chap. hi CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
South-eastern Asia, is the most momentous step in advance; accompanied, or soon followed, by the domestication of the buffalo and ox, it allows of a great increase and concentration of population in certain favoured localities, and thus tribes begin to differ in numbers, wealth, and power, according to local circumstances. Next come intertribal wars, ending generally in the predominance of the most numerous and powerful tribe over its neighbours, and the imposition of its language on the other tribes within a considerable area, thus welding the whole into a new unity and laying the foundations of a truly national existence.
But by the aborigines of the Peninsula this stage has never been attained: they never took the great stride from shifting cultivation to the permanent occupation of land, and while they have remained a tangle of more or less savage clans, the coasts and river-valleys of their native land have been colonised by immigrant aliens, who in their own island home had already passed this stage and gained the possession of a common language and some of the other elements which go to the making of a nation. Thus the aborigines of the Peninsula find themselves to-day in the position of scattered fragments dependent on a stronger and far more numerous race, in a distinctly higher state of culture. It requires no great stretch of imagination to foresee clearly enough that the only unity of speech they can ever attain will consist in the loss of their own and the adoption of a foreign tongue, while their other special characteristics will also soon disappear.
Many of the districts in which aborigines were formerly to be found have, even in modern times,Many of the districts in which aborigines were formerly to be found have, even in modern times,