive condition of the progressive societies is best ascertained from the observable condition of those which are non-progressive; and thus we leave a serious gap in our knowledge when we put aside the mental state of the millions upon millions of men who fill what we vaguely call the East as a phenomenon of little interest and of no instructiveness. The fact is not unknown to most of us that, among these multitudes, Literature, Religion, and Art—or what corresponds to them—move always within a distinctly drawn circle of unchanging notions; but the fact that this condition of thought is rather the infancy of the human mind prolonged than a different maturity from that most familiar to us, is very seldom brought home to us with a clearness rendering it fruitful of instruction.
I do not, indeed, deny that the difference between the East and the West, in respect of the different speed at which new ideas are produced, is only a difference of degree. There were new ideas produced in India even during the disastrous period just before the English entered it, and in the earlier ages this production must have been rapid. There must have been a series of ages during which the progress of China was very steadily maintained, and doubtless our assumption of the absolute immobility of the Chinese and other societies is in part the expression of our ignorance. Conversely, I question whether new ideas come into being in the West as rapidly as modern literature and conversation sometimes suggest. It cannot, indeed, be doubted that causes, unknown to the ancient world, lead among us to the multiplication of ideas. Among them are the neverceasing discovery of new facts of nature, inventions changing the circumstances and material conditions of life, and new rules of social conduct; the chief of this last class, and certainly the most powerful in the domain of law proper, I take to be the famous maxim that all institutions should be adapted to produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Nevertheless, there are not a few signs that even conscious efforts to increase the number of ideas have a very limited success. Look at Poetry and Fiction. From time to time one mind endowed with the assemblage of qualities called genius makes a great and sudden addition to the combinations of thought, word, and sound which it is the province of those arts to produce; yet as suddenly, after one or a few such efforts, the productive activity of both branches of invention ceases, and they settle down into imitativeness for perhaps a century at a time. An humbler example may be sought in rules of social habit. We speak of the caprices of Fashion; yet, on examining them historically, we find them singularly limited, so much so, that we are sometimes tempted to regard Fashion as passing through cycles of form ever repeating themselves. There are, in fact, more natural limitations on the fertility of intellect than we always admit to ourselves, and these, reflected in bodies of men, translate themselves into that weariness of novelty which seems at intervals to overtake whole Western societies, including minds of every degree of information and cultivation.
My present object is to point out some of the results of mental sterility at a time when society is in the stage which we have been considering. Then, the relations between man and man were summed up in kinship. The fundamental assumption was that all men, not united with you by blood, were your enemies or your slaves. Gradually the assumption became untrue in fact, and men, who were not blood relatives, became related to one another on terms of peace and mutual tolerance or mutual advantage Yet no new ideas came into being exactly harmonising with the new relation, nor was any new phraseology invented to express it. The new member of each group was spoken of as akin to it, was treated as akin to it, was thought of as akin to it. So little were ideas changed that, as we shall see, the very affections and emotions which the natural bond evoked were called forth in extraordinary strength by the artificial tie. The clear apprehension of these facts throws light on several historical problems, and among them on some of Irish history. Yet they ought not greatly to surprise us, since, in a modified form, they make part of our everyday experience. Almost everybody can observe that, when new circumstances arise, we use our old ideas to bring them home to us; it is only afterwards, and sometimes long afterwards, that our ideas are found to have changed. An English Court of Justice is in great part an engine for working out this process. New combinations of circumstance are constantly arising, but in the first instance they are exclusively interpreted according to old legal ideas. A little later lawyers admit that the old ideas are not quite what they were before the new circumstances arose.
The slow generation of ideas in ancient times may first be adduced as necessary to the explanation of that great family of Fictions which meet us on the threshold of history and historical jurisprudence. Specimens of these fictions may be collected on all sides from bodies of archaic custom or rudimentary systems of law, but those most to our present purpose are fictitious assumptions of blood-relationship. Elsewhere I have pointed out the strange conflict between belief or theory and what seems to us notorious fact, which is observable in early Roman and Hellenic society. ‘It may be affirmed of early commonwealths that their citizens considered all the groups in which they claimed membership to be founded on common lineage. What was obviously true of the Family was believed to be true first of the House, next of the Tribe, lastly of the State. And yet we find that, along with this belief, each community preserved records or traditions which distinctly showed that the fundamental assumption was false. Whether we look to the Greek States, or to Rome, or to the Teutonic aristocracies in Ditmarsh which furnished Niebuhr with so many valuable illustrations, or to the Celtic clan associations, or to that strange social organisation of the Sclavonic Russians and Poles which has only lately attracted notice, everywhere we discover traces of passages in their history when men of alien descent were admitted to, and amalgamated with, the original brotherhood. Adverting to Rome singly, we perceive that the primary group, the Family, was being constantly adulterated by the practice of adoption, while stories seem to have been always current respecting the exotic extraction of one of the original Tribes, and concerning a large addition to the Houses made by one of the early Kings. The composition of the State uniformly assumed to be natural was nevertheless known to be in great measure artificial.’ (Ancient Law, pp. 129, 130.) The key to these singular phenomena has been recently sought in the ancient religions, and has been supposed to be found in the alleged universal practice of worshipping dead ancestors. Very striking illustrations of them are, however, supplied by the law and usage of Ireland after it had been Christianised for centuries, and long after any Eponymous progenitor can be conceived as worshipped. The Family, House, and Tribe of the Romans—and, so far as my knowledge extends, all the analogous divisions of Greek communities—were distinguished by separate special names. But in the Brehon Law, the same word, Fine (or ‘family’), is used for the Family as we ordinarily understand it—that is, for the children of a living parent and their descendants—for the Sept or, in phrase of Indian law, the Joint Undivided Family, that is, the combined descendants of an ancestor long since dead—for the Tribe, which was the political unit of ancient Ireland, and even for the large Tribes in which the smaller units were sometimes absorbed. Nevertheless the Irish Family undoubtedly received additions through Adoption. The Sept, or larger group of kindred, had a definite place for strangers admitted to it on stated conditions, the Fine Taccair. The Tribe avowedly included a number of persons, mostly refugees from other Tribes, whose only connection with it was common allegiance to its Chief. Moreover the Tribe in its largest extension and considered a political as well as a social unit might have been absorbed with others in a Great or Arch Tribe, and here the sole source of the kinship still theoretically maintained is Conquest. Yet all these groups were in some sense or other Families.
Nor does the artificiality solely consist in the extension of the sphere of kinship to classes known to have been originally alien to the true brotherhood. An even more interesting example of it presents itself when the ideas of kinship and the phraseology proper to consanguinity are extended to associations which we should now contemplate as exclusively founded on contract, such as partnerships and guilds. There are no more interesting pages in Dr. Sullivan’s Introduction (pp. ccvi et seq.) than those in which he discusses the tribal origin of Guilds. He claims for the word itself a Celtic etymology, and he traces the institution to the grazing partnerships common among the ancient Irish. However this may be, it is most instructive to find the same words used to describe bodies of co-partners, formed by contract, and bodies of co-heirs or co-parceners formed by common descent. Each assemblage of men seems to have been conceived as a Family. As regards Guilds, I certainly think, as I thought three years ago, that they have been much too confidently attributed to a relatively modern origin; and that many of them, and much which is common to all of them, may be suspected to have grown out of the primitive brotherhoods of co-villagers and kinsmen. The trading guilds which survive in our own country have undergone every sort of transmutation which can disguise their parentage. They are artificial to begin with, though the hereditary principle has a certain tendency to assert itself. They have long since relinquished the occupations which gave them a name. They mostly trace their privileges and constitution to some royal charter; and kingly grants, real or fictitious, are the great cause of interruption in English History. Yet anybody who, with a knowledge of primitive law and history, examines the internal mechanism and proceedings of a London Company will see in many parts of them plain traces of the ancient brotherhood of kinsmen, ‘joint in food, worship, and estate;’ and I suppose that the nearest approach to an ancient tribal holding in Ireland is to be found in those confiscated lands which are now the property of several of these Companies.
The early history of Contract, I need scarcely tell you, is almost exclusively to be sought in the history of Roman law. Some years ago I pointed to the entanglement which primitive Roman institutions disclose between the conveyance of property and the contract of sale. Let me now observe that one or two others of the great Roman contracts appear to me, when closely examined, to afford evidence of their having been gradually evolved through changes in the mechanism of primitive society. You have seen how brotherhoods of kinsmen transform themselves into alliances between persons whom we can only call partners, but still at first sight the link is missing which would enable us to say that here we have the beginning of the contract of partnership. Look, however, at the peculiar contract called by the Romans ‘societas omnium (or universorum) bonorum.’ It is commonly translated ‘partnership with unlimited liability,’ and there is no doubt that the elder form of partnership has had great effect on the newer form. But you will find that, in the societas omnium bonorum, not only were all the liabilities of the partnership the liabilities of the several partners, but the whole of the property of each partner was brought into the common stock and was enjoyed as a common fund. No such arrangement as this is known in the modern world as the result of ordinary agreement, though in some countries it may be the effect of marriage. It appears to me that we are carried back to the joint brotherhoods of primitive society, and that their development must have given rise to the contract before us. Let us turn again to the contract of Mandatum or Agency. The only complete representation of one man by another which the Roman law allowed was the representation of the Paterfamilias by the son or slave under his power. The representation of the Principal by the Agent is much more incomplete, and it seems to me probable that we have in it a shadow of that thorough coalescence between two individuals which was only possible anciently when they belonged to the same family.
The institutions which I have taken as my examples are institutions of indigenous growth, developed probably more or less within all ancient societies by the expansion of the notion of kinship. But it sometimes happens that a wholly foreign institution is introduced from without into a society based upon assumed consanguinity, and then it is most instructive to observe how closely, in such a case, material which antecedently we should think likely to oppose the most stubborn resistance to the infiltration of tribal ideas assimilates itself nevertheless to the model of a Family or Tribe. You may be aware that the ancient Irish Church has long been a puzzle to ecclesiastical historians. There are difficulties suggested by it on which I do not pretend to throw any new light, nor, indeed, could they conveniently be considered here. Among perplexities of this class are the extraordinary multiplication of bishops and their dependence, apparently an almost servile dependence, on the religious houses to which they were attached. But the relation of the various ecclesiastical bodies to one another was undoubtedly of the nature of tribal relation. The Brehon law seems to me fully to confirm the account of the matter given, from the purely ecclesiastical literature, by Dr. Todd, in the Introduction to his Life of St. Patrick. One of the great Irish or Scotic Missionaries, who afterwards nearly invariably reappears as a Saint, obtains a grant of lands from some chieftain or tribe in Ireland or Celtic Britain, and founds a monastery there, or it may be that the founder of the religious house is already himself the chieftain of a tribe. The House becomes the parent of others, which again may in their turn throw out minor religious establishments, at once monastic and missionary. The words signifying ‘family’ or ‘tribe’ and ‘kinship’ are applied to all the religious bodies created by this process. Each monastic house, with its monks and bishops, constitutes a ‘family’ or ‘tribe;’ and its secular or servile dependants appear to be sometimes included under the name. The same appellation is given to the collective assemblage of religious houses formed by the parent monastery and the various churches or monastic bodies sprung from it. These make up together the ‘tribe of the saint,’ but this last expression is not exclusively employed with this particular meaning. The abbot of the parent house and all the abbots of the minor houses are the ‘comharbas’ or co-heirs of the saint, and in yet another sense the ‘family’ or ‘tribe’ of the saint means his actual tribesmen or blood-relatives. Iona, or Hy, was, as you know, the famous religious house founded by St. Columba near the coast of the newer Scotia. ‘The Abbot of Hy,’ says Dr. Todd, ‘or Co-arb of Columba, was the common head of Durrow, Kells, Swords, Drumcliff, and other houses in Ireland founded by Columba, as well as of the parent monastery of Hy, and the “family of Colum-kille” was composed of the congregations or inmates and dependants of all those monasteries. The families, therefore, of such monasteries as Clonmacnois or Durrow might muster a very respectable body of fighting men.’ Let me add, that there is very good evidence that these ‘families of the saints’ were occasionally engaged in sanguinary little wars. But, ‘in general’ (I now quote again from Dr. Todd), ‘the “family” meant only the monks or religious of the house.’
It will be obvious to you that this application of the same name to all these complicated sets of relations is every now and then extremely perplexing, but the key to the difficulty is the conception of the kindred branching off in successive generations from the common stock, planting themselves occasionally at a distance, but never altogether breaking the bond which connected them with their original family and chief. Nothing, let me observe, can be more curious than the way in which, throughout these artificial structures, the original natural principle upon which they were modelled struggles to assert itself at the expense of the imitative system. In all the more modern guilds, membership always tended to become hereditary, and here we have the Brehon law striving to secure a preference, in elections to the Abbacy, to the actual blood-relatives of the sainted founder. The ecclesiastical rule, we know, required election by the monks, but the Corus Bescna declares that, on a vacancy, the ‘family of the saint’ (which here means the founder’s sept), if there be a qualified monk among them, ought to be preferred in elections to the Abbacy—‘though there be but a psalm-singer of them, if he be fit, he shall have it.’ And it proceeds to say that, if no relative or tribesman of the saint be qualified, the Abbacy shall go to some member of the tribe which originally granted the land.
A very modern example of this plasticity of the notion of kinship has recently been brought to my notice. The co-villagers of an Indian village call themselves brothers, although, as I have frequently observed, the composition of the community is often artificial and its origin very miscellaneous. The appellation, at the same time, is distinctly more than a mere word. Now, some of the Christian missionaries have recently tried an experiment which promises to have much success, and have planted in villages converts collected from all sorts of different regions. Yet these persons, as I am informed, fall into a ‘brotherhood’ quite as easily and talk the language and assume the habits appropriate to it quite as naturally as if they and their forefathers had been members from time immemorial of this peculiarly Indian association, the village-community.
There is, however, another set of phenomena which belong to the same class, but which seem to me to have been much misunderstood. When men, under the influence of the cast of thought we are discussing, are placed in circumstances which naturally breed affection and sympathy, or when they are placed in a relation which they are taught to consider especially sacred, not only their words and ideas but their feelings, emotions, and prejudices mould themselves on the pattern of those which naturally result from consanguinity. We have, I believe, a striking example of the process in the history of the Christian Church. You know, I dare say, that Spiritual Relationship or the tie between a sponsor and a baptized person, or between sponsors, or even between the sponsors and the family of the baptized, became by degrees the source of a great number of prohibitions against intermarriage, which stood on the same level with those based on affinity, and almost with those founded on consanguinity. The earliest evidence we have that this order of ideas was stirring the Christian community is, I believe, a Constitution of Justinian in the Code (v. 4. 26), which forbids the marriage of the sponsor with the baptized; but the prohibitions were rapidly extended by the various authorities which contributed to the Canon law, and were finally regulated and somewhat narrowed by the Council of Trent. Nowadays, I am told that they merely survive formally in the Roman Catholic Church, and that dispensations relaxing them are obtainable as of course. The explanation of the system by technical theologians is that it is based on the wish to give a peculiar sacredness to the bond created by sponsorship, and this I believe to be a true account of its origin. But I do not believe that Spiritual Relationship, a structure based on contract, would in every stage of thought have assimilated itself to natural relationship. The system developed itself just when Christianity was being diffused among races whose social organisation was founded on kinship, and I cannot but think that their ideas reacted on the Church. With such races a very sacred tie was necessarily of the nature of a family tie, and carried with it the same associations and the same order of feeling. I do not, therefore, consider that such terms as Gossipred, Godfather, Godson—to which there are counterparts in several languages—were created by the theory of Spiritual Relationship, but rather that they mark the process by which that theory was formed.
It seems to me accordingly in the highest degree natural that Spiritual Relationship, when introduced into a tribal society like that of the ancient Irish, should closely assimilate itself to blood-relationship. We know in fact that it did so, and that the stringency of the relation and the warmth of the affections which it produced moved the scorn, the wrath, and the astonishment of several generations of English observers, deriving their ideas from a social order now become very unlike that of Ireland. But by the side of Gossipred, or Spiritual Relationship, there stood another much more primitive institution, which was extraordinarily developed among the ancient Irish, though not at all peculiar to them. This was Fosterage, the giving and taking of children for nurture. Of the reasons why this practice, now known to have been widely diffused among Aryan communities, should have had an exceptional importance and popularity in Ireland, we can say little more than that they probably belong to the accidents of Irish history and of Irish social life. But of the fact there is no doubt. An entire sub-tract in the Senchus Mor is devoted to the Law of Fosterage, and sets out with the greatest minuteness the rights and duties attaching to all parties when the children of another family were received for nurture and education. It is classed, with Gossipred, as one of the anomalies or curses of Ireland by all her English critics, from Giraldus Cambrensis in the twelfth century to Spenser in the sixteenth. It seemed to them monstrous that the same mother’s milk should produce in Ireland the same close affections as did common paternity in their own country. The true explanation was one which is only now dawning on us. It was, that Fosterage was an institution which, though artificial in its commencements, was natural in its operations; and that the relation of foster-parent and foster-child tended, in that stage of feeling, to become indistinguishable from the relation of father and son.
The form of Fosterage which has most interest for the modern enquirer is called by the Translators of the Brehon tracts Literary Fosterage. It was an institution nearly connected with the existence of the Brehon Law Schools, and it consists of the various relations established between the Brehon teacher and the pupils he received into his house for instruction in the Brehon lore. However it may surprise us that the connection between Schoolmaster and Pupil was regarded as peculiarly sacred by the ancient Irish, and as closely resembling natural fatherhood, the Brehon tracts leave no room for doubt on the point. It is expressly laid down that it created the same Patria Potestas as actual paternity; and the literary foster-father, though he teaches gratuitously, has a claim through life upon portions of the property of the literary foster-son. Thus the Brehon with his pupils constituted not a school in our sense but a true family. While the ordinary foster-father was bound by the law to give education of some kind to his foster-children — to the sons of chiefs instructions in riding, shooting with the bow, swimming, and chess-playing, and instruction to their daughters in sewing, cutting out, and embroidery—the Brehon trained his foster-sons in learning of the highest dignity, the lore of the chief literary profession. He took payment, but it was the law which settled it for him. It was part of his status, and not the result of a bargain.
There are some faint traces of Fosterage in the Hindoo law, but substantially it has dropped out of the system. The vestiges of Literary Fosterage are, however, tolerably abundant and very plain. According to the general custom of India, the Brahmin teacher of Brahmin pupils receives no payment for his services, but the Hindoo law repeatedly reserves to him a remote succession to their property. In each of four Brahminical law-tracts of great authority, the Vyavahara Mayukha, the Daya-Bhaga, the Mitakshara, and the Daya-Krama-Sangraha, the same ancient text is quoted (sometimes but not always attributed to Manu), which is to the effect that ‘If there be no male issue the nearest kinsman inherits; or in default of kindred, the preceptor, or failing him the disciple.’ One commentator explains that the preceptor is the instructor in the Vedas, and another describes him as the person who affords religious instruction to his pupil after investing him with the Brahminical thread. These writers add that if neither teacher nor pupil have survived the deceased his fellow-student will succeed. Modern cases turning on these peculiar rules of succession may be found in the Anglo-Indian Law Reports.
We are thus brought face to face with a problem which possesses interest in proportion to its difficulty—the problem of the origin of Castes. I cannot profess to do more than approach it, but the opportunity of throwing even the least light on a subject so dark ought not to be neglected. First let me say that, among the comparatively few English writers who have noticed the Brehon lawyers, some have loosely described them as a caste. But this is an improper use of the word, though it is one not uncommon in India. As regards the position of the Brehons in very early times, the evidence of the Irish records is consistent with the testimony of Cæsar as to the literary class of the Gallic Celts, and seems to show that anyone who went through a particular training might become a Brehon. When, however, Ireland began to be examined by English observers, it is plain that the art and knowledge of the Brehon had become hereditary in certain families who were attached to or dependent on the Chiefs of particular tribes. There is nothing remarkable in this change, which has obviously occurred with a vast number of trades and professions in India, now popularly called castes. In societies of an archaic type, a particular craft or kind of knowledge becomes in time an hereditary profession of families, almost as a matter of course. The difficulty with a native of India, unsophisticated by English ideas, is not to find a reason why a son should succeed to the learning of his father, and consequently to his office and duties; his difficulty would rather be to explain to himself why it should not be so, and how the public interests could be consulted by any other arrangement. The States governed by native Indian Princes are becoming a good deal Anglicised, but still in them it is the practically universal rule that office is hereditary. We do not, however, thus arrive at a complete account of the growth of those castes which are definite sections of great populations. One only of these castes really survives in India, that of the Brahmins, and it is strongly suspected that the whole literary theory of Caste, which is of Brahmin origin, is based on the existence of the Brahmin caste alone. Now, the tendency of knowledge to become hereditary is, by itself, consistent with a great variety of religious and literary cultivation; but, as a fact, the Brahmins of India are a remarkably homogeneous class, admitting (though no doubt with considerable local qualifications) a general brotherhood of all members of the order.
While, then, I cannot say that our scanty information respecting changes in the status of the Brehon lawyers helps us much towards a comprehension of the beginnings of Caste in the true sense, I certainly think that we learn something more than we knew before from the references in the Brehon tracts to Literary Fosterage. They appear to me to give a new emphasis and point to the rules of Hindoo Law respecting the remote succession of the ‘spiritual preceptor’ to the property of families. It seems as if in the most ancient state of both systems Literary or Religious fatherhood had been closely assimilated to actual fatherhood. Under these circumstances, if great schools of Vedaic learning existed in India in very ancient times, as we have strong reason to think they did, the relation between Teacher and Pupil would closely follow and imitate the relation between father and son. A great profession would thus be formed, with stores of common knowledge; but the tie between the members would not be purely intellectual; it would from the first be conceived as of the nature of kinship. Such a system, as the old ideas decayed, would tend infallibly to become one of real consanguinity. The aptitude for sacred knowledge would come to be thought to run in the blood of sons whose fathers had been instructed in it, and none but such sons would be received into the schools. A Caste would thus be formed, in the eyes of its members the type of all Castes.
We have thus strong reason for thinking that societies still under the influence of primitive thought labour under a certain incapacity for regarding men, grouped together by virtue of any institutions whatsoever, as connected otherwise than through blood-relationship. We find that, through this barrenness of conception, they are apt to extend the notion of consanguinity and the language beginning in it to institutions of their own not really founded on community of blood, and even to institutions of foreign origin. We find also that the association between institutions arising from true kinship and institutions based on artificial kinship is sometimes so strong, that the emotions which they respectively call forth are practically indistinguishable. These phenomena of early thought and feeling appear to me amply to account for some facts of Irish history which nearly all English writers on Ireland have noticed with extreme surprise or indignation. The expressions of Sir John Davis, while stating that many of the early Anglo-Norman adventurers settled in Ireland became in time pure Irish chieftains, reflect the violent astonishment and anger which the transformation excited in Englishmen. ‘The English Colonists did embrace and use the Irish customs, after they had rejected the Civil and Honourable Laws and Customs of England, whereby they became degenerate and metamorphosed like Nebuchadnezzar, who, although he had the face of a man, had the heart of a beast; or like those who had drunk of Circe’s cup and were turned into very beasts, and yet took such pleasure in their beastly manner of life as they would not return to their shape of men again; insomuch as within less time than the age of a man, they had no marks or difference left among them of that noble nation from which they were descended.’ The fact, stated in this bitter language, is not especially marvellous. We have seen the general complexion of Irish society giving its colour to institutions of all sorts—associations of kinsmen shading off into assemblages of partners and guild-brothers—foster parentage, spiritual parentage, and preceptorship taking their hue from natural paternity—ecclesiastical organisation blending with tribal organisation. The Anglo-Norman captain who had thought to conquer for himself an Irish signory passed insensibly in the same way into the chieftain of an Irish tribe. The dependants who surrounded him did not possibly draw any clear distinction between the actual depositary of power and the natural depositary of power, and, as the contagiousness of ideas is in proportion to their fewness, it is intelligible that he too was affected by the mental atmosphere in which he lived. Nor were other motives wanting. The extreme poverty and constant distractions of Ireland did not prevent an extraordinary amount of the pride of authority, of the pride of birth, and even of the pride of wealth from centring in the dignity of an Irish Chief.