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lines which are parallel, indeed, and therefore never meet; whereas, if they had moved on the same line of development, one would have absorbed the other. In other words, if ancestor-worship were the source of religion, if gods were originally ghosts, we may be reasonably sure that ancestorworship would have died in giving birth to the higher form of religion, or rather that it would have been transformed into it. In the newly-evolved organism we should have traced survivals here and there, rudimentary organs inherited from the previous state of things. We should also have found races who had never got beyond the earlier stage, or had relapsed into it. But we should not everywhere have found the two systems alive together: we might as well expect to find the chrysalis still living by the side of the butterfly which has emerged from it.
The clear demarcation between the two systems, their mutual exclusiveness to the last, is an indication that they start from different presuppositions and are addressed to different objects. At the same time, the parallelism between them shows that they have their respective sources in the same region of feeling. That feeling is piety, filial piety in the one case, piety towards the protecting god of the clan in the other. Here we have displayed the secret of the strength of ancestor-worship, and also of its weakness. Of its strength, because, as Confucius says, “ Filial piety and fraternal submission ! are they not the root of all benevolent actions ?”i Of its weakness, because it is inadequate of itself to satisfy the demands of the religious instinct. In China, the people, excluded from participation in the stateworship of Heaven, decline upon the lowest forms of religion, in their desire for communion with a supernatural power. This desire, where it exists, cannot be satisfied by the substitution of a human object of adoration for the supernatural which it craves to feed on; and the present religious condition of China shows how unpractical Confucius was in recommending the average man to regard his human father as a god : “nor in [filial obedience] is there anything so essential as to reverence one's father; and as a mark of reverence there is nothing more important than to place him
Lun-yu, i. 2. 2 (Douglas, Confucianism, 119).
on an equality with Heaven. Thus did the noble lord of Chow. Formerly he sacrificed on the round altar to the spirits of his remote ancestors, as equal with Heaven ; and in the open hall he sacrificed to Wăn Wang (his father) as equal with Shang-te (the Supreme Being).” 1
The organised worship of ancestors is bound up with the patriarchate and the patria potestas. The service which it rendered to civilisation consists in the aid it afforded to the development of the family, the nidus of mortality. “Filial piety,” said Confucius, " is the beginning of virtue”; and before him E-yin had said, “the commencement is in the family and state; the consummation is in the Empire.” 2 But when ancestor-worship has rendered its service to civilisation, there is a reason for its being cast aside. As an institution, it works in support of the patria potestas : the worship can only be carried on by sons, sons therefore are ardently desired; marriage is a means simply to the worship which the man requires for himself after death, and is not a holy estate in and for itself. Woman is in the family but not of it; she is treated as an inferior, and is debarred from co-operating in the cause of civilisation and from rendering to the progress of morality the services which are peculiarly her own. Rooting out ancestor-worship in Europe gave the Christian Church much trouble for many centuries.
There remain certain topics connected with ancestorworship-human sacrifice and cannibalism—which are not attractive, but cannot be ignored, especially by a writer who argues for the origin of ancestor-worship in the filial piety of the patriarchal family of a comparatively late, i.e. the agricultural, period. We will begin with human sacrifice. The first thing to note is that it appears at a much earlier period in the rites for the dead than it does in the ritual of the gods. As regards the latter: in the totemistic period the only sacrifice known is that of animals ; in the beginning of the agricultural period also human sacrifice is foreign to the cheerful feast in which the god and his worshippers meet together; it is not until the self-satisfaction of that time has given way to the “habitual sense of human guilt” of a still later period, that human life comes to be regarded as the
1 Douglas, op. cit. 121. 2 Op. cit. 123 and 118.
necessary expiation of human sin. But whereas human sacrifice comes thus late in the history of religious ritual, the practice of immolating human beings at a tomb apparently comes fairly early in the development of the rites of the dead; such immolation certainly has a totally different origin and meaning from human sacrifice in religious ritual. The persons butchered at the grave of a savage chieftain are usually his wives and other attendants; and the object of the slaughter evidently is exactly the same as that of providing food for the dead—the deceased follows the same pursuits, enjoys the same rank, and requires the same food and attendance when dead as during life. It is this identity between the purpose of food-offerings and of the slaughter of attendants which shows the latter to be one of the primitive elements out of which systematic ancestor-worship was subsequently organised. Where such slaughter continued to be customary at the time when human sacrifice had come to be part of the ritual of the gods, it came to be interpreted on the analogy of human “sacrifice" in the proper (i.e. religious) sense of the word, just as the offerings of blood, hair, and food came to be similarly interpreted, or misinterpreted. But human sacrifice (again in the proper sense of the word) was only offered in seasons of fear and tribulation; and slaughter at the tomb now came to be ascribed to the same emotion of fear. The idea that slaughter at the tomb was from the beginning due to fear of the ghost, seems to me to overlook two important facts: the first is that the ghost is from the beginning dependent on the livingaccording to many peoples, he cannot even find his way to the place where he would be, without their assistance; the next is, that affection is quite as capable of extravagant excess as fear. Let the reader recall the well-known instance of the Red Indian son who coolly killed a white man, the close friend of his father, because he could not think how his father, just dead, would be able to get on without his old friend to talk to. The fact is that an utter disregard for human life may well exist, does frequently coexist, with devoted attachment to particular persons. So much for that unpleasant topic.
1 Supra, p. 161. : Mr. James Dawson, who is well qualified to speak, says of the Australians
As for cannibalism: it is not sufficiently general or uniform in its manifestations to allow of any general statement with regard to it. Sometimes it is religious in intention, sometimes the alternative to starvation; sometimes it is due to a perverted taste for food, sometimes it is practised medicinally; here it is only clansmen that are eaten, there only aliens. The cases in which it is religious in intention have been discussed in a previous chapter.1 They are highly exceptional, and need not detain us. Nor need we do more than note that “the negro man-eater certainly takes human flesh as food purely and simply, and not from any religious or superstitious reason.” 2 The Caribs bred children as a food-supply of this kind, as they might poultry. That the belief in the possibility of acquiring the courage or other attributes of an animal or man by consuming his or its flesh, does lead to cannibalism in some cases, may be taken as proved ; 3 in such cases it is only selected portions of the body that are consumed, and those “medicinally,” not as food. That some peoples eat only aliens is undoubted; and the rigour of the restriction is illustrated by an incident that happened recently on the Congo, where "one man, who (Australian Aborigines, p. iv.), who are sometimes ranked as the lowest of savages : “It may be truly said of them, that, with the exception of the low estimate they naturally place on life, their moral character and modesty-all things considered-com pare favourably with those of the most highly cultivated communities of Europe"; if those who doubt this were themselves “to listen to their guileless conversation, their humour and wit, and their expressions of honour and affection for one another," they would have to admit “that they are at least equal, if not superior, to the general run of white men." Still lower in the scale of humanity are the Shoshones (California): “Those who have seen them unanimously agree that they of all men are lowest ... having no clothes, scarcely any cooked food, in many instances no weapons ” (Bancroft, Native Races, i. 440). Yet one traveller says, “They are very rigid in their morals,” and “honest and trustworthy, but lazy and dirty"; another, that they are “ frank and communicative”; another, “highly intelligent and lively ... the most virtuous and unsophisticated of all the Indians"; another, “the most pure and uncorrupted aborigines ... scrupulously clean . . . and chaste in their habits.” Of the Dinka, Schweinfurth says (Heart of Africa, i. 169), “Notwithstanding that certain instances may be alleged which seem to demonstrate that the character of the Dinka is unfeeling, these cases never refer to such as are bound by the ties of kindred ... the accusation is quite unjustifiable that family affection, in our sense, is at a low ebb among them.”
1 Supra, p. 161. 2 Captain Hinde, speaking at the British Association, 1895. 3 Folk-Lore, June 1892 (Hartland, The Sin-Eater).
was placed on sentry-go, shot his own father, and then expressed regret, because by the rule of the tribe he could not eat the body of his parent.” 1
Finally, there are instances in which only members of the tribe are eaten. This practice is reported by Herodotus 2 of the Padæi—probably the Gônda of the Northern Dekkan, who still maintain the custom—and his statement, that few of them attain to old age, because a man is at once killed when he shows symptoms of illness, is curiously confirmed by the words of Captain Hinde, speaking of a different race: “On the Lomami River no grey hairs were to be seen, because the adults were eaten when they began to manifest signs of decrepitude.” We may therefore believe Herodotus when he makes the same statement of the Massagetæ, especially as the mode of consumption described by him reappears amongst the Bangala ; 4 and of the Issedones, whose treatment of the bones of the deceased finds its parallel in the remarkable discoveries made just now in Egypt by Dr. Flinders Petrie; and whose invitations to friends to partake in the feast are paralleled by a similar custom in Luzon. It is not, therefore, a priori improbable that the Irish followed the custom, as Strabo reports, especially as it is said to have been found amongst another branch of the Aryan peoples, the Wends. It occurs also in the Uaaupés Valley, South America,9 amongst the Battas of Sumatra, the Kookies, the inhabitants of Sindai and of the Floris Islands,10 and the Australians. 11 The Quissamas kill and eat criminals of their own tribe. 12 In Francis Island, " thieves were killed and their bodies eaten—only in such cases was there cannibalism.” 13
To understand the custom, we must place ourselves at the savage point of view. We must remember the savage's habitual disregard for human life, and that amongst nomads, compelled by the severity of the struggle for existence to abandon the aged who cannot keep up with the enforced
1 Captain Hinde, loc. cit. 2 Hdt. iii. 99. Hdt, i, 216.
Schneider, Relig. d. Afrik. Naturcölker, 135. 5 Hdt. iv. 26. 6 Bastian, Oest. Asien, v. 272. 7 Strabo, iv. v. 4. & Bastian, loc. cit. 9 Wallace, On the Amazon, 346.
10 Bastian, loc. cit. 11 Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxiv. 182, 196. 12 Ibid. i. 187.
13 Turner, Samoa, 300.