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defined group. The rest of the population is, among different peoples, very differently organized as to classes, but in communities with an extensive system of classes we are, as a rule, able to discern at least one higher and one lower division, a nobility and a commonalty.
We believe that these categories now mentioned, the nobility, the commonalty and the slave-class, represent the classes in which peoples with social differentiation are divided. One or other of these typical orders may be wanting among some peoples, but, as a rule, every degree of rank is comprehended in the said groups. The universal prevalence of this gradation of classes is illustrated by the fact that a great number of peoples, in different parts of the world, are expressly stated to be divided into a nobility, a commonalty and a slaveclass. 1 And when taking into consideration the varying ranks of other peoples, it becomes clear that in most cases they are to be regarded as subdivisions or combinations of the chief classes.
1 Instances of such peoples are given by: Wilson and Felkin, Uganda und der Aegyptische Sudan, i. 96 (Waganda); Buchner, Kamerun, p. 29 (Dualla); Möller, Pagels and Gleerup, Tre år i Kongo, ii. 132 (Natives on the Upper Congo); Lang, in Steinmetz, Rechtsverhältnisse, p. 240 (Washambala); Desoignies, ib. pp. 277 sq. (Msalala); Haxthausen, Transcaucasia, p. 406 (Ossetes); Dareste, Nouvelles Etudes d'Histoire du Droit, p. 321 (Natives of Cambodia); Riedel, De sluik- en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua, pp. 154, 228, 293, 384, 406, 434 (Several tribes in the Austral-Asian Archipelago); Semper, Die Palau-Inseln, pp. 36 sq; Wilkes, Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition, v. 83 (Inhabitants of Makin); Hale, 'Ethnography and Philology,' ib. vi. 82 (Natives of Banabe, or Ascension Island); Gräffe, 'Die Carolineninsel Yap,' in Journal des Museum Godeffroy, Bd. i. Hft. 2. p. 22; Holmberg, Völker der Russischen America, in Acta Soc. Scient. Fennicae, T. iv. Fasc. ii. 294 (Thlinkets); Boas, 'The Social Organisation and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians,' in Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 1895, p. 338; Stoll, 'Ethnologie der Indianerstämme von Guatemala,' in Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie, Suppl. zu Bd. i. 4; Von Martius, Beiträge zur Ethnologie und Sprachenkunde Ameriku's, i. 232 (Guaucurûs).
In comparison with the lay classes priesthood occupies, in many respects, a peculiar position. Owing to the universal prevalence of »priests», »medicine-men», »rain-doctors), or whatever name may be given to those functionaries in different stages of evolution, who perform religious or magical rites, we should have the most profitable opportunity of studying the differentiation of this class from humanity at large, if only our knowledge of the priesthood of uncivilized races were complete.
Are we, however, justified in including the magician, or sorcerer, in our investigation of the origin of priesthood? – I think we are not only justified, but even bound to do so. In whatever way we may look upon the relation between early magic and early religion, it is evident that religious observances and magical practices are largely confused by the performers of mystical rites. When studying the origin of priesthood we must, therefore, commence with taking into account all performers of actions with a superhuman bearing, whether they may properly be called priests or magicians, until we are able to examine in what degree the different classes of priesthood may possibly be distinguished from each other. And in any case, we must be careful not to leave out, prematurely, any part of our subject that may prove to be of real importance.
Regarding the question of the universality of priesthood among mankind, we sometimes, in books of travel, meet with accounts of a people without priests. And as priests presuppose the existence of religion, statements of this kind are connected with the frequently discussed question whether there do exist peoples without religion or not. As Lord Avebury and Dr. Tylor have pointed out the answer depends very much on the meaning which is ascribed to »religion». 1 Whatever may
Avebury, Pre-Historic Times, p. 551. Tylor, Primitive Culture, be regarded as the essential nature of religion, there is every reason to reject, as Dr Tylor does, too narrow a limitation of that term, so as not to identify religion with any special form of worship. We have to distinguish between two different opinions as to the essence of religion. Dr Iylor's often-quoted »minimum definition » of religion is belief in Spiritual Beings.nl Professor Tiele holds a similar opinion of the essence of religion, 2. and somewhat analogous is also the meaning which Count Goblet d'Alviella gives to the term, defining religion as » the conception man forms of his relations with the superhuman and mysterious powers on which he believes himself to depend. » 3 On the other hand, the principal importance has by certain scholars been attached not to the mere belief, but to the cult. Thus Dr. Frazer understands by religion va propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and human life.» 4 Grant Allen, again, denotes worship and sacrifice as the prime factors of religion. » In all early religions,» he says, »the practice is at a maximum and the creed at a minimum.» 5 Dr. Westermarck points out that religion is not the mere belief in the existence of supernatural beings, but at the same time a form of action. Religion contains an element of thought, i. e. the religious belief, and an element of action, i. e. the religious
Whether it be the cult of supernatural beings or the belief in such beings that is to be regarded as the essential element of religion, it does not, however, great
Tylor, Primitive Culture, i. 424. . Tiele, Outlines of the History of Religion, p. 6.
3 Goblet d'Alviella, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of the Conception of God, p. 47.
Allen, The Evolution of the ldea of God, p. 40.
ly influence the question of the universality of religion, as both these ideas are practically always associated with each other.
Most representatives of the modern science of religion express the opinion that religion, in a wide sense of the word, is to be regarded as universal throughout the human race. Among their number are men such as E. B. Tylor, 1 D. G. Brinton, 2 A. Réville, 3 G. Roskoff, 4 C. P. Tiele 5 and F. Ratzel. 6 On the other hand Lord Avebury, in conformity with his »higher estimate» of religion, denies the universal existence of religious ideas. ? Agreeing with this writer, Spencer holds that »among various savages, religious ideas do not exist,» although »in such cases there is commonly a notion, here distinct and there vague, of something supernatural associated with the dead.» 8 But it is well known that the standpoint of Lord Avebury has been made the subject of very severe criticism. ' Dr. Frazer, who assumes that magic is prior to religion in the evolution of thought, makes the observation that among the natives of Australia, while magic is universally practised, »religion in the sense of a propitiation or conciliation of the higher powers seems to be nearly unknown.» Yet he admits that in the South-Eastern regions of the continent »some faint beginnings of religion appear in the shape of a slight regard for the comfort of departed
1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, i. 425.
5 Tiele, Outlines of the History of Religion, p. 6.
Avebury, Pre-Historic Times, p. 551.
friends, and that also in these parts a supreme spirit is believed in.
From all this, it is clear that, however correct may be the reports of peoples without priestly functionaries, perhaps owing to a narrow conception of what constitutes a priest, yet we could not possibly put aside the peoples in question, when dealing with the origin of priesthood. For our purpose it is also important to know whether there are magicians among them, and only after having this latter question answered can we judge of the existence or non-existence of a priesthood.
It is, therefore, a question of some interest to us, whether magic is to be considered as universal among the lowest now living races or 10t. In this respect we meet with a general unanimity among ethnologists: magic is admitted to be practised among all of the primitive peoples who are known to us. Even Lord Avebury owns that there seems to be no degraded race without »a more or less vague belief in witchcraft,» 2 and he thinks that »divination and sorcery are so widely distributed that they may almost be said to have been universal.» 3 Professor Roskoff writes: — » The belief in sorcery which is inseparably connected with the belief in evil spirits, is met with among all tribes in the lower and lowest stage.» 4
As a matter of fact »magicians» and »priests» of some kind or other — the nomenclature is very vague - have also been reported to appear among peoples of the rudest type, so far as we have sufficient knowledge of them. In numerous accounts of the Australians, native sorcerers are mentioned. Thus in an essay » On Australian Medicine-Men» Mr. Howitt gives a descrip
1 Frazer, The Golden Bough, i. 71, 72, note.