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what German students call a Philistine, one of the most prominent features of whose special type it is, that the exertion and development of the mind for its own sake, where they cannot be estimated by a material equivalent in money or position or comfort, are things lying out of his own regular track, and are therefore the objects of his scarcely tolerant contempt. It is thoroughly in character that this particular Philistine should blunder down upon one of the fundamental principles of early poetry, philosophy, and religion, and, seeing nothing in it but a piece of childish silliness, should kick it contemptuously aside.
The childlike mind which can so attribute to any lifeless object a personal existence, a share of human life and thought, a sense of human pain and pleasure, is indeed in the condition to which the religion and philosophy of the lower races for the most part evidently belong, and many of their deepest and most lasting ideas may still be traced to an origin in the child's simplest and crudest conceptions. To show this, it may be convenient to forget for the moment the existence of new or militant theories, to take as a standard of received opinion what an ordinary national schoolmaster might teach in our own day, and with this to compare the notions of savage tribes on personal existence, the nature of spirits, souls, and ghosts, and the government of the universe.
The old and simple theory which explains the world at large as directly animated by a life like our own, or directly resulting from such life, has been for ages at war with an ever-accumulating and everencroaching scientific knowledge. The conflict lasts on still in our own day, and in the various regions of human society the ground has been very differently gained and lost. Even the children of our story knew as well as their dull pedant that the broomstick was not really, but only ideally alive. The National Schoolmaster, if asked what beings are personal, would probably say that animals, spirits, angels, &c., and God, are personal, but that stocks and stones, tools and weapons, sun and stars, even plants, are not. He might give a reason also for his definition, and say that the distinguishing quality of personal beings is that they have each not only a life but a will of their own, and this assertion he might make good as to the higher orders of animal life, though it might be embarrassing among polyps and corallines. This test of personality by the presence of volition is, however, a great advance beyond the philosophy of the savage, whose attention in such matters seems generally fixed on two other attributes,—the breath, and the soul, idea, or phantom. The act of breathing, so characteristic of the higher animals during life, and coinciding so closely with life in its departure, has naturally been often identified with the life itself, and the etymology of words which have since assumed very abstract or theoretical meanings, still shows their starting-point in this primitive thought. Thus, in the first chapter of Genesis, nephesh chayyåh, “ breath of life,” has already come to designate the living creatures which the earth brings forth, and indeed the Hebrew Bible shows us nephesh, “ breath,” passing into all the meanings of life, soul, mind, and animal in general. So with Latin anima, animus, Greek yuxí, German geist, English ghost, in all which the original sense is that of breath. With that untaught but self-developed materialism which makes her history so singularly instructive to the student of the lower human life, Laura Bridgman once made the gesture of taking something away from her mouth. “I dreamed,” she explained in words, “ that God took away my breath to heaven.” But this highly valuable test of personal life does not extend far enough for the savage, who attributes to many things which evidently do not breathe an animate existence and something of the nature of a soul or spirit. This something usually resembles in form and dimensions the material object it belongs to, is often perceptible to the senses of sight and hearing, sometimes seems solid enough to be touched, but is more usually impalpable and capable of being passed through by solid objects as well as of passing through them, and while thus unhindered in its free course by any material barrier, it possesses a power of locomotion far exceeding even that of the bird or butterfly which so often personates it. So closely does this conception fit with the ordinary phenomena of dreams and waking hallucinations, that we may with a good deal of confidence connect it with them, and this especially in the mind of man at the lowest stage of culture, the wild hunter and fisher, whose life of alternate famine and repletion makes him so peculiarly liable to these affections, while his crude philosophy leads him to consider them as among the most important of actual events. How the two notions of the spirit or breath, and of the phantom, are so widely through the world united in a single conception, may be instanced from a remarkable compendium of the theology of the Indians of Nicaragua, the record of question and answer in an inquest held by Father Francisco de Bobadilla in the early days of the Spanish conquest. Asked, among other things, concerning death, the Indians said: “Those who die in their houses go underground, but those who are killed in war go to serve the gods (teotes). When men die, there comes forth from their mouth something which resembles a person, and is called julio (Aztec yuli, “to live'). This being is like a person, but does not die, and the corpse remains here.” The Spanish ecclesiastics inquired whether those who go on high keep the same body, features, and limbs as here below; to which the Indians answered, "No, there is only the heart.” “But," said the Spaniards, “as the hearts are torn out (they meant in the case of warriors who fell into the hands of the enemy), what happens then?” Hereupon the Indians explained: “It is not precisely the heart, but that which is in them, and makes them live, and which quits the body when they die;" and again they said, “It is not their heart which goes up on high, but that which makes them live, that is, the breath coming out from their mouth, which is called julio.” “Then,” asked the Spaniards, “does this heart, julio, or soul, die with the body?” “ When the deceased has lived well,” replied the Indians, "the julio goes up on high with our gods; but when he has lived ill, the julio perishes with the body, and there is an end of it.”
Now inanimate as well as animate objects appear to us in dreams, and we find accordingly that in savage theology what we call animals and what we call things may have souls alike. Father Charlevoix is explicit in his description of what the North American Indians understood by souls; they are, he says, like shadows and animated images of the body, and it is from this principle that it follows that everything is animate in the universe. Another missionary, Father Le Jeune, tells us that the souls, not of men and animals only, but of hatchets, kettles, and such like things as well, have to pass across the water which lies between their home in this life and the Great Village out where the sun sets in the far west. And again in the South Sea islands, Mariner heard tell of the river where one may see the souls of men and women, of dead beasts and plants, of broken tools and utensils, floating down into the other world. The Karens of Burmah, holding every object to have a kelah, a spirit or genius which can come and go, quite logically set themselves to call back a man's kelah when it has wandered, and the rice's kelah when the crop looks ill. Across in Borneo Mr. St. John hears again of this spirit, or living principle, which the Dayaks attribute alike to man, and beast, and rice; its temporary absence from the body causes sickness, its total departure, death. The souls of bows and kettles, of trees and corn, of dogs and horses, are indeed no isolated or inconsequent fancies, but have an important office to fill in savage life; they go to furnish that home beyond the grave which, in the usual opinion of the savage, is to be but a shadowy copy or variation of this, and which Europeans, only hearing its description, have seen at once to be modelled on the phenomena of dreams. In the ghostly land of Bolotu, where the air is full of sweetest odours, and splendid birds perch on every bough, and where the mortals who were once driven ashore there walked right through the unresisting phantoms of the trees and houses, as in the happy huntinggrounds where endless game and fish await the bow and spear of the Red Indian brave, the souls of whatever pertained to the living warrior, of his wives, his dogs, his horses, his weapons, his pipe and pouch, have all a fitting home.
It is when we examine the laws of sacrifice, and especially of those
funereal rites which recur with such astonishing uniformity through so large a part of our race, that the full extent and importance of this lower doctrine of the nature of spirits becomes fully manifest. By the aid of this doctrine, actually found existing in well-known times and places, it is possible to frame a consistent hypothesis by which to account at one stroke for a great province of religious rites found fiourishing and intelligible among the lower races, and lingering, often mutilated in form and changed in meaning, among the higher. According to this hypothesis, the rites in question were once performed for a direct and practical purpose, the evidence for which extends far beyond the few cases here cited as examples, but which bas commonly dropped out of sight when, as so often has happened, the ancient ceremony has continued its existence to become a symbol in a higher religious system, or to sink into a mere purposeless superstition.
To set down in how many countries has been found the custom of sacrificing the dead man's wives and slaves at his burial would be to write a tedious catalogue of a great part of the known tribes of mankind ; and the perfectly clear and recognised purpose of this murderous rite is that the souls of the victims shall go to serve their lord in the next world as they have done in this. But so far from only human souls being thus sent to accompany the dead, we find the whole apparatus of everyday life, horses, dogs, houses, food, clothing, ornaments, bows and lances, pots and kettles, devoted in a like way, that their souls too may go with the souls of wives and slaves to do their master's service. It would have been utter disgrace to the Fijian chief to go like some mean slave unattended into the world of spirits, but when his wives and dependants were slain to be his ghostly retinue, the things which he prized in life were buried with him as well ; his club was laid by his side, and a “whale's tooth” put in his right hand; when he came to the land of the dead, his spirit must throw the spirit of this whale's tooth at a certain phantom tree, and if he succeeded in striking it, he might then go on his way uphill, there to await the spirits of his strangled wives. In reading accounts of such funeral ceremonies, as they occur all over the world, we see that there is no break in the consistent chain of rites which provide the dead man's soul alike with the souls of servants, of horses, of weapons, of food and clothing. Why should the warrior of North America be buried with his club, his pipe, and his gun, and the squaw with her paddle, her kettle, and her strap to carry burdens ? From our modern civilised point of view, we might misunderstand such ceremonies if we looked at them alone, but when we see that the same warrior's horse is killed upon his
to be ready for him to mount in the land of shadows, how can we doubt why the gun and the paddle are sacrificed as well? The Japanese strew
the tombs of their dead relatives with flowers or green branches, and pour a little water into a hollow made for the purpose, and leave some rice, which the poor or the birds soon carry off. No doubt they know perfectly what they mean by this, for the Chinese feast of the dead is avowedly set out that the ghosts may eat the spirit of the food ; when they have done, the survivors scramble for its bodily remains. But a more cruel custom of the Japanese will serve to bridge over the gap which lies between their state of mind and that into which an ordinary European can at least enter. A number of any great man's servants engage during his lifetime to kill themselves at his death, and thus accompany him to the other world. As the souls of the servants are to attend on the soul of the master, so the souls of the flowers and the food are to be enjoyed by the soul of the dead ancestor. If the corpses of the slain servants decay, and the beggars or the birds carry off the mere material bodies of the grains of rice, what matter? So in India, if we would clearly understand on what fundamental idea rests the great Brahmanic rite of offerings of food and drink to the spirits of ancestors, we should see how in the remote antiquity of the Vedic ceremonial the dead warrior's bow was to be placed in his hand, then strung, broken, and cast upon the funeral pile, to be consumed with the instruments of sacrifice which he had used in this life and was to go on using in the next; “when he shall have passed to the other life, he will faithfully practice the worship of the gods.”
One of the facts which most clearly shows that we may not judge the original meaning of the sacrifice of what we call inanimate objects as something essentially different from the original meaning of the sacrifice of men and beasts, is this. As a man or beast must be killed to separate his body from the soul which is to be set free to serve other souls, so it is very usual to kill even food and clothing, hut and weapons, so far as their different natures will permit. To burn what will burn, and so to send its soul up with the smoke into those upper regions of the air, where it flits like a bird or a butterfly; to cast down the libation of drink upon the earth, that it may
die, and be as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again ;" to break things offered to the dead, and so spoil their bodies for earthly use, or to leave them to perish by natural decay in the damp ground, or exposed to wind and weather above; to let the deserted hut fall to ruin of itself, or to throw it down, or burn it; to let birds or beasts or pilferers or beggars carry away
the offerings of food, or to give them to be consumed by the officiating priest, like the Hindu, to whom it is all one whether his offering is devoured by the flames or eaten by a Brahman, “ for there is no difference between the fire and a Brahman-such is the decision of those learned in the Veda ;” these are some of the ways in which the sacrifice