The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
HOSPITALITY

WE have seen that in early society regard for the life and physical well-being of a fellow-creature is, generally speaking, restricted to members of the social unit, whereas foreigners are subject to a very different treatment. But to this rule there are remarkable exceptions. Side by side with gross indifference or positive hatred to strangers we find, among the lower races, instances of great kindness displayed even towards persons of a foreign race. The Veddahs are ready to help any stranger in distress who asks for their assistance, and Sinhalese fugitives who have sought refuge in their wilds have always been kindly received.1 Mr. Moffat was deeply affected by the sympathy which some poor Bushmans showed to him during an illness, although he was an utter stranger to them. Speaking of the mutual affection which the Andaman Islanders display in their social relations, Mr. Man adds that, "in their dealings with strangers, the same characteristic is observable when once a good understanding has been established."2 We have also to remember the friendly manner in which the aborigines in various parts of the savage world behaved to the earliest European visitors. Nothing could be more courteous than the reception which Cook and his party met with in New Caledonia, where the natives guided and accompanied them on their

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1
Sarasin, Ergebnisse naturwissenschaftlicher Forschungen auf Ceylon, iii. 544.
2
Man, "'Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands,'" in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xii. 93.

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