Sir JOHN LUBBOCK, Bart., M.P., F.E.S.







IN my work on 'Prehistoric Times' I have devoted several chapters to the description of modern savages, because the weapons and implements now used by the lower races of men throw much light on the signification and use of those discovered in ancient tumuli, or in the drift gravels and because a knowledge of modern savages and their modes of life enables us more accurately to picture, and more vividly to conceive, the manners and customs of our ancestors in bygone ages.

In the present volume, which is founded on a course of lectures delivered at the Royal Institution in the spring of 1868, I propose more particularly to describe the social and mental condition of savages, their art, their systems of marriage and of relationship, their religions, language, moral character, and laws. Subsequently I shall hope to publish those portions of my lectures which have reference to their houses, dress, boats, arms, implements, &c. From the very nature of the subjects dealt with in the present volume, I shall [] have to record many actions and ideas very abhorrent to us; so many in fact that if I pass them without comment or condemnation, it is because I am reluctant to fatigue the reader with wearisome iteration of disapproval. In the chapters on marriage and religion more especially, though I have endeavoured to avoid everything that was needlessly offensive, still it was impossible not to mention some facts which are very repugnant to our feelings. Yet were I to express my sentiments in some cases, my silence in others might be held to imply indifference, if not approval.

Montesquieu1 commences with an apology that portion of his great work which is devoted to Religion. As, he says, 'on peut juger parmi les ténèbres celles qui sont les moins épaisses, et parmi les abimes ceux qui sont les moins profonds, ainsi l'on peut chercher entre les religions fausses celles qui sont les plus conformes au bien de la société; celles qui, quoiqu'elles n'aient pas l'effet de mener les hommes aux félicités de l'autre vie, peuvent le plus contribuer à leur bonheur dans celle-ci. Je n'examinerai done les diverses religions du monde que par rapport au bien que l'on en tire dans l'état civil, soit que je parle de celle qui a sa racine dans le ciel, ou bien de celles qui ont la leur sur la terre.' The difficulty which I have felt has taken a different form, but I deem it necessary to say these [p.vii] few words of explanation, lest I should be supposed to approve that which I do not expressly condemn.

Klemm, in his 'Allgemeine Culturgeschichte der Menschen,' and recently Mr. Wood, in a more popular manner ('Natural History of Man'), have described the various races of man consecutively; a system which has its advantages, but which does not well bring out the general stages of progress in civilisation.

Various other works, amongst which I must specially mention Muller's 'Geschichte der Americanischen Urreligionen,' M'Lennan's 'Primitive Marriage,' and Bachofen's 'Das Mutterrecht,' deal with particular portions of the subject. Maine's interesting work on 'Ancient Law,' again, considers man in a more advanced stage than that which is the special subject of my work.

The plan pursued by Tylor in his remarkable work on the 'Early History of Mankind,' more nearly resembles that which I have sketched out for myself, but the subject is one which no two minds would view in the same manner, and is so vast that I am sure my friend will not regard me as intruding on a field which he has done so much to make his own.

Nor must I omit to mention Lord Kames' 'History of Man,' and Montesquieu's 'Esprit des Lois,' both of them works of great interest, although written at a time when our knowledge of savage races was even more imperfect than it is now.


Yet the materials for such a work as the present are immense, and are daily increasing. Those interested in the subject become every year more and more numerous; and while none of my readers can be more sensible of my deficiencies than I am myself, yet after ten years of study, I have been anxious to publish this portion of my work, in the hope that it may contribute something towards the progress of a science which is in itself of the deepest interest, and which has a peculiar importance to an Empire such as ours, comprising races in every stage of civilisation yet attained by man.

High Elms, Down, Kent;
February, 1870.




Importance of the Subject—Difficulty of the Subject—Inactivity of the Savage Intellect—Condition of the Lowest Races of Men—Curious Customs with reference to Mothers-in-Law—La Couvade—Reasons for La Couvade—Savage Ideas on the influence of Food—Curious Ideas with reference to Portraits—Use of Prayers as Medicine—Savage Ideas of Diseases—Medical Treatment among Savages—Fancies about Twins—Life attributed to Inanimate Objects—Salutations ............1


Art as an Ethnological Character—Ancient Art—Esquimaux Drawings—The Quippu-Picture-writing—Indian Census Roll—Indian Tomb-stones—Indian Biography—Indian Petition—Rock Sculptures—Savage ornaments—Cheek Studs—Labrets—Ornamentation of the Skin—Tribe Marks—Tattooing—Artificial Alteration of Form—Hairdressing—Feejee Head-Dresses ............30


The Position of Women among Savages—Absence of Affection in Marriage—Relationship among Savages—Different kinds of Marriage—Polyandry—Separation of Husband and Wife—Absence of Marriage—Absence of any Name for Marriage—Absence of Marriage Ceremony—Marriage Ceremonies—Relationships Independent of Marriage—South Sea System of Relationship—Toda System [p.x] Relationship—Prevalence of Adoption—The Milk-tie—Original or Communal Marriage—Origin of Marriage—Bachofen's Views—M'Lennan's Views—The True Explanation—Origin of Marriage by Capture—Prevalence of Marriage by Capture—Originally a Reality—Subsequently a Form—Hindostan—Malay Peninsula—Kalmucks—Tonguses—Kamchadales—Mongols—Esquimaux—South Americans—Feejeeans—Polynesians—Philippine Islanders—Negroes—Mandingos—Circassians—Russia—North Germany—Britain—Explanation of Marriage Ceremonies—Marriage by Confarreatio—Expiation for Marriage—Babylonia—Armenia—Ethiopia—Greece—Hindostan, North America, Greenland—Supplying Guests with Temporary Wives—Respect for Courtesans—Religious Character of Courtesans—Exogamy—Origin of Exogamy—Prevalence of Exogamy—Australia—Africa—Hindostan—Northern Asia—China—Circassia—Exogamy in North America—Exogamy in North and South America—The Causes of Polygamy—Polyandry—Polyandry Exceptional—Endogamy—The Milk-Tie—Inheritance through Females—Relationship through Females—Causes and Wide Distribution of the Custom—Neglect of Maternal Relation—Origin of Relationship in the Male Line—Change from Female to Male Kinship—System of Kinship through Males—Neglect of the Maternal Relation—The Present System ...........58


Mental Inactivity of Savages—Relation of the Lower to the Higher forms of Religion—Religious Characteristics of the Lower Races of Man—Classification of the Lower Religions—Religions according to Sanchoniatho—Absence of Religion—Rudimentary Religion—Religious Ideas as suggested by Sleep—Religious Ideas as suggested by Dreams—Nightmare—The Shadow—Thunder—Spirits regarded as Evil—Spirits regarded as causing Disease—Disbelief among Savages in the Existence of Natural Death—Low Ideas of Spirits entertained by Savages—Their Low Conception of their Deities as evidenced during Eclipses—Belief in Ghosts—Absence of Belief in a Future State—Future Life dependent on Mode of Death—Belief in the Plurality of Souls—Divination—Sorcery—Confusion of Name and Thing—Confusion of Part and Whole—Similarity of Witchcraft in various Parts of the World—Belief in Witchcraft shared by European Travellers—Sorcerers not necessarily Impostors—Fasting—Religious Dances-Smoking as a Religious Form ...........131


RELIGION (continued)

Objects of Worship—Origin of Animal Worship—The Kobong—The Totem—Totemism in America—Hindostan—Serpent-Worship in Asia—Africa—Egypt—Abyssinia—Guinea—Kaffraria—Madagascar—Feejee Islands—Polynesia—America—The Worship of other Animals in America—Pacific Islands—Siberia—India—Africa—Madagascar—The Custom of Apologising to Animals for Killing them—The Worship of Inanimate Objects—Savage Tendency to Deification—Life Attributed to Inanimate Objects—Souls Attributed to Inanimate Objects—Tree-Worship in Europe—Africa—India—Ceylon—Siberia—Sumatra—Philippines—Pacific Islands—North America—Peru—Patagonia—America—Europe—Water-Worship in Europe—Asia—Africa—North America—Central America—South America-The Worship of Stones in Asia—Hindostan—Greece—Lapland—France—Ireland—Africa—Pacific Islands—Sumatra—America—Fire-Worship—Vestals—Worship of the Heavenly Bodies in America—India—Africa—Asia—Worship of other Objects ...........181

RELIGION (concluded)

Religion of Australians—Veddahs—Californians—Bachapins—Kaffirs—Fetichism—Explanation of Fetichism—Negroes—Fetichism in other Races—Hindostan—North America—China—Siberia—Totemism—Developmental and Adaptational Modifications of Religion—Shamanism in Siberia—Greenland—Pacific Islands—Africa—India—Idolatry—Absence of Idolatry among the Lower Races—Origin of Idolatry—Solomon's Explanation—Idols not Mere Emblems—Worship of Ancestors—Worship of Men in Asia—Pacific Islands—Africa—The Great Lama—The Worship of Principles—Sacrifices—Confusion of the Victim with the Deity—Egypt—Mexico—Hindostan—Eating the Fetich—Human Sacrifices—Temples—Tombs—Priests—The Soul—Ideas of Heaven—Plurality of Souls—The Future State—Creation—Prayer—Morality—The Nature of Idols—Science and Religion ...........235


Difficulty of ascertaining the Character of Savage Races—Insecurity in Morals—Moral of Life and Property among Savages—Progress in Morals—Moral [p.xii] Condition of Savages—Confusion of Family Affection and Moral Feeling—Absence of Moral Feeling—Religion not necessarily connected with Morality—Morality and Religion—Law and Right—Growth of Moral Feeling—Origin of Moral Feeling ............293


Gesture Language—The Origin of Language—All Language reducible to a Few Root-words—Origin of Root-words—Wear and Tear of Words—Nicknames and Slang Terms—Origin of the Terms Father and Mother—Words for Father and Mother in various Languages—The Choice of Root-words—Poverty of Savage Languages—Deficiency in Terms of Affection—Absence of Abstract Terms—Deficiency in Numerals—Savage Difficulties in Arithmetic—Use of the Fingers in Arithmetic, as shown in the Names of Numerals—The Origin of the Decimal System ...........313


Importance of the Subject—The Character of the Laws of Savages—The Multiplicity of Laws among Savages—Rules relating to Hunting—Salutations and Ceremonies—Conduct of Public Business—Property in Land—Communal Property—Laws of Inheritance—Absence of Wills—Roman Wills—Rights of Children—The Yasu—Custom of Naming Parents after Children—The Punishment of Crime—Regulated Revenge—The Laws of Property—Manifest and Non-Manifest Thieves—The Wergild—General Conclusion ...........341


Difficulty of obtaining Conclusive Evidence—The Stationary Condition of Savages—No Evidence of Earlier Civilisation—Evidence derivable from Domestic Animals and Pottery—Indications of Progress among Savages—Savages not incapable of Civilisation—Indigenous Origin of Mexican Civilisation—Progress as indicated by Language—Traces of Barbarism in Civilised Countries—Arbitrary Customs—Unity of the Human Race ...........368




Frontispiece View of Stonehenge. From an original drawing by M. Griset To face Title
I. Sketch of Mammoth, on a piece of ivory, found in the Rockshelter at La Madeleine, in the Dordogne To face p. 41
II. Feejeean Modes of Dressing the Hair. After Williams. 'Fiji and the Fijians,' p. 158  To face p. 69
III. Indian Sacred Stones. After Forbes Leslie. 'Early Races of Scotland,' vol. ii. p. 464 To face p. 304
IV. A Human Sacrifice in Tahiti. After Cook To face p. 366
V. Group of Sacred Stones in the Dekhan. After Forbes Leslie. 'Early Races of Scotland,' vol. ii. p. 460 To face p. 370


1. Group of Reindeer. From a photograph presented to me by M. le Marquis do Vibraye 42
2-4. Drawings on Esquimaux Bone Drillbows. Presented to the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, by Captain Beechey 43
5. North American Indian Census Roll. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes,' vol. ii. p. 222 50
6. Indian Gravepost. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes,' vol. i. p. 356 51
7. Indian Gravepost. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes,' vol. i. p. 356 51
8. Indian Bark Letter. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes,' vol. i. p. 338 52
9. Indian Bark Letter. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes; vol. i. p. 330 54
10. Indian Biography. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes,' vol. i. p. 330 55
11. Indian Petition. After Schoolcraft. 'History of the Indian Tribes.' vol. i. p. 416 56
12. Caroline Islander. After Freycinet. 'Voyage autour du Monde,' pl. 67 67
13. New Zealand Head. After Freycinet. 'Voyage autour du Monde,' pl. 107 68
14. New Zealand Head. After Freycinet. 'Voyage autour du Monde,' pl. 107 68
15-17. Shoulder Blades Prepared For Divination. After Klemm. 'All. Cultur. d. Mens,' vol. iii. p. 200 238
18. A Sacred Dance of the Virginians. Lafitau, vol. ii. p. 136 254
19. Agoye. An Idol of Whyddau. Astley's 'Col. of Voyages,' vol. iii. p. 60 268
20. Sacred Stones. Feejee Islands. Williams, loc. cit. vol. i. p. 220 310



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THE study of the lower races of men, apart from the direct importance which it possesses in an empire like ours, is of great interest from three points of view. In the first place, the condition and habits of existing savages resemble in many ways, though not in all, those of our own ancestors in a period now long gone by: in the second, they illustrate much of what is passing among ourselves, many customs which have evidently no relation to present circumstances; and even some ideas which are rooted in our minds, as fossils are embedded in the soil: while thirdly, we can even by means of them, penetrate some of that mist which separates the present from the future.

In fact, the lower races of men in various parts of the world present us with illustrations of a social condition ruder, and more archaic, than any which history records as having ever existed among the more advanced races. Even among civilised peoples, however, we find traces of former barbarism. Not only is [p.2] language in this respect very instructive; but the laws and customs are often of very ancient origin, and contain symbols which are the relics of former realities. Thus the use of stone knives in certain Egyptian ceremonies points to a time when that people habitually used stone implements. Again, the form of marriage by coemptio among the Romans, indicates a period in their history when they habitually bought wives, as so many savage tribes do now. So also the form of capture in weddings can only be explained by the hypothesis that the capture of wives was once a stern reality. In such cases as these the sequence is obvious. The use of stone knives in certain ceremonies is evidently a case of survival, not of invention; and in the same way the form of capture in weddings would naturally survive the actual reality, while we cannot suppose that the reality would rise out of the symbol.

The study of savage life is, moreover, of peculiar importance to us, forming as we do part of a great empire, with colonies in every part of the world, and fellow-citizens in every stage of civilisation. Of this our Indian possessions afford us a good illustration.

'We have studied the lowland population,' says Mr. Hunter,2 'as no conquerors ever studied or understood a subject race. Their history, their habits, their requirements, their very weaknesses and prejudices are known, and furnish a basis for those political inductions which, under the titles of administrative foresight and timely reform, meet popular movements half-way. The East India Company grudged neither honours nor [p.3] solid rewards to any meritorious effort to illustrate the peoples whom it ruled.' .........

'The practical result now appears. English administrators understand the Aryan, and are almost totally ignorant of the non-Aryan, population of India. They know with remarkable precision how a measure will be received by the higher or purely Aryan ranks of the community; they can foresee with less certainty its effect upon the lower or semi-Aryan classes, but they neither know nor venture to predict the results of any line of action among the non-Aryan tribes. Political calculations are impossible without a knowledge of the people. But the evil does not stop here. In the void left by ignorance, prejudice has taken up its seat, and the calamity of the non-Aryan races is not merely that they are not understood, but that they are misrepresented.'

Well, therefore, has it been observed by Mr. Maine, in his excellent work on 'Ancient Law,' that, 'even if they gave more trouble than they do, no pains would be wasted in ascertaining the germs out of which has assuredly been unfolded every form of moral restraint which controls our actions and shapes our conduct at the present moment. The rudiments of the social state,' he adds, 'so far as they are known to us at all, are known through testimony of three sorts—accounts by contemporary observers of civilisations less advanced than their own, the records which particular races have preserved concerning their primitive history, and ancient law. The first kind of evidence is the best we could have expected. As societies do not advance concurrently, but at different rates of progress, there [p.4] have been epochs at which men trained to limits of methodical observation have really been in a position to watch and describe the infancy of mankind.'3 He refers particularly to Tacitus, whom he praises for having 'made the most of such an opportunity;' adding, however, 'but the "Germany," unlike most celebrated classical books, has not induced others to follow the excellent example set by its author, and the amount of this sort of testimony which we possess is exceedingly small.'

This is very far, however, from being the case. At all epochs some 'men trained to habits of methodical observation have really been in a position to watch and describe the infancy of mankind,' and the testimony of our modern travellers is of the same nature as that for which we are indebted to Tacitus. It is, indeed, much to be regretted that Mr. Maine, in his admirable work, did not more extensively avail himself of this source of information, for an acquaintance with the laws and customs of modern savages would have enabled him greatly to strengthen his arguments on some points, while it would, I cannot but think, have modified his views on others. Thus he lays it down as an obvious proposition that 'the organisation of primitive societies would have been confounded, if men had called themselves relatives of their mother's relatives,' while I shall presently show that, as indeed Mr. McLennan has already pointed out, relationship through females is a common custom of savage communities all over the world.


But though our information with reference to the social and moral condition of the lower races of man is much more considerable than Mr. Maine supposed, it is certainly very far from being satisfactory either in extent or in accuracy. Travellers naturally find it far easier to describe the houses, boats, food, dress, weapons, and implements of savages than to understand their thoughts and feelings. The whole mental condition of a savage is so different from ours, that it is often very difficult to follow what is passing in his mind, or to understand the motives by which he is influenced. Many things appear natural and almost self-evident to him, which produce a very different impression on us. 'What!' said a negro to Burton, 'am I to starve, while my sister has children whom she can sell?'

Though savages always have a reason, such as it is, for what they do and what they believe, their reasons often are very absurd. Moreover, the difficulty of ascertaining what is passing in their minds is of course much enhanced by the difficulty of communicating with them. This has produced many laughable mistakes. Thus, when Labillardiere enquired of the Friendly Islanders the word for 1,000,000, they seem to have thought the question absurd, and answered him by a word which apparently has no meaning; when he asked for 10,000,000, they said 'laoalai,' which I will leave unexplained; for 100,000,000, 'laounoua,' that is to say, 'nonsense;' while for the higher numbers they gave him certain coarse expressions, which he has gravely published in his table of numerals.

A mistake made by Dampier led to more serious results. He had met some Australians, and appre- [p.6] hending, an attack, he says: 'I discharged my gun to scare them, but avoided shooting any of them; till finding the young man in great danger from them, and myself in some, and that though the gun had a little frightened them at first, yet they had soon learnt to despise it, tossing up their hands, and crying "pooh, pooh, pooh!" and coming on afresh with a great noise, I thought it high time to charge again, and shoot one of them, which I did. The rest, seeing him fall, made a stand again, and my young man took the opportunity to disengage himself, and come off to me; my other man also was with me, who had done nothing all this while, having come out unarmed; and I returned back with my men, designing to attempt the natives no farther, being very sorry for what had happened already.'4 'Pooh, pooh,' however, or 'puff, puff,' is the name which savages, like children, naturally apply to guns.

Another source of error is, that savages are often reluctant to contradict what is said to them. Thus Mr. Oldfield,5 speaking of the Australians, tells us: 'I have found this habit of non-contradiction to stand very much in my way when making enquiries of them, for, as my knowledge of their language was only sufficient to enable me to seek information on some points by putting suggestive questions, in which they immediately concurred, I was frequently driven nearly to my wits' end to arrive at the truth. A native once brought me in some specimens of a species of eucalyptus, and being desirous of ascertaining the habit of [p.7] the plant, I asked, "A tall tree?" to which his ready answer was in the affirmative. Not feeling quite satisfied, I again demanded, "A low bush?" to which "yes" was also the response.'

Again, the mind of the savage, like that of the child, is easily fatigued, and he will then give random answers to spare himself the trouble of thought. Speaking of the Ahts (N.W. America), Mr. Sproat6 says: 'The native mind, to an educated man, seems generally to be asleep; and, if you suddenly ask a novel question, you have to repeat it while the mind of the savage is awaking, and to speak with emphasis until he has quite got your meaning. This may partly arise from the questioner's imperfect knowledge of the language; still, I think, not entirely, as the savage may be observed occasionally to become forgetful when voluntarily communicating information. On his attention being fully aroused, he often shows much quickness in reply and ingenuity in argument. But a short conversation wearies him, particularly if questions are asked that require efforts of thought or memory on his part. The mind of the savage then appears to rock to and fro out of mere weakness, and he tells lies and talks nonsense.' 'I frequently enquired of the negroes,' says Park, what became of the sun during the night, and whether we should see the same sun, or a different one, in the morning; but I found that they considered the question as very childish. The subject appeared to them as placed beyond the reach of human investigation; [p.8] they had never indulged a conjecture, nor formed any hypothesis, about the matter.'7

Such ideas are, in fact, entirely beyond the mental range of the lower savages, whose extreme mental inferiority we have much difficulty in realising.

Speaking of the wild men in the interior of Borneo, Dr. Dalton says that8 they are found living 'absolutely in a state of nature, who neither cultivate the ground nor live in huts; who neither eat rice nor salt, and who do not associate with each other, but rove about some woods, like wild beasts; the sexes meet in the jungle, or the man carries away a woman from some campong. When the children are old enough to shift for themselves, they usually separate, neither one afterwards thinking of the other. At night they sleep under some large tree, the branches of which hang low; on these they fasten the children in a kind of swing; around the tree they make a fire to keep off the wild beasts and snakes. They cover themselves with a piece of bark, and in this also they wrap their children; it is soft and warm, but will not keep out the rain. The poor creatures are looked on and treated by the other Dyaks as wild beasts.'

Lichtenstein describes a Bushman as presenting 'the true physiognomy of the small blue ape of Caffraria. What gives the more verity to such a comparison was the vivacity of his eyes, and the flexibility of his eyebrows. ... Even his nostrils and the corners of his mouth, nay his very ears, moved involuntarily. There was not, on the contrary, a single [p.9] feature in his countenance that evinced a consciousness of mental powers.'9

Under these circumstances it cannot be wondered at that we have most contradictory accounts as to the character and mental condition of savages. Nevertheless, by comparing together the accounts of different travellers, we can to a great extent avoid these sources of error; and we are very much aided in this by the remarkable similarity between different races. So striking indeed is this, that different races in similar stages of development often present more features of resemblance to one another than the same race does to itself in different stages of its history.

Some ideas, indeed, which seem to us at first inexplicable and fantastic, are yet very widely distributed. Thus among many races a woman is absolutely forbidden to speak to her son-in-law. Franklin10 tells us that among the American Indians of the far North, 'it is considered extremely improper for a mother-in-law to speak or even look at him; and when she has a communication to make to him it is the etiquette that she should turn her back upon him, and address him only through the medium of a third person.'

Further south, among the Omahaws, 'neither the father-in-law nor mother-in-law will hold any direct communication with their son-in-law; nor will he, on any occasion, or under any consideration, converse immediately with them, although no ill-will exists between them; they will not, on any account, mention each other's name in company, nor look in each other's faces; [p.10] any conversation that passes between them is conducted through the medium of some other person.'11

Harmon says that among the Indians east of the Rocky Mountains the same rule prevails.

Baegert12 mentions that among the Indians of California the 'son-in-law was not allowed, for some time, to look into the face of his mother-in-law, or his wife's nearest relations, but had to step on one side, or to hide himself when these women were present.'

Lafitau,13 indeed, makes the same statements as regards the North American Indians generally. We find it among the Crees and Dacotahs and again in Florida, Rochefort mentions it among the Caribs, and in South America it recurs among the Arawaks.

In Asia, among the Mongols and Kalmucks, a woman must not speak to her farther-in-law nor sit down in his presence. Among the Ostiaks14 of Siberia, 'une fille mariée évite autant qu'il lui est possible la presence du père de son mari, tant qu'elle n'a pas d'enfant; et le mari, pendant ce tems, n'ose pas paroitre devant la mère de sa femme. S'ils se rencontrent par hasard, le mari lui tourne le dos, et la femme se couvre le visage. On ne donne point de nom aux filles Ostiakes; lorsqu'elles sont mariées, les hommes les nominent Imi, femmes. Les femmes, par respect pour leurs maris, ne les appellent pas par leur noni; elles se servent du mot de Tahé, hommes.'

Dubois mentions that in certain districts of Hindostan a woman 'is not permitted to speak to her mother- [p.11] in-law. When any task is prescribed to her, she shows her acquiescence only by signs;' a contrivance, he sarcastically adds, 'well adapted for securing domestic tranquillity.'15

In China, according to Duhalde, the father-in-law, after the wedding-day, 'never sees the face of his daughter-in-law again; he never visits her,' and if they chance to meet he hides himself.16 A similar custom prevails in Borneo and in the Fiji Islands. In Australia, Eyre states that a man must not pronounce the name of his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, or his son-in-law. In central Africa, Caillie17 observes that, 'from this moment the lover is not to see the father and mother of his future bride: he takes the greatest care to avoid them, and if by chance they perceive him they cover their faces, as if all ties of friendship were broken. I tried in vain to discover the origin of this whimsical custom; the only answer I could obtain was, "It's our way." The custom extends beyond the relations: if the lover is of a different camp, he avoids all the inhabitants of the lady's camp, except a few intimate friends whom he is permitted to visit. A little tent is generally set up for him, under which he remains all day, and if he is obliged to come out, or to cross the camp, he covers his face. He is not allowed to see his intended during the day, but, when everybody is at rest, he creeps into her tent and remains with her till daybreak.' Lastly, among the Bushmen in the far South, Chapman recounts exactly the same thing, yet [p,12] none of these observers had any idea how general the custom is.

Mr. Tylor, who has some very interesting remarks on these customs in his 'Early History of Man,' observes that 'it is hard even to guess what state of things can have brought them into existence,' nor, so far as I am aware, has anyone else attempted to explain them. In the chapter on Marriage I shall, however, point out the manner in which I conceive that they have arisen.

Another curious custom is that known in Béarn under the name of La Couvade. Probably every Englishman who had not studied other races would assume, as a matter of course, that on the birth of a child the mother would everywhere be put to bed and nursed. But this is not the case. In many races the father, and not the mother, is doctored when a baby is born.

Yet though this custom seems so ludicrous to us, it is very widely distributed. Commencing with South America, Dobritzhoffer tells us that 'no sooner do you hear that a woman has borne a child, than you see the husband lying in bed, huddled up with mats and skins, lest some ruder breath of air should touch him, fasting, kept in private, and for a number of days abstaining religiously from certain viands: you would swear it was he who had had the child. ... I had read about this in old times, and laughed at it, never thinking I could believe such madness, and I used to suspect that this barbarian custom was related more in jest than in earnest; but at last I saw it with my own eyes among the Abipones.'

In Brazil among the Coroados, Martius tells us that [p.13] 'as soon as the woman is evidently pregnant, or has been delivered, the man withdraws. A strict regimen is observed before the birth; the man and the woman refrain for a time from the flesh of certain animals, and live chiefly on fish and fruits.'18

Further north, in Guiana, Mr. Brett19 observes that some of the men of the Acawoio and Caribi nations, when they have reason to expect an increase of their families, consider themselves bound to abstain from certain kinds of meat, lest the expected child should, in some very mysterious way, be injured by their partaking of it. The Acouri (or Agouti) is thus tabooed, lest, like that little animal, the child should be meagre; the Haimaira also, lest it should be blind—the outer coating of the eye of that fish suggesting film or cataract; the Labba, lest the infant's mouth should protrude like the labba's, or lest it be spotted like the labba, which spots would ultimately become ulcers. The Marudi is also forbidden, lest the infant be stillborn, the screeching of that bird being considered ominous of death.' And again: 'On the birth of a child, the ancient Indian etiquette requires the father to take to his hammock, where he remains some days as if he were sick, and receives the congratulations and condolence of his friends. An instance of this custom came under my own observation, where the man, in robust health and excellent condition, without a single bodily ailment, was lying in his hammock in the most provoking manner, and carefully and respectfully attended by the women, while the mother of the new- [p.14] born infant was cooking—none apparently regarding her!'20

Similar statements have been made by various other travellers, including De Tertre, Giliz, Biet, Fermin, and in fact almost all who have written on the natives of South America.

In Greenland, after a woman is confined, the 'husband must forbear working for some weeks, neither must they drive any trade during that time;21 in Kamskatka, for some time before the birth of a baby, the husband must do no hard work. Similar notions occur among the Chinese of West Yunnan, among the Dyaks of Borneo, in the north of Spain, in Corsica, and in the south of France, where it is called 'faire la couvade.' While, however, I regard this curious custom as of much ethnological interest, I cannot agree with Mr. Tylor in regarding it as evidence that the races by whom it is practised belong to one variety of the human species.'22 On the contrary, I believe that it originated independently, in several distinct parts of the world.

It is of course evident that a custom so ancient, and so widely spread, must have its origin in some idea which satisfies the savage mind. Several have been suggested. Professor Max Muller,23 in his 'Chips from a German Workshop,' says: 'It is clear that the poor husband was at first tyrannized over by his female relations, and afterwards frightened into superstition. He then began to make a martyr of himself till he made himself really ill, or took to his bed in self-defence. [p.15] Strange and absurd as the couvade appears at first sight, there is something in it with which, we believe, most mothers-in-law can sympathise.' Lafitau24 regards it as arising from a dim recollection of original sin, rejecting the Carib and Abipon explanation, which I have little doubt is the correct one, that they do it because they believe that if the father engaged in any rough work, or was careless in his diet, 'cela feroit mal à l'enfant, et que cet enfant participeroit à tous les défauts naturels des animaux dont le père auroit mangé.'

This idea, namely, that a person imbibes the characteristics of an animal which he eats, is very widely distributed. Thus the Malays at Singapore give a large price for the flesh of the tiger, not because they like it, but because they believe that the man who eats tiger 'acquires the sagacity as well as the courage of that animal.'25

'The Dyaks of Borneo have a prejudice against the flesh of deer, which the men may not eat, but which is allowed to women and children. The reason given for this is, that if the warriors eat the flesh of deer, they become as faint-hearted as that animal.'26

'In ancient times those who wished for children used to eat frogs, because that animal lays so many eggs.'27

The Caribs will not eat the flesh of pigs or tortoises, lest their eyes should become as small as those of these animals.28 The Dacotahs eat the liver of the [p.16] dog, in order to possess the sagacity and courage of that animal.29 The Arabs also impute the passionate and revengeful character of their countrymen to the use of camel's flesh.30

Tylor mentions31 that 'an English merchant in Shanghai, at the time of the Taeping attack, met his Chinese servant carrying home a heart, and asked him what he had got there. He said it was the heart of a rebel, and that he was going to take it home and eat it to make him brave.' The New Zealanders, after baptising an infant, used to make it swallow pebbles, so that its heart might be hard and incapable of pity.32

Even cannibalism is sometimes due to this idea, and the New Zealanders eat their most formidable enemies partly for this reason. It is from the same kind of idea that 'eyebright,' because the flower somewhat resembles an eye, was supposed to be good for ocular complaints.

To us the idea seems absurd. Not so to children. I have myself heard a little girl say to her brother, 'If you eat so much goose you will be quite silly;' and there are perhaps few children to whom the induction would not seem perfectly legitimate.

From the same notion the Esquimaux, 'to render barren women fertile or teeming, take old pieces of the soles of our shoes to hang about them; for, as they take our nation to be more fertile, and of a stronger disposition of body than theirs, they fancy the virtue of our body communicates itself to our clothing.'33


In fact savages do not act without reason any more than we do, though their reasons may often be bad ones and seem to us singularly absurd. Thus they have a great dread of having their portraits taken. The better the likeness, the worse they think for the sitter; so much life could not be put into the copy except at the expense of the original. Once when a good deal annoyed by some Indians, Kane got rid of them instantly by threatening to draw them if they remained. Catlin tells an amusing, but melancholy anecdote, in reference to this feeling. On one occasion he was drawing a chief named Mahtocheega, in profile. This when observed excited much commotion among the Indians: 'Why was half his face left out?' they asked; 'Mahtocheega was never ashamed to look a white in the face.' Mahtocheega himself does not seem to have taken any offence, but Shonka, 'the Dog,' took advantage of the idea to taunt him. 'The Englishman knows,' he said, 'that you are but half a man; he has painted but one-half of your face, and knows that the rest is good for nothing.' This view of the case led to a fight, in which poor Mahtocheega was shot; and as ill-luck would have it, the bullet by which he was killed tore away just that part of the face which had been omitted in the drawing.

This was very unfortunate for Mr. Catlin, who had great difficulty in making his escape, and lived some months after in fear for his life; nor was the matter settled until both Shonka and his brother had been killed in revenge for the death of Mahtocheega.

Franklin also mentions that the North American Indians 'prize pictures very highly, and esteem any [p.18] they can get, however badly executed, as efficient charms.'34

The natives of Borneo had a similar horror of being written; 'they said that they did not like it; that the Sheik did not like it; that it was a sin; and I am quite sure, from the impression, that we had much better never have produced the book at all.'35 In his Travels in Lapland Sir A. de C. Brooke says: 'I could clearly perceive36 that many of them imagined the magical art to be connected with what I was doing, and on this account showed signs of uneasiness, till reassured by some of the merchants. An instance of this happened one morning, when a Laplander knocked at the door of my chamber, and entered it, as they usually did, without further ceremony. Having come from Alten to Hammerfest on some business, curiosity had induced him, previously to his return, to pay the Englishman a visit. After a dram he seemed quite at his ease; and producing my pencil, I proceeded, as he stood, to sketch his portrait. His countenance now immediately changed, and taking up his cap, he was on the point of making an abrupt exit, without my being able to conjecture the cause. As he spoke only his own tongue, I was obliged to have recourse to assistance; when I found that his alarm was occasioned by my employment, which he at once comprehended, but suspected that, by obtaining a likeness of him, I should acquire over him a certain power and influence that might be prejudicial. He therefore refused to allow it, and expressed a wish, before any other steps [p.19] were taken, to return to Alton, and ask the permission of his master.' Mr. Ellis mentions the existence of a similar feeling in Madagascar.37

We can hardly wonder that writing should seem to savages even more magical than drawing. Carver, for instance, allowed the North American Indians to open a book as often as and wherever they pleased, and then told them the number of leaves. 'The only way they could account,' he says, 'for my knowledge, was by concluding that the book was a spirit, and whispered me answers to whatever I demanded of it.'38

Father Baegert mentions39 that 'a certain missionary sent a native to one of his colleagues, with some loaves of bread and a letter stating their number. The messenger eat a part of the bread, and his theft was consequently discovered; another time when he had to deliver four loaves, he ate two of them, but hid the accompanying letter under a stone while he was thus engaged, believing that his conduct would not be revealed this time, as the letter had not seen him in the act of eating the loaves.'

Further north the Minatarrees, seeing Catlin intent over a copy of the 'New York Commercial Advertiser,' were much puzzled, but at length came to the conclusion that it was a medicine-cloth for sore eyes. One of them eventually bought it for a high price.40

This use of writing as a medicine prevails largely in Africa, where the priests or wizards write a prayer on a piece of board, wash it off and make the patient drink it.


Caillie41 met with a man who had a great reputation for sanctity and who made his living by writing prayers on a board, washing them off, and then selling the water, which was sprinkled over various objects, and supposed to improve or protect them.

Mungo Park on one occasion profited by this idea. 'A Bambarran having,' he says, 'heard that I was a Christian, immediately thought of procuring a saphie; and for this purpose brought out his walha or writing-board, assuring me that, he would dress me a supper of rice, if I would write him a saphie to protect him from wicked men. The proposal was of too great consequence to me to be refused: I therefore wrote the board full from top to bottom on both sides; and my landlord, to be certain of having the whole force of the charm, washed the writing from the board into a calabash with a little water, and having said a few prayers over it, drank this powerful draught; after which, lest a single word should escape, he licked the board until it was quite dry.'42

In Africa, the prayers written as medicine or as amulets are generally taken from the Koran. It is admitted that they are no protection from firearms, but this does not the least weaken the faith in them, because, as guns were not invented in Mahomet's time, he naturally provided no specific against them.43

Among the Kirghiz also, Atkinson tells us that the Mullas sell similar amulets, 'at the rate of a sheep for each scrap of paper.'44


The science of medicine, indeed, like that of astronomy, and like religion, takes among savages very much the character of witchcraft.

Among the Kaffirs, 'diseases are all attributed to three causes—either to being enchanted by an enemy, to the anger of certain beings whose abode appears to be in the rivers, or to the power of evil spirits.'45 So, again, in Guinea, the native doctors paint their patients different colours in honour of the spirit.46

Ignorant as they are of the processes by which life is maintained, of anatomy and of physiology, the true nature of disease does not occur to them. Many savage races do not believe in natural death, and if a man, however old, dies without being wounded, conclude that he must have been the victim of magic. Thus, then, when a savage is ill, he naturally attributes his sufferings to some enemy within him, or to some foreign object, and the result is a peculiar system of treatment, curious both for its simplicity and universality.

'It is remarkable in the Abiponian (Paraguay) physicians,' says Father Dobritzhoffer,47 'that they cure every kind of disease with one and the same medicine. Let us examine this method of healing. They apply their lips to the part affected, and suck it, spitting after every suction. At intervals they draw up their breath from the very bottom of their breast and blow upon that part of the body which is in pain. That blowing and sucking are alternately repeated. ... [p.22] This method of healing is in use amongst all the savages of Paraguay and Brazil that I am acquainted with, and, according to Father Jean Grillet, amongst the Galibe Indians. ... The Abipones, still more irrational, expect sucking and blowing to rid the body of whatever causes pain or inconvenience. This belief is constantly fostered by the jugglers with fresh artifices; for when they prepare to suck the sick man, they secretly put thorns, beetles, worms, &c. into their mouths, and spitting them out, after having sucked for some time, say to him, pointing to the worm or thorn, "See here the cause of your disorder." At this sight the sick man revives, when he thinks the enemy that has tormented him is at length expelled.'

At first one might almost be disposed to think that some one had been amusing himself at the expense of the worthy father, but we shall find the very same mode of treatment among other races. Martius tells us that the cures of the Guaycurus (Brazil) 'are very simple, and consist principally in fumigating or in sucking the part affected, on which the Paye spits into a pit, as if he would give back the evil principle which he has sucked out to the earth and bury it.'48

In British Guiana, Mr. Brett mentions that, 'if the patient be strong enough to endure the disease, the excitement, the noise, and the fumes of tobacco in which he is at times enveloped, and the sorcerer observes signs of recovery, he will pretend to extract the cause of the complaint by sucking the part [p.23] affected. After many ceremonies, he will produce from his mouth some strange substance, such as a thorn or gravel-stone, a tisli bone or bird's claw, a snake's tooth or a piece of wire, which some malicious yauhahu is supposed to have inserted in the affected part.'49

Father Baegert mentions that the Californian sorcerers blow upon and suck those who are ill, and finally show them some small object, assuring them that it had been extracted, and that it was the cause of the pain. Wilkes thus describes a scene at Wallawalla, on the Columbia river: 'The doctor, who was a woman, bending over the body, began to suck his neck and chest in different parts, in order more effectually to extract the bad spirit. She would every now and then seem to obtain some of the disease, and then faint away. On the next morning she was still found sucking the boy's chest. ... So powerful was the influence operated on the boy that he indeed seemed better. ... The last time Mr. Drayton visited the doctress, she exhibited a stone, about the size of a goose's egg, saying that she had taken the disease of the boy out of him.'50

Among the Prairie Indians, also, all diseases are treated alike, being referred to one cause, viz. the presence of an evil spirit, which must be expelled. This the medicine-man 'attempts, in the first place, by certain incantations and ceremonies, intended to secure the aid of the spirit or spirits he worships, and then by all kinds of frightful noises and gestures, and [p.24] sucking over the seat of pain with his mouth.'51 Speaking of the Hudson's Bay Indians, Hearne says: 'Here it is necessary to remark that they use no medicine either for internal or external complaints, but perform all their cures by charms—in ordinary cases sucking the part affected, blowing, and singing.'52 Again, in the extreme north, Crantz tells us that among the Esquimaux old women are accustomed 'to extract from an swollen leg a parcel of hair or scraps of leather; they do it by sucking with their mouth, which they had before crammed full of such stuff.'53 Passing now to the Laplanders, we are told that if anyone among them is ill, a wizard sucks his forehead and blows in his face, thinking thus to cure him.

In South Africa, Chapman thus describes a similar custom: A man having been injured, he says, 'our friend sucked at the wound, and then ... extracted from his mouth a lump of some substance, which was supposed to be the disease.'54

In Australia, we are told by ex-Governor Eyre, in his interesting work, that, 'as all internal pains are attributed to witchcraft, sorcerers possess the power of relieving or curing them. Sometimes the mouth is applied to the surface where the pain is seated, the blood is sucked out, and a bunch of green leaves applied to the part; besides the blood, which is derived from the gums of the sorcerer, a bone is sometimes put out of he mouth, and declared to have been procured from the diseased part; on other occa- [p.25] sions the disease is drawn out in an invisible form, and burnt in the fire or thrown into the water.'55

Thus, then, we find all over the world this primitive cure by sucking out the evil, which perhaps even with ourselves lingers among nurses and children, in the universal nursery remedy of 'Kiss it and make it well.'

Another curious remedy practised by the Australians is to tie a line round the forehead or neck of the patient, while some kind friend rubs her lips with the 'other end of the string until they bleed freely; this blood is supposed to come from the patient, passing along the string.'56

A dislike of twins is widely distributed. In the Island of Bali57 (near Java), the natives 'have the singular idea, when a woman is brought to bed of twins, that it is an unlucky omen; and immediately on its being known, the woman, with her husband and children, is obliged to go and live on the seashore or among the tombs for the space of a month, to purify themselves, after which they may return into the village, upon a suitable sacrifice being made. Thus an evidence of fertility is considered by them unfortunate, and the poor woman and her new-born babes are exposed to all the inclemency of the weather out of doors just at the time when they need the most attention.' This idea is, however, far from being peculiar to that island.

Among the Khasias of Hindostan,58 'in the case of [p.26] twins being born, one used frequently to be killed: it is considered unlucky, and also degrading, to have twins, as they consider that it assimilates them with the lower animals.'

Among the Ainos of Japan,59 when twins are born, one is always destroyed. At Arebo in Guinea, Smith and Bosman60 tell us that when twins are born, both they and the mother are killed. 'In Nguru, one of the sister provinces to Unyanyembe, twins are ordered to be killed and thrown into the water the moment they are born, lest droughts and famines or floods should oppress the land. Should anyone attempt to conceal twins, the whole family would be murdered.'61

The American Indians,62 also, on the birth of twins, killed one; perhaps merely under the idea that one strong child was better than two weak ones.

This is not, however, I think, the general cause of the prejudice against twins. I should rather see it in the curious idea that one man would only have one child; so that twins imply infidelity of an aggravated character. Thus in the introduction to the curious old Chevalier Assig .J, or Knight of the Swan (the king and queen are sitting on the wall together):

The kynge loked adowne, and byhelde under,
And seygh a pore womman, at the yate sytte,
Withe two chylderen her byfore, were borne at a bythe;
And he turned hym thenne, and teres lette he falle,
Sythen sykede he on hyghe, and to the qwene sayd,
Se ye the yonder pore womman. Now that she is payde.
With twynlenges two, and that dare I my hedde wedde.


The qwene nykked him with nay, and seyde it is not to love:
Oon manne for oon chylde, and two wymmen for tweyne;
Or ellis hit were unsemelye thynge, as me wolde thenke,
But eche chylde hadde a fader, how manye so ther were.'

Since reading this I have found that the very same idea occurs in Guinea.63

Some curious ideas prevalent among savages arise from the fact that as their own actions are due to life, so they attribute life even to inanimate objects. Even Plato assumed that every thing which moves itself must have a soul, and hence that the world must have a soul. Hearne tells us that the North American Indians prefer a hook that has caught a big fish to a handful that have never been tried. And that they never put two nets together for fear they should be jealous.64

The Bushmen thought Chapman's big waggon was the mother of his smaller ones; they 'despise an arrow that has once failed of its mark; and on the contrary, consider one that has hit as of double value. They will, therefore, rather make new arrows, how much time and trouble soever it may cost them, than collect those that have missed, and use them again.'65

The natives of Tahiti sowed some iron nails given them by Captain Cook, hoping thus to obtain young ones. They also believe that 'not only all animals, but trees, fruit, and even stones, have souls, which at death, or upon being consumed or broken, ascend to the divinity, with whom they first mix, and afterwards pass into the mansion allotted to each.'66


The Tongans were of opinion that 'if an animal dies, its soul immediately goes to Bolotoo; if a stone or any other substance is broken, immortality is equally its reward; nay, artificial bodies have equal good luck with men, and hogs, and yams. If an axe or a chisel is worn out or broken up, away flies its soul for the service of the gods. If a house is taken down or any way destroyed, its immortal part will find a situation on the plains of Bolotoo.'67 Hence probably the custom of breaking the implements, &c. buried with the dead. This was not done to render them useless, for the savage would not dream of violating the tomb, bringing on himself the wrath of its occupant; but because the implements required to be 'killed,' so that their spirits, like those of the wives and slaves, might accompany their master to the land of shadows.

Lichtenstein relates that the king of the Coussa Kaffirs having broken off a piece of the anchor of a stranded ship, died soon afterwards; upon which all the Kaffirs made a point of saluting the anchor very respectfully whenever they passed near it, regarding it as a vindictive being.

Some similar accident probably gave rise to the ancient Mohawk notion that some great misfortune would happen if anyone spoke on Saratoga Lake. A strong-minded Englishwoman, on one occasion, while being ferried over, insisted on talking, and, as she got across safely, rallied her boatman on his superstition; but I think he had the best of it after all, for he at once replied, 'The Great Spirit is merciful, and knows that a white woman cannot hold her tongue.'68


The forms of salutation among savages are sometimes very curious, and their modes of showing their feelings quite unlike ours. Kissing appears to us to be the natural language of affection. 'It is certain,' says Steele, 'that nature was its author, and it began with the first courtship:' but this seems to be quite a mistake. In fact it was unknown to the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Papouans, and the Esquimaux; the West African negroes, we are told, do not like it, otherwise I should have thought that, when once discovered, it would have been universally popular.

The Polynesians and the Malays always sit down when speaking to a superior; a Chinaman puts on his hat instead of taking it off. Cooke asserts that the people of Mallicollo show their admiration by hissing, and the same is the case, according to Casalis, among the Kaffirs.69 In some of the Pacific Islands, in parts of Hindostan,70 and some parts of Africa, it is considered respectful to turn your back to a superior. The Todas of the Neilgherry Hills are said to show respect by 'raising the open right hand to the brow, resting the thumb on the nose'; and it has been asserted that in one tribe of Esquimaux it is customary to pull a person's nose as a compliment, though it is but right to say that Dr. Rae thinks there was some mistake on the point; on the other hand, Dr. Blackmore mentions that 'the sign of the Arapahoes, and from which they derive their name,' consists in seizing the nose with the thumb and forefinger.71

It is asserted that in China a coffin is regarded as an appropriate present for an aged relative, especially if he be in bad health.



THE earliest traces of art yet discovered belong to the Stone Age—to a time so remote that the reindeer was abundant in the south of France, and that probably, though on this point there is some doubt, even the mammoth had not entirely disappeared. These works of art are sometimes sculptures, if one may say so, and sometimes drawings or etchings made on bone or horn with the point of a flint.

They are of peculiar interest, both as being the earliest works of art known to us—older than any Egyptian statues, or any of the Assyrian monuments, and also because, though so ancient, they show really considerable skill. There is, for instance, a certain spirit about the subjoined group of reindeer (fig. 1), copied from a specimen in the collection of the Marquis de Mbraye. The mammoth (pl. I.) represented on the opposite page, though less artistic, is perhaps even more interesting. It is scratched on a piece of mammoth's tusk, and was found in the cave of La Madelaine in the Dordogne.

It is somewhat remarkable that while even in the Stone Period we find very fair drawings of animals, yet in the latest part of the Stone Age, and throughout that of Bronze, they are almost entirely wanting, and [p.31] the ornamentation is confined to various combinations of straight and curved lines and geometrical patterns. This, I believe, will eventually be found to imply a difference of race between the population of Western Europe at these different periods. Thus at present the Esquimaux (see figs. 2-4) are very fair draughtsmen, while the Polynesians, though much more advanced in many ways, and though skilful in ornamenting both themselves and their weapons, have very little idea indeed of representing animals or plants. Their tattooings, for instance, and the patterns on their weapons, are, like the ornaments of the Bronze Age almost invariably of a geometrical character. Representations of animals and plants are not, indeed, entirely wanting; but, whether attempted in drawing or in sculpture, they are always rude and grotesque. With the Esquimaux the very reverse is the case: among them we find none of those graceful spirals, and other [p.33] geometrical patterns, so characteristic of Polynesia; but, on the other hand, their weapons are often covered with representations of animals and hunting scenes. Thus Beechey,72 describing the weapons of the Esquimaux at Hotham's Inlet, says:

'On the outside of this and other instruments there were etched a variety of figures of men, beasts, birds, &c., with a truth and a character which showed the art to be common among them. The reindeer were generally in herds; in one picture they were pursued by a man in a stooping posture, in snow-shoes; in another he had approached nearer to his game, and was in the act of drawing his bow. A third represented the manner of taking seals with an inflated skin of the same animal as a decoy; it was placed upon the ice, and not far from it was a man lying upon his belly, with a harpoon ready to strike the animal when it should make its appearance. Another was dragging a seal home upon a small sledge; and several baidars were employed harpooning whales which had been previously shot with arrows; and thus, by comparing one with another, a little history was obtained which gave us a better insight into their habits than could be elicited from any signs or intimations.'

Some of these drawings are represented in figs. 2-4, which are taken from specimens presented by Captain Beechey to the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

Hooper73 also mentions drawings among the Tuski, especially 'a sealskin tanned and bleached perfectly white, ornamented all over in painting and staining with [p.34] figures of men, boats, animals, and delineations of whale-fishing, &c.—a valuable curiosity.'

In the same way we may, I think, fairly able eventually to obtain from the ancient drawings of the bone caves a better insight into the habits of our predecessors in Western Europe; to ascertain, for instance, whether their reindeer were domesticated or wild. As yet, however, mere representations of animals have been met with, and nothing has been found to supplement in any way the evidence derivable from the implements, &c.

But though we thus find art—simple, indeed, but by no means contemptible—in very ancient times, and among very savage tribes, there are also other races who are singularly deficient in it.

Thus, though some Australians are capable of making rude drawings of animals, &c., others, on the contrary, as Oldfield74 tells us, 'seem quite unable to realise the most vivid artistic representations. On being shown a large coloured engraving of an aboriginal New Hollander, one declared it to be a ship, another a kangaroo, and so on; not one of a dozen identifying the portrait as having any connection with himself. A rude drawing, with all the lesser parts much exaggerated, they can realise. Thus, to give them an idea of a man, the head must be drawn disproportionately large.'

Dr. Collingwood,75 speaking of the Kibalans of Formosa, to whom he showed a copy of the 'Illustrated London News,' tells us that he found it 'impossible to [p.35] interest them by pointing out the most striking illustrations, which they did not appear to comprehend.'

Denham, in his 'Travels in Central Africa,' says that Bookhaloom, a man otherwise of considerable intelligence, though he readily recognised figures, could not understand a landscape. 'I could not,' he says, 'make him understand the intention of the print of the sandwind in the desert, which is really so well described by Captain Lyons' drawing; he would look at it upside down; and when I twice reversed it for him, he exclaimed, "Why! why! it is all the same." A camel or a human figure was all I could make him understand, and at these he was all agitation and delight—"gieb! gieb!"—Wonderful! wonderful! The eyes first took his attention, then the other features; at the sight of the sword he exclaimed, "Allah! Allah!" and, on discovering the guns, instantly exclaimed, "Where is the powder?"'76

So also the Kaffir has great difficulty in understanding drawings, and perspective is altogether beyond him. Central and Southern Africa seem, indeed, to be very backward in matters of art. Still the negroes are not altogether deficient in the idea. Their idols cannot be called indeed works of art, but they often not only represent men, but give some of the African characteristics with grotesque fidelity.

The Kaffirs also can carve fair representations of animals and plants, and are fond of doing so. The handles of their spoons are often shaped into unmistakeable likenesses of giraffes, ostriches, and other animals.

As to the Bushmen, we have rather different [p.36] accounts. It has been stated by some that they have no idea of perspective, nor of how a curved surface can possibly be represented on a flat piece of paper; while, on the contrary, other travellers assert that they readily recognise drawings of animals or flowers. The Chinese, although so advanced in many ways, are, we know, very deficient in the idea of perspective.

Probably no race of men in the Stone Age had attained the art of communicating facts by means of letters, nor even by the far ruder system of picture-writing; nor does anything, perhaps, surprise the savage more than to find that Europeans can communicate with one another by means of a few black scratches on a piece of paper.

Even the Peruvians had no better means of recording events than the Quippu or Quipu, which was a cord about two feet long, to which a number of different coloured threads were attached in the form of a fringe. These threads were tied into knots, whence the name Quippu, meaning a knot. These knots served as cyphers, and the various threads had also conventional meanings attached to them, indicated by the various colours. This singular and apparently very cumbersome mode of assisting the memory reappears in China and in Africa. Thus, 'As to77 the original of the Chinese characters, before the commencement of the monarchy, little cords with sliding knots, each of which had its particular signification, were used in transacting business. These are represented in two tables by the Chinese, called the Ho-tû and Lo-slû. The first colonies who inhabited Sechwen had no other literature besides some arithmetical [p.37] sets of counters made with little knotted cords, in imitation of a string of round beads, with which they calculated and made up all their accounts in commerce.' Again, in West Africa, we are told that the people of Ardraha78 neither write nor read. They use small cords tied, the knots of which have their signification.

'These are also used by several savage nations in America.' It seems not impossible that tying a knot in a pocket-handkerchief may be the direct lineal representative of this ancient and widely extended mode of assisting the memory.

The so-called picture-writing is, however, a great advance. Yet from representations of hunts in general, such as those of the Esquimaux (see figs. 2-4), it is indeed but a step to record pictorially some particular hunt. Again, the Esquimaux almost always places his mark on his arrows, but I am not aware that any Polynesian ever conceived the idea of doing so. Thus we get among the Esquimaux a double commencement, as it were, for the representation of ideas by means of signs.

This art of pictorial writing was still more advanced among the Red Skins.

Thus Carver tells us that on one occasion his Chipeway guide, fearing that the Naudowessies, a hostile tribe, might accidentally fall in with and attack them, 'peeled the bark from a large tree near the entrance of a river, and with wood-coal mixed with bear's grease, their usual substitute for ink, made in an uncouth but expressive manner the figure of the town of the Otta-gaumies. He then formed to the left a man dressed [p.38] in skins, by which he intended to represent a Naudowessi, with a line drawn from his mouth to that of a deer, the symbol of the Chipeways. After this he depicted still farther to the left a canoe as proceeding up the river, in which he placed a man sitting with a hat on; this figure was designed to represent an Englishman, or myself, and my Frenchman was drawn with a handkerchief tied round his head, and rowing the canoe; to these he added several other significant emblems, among which the pipe of peace appeared painted on the prow of the canoe. The meaning he intended to convey to the Naudowessies, and which I doubt not appeared perfectly intelligible to them, was that one of the Chipeway chiefs had received a speech from some Naudowessie chiefs at the town of the Otta-gaumies, desiring him to conduct the Englishman, who had lately been among them, up the Chipeway river; and that they thereby required that the Chipeway, notwithstanding he was an avowed enemy, should not be molested by them on his passage, as he had the care of a person whom they esteemed as one of their nation.'79

An excellent account of the Red Skin pictorial art is given by Schoolcraft in his 'History of the Indian Tribes in the United States.'

Fig. 5 represents the census-roll of an Indian band at Mille Lac, in the territory of Minnesota, sent in to the United States agent by Nago-nabe, a Chippewa Indian, during the progress of the annuity payments in 1841. The Indians generally denote themselves by their 'totem,' or family sign, but in this case, as they all had [p.40] the same totem, he had designated each family by a sign denoting the common name of the Chief. Thus number 5 denotes a catfish, and the six strokes indicate that the Catfish's family consisted of six individuals; 8 is a beaver skin, 9 a sun, 13 an eagle, 14 a snake, 22 a buffalo, 34 an axe, 35 the medicine-man, and so on.

Fig. 6 is the record of a noted chief of the St. Mary's band, called Shin-ga-ba-was-sin, or the Image-stone, who died on Lake Superior in 1828. He was of the totem of the crane, as indicated by the figure. The six strokes on the right, and the three on the left, are marks of honour. The latter represent three important general treaties of peace in which he had taken part at various times.80 Among the former marks are included his [p.41] presence under Tecums, at the battle of Moraviantown, where he lost a brother.'

Fig. 7 represents the adjedutig, or tomb-board, of Wabojeeg, a celebrated war-chief, who died on Lake Superior, about 1793. He was of the family or clan of the reindeer. This fact is symbolized by the figure of the deer. The reverse position denotes death. His own personal name, which was the White Fisher, is not noticed. The seven marks on the left denote that he had led seven war parties. The three perpendicular lines below the totem represent three wounds received in battle. The figure of a moose's head relates to a desperate conflict with an enraged animal of this kind. Fig. 8 is copied from a bark letter which was found above St. Anthony's Falls, in 1830. It consisted of white birch bark, and the figures had [p.42] been carefully drawn. No. 1 denotes the flag of the Union: No. 2 the cantonment, then recently established at Cold Spring, on the western side of the cliffs, above the influx of the St. Peters: No. 4 is the symbol of the commanding officer (Colonel H. Leavenworth), under whose authority a mission of peace had been sent into the Chippewa country: No. 11 is the symbol of Chakope, or the Six, the leading Sioux chief, under whose orders the party moved: No. 8 is the second chief, called Wabedatunka, or the Black Dog. The symbol of his name is No. 10; he has fourteen lodges. No. 7 is a chief, subordinate to Chakope, with thirteen lodges, and a bale of goods (No. 9), which was devoted by the government to the objects of the peace. The name of No. 6, whose wigwam is No. 5, with thirteen subordinate lodges, was not given.'81

This was intended to imply that a party of Sioux, headed by Chakope, and accompanied or at least countenanced by Colonel Leavenworth, had come to this spot in the hope of meeting the Chippewa hunters and concluding a peace. The Chippewa chief Babesacundabee, who found this letter, read off its meaning without doubt or hesitation.

On one occasion a party of explorers, with two Indian guides, saw one morning, just as they were about to start, a pole stuck in the direction they were going, and holding at the top a piece of bark, covered with drawings, which were intended for the information of any other Indians who might pass that way. This is represented in fig. 9. [p.43] No. 1 represents the subaltern officer in command of the party. He is drawn with a sword to denote his rank. No. 2 denotes the secretary. He is represented as holding a book, the Indians having understood him to be an attorney. No. 3 represents the geologist, appropriately indicated by a hammer. Nos. 4 and 5 are attache's; No. 6 the interpreter. The group of figures marked 9 represents seven infantry soldiers, each of whom, as shown in group No. 10, was armed with a musket. No. 15 denotes that they had a separate fire, and constituted a separate mess. Figs. 7 and 8 represent the two Chippewa guides. These are the only human figures drawn without the distinguishing symbol of a hat. This was the characteristic seized on by them, and generally employed by the Indians, to distinguish the Red from the White race. Figs. 11 and 12 represent a prairie hen and a green tortoise, which constituted the sum of the preceding day's chase, and were eaten at the encampment. The inclination of the pole was designed to show the course pursued, and there were three hacks in it below the scroll of bark, to indicate the estimated length of this part of the journey, computing from water to water. The following figure [p.44] (fig. 10) gives the biography of Wingemund, a noted chief of the Delawares. 1 shows that it belonged to the oldest branch of the tribe, which use the tortoise on their symbol; 2 is his totem or symbol; 3 is the sun, and the ten strokes represent ten war parties in which he was engaged. Those figures on the left represent the captives which he made in each of his excursions, the men being distinguished from the women, and the captives being denoted by having heads, while a man without his head is of course a dead man. The central figures represent three forts which he attacked; 8 one on Lake Erie, 9 that of Detroit, and 10 Fort Pitt, at the junction of the Alleghany and the Monongahela. The sloping strokes denote the number of his followers.82

Fig. 11 represents a petition presented to the President of the United States for the right to certain lakes (8) in the neighbourhood of Lake Superior (10).

No. 1 represents Oshcabawis, the leader, who is of the [p.46] Crane clan. The eyes of his followers are all connected with his to symbolise unity of views, and their hearts to denote unity of feeling. No. 2 is Wai-mittig-ouzh, whose totem is a marten; No. 3 is Ogemageezhig, also a marten; 4 is another marten, Muk-o-mis-ud-ains, the Little Tortoise; 5 is O-mush-kose, the Little Elk, belonging, however, to the Bear totem; 6 belongs to the Manfish totem, and 7 to the Catfish. The eye of the leader has a line directed forwards to the President, and another backwards to the lakes (8).

In some places of Western Europe, rock sculptures have been discovered, to which we cannot yet safely ascribe any meaning, but on which perhaps the more complete study of the picture-writing of modern savages may eventually throw some light.

We will now pass to art as applied to the purposes of personal decoration. Savages are passionately fond of ornaments. In some of the very lowest races, indeed, the women are almost undecorated, but that is only because the men keep all the ornaments themselves. As a general rule, we may say that Southerners ornament themselves, Northerners their clothes. In fact, all savage races who leave much of their skin uncovered delight in painting themselves in the most brilliant colours they can obtain. Black, white, red, and yellow are the favourite, or rather, perhaps, the commonest colours. Although perfectly naked, the Australians of Botany Bay were by no means without ornaments. They painted themselves with red ochre, white clay, and charcoal; the red was laid on in broad patches, the white generally in stripes, or on the face in spots, [p.47] often with a circle round each eye;83 through the septum of the nose they wore a bone as thick as a man's finger and five or six inches long. This was of course very awkward, as it prevented them from breathing freely through the nose, but they submitted cheerfully to the inconvenience for the sake of appearance.

They had also necklaces made of shells, neatly cut and strung together; earrings, bracelets of small cord, and strings of plaited human hair, which they wound round their waists. Some also had gorgets of large shells hanging; from the neck across the breast. On all these things they placed a high value.

Spix and Martius84 thus describe the ornaments of a Coroado woman. 'On the cheek she had a circle, and over that two strokes; under the nose several marks resembling an M; from the corners of the mouth to the middle of the cheek were two parallel lines, and below them on both sides many straight stripes; below and between her breasts there were some connected segments of circles, and down her arms the figure of a snake was depicted. This beauty wore no ornaments, except a necklace of monkeys' teeth.'

The savage also wears necklaces and rings, bracelets and anklets, armlets and leglets—even, if I may say so, bodylets. Round their bodies, round their necks, round their arms and legs, their fingers, and even their toes, they wear ornaments of all kinds. From their number and weight these must sometimes be very inconvenient. Lichtenstein saw the wife of a Beetuan chief wearing no less than seventy-two brass rings.


Nor are they particular as to the material: copper, brass, or iron, leather or ivory, stones, shells, glass, bits of wood, seeds, or teeth—nothing comes amiss. In South East Island, one of the Louisiade Archipelago, McGillivray even saw several bracelets made each of a lower human jaw, crossed by a collar-bone; and other travellers have seen brass curtain rings, the brass plates for keyholes, the lids of sardine cases, and other such incongruous objects worn with much gravity and pride.

The Felatah ladies in Central Africa spend several hours a day over their toilet. In fact they begin overnight by carefully wrapping their fingers and toes in henna leaves, so that by morning they are a beautiful purple. The teeth are stained alternately blue, yellow, and purple, one here and there being left of its natural colour, as a contrast. About the eyelids they are very particular; pencilling them with sulphuret of antimony. The hair is coloured carefully with indigo. Studs and other jewellery are worn in great profusion.85

Not content with hanging things round their necks, arms, ankles, and in fact wherever nature has enabled them to do so, savages also cut holes in themselves for the purpose.

The Esquimaux from Mackenzie River westward make two openings in their cheeks, one on each side, which they gradually enlarge, and in which they wear an ornament of stone resembling in form a large stud, and which may therefore be called a cheek stud.

Throughout a great part of Western America, and again in Africa, we also find the custom of wearing a piece of wood through the central part of the lower lip. [p,49] A small hole is made in the lip during infancy, and it is then extended by degrees until it is sometimes as much as two inches long.

Some races extend the lobe of the ear until it reaches the shoulder; others file the teeth in various manners.

Thus, among the Rejangs of Sumatra, 'both sexes have the extraordinary custom of filing and otherwise disfiguring their teeth, which are naturally very white and beautiful, from the simplicity of their food. For files they make use of small whetstones of different degrees of fineness, and the patients lie on their backs during the operation. Many, particularly women of the Lampong country, have their teeth rubbed down quite even with the gums; others have them formed in points, and some file off no more than the outer coat and extremities, in order that they may the better receive and retain the jetty blackness with which they almost universally adorn them.'86

Dr. J. B. Davis has a Dyak skull in which the six front teeth have each been carefully pierced with a small hole, into which a pin with a spherical brass head has been driven. In this way, the upper lip being raised, the shining knob on each tooth would be displayed.87 Some of the African tribes also chip their teeth in various manners, each community having a fashion of its own.

Ornamentation of the skin is almost universal among the lower races of men. In some cases every individual follows his own fancy; in others, each clan has a special pattern. Thus, speaking of Abeokuta, Captain [p.50] Burton88 says: 'There was a vast variety of tattoos and ornamentation, rendering them a serious difficulty to strangers. The skin patterns were of every variety, from the diminutive prick to the great gash and the boil-like lumps. They affected various tortoises, alligators, and the favourite lizard, stars, concentric circles, lozenges, right lines, welts, gouts of gore, marble or button-like knobs of flesh, and elevated scars, resembling scalds, which are opened for the introduction of fetish medicines, and to expel evil influences. In this country every tribe, sub-tribe, and every family, has its blazon,89 whose infinite diversifications maybe compared with the lines and ordinaries of European heraldry.'

In South Africa the Nyambanas are characterised by a row of pimples or warts, about the size of a pea, and extending from the upper part of the forehead to the tip of the nose. Among the Bachapin Kaffirs, those who have distinguished themselves in battle are allowed the privilege of marking their thigh with a long scar, which is rendered indelible and of a bluish colour by rubbing ashes into the fresh wound.

The tribal mark of the Bunns90 (Africa) consists of three slashes from the crown of the head, down the face towards the mouth; the ridges of flesh stand out in bold relief. This painful operation is performed by cutting the skin, and taking out a strip of flesh; palm oil and wood ashes are then rubbed into the wound, thus causing a thick ridge.


The Bornouese in Central Africa have twenty cuts or lines on each side of the face, which are drawn from the corners of the mouth towards the angles of the lower jaw and cheekbone. They have also one cut in the centre of the forehead, six on each arm, six on each leg, four on each breast, and nine on each side, just above the hips. This makes 91 large cuts, and the process is said to be extremely painful on account of the heat and flies.91

The islanders of Torres Straits ornament themselves by a large oval scar, slightly raised, and neatly made. It is situated on the right shoulder, but some of them have a second on the left. At Cape York many of the natives also had two or three long transverse scars on the chest. Many had also a two-horned mark on each breast, but these differences seemed to depend on the taste of each individual.

The custom of tattooing is found almost all over the world, though, as might be expected, it is most developed in hot countries. In Siberia, however, the Ostiak women tattoo the backs of the hands, the forearm, and the front of the leg. The men only tattoo, on the wrist, the mark or sign which stands as their signature.92

Among the Tuski the faces of the women are tattooed on the chin in diverging lines; men only make a permanent mark on the face for an act of prowess or success, such as killing a bear, capturing a whale, &c, and possibly also, in war time, for the death of an enemy.93


The women of Brumer Island, on the south coast of New Guinea, were tattooed on the face, arms, and front of the body, but generally not on the back, in vertical stripes less than an inch apart, and connected by zigzag markings. On the face these are more complicated, and on the forearm and wrist they were frequently so elaborate as to resemble lace-work.94 The men were more rarely tattooed, and then only with a few lines or stars on the right breast. Sometimes, however, the markings consisted of a double series of large stars and dots stretching from the shoulder to the pit of the stomach.

The inhabitants of Tanna have on their arms and chests elevated scars, representing plants, flowers, stars, and various other figures. The inhabitants of Tazovan, or Formosa, by a very painful operation, impress on their naked skins various figures of trees, flowers, and animals. The great men in Guinea have their skin flowered like damask; and in Decan, the women likewise have flowers cut into their flesh on the forehead, the arms, and the breast, and the elevated scars are painted in colours, and exhibit the appearance of flowered damask.95

In the Tonga Islands 'the men are tattooed from the middle of the thigh to above the hips. The women are only tattooed on the arms and fingers, and there very slightly.'96 In the Feejee Islands, on the contrary, the women are more tattooed than the men. When tastefully executed, tattooing has been regarded by [p.53] many travellers as a real ornament. Thus Laird says that some of the tattooing in West Africa 'in the absence of clothing gives a finish to the skin.'97

In the Gambier Islands, Beechey says,98 'tattooing is so universally practised, that it is rare to meet a man without it; and it is carried to such an extent that the figure is sometimes covered with small checkered lines from the neck to the ankles, though the breast is generally exempt, or only ornamented with a single device. In some, generally elderly men, the face is covered below the eyes, in which case the lines or network are more open than on other parts of the body, probably on account of the pain of the operation, and terminate at the upper part in a straight line from ear to ear, passing over the bridge of the nose. With these exceptions, to which we may add the fashion, with some few, of blue lines, resembling stockings, from the middle of the thigh to the ankle, the effect is becoming, and in a great measure destroys the appearance of nakedness. The patterns which most improve the shape, and which appear to me peculiar to this group, are those which extend from the armpits to the hips, and are drawn forward with a curve which seems to contract the waist, and at a short distances gives the figure an elegance and outline, not unlike that of the figures seen on the walls of the Egyptian tombs.'

Fig. 12 represents a Caroline Islander, after Freycinet, and gives an idea of the tattooing, though it [p.54] cannot be taken as representing the form or features characteristic of those islanders.

The tattooing of the Sandwich Islanders is less ornamental, the devices being, according to Arago, 'unmeaning and whimsical, without taste, and in general badly executed.'99 Perhaps, however, the most beautiful of all was that of the New Zealanders (see figs. [p.55] 13 and 14), who were generally tattooed in curved or spiral lines. The process is extremely painful, particularly on the lips; but to shrink from it, or even to show any signs of suffering while under the operation, would he thought very unmanly. The natives used the 'Moko' or pattern of their tattooing, as a kind of signature. The women have their lips tattooed with horizontal lines. To have red lips is thought to he a great reproach.

Many similar cases might be given in which savages ornament themselves, as they suppose, in a manner which must be very painful. Perhaps none is more remarkable than the practice which we find in several parts of the world of modifying the human form by means of tight bandages. The small size of the Chinese ladies' feet is a well-known case, but is scarcely less mischievous than [p.56] the compression of the waist as practised in Europe. Some of the American tribes even modified the form of the head. One would have supposed that any such compression would have exercised a very prejudicial effect on the intellect, but as far as the existing evidence goes, it does not appear to do so.

The mode of dealing with the hair varies very much in different races. Some races remove it almost entirely, some leave a ridge along the top of the head; the Caffre wears a round ring of hair; the North American Indian regards it as a point of honour to leave one tuft, in case he ever has the misfortune of being defeated, for it would be mean to cheat his victor of the scalp, the recognised emblem of conquest.

The Islanders of Torres Straits twist their hair into long pipe-like ringlets, and also wear a kind of wig prepared in the same fashion. Sometimes they shave the head, leaving a transverse crest of hair. At Cape York the hair is almost always kept short.100

The Feejeeans give a great deal of time and attention to their hair, as is shown in Pl. II. Most of the chiefs have a special hairdresser, to whom they sometimes devote several hours a day. Their heads of hair are often more than three feet in circumference, and Mr. Williams measured one which was nearly five feet round. This forces them to sleep on narrow wooden pillows or neck rests, which must be very uncomfortable. They also dye the hair. Black is the natural and favourite colour, but some prefer white, flaxen, or bright red.

'On one head,' says Mr. Williams,101 'all the hair is of [p.57] a uniform height; but one-third in front is ashy or sandy, and the rest black, a sharply defined separation dividing the two colours. Not a few are so ingeniously grotesque as to appear as if done purposely to excite laughter. One has a large knot of fiery hair, a big crown, all the rest of his head being bald. Another has most of his hair cut away, leaving three or four rows of small clusters, as if his head were slanted with small paint brushes. A third has his head bare except where a large patch projects over each temple. One, two, or three cords of twisted hair often fall from the right temple, a foot or eighteen inches long. Some men wear a number of these braids so as to form a curtain at the back of the neck, reaching from one ear to the other. A mode that requires great care, has the hair brought into distinct locks radiating from the head. Each lock is a perfect cone about seven inches long, having the base outwards; so that the surface of the hair is marked out into a great number of small circles, the ends being turned in in each lock, towards the centre of the cone.'



NOTHING, perhaps, gives a more instructive insight into the true condition of savages than their ideas on the subject of relationship and marriage; nor can the great advantages of civilisation be more conclusively proved than by the improvement which it has effected in the relation between the two sexes.

Marriage, and the relationship of a child to its father and mother, seem to us so natural and obvious, that we are apt to look on them as aboriginal and general to the human race. This, however, is very far from being the case. The lowest races have no institution of marriage; true love is almost unknown among them; and marriage in its lowest phases, is by no means a matter of affection and companionship.

The Hottentots, says Kolben,102 'are so cold and indifferent to one another that you would think there was no such thing as love between them.' Among the Koussa Kaffirs, Lichtenstein asserts that there is 'no feeling of love in marriage.'103 In North America, the Tinne Indians had no word for 'dear' or 'beloved;' and the Algonquin language is stated to have contained no verb meaning 'to love;' so that when the Bible was [p.59] translated by the missionaries into that language it was necessary to invent a word for the purpose.

Though the songs of savages are generally devoted to the chase, war, or women, they can very rarely be called love songs. Dr. Mitchell, for instance, who was for several years chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, mentions that 'neither among the Osages nor the Cherokees, could there be found a single poetical or musical sentiment, founded on the tender passion between the sexes. Though often asked, they produced no songs of love.'104

'In Yariba,' says Lander105 (Central Africa), 'marriage is celebrated by the natives as unconcernedly as possible: a man thinks as little of taking a wife as of cutting an ear of corn—affection is altogether out of the question.' The King of Boussa,106 he tells us in another place, 'when he is not engaged in public affairs, usually employs all his leisure hours in superintending the occupations of his household, and making his own clothes. The Midiki (queen) and he have distinct establishments, divided fortunes, and separate interests; indeed, they appear to have nothing in common with each other, and yet we have never seen so friendly a couple since leaving our native country.' Among the Mandingoes marriage is merely a form of regulated slavery. Husband and wife 'never laugh or joke together.' 'I asked Baba,' says Caillie, 'why he did not sometimes make merry with his wives. He replied that if he did he should not be able to manage them, [p.60] for they would laugh at him when he ordered them to do anything.'107

In India the Hill tribes of Chittagong, says Captain Lewin, regard marriage 'as a mere animal and convenient connection;' as the 'means of getting their dinner cooked. They have no idea of tenderness, nor of chivalrous devotion.'108

Among the Guyacurus of Paraguay 'the bonds of matrimony are so very slight, that when the parties do not like each other, they separate without any further ceremony. In other respects they do not appear to have the most distant notions of that bashfulness so natural to the rest of mankind.'109 The Guaranis seem to have been in a very similar condition.110

Among the Samoyedes of Siberia the husbands show little affection for their wives, and, according to Pallas 'daignent à peine leur dire une parole de douceur.'

In Australia 'little real affection exists between husbands and wives: and young men value a wife principally for her services as a slave; in fact, when asked why they are anxious to obtain wives, their usual reply is, that they may get wood, water, and food for them, and carry whatever property they possess.'111 The position of women in Australia seems indeed to be wretched in the extreme. They are treated with the utmost brutality, beaten and speared in the limbs on the most trivial provocation. Few women, says Eyre, 'will be found, upon examination, to be free from [p.61] frightful scars upon the head, or the marks of spear wounds about the body. I have seen a young woman who from the number of these marks, appeared to have been almost riddled with spear wounds. If at all good-looking their position is, if possible, even worse than otherwise.'

Again, our family system, which regards a child as equally related to his father and his mother, seems so natural that we experience a feeling of surprise on meeting with any other system. Yet we shall find, I think, reason for concluding that a man was first regarded as merely related to his family; then to his mother but not to his father; then to his father and not to his mother; and only at last to both father and mother. Even among the Romans, the word 'familia' meant 'slaves,' and a man's wife and children only formed a part of his family inasmuch as they were his slaves; so that a son who was emancipated—that is to say, made free—had no share in the inheritance, having ceased to belong to the family. We shall, however, be better able to understand this part of the question when we have considered the various phases which marriage presents; for it is by no means of an uniform character, but takes almost every possible form. In some cases nothing of the sort appears to exist at all; in others it is essentially temporary, and exists only till the birth of the child, when both man and woman are free to mate themselves afresh. In others, the man buys the woman, who becomes as much his property as his horse or his dog.

In Sumatra there were formerly three perfectly distinct kinds of marriage: the 'Jugur,' in which the man purchased the woman: the 'Ambel-anak,' in which the [p.62] woman purchased the man; and the 'Semando,' in which they joined on terms of equality. In the mode of marriage by Ambel-anak, says Marsden,112 'the father of a virgin makes choice of some young man for her husband, generally from an inferior family, which renounces all further right to, or interest in, him; and he is taken into the house of his father-in-law, who kills a buffalo on the occasion, and receives twenty dollars from his son's relations. After this, the buruk baik' nia (the good and bad of him) is invested in the wife's family. If he murders or robs, they pay the bañgun, or fine. If he is murdered, they receive the bañgun. They are liable to any debts he may contract in marriage; those prior to it remaining with his parents, he lives in the family, in a state between that of a son and a debtor. He partakes as a son of what the house affords, but has no property in himself. His rice plantation, the produce of his pepper garden, with everything that he can gain or earn, belongs to the family. He is liable to be divorced at their pleasure, and though he has children, must leave all, and return naked as he came.'

'The Semando113 is a regular treaty between the parties, on the footing of equality. The adat paid to the girl's friends has usually been twelve dollars. The agreement stipulates that nil effects, gains, or earnings are to be equally the property of both; and, in case of divorce by mutual consent, the stock, debts, and credits are to be equally divided. If the man only insists on the divorce, he gives the woman his [p.63] half of the effects, and loses the twelve dollars he has paid. If the woman only claims the divorce she forfeits her right to the proportion of the effects, but is entitled to keep her tikar, bantal, and dandan (paraphernalia), and her relations are liable to pay back the twelve dollars; but it is seldom demanded. This mode, doubtless the most conformable to our ideas of conjugal right and felicity, la that which the chiefs of the Rejang country have formally consented to establish throughout their jurisdiction, and to their orders the influence of the Malayan priests will contribute to give efficacy.'

The Jugur marriage need not be particularly described.

The Hassaniyeh Arabs have a very curious form of marriage, which may be called 'three-quarter' marriage; that is to say, the woman is legally married for three days out of four, remaining perfectly free for the fourth.

In Ceylon there were two kinds of marriage—the Deega marriage, and the Beena marriage. In the former the woman went to her husband's hut; in the latter the man transferred himself to that of the Woman. Moreover, according to Davy, marriages in Ceylon were provisional for the first fortnight, at the expiration of which they were either annulled or confirmed.114

Among the Reddies115 of Southern India a very singular custom prevails: 'A young woman of sixteen or twenty years of age may be married to a boy of five or six years! She, however, lives with some [p.64] other adult male—perhaps a maternal uncle or cousin—but is not allowed to form a connection with the father's relatives; occasionally it may be the boy-husband's father himself—that is, the woman's father-in-law! Should there be children from these liaisons, they are fathered on the boy-husband. When the boy grows up the wife is either old or past child-bearing, when he in his turn takes up with some other "boy's" wife in a manner precisely similar to his own, and procreates children for the boy-husband.'

Polyandry, or the marriage of one woman to several men at once, is more common than is generally supposed, though much less so than polygamy, which is almost universally permitted among the lower races of men. One reason—though I do not say the only one—for this is obvious when pointed out. Long after our children are weaned milk remains an important and necessary part of their food. We supply this want with cow's milk; but among people who have no domesticated animals this cannot, of course, be done, and consequently the children are not weaned until they are two, three, or even four years old. During all this period the husband and wife generally remain apart, and consequently, unless a man has several wives, he is often left without any at all. Thus in Feejee 'the relatives of a woman take it as a public insult if any child should be born before the customary three or four years have elapsed, and they consider themselves in duty bound to avenge it in an especially public manner.'116

It seems to us natural and proper that husband and wife should enjoy as much as possible the society of [p.65] one another; but, among the Turkomans, according to Fraser, for six months or a year, or even sometimes two years, after a marriage, the husband was only allowed to visit his wife by stealth.

Klemm states that the same is the case among the Circassians until the first child is born. Among the Feejeeans husbands and wives do not usually spend the night together. In Chittagong (India), although, 'according to European ideas, the standard of morbidity among the Kyounu'tha is low,' yet husband and wife are on no account permitted to sleep together until seven days after marriage.117

Burckhardt118 states, that in Arabia, after the wedding, if it be called so, the bride returns to her mother's tent, but again runs away in the evening, and repeats these flights several times, till she finally returns to her tent. She does not go to live in her husband's tent for some months, perhaps not even till a full year, from the wedding-day.

Lafitau informs us that among the North American Indians the husband only visits the wife as it went by stealth: 'ils n'osent aller dans les cabanes particulieres, où habitent leurs épouses, que durant l'obscurité de la mit .... ce serait une action extraordinaire de s'y presenter le jour.'119

In Futa, one of the West African kingdoms, it is said that no husband is allowed to see his wife's face until he has been three years married.

In Sparta, and in Crete, according to Xenophon and [p.66] Strabo, married people were for some time after the wedding only allowed to see one another as it were clandestinely; and a similar custom is said to have existed among the Lycians, So far as I am aware, no satisfactory explanation of this custom has yet been given. I shall, however, presently venture to suggest one.

There are many cases in which savages have no such thing as any ceremony of marriage. I have said nothing, says Metz, 'about the marriage ceremonies of the Badagas (Hindostan), because they can scarcely be said to have any.' The Kurambas, another tribe of the Neilgherry Hills, 'have no marriage ceremony.'120 According to Colonel Dalton,121 the Keriahs of Central India have no word for marriage in their own language, and the only ceremony used appears to be little more than a sort of public recognition of the act.' So also the Spanish missionaries found no word for marriage, nor any marriage ceremony, among the Indians of California.122 Farther north, among the Kutchin Indians, 'there is no ceremony observed at marriage or birth.'123

The marital rite, says Schoolcraft, 'among our tribes' (i.e. the Redskins of the United States) 'is nothing more than the personal consent of the parties, without requiring any concurrent act of a priesthood, a magistracy, or witnesses; the act is assumed by the parties, without the necessity of any extraneous sanction.'124

According to Brett, there is no marriage ceremony among the Arawaks of South America.125 Martius makes [p.67] this one assertion with reference to the Brazilian tribes generally,126 and it is also the case with some of the Australian tribes.127

There is, says Bruce, 'no such thing as marriage in Abyssinia, unless that which is contracted by mutual consent, without other form, subsisting only till dissolved by dissent of one or other, and to be renewed or repeated as often as it is noticeable to both parties, who, when they please, live together as man and wife, after having been divorced, had children by others, or whether they have been married, or had children with others or not. I remember to have once been at Koscam in presence of the Iteghe (the queen), when, in the circle, there was a woman of great quality, and seven men who had all been her husbands, none of whom was the happy spouse at that time.'128 And yet there is no country in the world where there are so many churches.'129 Among the Bedouin Arabs there is a marriage ceremony in the case of a girl, but the re-marrige of a widow is not thought sufficiently important to deserve one. Speke says, 'there are no such things as marriages in Uganda.'130

Of the Mandingoes (West Africa), Caillie131 says that husband and wife are not united by any ceremony: and Hutton132 makes the same statement as regards the Ashantees. In Congo and Angola133 'they use no peculiar ceremonies in marriage, nor scarce trouble themselves for consent of friends.' La Vaillant says that there are [p.68] no marriage ceremonies among the Hottentots;134 and the Bushmen, according to Mr. Wood, had in their language no means of distinguishing an unmarried from a married girl.135

Yet we must not assume that marriage is necessarily and always lightly regarded, where it is unaccompanied by ceremonial. Thus 'marriage in this island (Tahiti), as appeared to us,' says Cook, 'is nothing more than an agreement between the man and woman, with which the priest has no concern. Where it is contracted it appears to be pretty well kept, though sometimes the parties separate by mutual consent, and in that case a divorce takes place with as little trouble as the marriage. But though the priesthood has laid the people under no tax for a nuptial benediction, there are two operations which it has appropriated, and from which if derives considerable advantages. One is tattooing, and the other circumcision.'136 Yet he elsewhere informs us that married women in Tahiti are as faithful to their husbands as in any other part of the world.

We must bear in mind that there is a great distinction between what can be called 'lax' and 'brittle' marriages. In some countries the marriage tie may be broken with the greatest ease, and yet, as long as it lasts, is strictly respected; while in other countries the very reverse is the case.

Perhaps on the whole any marriage ceremony is better [p.69] than none at all, but some races have practices at marriage which are extremely objectionable. Some, also, are very curious, and no doubt symbolical. Thus, among the Canadian Indians, Carver137 says 'that when the chief has pronounced the pair to be married, the bridegroom turns round, and, bending his body, takes his wife on his back, in which manner he carries her, amidst the acclamations of the spectators, to his tent.' Bruce, in Abyssinia, observed an identical custom. When the ceremony is over, he says, 'the bridegroom takes his lady on his shoulders, and carries her up to his house; if it be at a distance he does the same thing, but only goes entirely round about the bride's house.'138

In China, when the bridal procession reaches the bridegroom's house, the bride is carried into the house; by a matron, and 'lifted over a pan of charcoal at the door.'139

We shall presently see that these are no isolated cases, nor is the act of lifting the bride over the bridegroom's threshold an act without a meaning. I shall shortly mention many allied customs, to the importance and significance of which our intention has recently been called by M'Lennan, in his masterly work on 'Primitive Marriage.'

I will now attempt to trace up the custom of marriage in its gradual development. There is strong evidence that the lowest races of men live, or did live, in a state of what may perhaps be called 'Communal Marriage.' In the Andaman islands,140 Sir Edward Belcher states that the custom is for the man and woman to remain [p.70] together until the child is weaned, when they separate as a matter of course, and each seeks a new partner. The Bushmen of South Africa are stated to be entirely without marriage. Among the Nairs (India), as Buchanan tells us, 'no one knows his father, and every man looks on his sister's children as his heirs.' The Teehurs of Oude 'live together almost indiscriminately in large communities, and even when two people are regarded as married the tie is but nominal.'141

In China, communal marriage is stated to have prevailed down to the time of Fouhi,142 and in Greece to that of Cecrops. The Massagetie,143 and the Auses,144 an Ethiopian tribe, had, according to Herodotus, no marriage, a statement which is confirmed by Strabo as regards the former. Strabo and Solinus make the same statement as regards the Garamantes, another Ethiopian tribe. In California, according to Baegert ,145 the sexes met without any formalities, and their vocabulary did not even contain the words 'to marry.'

The backwardness (until lately) of the Sandwich Islanders in their social relations, is manifested in their language. This is shown from the following table extracted from a longer one, given by Dr. Morgan in a most interesting memoir on the Origin of the Classificatory System of Relationship.146


Hawaiian English
  Great grandfather
  Great great uncle
  Great grandmother

Kupuna =

Great grandaunt
  Father's brother

Makua kana =

Father's brother-in-law
  Mother's brother
  Mother's brother-in-law
  Grandfather's brother's son
  Mother's sister

Makua waheena =

Mother's sister-in-law
  Father's sister
  Father's sister-in-law
  Sister's son
  Brother's son
  Brother's son's son

Kaikee kana =

Brother's daughter's son
  Sister's son's son
  Sister's daughter's son
  Mother's sister's son's son
  Mother's brother's son's son
  Brother's son's wife

Hunona =

Brother's daughter's husband
  Sister's son's wife
  Sister's daughter's husband


  Wife's sister
  Brother's wife

Waheena =

Brothers wife
  Father's brother's son's wife
  Father's sister's son's wife
  Mother's sister's son's wife
  Mother's brother's son's wife

Kana =

Husband's brother
  Sister's husband
  Wife's sister's husband (brother-in-law)
  Wife's brother

The key of this Hawaiian or Sandwich Island147 system is the idea conveyed by the word waheena (woman.). Thus,


Waheena =

Wife's sister
  Brother's wife
  Wife's brother's wife

All these are equally related to each husband. Hence the word—

Kaikee = Child, also signifies the brothers wife's child; and no doubt the wife's sister's child, and the wife's brother's wife's child. So, also, as the sister is wife to the brother-in-law (though not to her brother), and as the brother-in-law is husband to his brother's wife, he is consequently a father to his brother's children. Hence 'Ivaikee' also means 'sister's son' and 'brother's son.' In fact 'Kaikee' and 'Waheena' correspond to our words 'child' and 'woman,' and there are apparently [p.73] no words answering to 'son,' 'daughter,' 'wife,' or 'husband.' That this does not arise from poverty of language is evident, because the same system discriminates between other relationships which we do not distinguish.

Perhaps the contrast is most clearly shown in the terms for brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Thus, when a woman is speaking

Sister-in-law = husband's brother's wife = punalua.
Sister-in-law = husband's sister = kaikoaka.
But brother-in-law, whether sister's husband or husband's brother = kana, i.e. husband.

When, on the contrary, a man is speaking

Sister-in-law = wife's sister = waheena, i.e. wife.
Sister-in-law = brother's wife = waheena, i.e. wife.

And so

Brother-in-law = wife's brother = kaikoaka.
brother-in-law = wife's sister's husband = punalua.

Thus a woman has husbands and sisters-in-law, but no brothers-in-law; a man, on the contrary, has wives and brothers-in-law, but no sisters-in-law. The same idea runs through all other relationships: cousins, for instance, are called brothers and sisters.

So again, while the Romans distinguished between the

father's brother = patrunus, and the mother's brother = avunculus
Father's sister = amita, and the mother's sister = matertera;

the first two in Hawaiian are makua kana, which also [p.74] signifies father; and the last two are makua waheena, which also means mother.

Thus the idea of marriage does not, in fact, enter into the Hawaiian system of relationship. Uncleship, auntship, cousinship, are ignored; and we have only

Brothers and sisters
Children and

Here it is clear that the child is related to the group. It is not specially related either to its father or its mother, who stand in the same relation as mere uncles and aunts; so that every child has several fathers and several mothers.

There are, I think, reasons in the social habits of these islanders which go far to explain the persistence of this archaic nomenclature. From the mildness of the climate and the abundance of food, children soon become independent; the prevalence of large houses, used as mere dormitories, and the curious prejudice against eating in common, must also have greatly tended to retard the development of special family feelings. Yet the system of nomenclature above mentioned did not correspond with the actual state of society as found by Captain Cook and other early voyagers.

Among the Todas of the Neilgherry Hills, however, when a man marries a girl she becomes the wife of all his brothers as they successively reach manhood, and they also become the husbands of all her sisters as they become old enough to marry. In this case 'the first- [p.75] born child is fathered upon the eldest brother, the next-born on the second, and so on throughout the series. Notwithstanding this unnatural system, the Todas, it must be confessed, exhibit much fondness and attachment towards their offspring, more so than their practice of mixed intercourse would seem to foster.'148

In the Tottiyars of India, also, we have a case in which it is actually recorded that 'brothers, uncles, and nephews hold their wives in common.'149 So also, according to Nicolaus,150 the Galactophagi had communal marriage, 'where they called all old men fathers, young men sons, and those of equal age brothers.' Among the Sioux and some other North American tribes the custom is to buy the eldest of the chiefs daughters; then the others all belong to him, and are taken to wife at such times as the husband sees fit.'151

Such social conditions as these tend to explain the frequency of adoption among the lower races of men, and the fact that it is often considered to be as close a connection as real parentage. Among the Esquimaux, Captain Lyon tells us that 'this curious connection binds the parties as firmly together as the ties of blood; and an adopted son, if senior to one by nature, is the heir to all the family riches.'152

In Central Africa, Denham states that 'the practice of adopting children is very prevalent among the Felatahs, and though they have sons and daughters of [p.76] their own, the adopted child generally becomes heir to the whole property.'153

'It is a custom,' says Mariner,154 'in the Tonga Islands for women to be what they call mothers to children or grown-up young persons who are not their own, for the purpose of providing them, or seeing that they are provided, with all the conveniences of life; this is often done even if the natural mother be still living; in which case the adopted mother is regarded the same as the natural mother.' Among the Romans, also, adoption was an important feature, and was effected by the symbol of a mock birth, without which it was not regarded as complete. This custom seems to have continued down to the time of Nerva, who, in adopting Trajan, transferred the ceremony from the marriage-bed to the temple of Jupiter.155 Diodorus156 gives a very curious account of the same custom as it existed among the Greeks, mentioning that Juno adopted Hercules by going through a ceremony of mock birth.

In other cases the symbol of adoption represented not the birth, but the milk-tie. This, in Circassia, the woman offered her breast to the person she was adopting. In Abyssinia, Parkyn tells us that 'if a man wishes to be adopted as the son of one of superior station or influence, he takes his hand, and, sucking one of his fingers, declares himself to be his "child by adoption," and his new father is bound to assist him as far as he can.'157

The same idea underlies, perhaps, the curious [p.77] Esquimaux habit of licking anything which is presented to them, apparently in token of ownership.158

Dieffenbach159 also mentions the practice of licking a present in New Zealand; here, however, it is the donor who does so. In the Tonga Islands, Captain Cook tells us that the natives 'have a singular custom of putting everything you give them to their heads, by way of thanks, as we conjectured.'160

Assuming, then, that the communal marriage system shown in the preceding pages to prevail, or have prevailed, so widely among races in a low stage of civilisation, represents the primitive and earliest social condition of man, we now come to consider the various ways in which it may have been broken up and replaced by individual marriage.

Montesquieu lays it down almost as an axiom, that 'l'obligation naturelle qu'a le père de nourrir ses enfants n fait établir le mariage, qui déclare celui qui doit remplir cette obligation.'161 Elsewhere he states that 'il est arrivé dans tous les pays et dans tous les temps que la religion s'est melée des mariages.'162 How far these assertions are from the truth will be conclusively shown in the following pages.

Bachofen,163 M'Lennan,164 and Morgan, the most recent authors who have studied this subject, all agree with the primitive condition of man, socially, was one of pure Hetairism,165 when marriage did not exist, or, as for convenience call it, of Communal [p.78] marriage, where all the men and women in a small community were regarded as equally married to one another.

Bachofen considers that after a while the women, shocked and scandalised by such a state of things, revolted against it, and established a system of marriage with female supremacy, the husband being subject to the wife, property and descent being considered to go in the female line, and women enjoying the principal share of political power. The first period he calls that of 'Hetairism,' the second of 'Mutterrecht,' or 'mother-right.'

In the third stage he considers that the ethereal influence of the father prevailed over the more material idea of motherhood. Men claimed pre-eminence, property and descent were traced in the male line, sun worship superseded moon worship, and many other changes in social organisation took place,—mainly because it came to be recognised that the creative influence of the father was more important than the material tie of motherhood. The father, in fact, was the author of life, the mother a mere nurse.

Thus he regards the first stage as lawless, the second as material, the third as spiritual. I believe, however, that communities in which women have exercised the supreme power are rare and exceptional, if indeed they ever existed at all. We do not find in history, as a matter of fact, that women do assert their rights, and savage women would, I think, be peculiarly unlikely to uphold their dignity in the manner supposed. On the contrary, among the lowest races of men, as, for instance, in Australia, the position of the women is one [p.79] of complete subjection, and it seems to me perfectly clear that the idea of marriage is founded on the rights, not of the woman, but of the man, being an illustration of the good old plan,

That he should take who has the power,
And he should keep who can.

Among low races the wife is indeed literally the property of the husband. As Petruchio says of Catherine:

I will be master of what is mine own.
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.

So thoroughly is this the case that, as I have already mentioned, a Roman's 'family' originally, and indeed throughout classical times, meant his slaves, and the children only formed part of the family because they were his slaves; so that if a father freed his son, the latter ceased to be one of the family, and had no part in the inheritance. Nay, even at the present day, in some parts of Africa, a man's property goes, not to his children, as such, but to his slaves.

Hearne tells us, that among the Hudson's Bay Indians it has ever been the custom for the men to wrestle for any woman to whom they are attached; and, of course, the strongest party always carries off the prize. A weak man, unless he be a good hunter and well stronger man thinks worth his notice.

This custom prevails throughout all their tribes, and causes a great Spirit of emulation among their youth, who are [p.80] upon all occasions, from their childhood, trying their strength and skill in wrestling.166 Franklin also says that the Copper Indians hold women in the same low estimation as the Chipewyans do, 'looking upon them as a kind of property, which the stronger may take from the weaker;'167 and Richardson168 more than once saw a stronger man assert his right to take the wife of a weaker countryman, Anyone may challenge another to wrestle, and, if he overcomes, may carry off the wife as the prize.' Yet the women never dream of protesting against this, which, indeed, seems to them perfectly natural. The theory therefore of Dr. Bachofen, and the sequence of social customs suggested by him, although supported with much learning, cannot, I think, be regarded as correct.169

M'Lennan, like Bachofen and Morgan, starts with a stage of Hetairism or communal marriage. The next stage was, in his opinion, that form of polyandry in which brothers had their wives in common; afterwards came that of the levirate, i.e. the system under which, when an elder brother died, his second brother married the widow, and so on with the others in succession. Thence he considers that some tribes branched off into endogamy, others into exogamy;170 that is to say, some forbade marriage out of, others within, the tribe. If either of these two systems was older than the other, he considers that exogamy must have been the most [p.81] ancient. Exogamy was based on infanticide,171 and led to the practice of marriage by capture.172

In a further stage the idea of female descent, producing as it would a division in the tribe, obviated the necessity of capture as a reality and reduced it to a symbol.

In support of this view Mr. M'Lennan has certainly brought forward many striking facts; but, while admitting that it probably represents the succession of events in some cases, I cannot but think that these are exceptional. Fully admitting the prevalence of infanticide among savages, it will, I think, be found that among the lowest races, boys were killed as frequently as girls. Eyre expressly states that this was the case in Australia.173 In fact the distinction between the sexes implies an amount of forethought, and prudence, which the lower races of men do not possess.

For reasons to be given shortly, I believe that communal marriage was gradually superseded by individual marriage founded on capture, and that this led firstly to exogamy and then to female infanticide; thus reversing M'Lennan's order of sequence. Endogamy and regulated polyandry, though frequent, I regard as exceptional, and as not entering into the normal progress of development.

Like M'Lennan and Bachofen, I believe that our present social relations have arisen from an initial stage of Hetairism or communal marriage. It is obvious, however, that even under communal marriage, a warrior who had captured a beautiful girl in some marauding [p.82] expedition would claim a peculiar right to her, and, when possible, would set custom at defiance. We have already seen that there are other cases of the existence of marriage under two forms side by side in one country; and there is, therefore, no real difficulty in assuming the co-existence of communal and individual marriage. It is true that under a communal marriage system no man could appropriate a girl entirely to himself without infringing the rights of the whole tribe. Such an act would naturally be looked on with jealousy, and only regarded as justifiable under peculiar circumstances. A war-captive, however, was in a peculiar position: the tribe had no right to her; her capturer might have killed her if he chose; if he preferred to keep her alive he was at liberty to do so; he did as he liked, and the tribe was no sufferer.

M'Lennan,174 indeed, says that 'it is impossible to believe that the mere lawlessness of savages should be consecrated into a legal symbol, or to assign a reason—could it be believed—why a similar symbol should not appear in transferences of other kinds of property.' The symbol of capture, however, was not one of lawlessness, but, on the other hand, of—according to the ideas of the time—lawful possession. It did not refer to those from whom the captive was taken, but was intended to bar the rights of the tribe into which she was introduced. Individual marriage was, in fact, an infringement of communal rights; the man retaining to himself, or the man and woman mutually appropriating to one another, that which should have belonged to the whole tribe. Thus, among the Anda- [p.83] maners, any woman who attempted to resist the marital privileges claimed by any member of the tribe was liable to severe punishment.175

Nor is it, I think, difficult to understand why the symbol of capture does not appear in transferences of other kinds of property. Every generation requires fresh wives; the actual capture, or at any rate the symbol, needed therefore repetition. This, however, does not apply to land; when once the idea of landed property arose, the same land descended from owner to owner. In other kinds of property again, there is an important, though different kind of, distinction. A man made his own bow and arrows, his own hut, his own arms; hence the necessity of capture did not exist, and the symbol would not arise.

M'Lennan supposes that savages were driven by female infanticide, and the consequent absence or paucity of women, into exogamy and marriage by capture. I shall presently give my reasons for rejecting this explanation.

He also considers that marriage by capture followed, and arose from, that remarkable custom, namely, of marrying always out of the tribe, for which he has proposed the appropriate name of exogamy. On the contrary, I believe that exogamy arose from marriage by capture, not marriage by capture from exogamy: that capture, and capture alone, could give a man the right to monopolise a woman, to the exclusion of his fellow-clansmen; and that hence, even after all necessity for actual capture had long ceased, the symbol remained; [p.84] capture having, by long habit, come to be received as a necessary preliminary to marriage.

That marriage by capture has not arisen from female modesty is, I think, evident, not only because we have no reason to suppose that such a feeling prevails specially among the lower races of man, but also, firstly, because it cannot explain the mock resistance of the relatives, and secondly, because the very question to be solved is why it became so generally the custom to win the female not by persuasion but by force.

Mr. M'Lennan's view throws no light on the remarkable ceremonies of expiation for marriage, to which I shall presently call attention.

I will, however, first proceed to show how widely 'capture,' either actual or symbolical, enters into the idea of marriage. Mr. M'Lennan was, I believe, the first to appreciate its importance. I have taken some of the following instances from his valuable work, adding, however, several additional cases.

It requires strong evidence, which, indeed, exists in abundance, to satisfy us that the origin of marriage was independent of all sacred and social considerations; that it had nothing to do with mutual affection or sympathy; that it was invalidated by any appearance of consent; and that it was symbolised not by any demonstration of warm affection on the one side and tender devotion on the other, but by brutal violence and unwilling submission.

Yet, as already mentioned, the evidence is overwhelming. So completely, for instance, did the Caribs supply themselves with wives from the neighbouring races, and so little communication did they hold with them, that [p.85] the men and women actually spoke different languages. So again in Australia the men, says Oldfield, 'are in excess of the other sex, and, consequently, many men of every tribe are unprovided with that especial necessary to their comfortable subsistence, a wife; who is a slave in the strictest sense of the word, being a beast of burden, a provider of food, and a ready object on which to vent those passions that the men do not dare to vent on each other. Hence, for those coveting such a luxury, arises the necessity of stealing the women of some other tribe; and, in their expeditions to effect so laudable a design, they will cheerfully undergo privations and dangers equal to those they incur when in search of blood-revenge. When, on such an errand, they discover an unprotected female, their proceedings are not of the most gentle nature. Stunning her by a blow from the dowak (to make her love them, perhaps), they drag her by the hair to the nearest thicket to await her recovery. When she comes to her senses they force her to accompany them; and as at worst it is but the exchange of one brutal lord for another, she generally enters into the spirit of the affair, and takes as much pains to escape as though it were a matter of her own free choice.'176 The following is the manner in which the natives about Sydney used to procure wives: 'The poor wretch is stolen upon in the absence of her protectors. Being first stupefied with blows, inflicted with clubs or wooden swords, on the head, back, and shoulders, every one of which is followed by a stream of blood, she is then dragged through the woods by one arm, [p.86] with a perseverance and violence that it might be supposed would displace it from its socket. The lover, or rather the ravisher, is regardless of the stones or broken pieces of trees which may lie in his route, being anxious only to convey his prize in safety to his own party, when a scene ensues too shocking to relate. This outrage is not resented by the relations of the female, who only retaliate by a similar outrage when they find an opportunity. This is so constantly the practice among them that even the children make it a play-game, or exercise.'177

In Bali also,178 one of the islands between Java and New Guinea, it is stated to be the practice that girls are stolen away by their brutal lovers, who sometimes surprise them alone, or overpower them by the way, and carry them off with dishevelled hair and tattered garments to the woods. When brought back from thence, and reconciliation is effected with enraged friends, the poor female becomes the slave of her rough lover, by a certain compensation-price being paid to her relatives.

So deeply rooted is the feeling of a connection between force and marriage, that we find the former used as a form long after all necessity for it had ceased; and it is very interesting to trace, as Mr. M'Lennan has done, the gradual stages through which a stern reality softens down into a mere symbol.

It is easy to see that if we assume the case of a country in which there are four neighbouring tribes, who have the custom of exogamy, and who trace pedigrees [p.87] through the mother, and not through the father—a custom which, as we shall presently see, is so common that it may be said to be the usual one among the lower races—after a certain time the result would be that each tribe would consist of four septs or clans, representing the four original tribes, and hence we should find communities in which each tribe is divided into clans, and a man must always marry a woman of a different clan. But as communities become larger and more civilised, the actual 'capture' became inconvenient, and at last impossible.

Gradually therefore it came to be more and more a mock ceremony forming, however, a necessary part of the marriage ceremony. Of this many cases might be given. Speaking of the Khonds of Orissa, Major-General Campbell says that on one occasion he 'heard loud cries proceeding from a village close at hand; fearing some quarrel, I rode to the spot, and there I saw a man bearing away upon his back something enveloped in an ample covering of scarlet cloth; he was surrounded by twenty or thirty young fellows, and by them protected from the desperate attacks made upon him by a party of young women. On seeking an explanation of this novel scene, I was told that the man had just been married, and his precious burden was his blooming bride, whom he was conveying to his own village. Her youthful friends (as it appears is the custom) were seeking to regain possession of her, and hurled stones and bamboos at the head of the devoted bridegroom, until he readied the confines of his own village.'179


Sir W. Elliot also mentions that not only amongst the Khonds, but also in 'several other tribes of Central India, the bridegroom seizes his bride by force, either affected or real;'180 and the same was customary among the Badagas of the Neilgherry Hills.181

Dalton mentions that among the Kols of Central India, when the price of a girl has been arranged, 'the bridegroom and a large party of his friends of both sexes enter with much singing and dancing, and sham fighting in the village of the bride, where they meet the bride's party, and are hospitably entertained.'182

M. Bourien183 thus describes the marriage ceremony among the wild tribes of the Malay Peninsula: 'When all are assembled, and all ready, the bride and bridegroom are led by one of the old men of the tribe, towards a circle more or less great, according to the presumed strength of the intended pair; the girl runs round first, and the young man pursues a short distance behind; if he succeed in reaching her and retaining her, she becomes his wife; if not, he loses all claim to her. At other times, a larger field is appointed for the trial, and they pursue one another in the forest. The race, according to the words of the chronicle, "is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong," but to the young man who has had the good fortune to please the intended bride.'

Among the Kalmucks, Dr. Hell tells us that, after the price of the girl has been duly agreed on, when the [p.89] bridegroom comes with his friends to carry off his bride, a sham resistance is always made by the people of her camp, in spite of which she fails not to be borne away on a richly caparisoned horse, with loud shouts and feu de joie.'184

Dr. Clarke185 gives a charmingly romantic account of the ceremony. 'The girl,' he says, 'is first mounted, who rides off at full speed. Her lover pursues; if he overtakes her, she becomes his wife, and the marriage is consummated on the spot; after this she returns with him to his tent. But it sometimes happens that the woman does not wish to marry the person by whom she is pursued; in this case, she will not suffer him to overtake her. We were assured that no instance occurs of a Kalmuck girl being thus caught, unless she have a partiality to the pursuer. If she dislikes him, she rides, to use the language of English sportsmen, "neck or nought," until she has completely effected her escape, or until her pursuer's horse becomes exhausted, leaving her at liberty to return, and to be afterwards chased by some more favoured admirer.'

'Among the Tunguses and Kamchadales,' says Erman,186 'a matrimonial engagement is not definitely arranged and concluded until the suitor has got the better of his beloved by force, and has torn her clothes.' Attacks on women are not allowed to be avenged by blood unless they take place within the yourt or house. The man is not regarded as to blame, if the woman 'has [p.90] ventured to leave her natural place, the sacred and protecting hearth.' Pallas observes that in his time, marriage by capture prevailed also among the Samoyedes.187

Among the Mongols188 when a marriage is arranged, the girl 'flies to some relations to hide herself. The bridegroom coming to demand his wife, the father-in-law says, "My daughter is yours; go, take her wherever you can find her." Having thus obtained his warrant, he, with his friends, runs about searching, and having found her, seizes her as his property, and carries her home as it were by force.

'In the Korea when a man marries, he mounts on horseback, attended by his friends, and, having ridden about the town, stops at the bride's door, where he is received by her relations, who then carry her to his house, and the ceremony is complete.'189

Among the Esquimaux of Cape York (Smith Sound), according to Dr. Hayes,190 'there is no marriage ceremony further than that the boy is required to carry off his bride by main force; for, even among these blubber-eating people, the woman only saves her modesty by a sham resistance, although she knows years beforehand that her destiny is sealed, and that she is to become the wife of the man from whose embraces, when the nuptial day comes, she is obliged by the inexorable law of public opinion to free herself if possible, by kicking and screaming with might and main, until she is safely landed in the hut of her future lord, [p.91] when she gives up the combat very cheerfully and takes possession of her new abode.'

In Greenland, according to Egede, 'when a young man likes a maiden he commonly proposes it to their parents and relations on both sides; and after he has obtained their consent, he gets two or more old women to fetch the bride (and if he is a stout fellow he will fetch her himself). They go to the place where the young woman is, and carry her away by force.'191

We have already seen (p. 69) that marriage by capture exists in full force among the Northern Redskins.

The Aborigines of the Amazon Valley, says Wallace,192 'have no particular ceremony at their marriages, except that of always carrying away the girl by force, or making a show of doing so, even when she and her parents are quite willing.'

M. Bardel, in the notes to D'Urville's Voyage, mentions that among the Indians round Conception, in South America, after a man has agreed on the price of a girl with her parents, he surprises her, and carries her off to the woods for a few days, after which the happy couple return home.193

In Tierra del Fuego, as Admiral Fitzroy tells us,194 as soon 'as a youth is able to maintain a wife by his exertions in fishing or bird-catching, he obtains the consent of her relations, and .... having built or stolen a canoe for himself, he watches for an opportunity, and carries off his bride. If she is unwilling she hides herself in the woods until her admirer is [p.92] heartily tired of looking for her, and gives up the pursuit, but this seldom happens.'

Williams mentions that among the Feejeeans, the custom prevails 'of seizing upon a woman by apparent or actual force, in order to make her a wife. On reaching the home of her abductor, should she not approve of the match, she runs to some one who can protect her; if, however, she is satisfied, the matter is settled forthwith; a feast is given to her friends the next morning, and the couple are thenceforward considered as man and wife.'195

Earle196 gives the following account of marriage in New Zealand, which he regards as 'most extraordinary,' while in reality it is, as we now see, nothing of the sort: 'The New Zealand method of courtship and matrimony is,' he says, 'most extraordinary so much so that an observer could never imagine any affection existed between the parties. A man sees a woman whom he fancies he should like for a wife; he asks the consent of her father, or, if an orphan, of her nearest relation; which, if he obtains, he carries his "intended" off by force, she resisting with all her strength; and, as the New Zealand girls are generally pretty robust, sometimes a dreadful struggle takes place; both are soon stripped to the skin; and it is sometimes the work of hours to remove the fair prize a hundred yards. If she breaks away she instantly flies from her antagonist, and he has his labour to commence again. We may suppose that if the lady feels any wish to be united to her would-be spouse she will not make too violent an opposition; but it sometimes happens that [p.93] she secures her retreat into her father's house, and the lover loses all chance of ever obtaining her; whereas, if he can manage to carry her in triumph into his own, she immediately becomes his wife.'

Even after a marriage, it is customary in New Zealand to have a mock scuffle. Mr. Yate197 gives a good illustration. There was, he says, 'a little opposition to the wedding, but not till it was over, as is always the custom here. The bride's mother came to me the preceding afternoon, and said she was well pleased in her heart that her daughter was going to be married to Pahau; but that she must be angry about it with her mouth in the presence of her tribe, lest the natives should come and take away all her possessions, and destroy her crops. This is customary on all occasions. If a chief meets with an accident he is stripped, as a mark of respect; if he marries a wife he has to lose all his property; and this is done out of respect—not from disrespect, as it was once printed, inadvertently, in an official publication. A chief would think himself slighted if his food and garments were not taken away from him upon many occasions. To prevent this Manga, the old mother, acted with policy. As I was returning, therefore, from the church with the bridegroom and bride, she met the procession and began to assail us all furiously. She put on a most terrific countenance, threw her garments about, and tore her hair like a fury; then said to me, "Ah, you white missionary, you are worse than the devil: you first make a slave-lad your son by redeeming him from his master, and then marry him to my daughter, who is a [p.94] lady. I will tear your eyes out! I will tear your eyes out." The old woman, suiting the action to the word, feigned a scratch at my face, at the same time saying in an under tone that it was "all mouth" and that she did not mean what she said. I told her I should stop her mouth with a blanket. "Ha, ha, ha!" she replied; "that was all I wanted: I only wanted to get a blanket, and therefore I made this noise." The whole affair went off after this remarkably well; all seemed to enjoy themselves; and everyone was satisfied.' It is evident, however, that Yate did not thoroughly understand the meaning of the scene.

Among the Ahitas of the Philippine Islands, when a man wishes to marry a girl, her parents send her before sunrise into the woods. She has an hour's start, after which the lover goes to seek her. If he finds her and brings her back before sunset, the marriage is acknowledged; if not, he must abandon all claim to her.

In the West African kingdom of Futa,198 after all other preliminaries are arranged, 'one difficulty yet remains, viz., how the young man shall get his wife home; for the women-cousins and relations take on mightily, and guard the door of the house to prevent her being carried away. At last, by the bridegroom's presents and generosity, their grief is assuaged. He then provides a friend, well mounted, to carry her off; but as soon as she is on horseback the women renew their lamentations, and rush in to dismount her. However, the man is generally successful, and rides off with his prize to the house prepared for her.'


Gray mentions199 that a Mandingo (West Africa) wishing to marry a young girl at Kayaye, applied to her mother, who 'consented to his obtaining her in any way he could. Accordingly, when the poor girl was employed preparing some rice for supper, she was seized by her intended husband, assisted by three or four of his companions, and carried off by force. She made much resistance, by biting, scratching, kicking, and roaring most bitterly. Many, both men and women, some of them her own relations, who witnessed the affair, only laughed at the farce, and consoled her by saying that she would soon be reconciled to her situation.' Evidently therefore this was not, as Gray seems to have supposed, a mere act of lawless violence, but a recognised custom, which called for no interference on the part of spectators.

Denham,200 describing a marriage at Sockna (North Africa), says that 'the bride is taken on a camel to the bridegroom's house, upon which it is necessary for her to appear greatly surprised, and refuse to dismount; the women scream, the men shout, and she is at length persuaded to enter.'

In Circassia weddings are accompanied by a feast, 'in the midst of which the bridegroom has to rush in, and, with the help of a few daring young men, carry off the lady by force; and by this process she becomes the lawful wife.'201 According to Spencer, another important part of the ceremony consists in the bridegroom drawing his dagger and cutting open the bride's corset.


As regards Europe, Plutarch202 tells us that in Sparta the bridegroom usually carried off his bride by force, evidently, however, of a friendly character. The Romans, also, had a very similar custom. In North Friesland, 'a young fellow called the bride-lifter lifts the bride and her two bridesmaids upon the waggon in which the married couple are to travel to their home.'203 M'Lennan states that in some parts of France, down to the seventeenth century, it was customary for the bride to feign reluctance to enter the bridegroom's house.

In Poland, Lithuania, Russia, and parts of Prussia, according to Seignior Gaya,204 young men used to carry off their sweethearts by force, and then apply to the parents for their consent.

Lord Kames,205 in his 'Sketches of the History of Man,' mentions that the following marriage ceremony was, in his day, or at least had till shortly before, been customary among the Welsh: 'On the morning of the wedding-day the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends on horseback, demands the bride. Her friends, who are likewise on horseback, give a positive refusal, on which a mock scuffle ensues. The bride, mounted behind her nearest kinsman, is carried off, and is pursued by the bridegroom and his friends, with loud shouts. It is not uncommon on such an occasion to see 200 or 300 sturdy Cambro-Britons riding at full speed, crossing and jostling, to the no small amusement of the spectators. When they have fatigued them- [p.97] selves and their horses, the bridegroom is suffered to overtake his bride. He leads her away in triumph, and the scene is concluded with feasting and festivity.'

Thus, then, we see that marriage by capture, either as a stern reality or as an important ceremony, prevails in Australia and among the Malays, in Hindostan, Central Asia, Siberia, and Kamskatka; among the Esquimaux, the Northern Redskins, the Aborigines of Brazil, in Chile and Tierra del Fuego, in the Pacific Islands, both among the Polynesians and the Feejeeans, in the Philippines, among the Arabs and Negroes, in Circassia, and until recently, throughout a great part of Europe.

I have already referred to the custom of lifting the bride over the doorstep, which we find in such different and distant races as the Romans, Redskins of Canada, the Chinese, and the Abyssinians. Hence, also, perhaps our honeymoon, during which the bridegroom keeps his bride away from her relatives and friends; hence even, perhaps, as Mr. M'Lennan supposes, the slipper is in mock anger thrown after the departing bride and bridegroom.

The curious custom which forbids the father and mother-in-law to speak to their son-in-law, and vice versa, which I have already shown (p. 9) to be very widely distributed, but for which no satisfactory explanation has yet been given, seems to me a natural consequence of marriage by capture. When the capture was a reality, the indignation of the parents would also be real; when it became a mere symbol, the parental anger would be symbolised also, and would be continued even after its origin was forgotten.


The separation of husband and wife, to which also I have referred (p. 65), may also arise from the same custom. It is very remarkable indeed, how persistent are all customs and ceremonies connected with marriage. Thus our 'bride cake,' which so invariably accompanies a wedding, and which must always be cut by the bride, may be traced back to the old Roman form of marriage by 'confarreatio' or eating together. So also among the Iroquois, bride and bridegroom used to partake together of a cake of 'sagamitc,'206 which the bride offered to her husband. The Feejee Islanders207 have a very similar custom. Again among the Tipperahs, one of the Hill tribes of Chittagong, the bride prepares some drink, 'sits on her lover's knee, drinks half, and gives him the other half; they afterwards crook together their little fingers.'208 In one form or another a similar custom is found among most of the Hill tribes of India.

Mr. M'Lennan conceives that marriage by capture arose from the custom of exogamy, that is to say, from the custom which forbad marriage within the tribe. Exogamy, again, he considers to have arisen from the practice of female infanticide. I have already indicated the reasons which prevent me from accepting this explanation, and which induce me to regard exogamy as arising from marriage by capture, not marriage by capture from exogamy. Mr. M'Lennan's theory seems to me quite inconsistent with the existence of tribes which have marriage by capture and yet are endogamous. The Bedouins, for instance, have unmistakeably marriage by capture, and yet the man has a right [p.99] to marry his cousin price demanded for her.209

Mr. M'Lennan, indeed, feels the difficulty which would be presented by such cases, the existence of which he seems, however, to doubt; adding, that if the symbol of capture be ever found in the marriage ceremonies of an endogamous tribe, we may be sure that it is a relic of an early time at which the tribe was organised on another principle than that of exogamy.210

That marriage by capture has not arisen merely from female coyness is I think evident, as already mentioned, firstly, because it does not account for the resistance of the relatives, and secondly, because the very question to be solved is why it has become so generally the custom to win the wife by force rather than by persuasion.

The explanation which I have suggested derives additional probability from the evidence of a general feeling that marriage was an act for which some compensation was due to those whose rights were invaded.

The nature of the ceremonies by which this was effected makes me reluctant to enter into this part of the subject at length; and I will here therefore merely indicate in general terms the character of the evidence.

I will firstly refer to certain details given by Dulaure211 in his chapter on the worship of Venus, of which he regards these customs merely as one illustration, although they have, I cannot but think, a signification deeper than, and different from, that which he attributes to them.


We must remember that the better known savage races have, in most cases, now arrived at the stage in which paternal rights are recognised, and hence that fathers can and do sell their daughters into matrimony. The price of a wife is of course regulated by the circumstances of the tribe, and every, or nearly every, industrious young man is enabled to buy one for himself. As long, however, as communal marriage rights were in force this would be almost impossible. That special marriage was an infringement of these communal rights, for which some compensation was due, seems to me the true explanation of the offerings which virgins were so generally compelled to make before being permitted to marry.

In many cases the exclusive possession of a wife could only be legally acquired by a temporary recognition of the pre-existing communal rights. Thus, in Babylonia, according to Herodotus,212 every woman was compelled to offer herself once in the temple of Venus, and only after doing so was she considered free to marry. The same was, according to Strabo, the law in Armenia.213 In some parts of Cyprus also, among the Nasamones,214 and other Ethiopian tribes, he tells us there was a very similar custom, and Dulaure asserts that it existed also at Carthage, and in several parts of Greece. The account which Herodotus gives of the Lydians, though not so clear, seems to indicate a similar law.

The customs of the Thracians, as described by Herodotus,215 point to a similar feeling. Among races some- [p.101] what more advanced, the symbol supersedes the reality of this custom, and St. Augustine found it necessary to protest against that which prevailed, even at his time, in Italy.216

Diodorus Siculus mentions that in the Balearic Islands, Majorca, Minorca, and Ivica, the bride was for one night considered as the common property of all the guests present; after which she belonged exclusively to her husband.217

In India, according to Grosse,218 and particularly in the valleys of the Ganges, virgins were compelled before marriage to present themselves in the temples dedicated to Juggernaut, and the same is said to have been customary in Pondicherry and at Goa.219

Among the Sonthals, one of the aboriginal Indian tribes, the marriages take place once a year, mostly in January. 'For six days all the candidates for matrimony live together ....after which only are the separate couples regarded as having established their right to marry.'220

Carver mentions221 that while among the Naudowessies, he observed that they paid uncommon respect to one of their women, and found that she was considered to be a person of high distinction, because on one occasion she invited forty of the principal warriors to her tent, provided them with a feast, and treated them in every respect as husbands. On enquiry he was informed that this was an old custom, but had fallen into abeyance, and [p.102] scarcely once in an age any of the females are hardy enough to make this feast, notwithstanding a husband of the first rank awaits as a sure reward the successful giver of it.'

Speaking of the Greenland Esquimaux, Egede expressly states that 'those are reputed the best and noblest tempered who, without any pain or reluctancy, will lend their friends their wives.'222

The same feeling, probably, gave rise to the curious custom existing, according to Strabo,223 among the (Parthian) Tapyrians, that when a man had had two or three children by one wife, he was obliged to leave her, so that she might marry some one else. There is some reason to suppose that a similar custom once prevailed among the Romans; thus Cato, who was proverbially austere in his morals, did not think it right permanently to retain his wife Martia, whom his friend Hortensius wished to marry. This he accordingly permitted, and Martia lived with Hortensius until his death, when she returned to her first husband. The high character of Cato is sufficient proof that he would not have permitted this, if he had regarded it as wrong; and Plutarch expressly states that the custom of lending wives existed among the Romans. Akin to this feeling is that which induces so many savage tribes224 to provide their guests with temporary wives. To omit this would be regarded as quite inhospitable. The practice, moreover, seems to recognise the existence of a right inherent in every [p.103] member of the community, and to visitors as temporary members; which, in the case of the latter, could not be abrogated by arrangements made before their arrival, and, consequently, without their concurrence. The prevalence of this custom brings home to us forcibly the difference existing between the savage and the civilised modes of regarding the relation of the sexes to one another.

Perhaps the most striking case of all is that afforded by some of the Brazilian tribes. The captives taken by them in war used to be kept for some time and fatted up; after which they were killed and eaten. Yet even here, during the time that they had to live, the poor wretches were always provided with a temporary wife.225

This view also throws some light on the remarkable subordination of the wife to the husband, which is so characteristic of marriage, and so curiously inconsistent with all our avowed ideas; moreover it tends to explain those curious cases in which Hetaira were held in greater estimation than those women who were, as we should consider, properly and respectably married to a single husband.226 The former were originally fellow-countrywomen and relations; the latter captives and slaves. And even when this ceased to be the case, the idea would long survive the circumstances which gave rise to it.

Athens courtesans were respected. 'The daily conversation they listened to,' says [p.104] Lord Kames,227 'on philosophy, politics, poetry, enlightened their understanding and improved their taste. Their houses became agreeable schools, where everyone might be instructed in his own art. Socrates and Pericles met frequently at the house of Aspasia, for from her they acquired delicacy of taste, and, in return, procured to her public respect and reputation. Greece at that time was governed by orators, over whom some celebrated courtesans had great influence, and by that means entered deep into the government.'

So also it was an essential of the model Platonic Republic that 'among the guardians, at least, the sexual arrangements should be under public regulation, and the monopoly of one woman by one man forbidden.'228

In Java, we are told that courtesans are by no means despised, and in some parts of Western Africa the negroes are stated to look on them with respect; while, on the other hand, oddly enough, they have a strong feeling against musicians, who are looked on as 'infamous, but necessary tools for their pleasure.' They did not even permit then to be buried, lest they should pollute the earth.229

So also in India, various occupations which we regard as useful230 and innocent, if humble, are considered to be degrading in the highest degree. On the other hand, in the famous Indian city of Vesali, 'marriage was forbidden, and high rank attached to the holy who held office as Chief of the Courtesans.' When the Holy Buddha [p.105] (Sakyamuni), in his old age, visited Vesali, 'he was lodged in a garden belonging to the chief of the courtesans, and received a visit from this grand lady, who drove out to see him, attended by her suite in stately carriages. Having approached and bowed down, she took her seat on one side of him and listened to a discourse on Dharma. On entering the town she met the rulers of Vesali, gorgeously apparelled; but their equipages made way for her. They asked her to resign to them the honour of entertaining Sakyamuni; but she refused, and the great man himself, when solicited by the rulers in person, also refused to break his engagement with the lady.'231

Until recently the courtesans were the only educated women in India.232 Even now many of the great Hindoo temples have bands of courtesans attached to them, who 'follow their trade without public shame. It is a strange anomaly that, while a courtesan, born of, or adopted into, a courtesan family, is not held to pursue a shameless vocation, other women who have fallen from good repute are esteemed disgraceful.'233 There is in reality, however, nothing anomalous in this. The former continue the old custom of the country, under solemn religious sanction; the latter, on the contrary, have given way to lawless inclinations, have outraged public feelings, have probably broken their marriage vows, and brought disgrace on their families. In Ancient Egypt, again, it would appear that illegitimate children were [p.106] under certain circumstances, preferred over those born in wedlock.234

When the special wife was a stranger and a slave, while the communal wife was a relative and a freewoman, such feelings would naturally arise, and would, in some cases, long survive the social condition to which they owed their origin.

I now pass to the curious custom, for which M'Lennan has proposed the convenient term 'exogamy'—that, namely, of necessarily marrying out of the tribe. Tylor, who called particular attention to this custom in his interesting work on 'The Early History of Man,' which was published in the very same year as M'Lennan's 'Primitive Marriage,' thought that 'the evils of marrying near relatives might be the main ground of this series of restrictions.' Morgan235 also considers exogamy as explainable, and only explainable, as a reformatory movement to break up the intermarriage of blood relations, and which could only be effected by exogamy, because all in the tribe were regarded as related. In fact, however, exogamy afforded little protection against the marriage of relatives, and, wherever it was systematised, it permitted marriage even between half brothers and sisters, either on the father's or mother's side. Where an objection to the intermarriage of relatives existed, exogamy was unnecessary; where it did not exist, exogamy could not arise.

M'Lennan says, 'I believe this restriction on marriage to be connected with the practice in early times of female infanticide, which, rendering women scarce, led [p.107] at once to polyandry within the tribe, and the capturing of women from without.'236 He has not alluded to the natural preponderance of men over women. Thus, throughout Europe, the proportion of boys to girls is as 106 to 100.237 Here, therefore, even without infanticide, we see that there is no exact balance between the sexes. In many savage races, in various parts of the world, it has been observed the men are much more numerous, but it is difficult to ascertain how far this is due to an original difference, and how far to other causes.

It is conceivable that the difference between endogamous and exogamous tribes may have been due to the different proportion of the sexes: those races tending to become exogamous where boys prevail; those, on the other hand, endogamous where the reverse is the case.238 I am not, however, aware that we have any statistics which enable us to determine this point, nor do I believe that it is the true explanation of the custom.

Infanticide is, no doubt, very prevalent among savages. As long, indeed, as men were few in number, enemies were scarce and game was tame. Under these circumstances, there was no temptation to infanticide. There were some things which women could do better than men, some occupations which pride and laziness, or both, induced them to leave to the women. As soon, however, as in any country population became even slightly more dense, neighbours became a nuisance. They invaded the hunting grounds, and disturbed the game. Hence, if for no other reason, wars would arise. [p.108] Once begun, they would continually break out again and again, under one pretence or another. Men for slaves, women for wives, and the thirst for glory, made a weak tribe always a temptation to a strong one. Under these circumstances, female children became a source of weakness in several ways. They ate, and did not hunt. They weakened their mothers when young, and, when grown-up, were a temptation to surrounding tribes. Hence female infanticide is very prevalent, and easily accounted for. Yet I cannot regard it as the true cause of exogamy. On the other hand, we must remember that under the communal system the women of the tribe were all common property. No one could appropriate one of them to himself without infringing on the general rights of the tribe. Women taken in war were, on the contrary, in a different position. The tribe, as a tribe, had no right to them, and men surely would reserve to themselves exclusively their own prizes. These captives then would naturally become the wives in our sense of the term.

Several causes would tend to increase the importance of the separate, and decrease that of communal marriage. The impulse which it would give to, and receive back from, the development of the affections; the convenience with reference to domestic arrangements, the natural wishes of the wife herself, and last, not least, the inferior energy of the children sprung from in and in marriages, would all tend to increase the importance of individual marriage.

Even were there no other cause, the advantage of crossing, so well known to breeders of stock, would soon give a marked preponderance to those races by [p.109] whom exogamy was largely practised, and for several reasons therefore we need not be surprised to find exogamy very prevalent among the lower races of man. When this state of things had gone on for some time, usage, as M'Lennan well observes, would 'establish a prejudice among the tribes observing it—a prejudice strong as a principle of religion, as every prejudice relating to marriage is apt to be—against marrying women of their stock.'239

We should not, perhaps, have a priori expected to find among savages any such remarkable restriction, yet it is very widely distributed; and from this point of view we can, I think, clearly see how it arose.

In Australia, where the same family names are common almost over the whole continent, no man may marry a woman whose family name is the same as his own, and who belongs therefore to the same tribe.240 'No man,' says Mr. Lang, 'can marry a woman of the same clan, though the parties be no way related according to our ideas.'241

In Eastern Africa, Burton242 says that 'some clans of the Somal will not marry one of the same, or even of a consanguineous family;' and the Bakalari have the same rule.243

Du Chaillu,244 speaking of Western Equatorial Africa, says, 'the law of marriages among the tribes I have visited is peculiar; each tribe is divided into clans; the children in most of the tribes belong to the clan of [p.110] the mother, and these cannot by any possible laws marry among themselves, however removed in degree they may have been connected: it is considered an abomination among them. But there exists no objection to possessing a father's or brother's wife. I could not but be struck with the healthful influence of such regulations against blood marriages among them.'

In India the Warali tribes are divided into sections, and no man may marry a woman belonging to his own section. In the Magar tribes these sections are called Thums, and the same rule prevails. Col. Dalton tells us that 'the Hos, Moondahs, and Oraons are divided into clans or keelis, and may not take to wife a girl of the same keeli.' Again the Garrows are divided into maharis, 'and a man may not marry a girl of his own mahari.'

The Munnieporees and other tribes inhabiting the hills round Munniepore—the Koupooees, Mows, Murams, and Murrings—as M'Lennan points out on the authority of M'Culloch, 'are each and all divided into four families: Koomrul, Looang, Angom, and Nignthaja. A member of any of these families may marry a member of any other, but the intermarriage of members of the same family is strictly prohibited.'245 On the contrary the Todas, says Metz,246 'are divided into five distinct classes, known by the names Peiky, Pekkan, Kuttan, Kennae, and Tody; of which the first is regarded as the most aristocratic. These classes do not [p.111] even intermarry with each other, and can therefore never lose their distinctive characteristics.'

The Khonds, as we are informed by General Campbell, 'regard it as degrading to bestow their daughters in marriage on men of their own tribe; and consider it more manly to seek their wives in a distant country.'247 Major McPherson also tells us that they consider marriage between people of the same tribe as wicked, and punishable with death. The Kalmucks, according to Dr. Hell, are divided into hordes, and no man can marry a woman of the same horde. The bride, says Bergman, speaking of the same people, is always chosen from another stock; 'among the Derbets, for instance, from the Torgot stock, and among the Torgots from the Derbet stock.'

The same custom prevails among the Circassians and the Samoyeds.248 The Ostyaks regard it as a crime to marry a woman of the same family or even of the same name.249

When a Jakut (Siberia) wishes to marry, he must, says Middendorf,250 choose a girl from another clan. No one is permitted to marry a woman from his own. In China, says Davis,251 'marriage between all persons of the same surname being unlawful, this rule must of course include all descendants of the male branch for ever; and as, in so vast a population, there are not a great many more than one hundred surnames throughout the empire, the embarrassments that arise from so strict a law must be considerable.'


Amongst the Tinne Indians of North-west America, a Chit-sangh cannot, by their rules,252 marry a Chit-sangh, although the rule is set at nought occasionally; but when it does take place the persons are ridiculed and laughed at. The man is said to have married his sister, even though she may be from another tribe, and there be not the slightest connection by blood between them. The same way with the other two divisions. The children are of the same colour as their mother. They receive caste from their mother; if a male Chit-sangh marry a Nah-tsingh woman, the children are Nah-tsingh, and if a male Nah-tsingh marry a Chit-sangh woman, the children are Chit-sangh, so that the divisions are always changing. As the fathers die out the country inhabited by the Chit-sangh becomes occupied by the Nah-tsingh, and so vice versa. They are continually changing countries, as it were.' Among the Kenaiyers (N. W. America), 'it was the custom that the men of one stock should choose their wives from another, and the offspring belonged to the race of the mother. This custom has fallen into disuse, and marriages in the same tribe occur; but the old people say that mortality among the Kenaiyers has arisen from the neglect of the ancient usage. A man's nearest heirs in this tribe are his sister's children.'253 The Tsimsheean Indians of British Columbia254 are similarly divided into tribes, and totems or 'crests,' which are common to all the tribes. The crests are [p.113] the whale, the porpoise, the eagle, the coon, the wolf, and the frog. In connection with these crests, several very important points of Indian character and law are seen. The relationship existing between persons of the same crest is nearer than that between members of the same tribe, which is seen in this that members of the same tribe may marry, but those of the same crest are not allowed to do so under any circumstances; that is, a whale may not marry a whale, but a whale may marry a frog, &c.'

Indeed, as regards the Northern Redskins generally, it is stated255 in the Archaeologia Americana that 'every nation was divided into a number of clans, varying in the several nations from three to eight or ten, the members of which respectively were dispersed indiscriminately throughout the whole nation. It has been fully ascertained that the inviolable regulations by which these clans were perpetuated amongst the southern nations were, first, that no man could marry in his own clan; secondly, that every child should belong to his or her mother's clan.'

The Indians of Guiana256 'are divided into families, each of which has a distinct name, as the Siwidi, Karuafudi, Onisidi, &c. Unlike our families, these all descend in the female line, and no individual of either sex is allowed to marry another of the same family name. Thus, a woman of the Siwidi family bears the same name as her mother, but neither her father nor her husband can be of that family. Her children and [p.114] the children of her daughters will also be called Siwidi, but both her suns and daughters are prohibited from an alliance with any individual bearing the same name; though they may marry into the family of their father if they choose. These customs are strictly observed, and any breach of them would be considered as wicked.'

Lastly, the Brazilian races, according to Martius, differ greatly in their marriage regulations. In some of the very scattered tribes, who live in small families far remote from one another, the nearest relatives often intermarry. In more populous districts, on the contrary, the tribes are divided into families, and a strict system of exogamy prevails.257

Thus, then, we see that this remarkable custom of exogamy prevails throughout Western and Eastern Africa, in Circassia, Hindostan, Tartary, Siberia, China, and Australia, as well as in North and South America.

The relations existing between husband and wife in the lower races of Man, as indicated in the preceding pages, are sufficient to remove all surprise at the prevalence of polygamy. There are, however, other causes, not less powerful, though perhaps less prominent, to which much influence must be ascribed. Thus in all tropical regions girls become marriageable very young; their beauty is acquired early, and soon fades, while men, on the contrary, retain their full powers much longer. Hence when love depends, not on similarity of tastes, pursuits, or sympathies, but entirely on external attractions, we cannot wonder that every man who is able to do so, provides himself with a succession of [p.115] favourites, even when the first wife remains not only nominally the head, but really his confidant and adviser. Another cause has no doubt exercised great influence. Milk is necessary for children, and in the absence of domestic animals it consequently follows that they are not weaned until they are several years old. The effect of this on the social relations has been already referred to (ante p. 64).

Polyandry, on the contrary, is far less common, though more frequent than is generally supposed. M'Lennan and Morgan, indeed, both regard it as a phase through which human progress has necessarily passed. If, however, we define it as the condition in which one woman is married to several men, but (as distinguished from communal marriage) to them exclusively, then I am rather disposed to regard it as an exceptional phenomenon, arising from the paucity of females.

M'Lennan, indeed,258 gives a long list of tribes which he regards as polyandrous, namely, those of Thibet, Cashmeer, and the Himalayan regions, the Todas, Coorgs, Nairs, and various other races in India, in Ceylon, in New Zealand,259 and one or two other Pacific islands, in the Aleutian Archipelago, among the Koryaks, the Saporogian Cossacks, on the Orinoco, in parts of Africa, and in Lancerota. To these he adds the ancient Britons, some of the Median cantons, the Picts, and the Geteas, while traces of it occurred among the ancient Germans. To these I may add that of some families among the Iroquois. On the other hand, several of the above cases are, I think, merely instances of communal marriage. [p.116] Indeed, it is evident that where our information is incomplete, it must often be far from easy to distinguish between communal marriage and true polyandry.

If we examine the above instances, some of them will, I think, prove untenable. The passage referred to in Tacitus260 does not appear to me to justify us in regarding the Germans as having been polyandrous.

Erman is correctly referred to by Mr. M'Lennan as mentioning the existence of 'lawful polyandry in the Aleutian Islands.' He does not, however, give his authority for the statement. The account he gives of the Koryaks by no means, I think, proves that polyandry occurs among them. The case of the Kalmucks, to judge from the account given by Clarke,261 is certainly one in which brothers, but brothers only, have a wife in common.

For Polynesia, M'Lennan relies on the Legend of Rupe, as told by Sir G. Grey.262 Here, however, it is merely stated that two brothers named Ihuatamai and Ihuwareware, having found Hinauri, when she was thrown by the surf on the coast at Wairarawa, 'looked upon her with pleasure, and took her as a wife between them both.' This seems to me rather a case of communal marriage than of polyandry, especially when the rest of the legend is borne in mind. Neither is the evidence as regards Africa at all satisfactory. The custom referred to by Mr. M'Lennan263 probably originates in the subjection of the woman which is there implied by marriage, and which may be regarded as inconsistent with high rank.


Polyandry is no doubt very widely distributed over India, Thibet, and Ceylon. In the latter island the joint husbands are always brothers.264 But, on the whole, lawful polyandry (as opposed to mere laxness of morality) seems to be an exceptional system, generally intended to avoid the evils arising from monogamy where the number of women is less than that of men.

Passing on now to the custom of endogamy, M'Lennan remarks that 'the separate endogamous tribes are nearly as numerous, and they are in some respects as rude, as the separate exogamous tribes.'265

So far as my knowledge goes, on the contrary, endogamy is much less prevalent than exogamy, and it seems to me to have arisen from a feeling of race-pride, and a disdain of surrounding tribes which were either really or hypothetically in a lower condition.

Thus, among the Ahts of N. W. America, as mentioned by Sproat, 'though the different tribes of the Aht nation are frequently at war with one another, women are not captured from other tribes for marriage, but only to be kept as slaves. The idea of slavery connected with capture is so common, that a free-born Aht would hesitate to marry a woman taken in war whatever her rank had been in her own tribe.'266

Some of the Indian races, as the Kocchs and the Hos, are forbidden to marry excepting within the tribe. The latter at least, however, are not truly endogamous, mentioned, they are divided into 'keelis' or clans, and 'may not take to wife a girl of their own keeli.'267 Thus they are in fact exogamous, and it is [p.118] possible that some of the other cases of endogamy might, if we were better acquainted with them, present the same duplex phenomenon.

Among the Yerkalas268 of Southern India 'a custom prevails by which the first two daughters of a family may be claimed by the maternal uncle as wives for his sons. The value of a wife is fixed at twenty pagodas. The maternal uncle's right to the first two daughters is valued at eight out of twenty pagodas, and is carried out thus: if he urges his preferential claim, and marries his own sons to his nieces, he pays for each only twelve pagodas; and, similarly, if he, from not having sons, or any other cause, forego his claim, he receives eight pagodas of the twenty paid to the girls' parents by anyone who may marry them.'

The Doingnaks, a branch of the Chukmas, appear also to have been endogamous, and Captain Lewin mentions that they 'abandoned the parent stem during the chiefship of Jaunbux Khan, about 1782. The reason of this split was a disagreement on the subject of marriages. The chief passed an order that the Doingnak should intermarry with the tribe in general. This was contrary to ancient custom, and caused discontent and eventually a break in the tribe.'269 This is one of the very few cases where we have evidence of a change in this respect. The Kalangs of Java are also endogamous, and when a man asks a girl in marriage he must prove his descent from their peculiar stock.270

The Mantchu Tartars forbid marriages between those [p.119] whose family names are different.271 In Guam brothers and sisters used to intermarry, and it is even stated that such unions were preferred as being most natural and proper.272 Endogamy would seem to have prevailed in the Sandwich Islands,273 and in New Zealand, where, as Yate mentions, 'great opposition is made to anyone taking, except for some political purpose, a wife from another tribe, so that such intermarriages seldom occur.'274 On the whole, however, endogamy seems a far less common custom than exogamy.

The idea of relationship as existing amongst us, founded on marriage, and implying equal connection of a child to its father and mother, seems so natural and obvious that there are, perhaps, many to whom the possibility of any other has not occurred. The facts already recorded will, however, have prepared us for the existence of peculiar ideas on the subject of relationship. The strength of the foster-feeling—the milk-tie—amongst the Scotch highlanders is a familiar instance of a mode of regarding relationship very different from that prevalent amongst us.

We have also seen that, under the custom of communal marriage, a child was regarded as related to the tribe, but not specially to any particular father or mother. It is evident that inter communal marriage—and little less so wherever men had many waives—the tie between father and son must have been very slight. Obviously, however, there are causes in operation which always tend to strengthen the connection be- [p.120] tween the parent and offspring, and especially between the mother and her child. Among agricultural tribes, and under settled forms of government, the chiefs often have very large harems, and their importance even is measured by the number of their wives, as in other cases by that of their cows or horses.

This state of things is in many ways very prejudicial. It checks, of course, the natural affection and friendly intercourse between man and wife. The King of Ashantee, for instance, always has 3,333 wives, but no man can love so many women, nor can so many women cherish any personal affection for one man.

Even among hunting races, though men were unable to maintain so many wives, still, as changes are of frequent occurrence, the tie between a mother and child is much stronger than that which binds a child to its father. Hence we find that among many of the lower races relationship through females is the prevalent custom, and we are thus able to understand the curious practice that a man's heirs are not his own, but his sister's children.

Montesquieu275 regarded relationship through females as intended to prevent the accumulation of landed property in few hands—an explanation manifestly inapplicable to many, nay the majority, of cases in which the custom exists, and the explanation above suggested is, I have no doubt, the correct one.

Thus, when a rich man dies in Guinea, his property, excepting the armour, descended to the sister's son, expressly, according to Smith, on the ground that he [p.121] must certainly be a relative.276 Battel mentions that the town of Longo (Loango) 'is governed by four chiefs, which are sons of the king's sisters; for the king's sons never come to be kings.'277 Quatremère mentions that 'Chez les Nubiens, dit Abou Selah, lorsqu'un roi vient à mourir et qu'il laisse un fils et un neveu du coté de sa soeur, celui monte sur le trone de préférence a l'heritier naturel.'278

In Central Africa, Caillie279 says that 'the sovereignty remains always in the same family, but the son never succeeds his father; they choose in preference a son of the king's sister, conceiving that by this method the sovereign power is more sure to be transmitted to one of the blood royal; a precaution which shows how little faith is put in the virtue of the women of this country.' In Northern Africa we find the same custom among the Berbers;280 and Burton mentions it as existing in the East.

Herodotus281 supposed that this custom was peculiar to the Lycians, who have, he says, 'one custom peculiar to themselves, in which they differ from all other nations; for they take their name from their mothers, and not from their fathers; so that if anyone asks another who he is, he will describe himself by his mother's side, and reckon up his maternal ancestry in the female line.' Polybius makes the same statement as regards the Lo- [p.122] crians; and on Etruscan tombs descent is stated in the female line.

In Athens, also, relationship through females prevailed down to the time of Cecrops.

Tacitus,282 speaking of the Germans, says, 'children are regarded with equal affection by their maternal uncles as by their fathers; some even consider this as the more sacred bond of consanguinity, and prefer it in the requisition of hostages.' He adds, 'a person's own children, however, are his heirs and successors; no wills are made.' From this it would appear as if female inheritance had been recently and not universally abandoned. Again, 'In the Pictish Kingdom, until the close of the eighth century, no son is recorded to have succeeded his father.'283

In India the Kasias, the Kocchs, and the Nairs have the system of female kingship. Buchanan284 tells us that among the Bantar in Tulava a man's property does not descend to his own children, but to those of his sister. Sir W. Elliot states that the people of Malabar all agree in one remarkable usage—that of transmitting property through females only.'285 He adds, on the authority of Lieutenant Conner, that the same is the case in Trivancore, among all the castes except the Ponans and the Namburi Brahmans.

As Latham states, 'no Nair son knows his own father, and, vice versa., no Nair father knows his own son. What becomes of the property of the husband? It descends to the children of his sister.'286


Among the Limboos (India), a tribe near Darjeeling,287 the boys become the property of the father on his paying the mother a small sum of money, when the child is named, and enters his father's tribe: girls remain with the mother, and belong to her tribe.

Marsden tells us,288 that among the Battas of Sumatra, the succession to the chiefships does not go, in the first instance, to the son of the deceased, but to the nephew by a sister; and that the same extraordinary rule, with respect to the property in general, prevails also amongst the Malays of that part of the island, and even in the neighbourhood of Padan. The authorities for this are various and unconnected with each other, but not sufficiently circumstantial to induce me to admit it as a generally established practice.

Among the Kenaiyers at Cook's Inlet, according to Sir John Richardson, property descends not to a man's own children, but to those of his sister.289 The same is the case with the Kutchin.290

Carver291 mentions that among the Hudson's Bay Indians the children 'are always distinguished by the name of the mother; and if a woman marries several husbands, and has issue by each of them, they are all called after her. The reason they give for this is, that as their offspring are indebted to the father for their souls, the invisible part of their essence, and to the mother for their corporeal and apparent part, it is more rational that they should be distinguished by the [p.124] name of the latter, from whom they indubitably derive their being, than by that of the father, to which a doubt might sometimes arise whether they are justly entitled.' A similar rule prevailed in Haiti and Mexico.292

As regards Polynesia, Mariner states that in the Friendly or Tonga Islands 'nobility descends by the female line, for when the mother is not a noble, the children are not nobles.'293 It would seem, however, from another passage, that these islanders were passing the stage of relationship through females to that through males. The existence of inheritance through females is clearly indicated in the Feejeean custom known as Vasu.

So also in Western Australia, 'children, of either sex, always take the family name of their mother.'294

Among the ancient Jews, Abraham married his half-sister, Nahor married his brother's daughter, and Amram his father's sister; this was permitted because they were not regarded as relations. Tamar also evidently might have married Amnon, though they were both children of David: 'Speak unto the king,' she said, 'for he will not withhold me from thee;' for, as their mothers were not the same, they were no relations in the eye of the law.

Solon also permitted marriage with sisters on the father's side, but not on the mother's.

Here, therefore, we have abundant evidence of the second stage, in which the child is related to the mother, and not to the father; whence a man's heir is his sister's [p.125] child, who is his nephew,—not his own child, who is in some cases regarded as no relation to him at all. When, however, marriage became more respected, and the family connections stronger, it is easy to see that the rule under which a man's property went to his sister's children, would become unpopular, both with the father, who would naturally wish his children to inherit his property, and not less so with the children themselves.

M. Girard Teulon, indeed, to whom we are indebted for a very interesting memoir on this subject,295 regards the first recognition of his parental relationship as an act of noble self-devotion on the part of some great genius in ancient times. 'Le premier,' he says, 'qui consentit à se reconnaitre père fut un homme de génie et de coeur, un des grands bienfaiteurs de l'humanité. Prouve en effet que l'enfant t'appartient. Es-tu sur qu'il est un autre toi-même, ton fruit? que tu l'as enfante? ou bien, a l'aide d'une généreuse et volontaire crédulité, marches-tu, noble inventeur, à la conquête d'un but superieur?'296

Bachofen also, while characterising the change from male to female relationship as the 'wichtigsten Wendepunkt in der Geschichte des Geschlechts verhaltnisses,' explains it, as I cannot but think, in an altogether erroneous manner. He regards it as a liberation of the spirit from the deceptive appearances of nature, an elevation of human existence above the laws of mere matter, as a recognition that the creative power is the most important; and, in short, as a subordination of the [p.126] material to the spiritual part of our nature. By this step, he says, 'Mau durchbricht die Banden des Tellurismus und erhebt seinen Blick zu den hohern Regionen des Kosmos.'297

This seems to me, I confess, a very curious notion, and one with which I cannot at all agree. The recognition of paternal responsibility grew up, I believe, gradually and from the force of circumstances, aided by the impulses of natural affection. On the other hand, the adoption of relationship through the father's line, instead of through the mother's, was probably effected by the natural wish which everyone would feel that his property should go to his own children. It is true that we have very few cases like that of Athens, in which there is any record of this change, but as it is easy to see how it might have been brought about, and difficult to suppose that the opposite step can ever have been made; as, moreover, we find relationship through the father very general, not to say universal, in civilised races, while the opposite system is very common among savages, it is evident that this change must frequently have been effected.

Taking all these facts, then, into consideration, whenever we find relationship through females only, I think we may safely look upon it as the relic of an ancient barbarism.

As soon as the change was made, the father would take the place held previously by the mother, and he, instead of she, would be regarded as the parent. Hence, on the birth of a child, the father would naturally be [p.127] very careful what he did, and what he ate, for fear the child should be injured. Thus, I believe, arises the curious custom to which I referred in my first chapter.

Relationship to the father at first excludes that to the mother, and from having been regarded as no relation to the former, children came to be looked on as none to the latter.

In South America, where it is customary to treat captives well in every respect for a certain time, giving them clothes, food, a wife, &c., and then to kill and eat them, any children they may have are killed and eaten also.298 In North America, as we have seen, the system of relationship through females prevails among the rude races of the North. Further south, as Lafitau long ago pointed out, we find a curious, and, so to say, intermediate, system among the Iroquois and Hurons, to whom, as Mr. Morgan has shown, we may add the Tamils of India.299 A man's brother's children are reckoned as his children, but his sister's children are his nephews and nieces, while a woman's brother's children are her nephews and nieces, and her sister's children are her children.300

The curious system thus indicated is shown more fully in the following table, extracted from Mr. Morgan's very interesting memoir:301

Hanih =

Red Skin,
Father, and also
Father's brother
Father's father's brother's son, and so on.


Noyeh =

Mother, and also
Mother's sister
Mother's mother's sister's daughter, and so on.

Haje =

Brother (elder), and also
Father's brother's son
Mother's sister's son, and so on.

Harakwuk =

Brother's son (male speaking) Son
Sister's son (female speaking)


Takkapan =

Father, and also
Father's brother
Father's father's brother's son, and so on.
Mother's sister's husband.

Tay =

Mother, and also
Mother's sister
Father's brother's wife
Mother's mother's sister's daughter, and so on.

Tamaiyan =

Brother (elder), and also
Father's brother's son
Mother's sister's son, and so on.

Makan =

Brother's son (male speaking)
Sister's son (female speaking).

That these names really imply ideas as to relationship, and have not arisen from mere poverty of language, is shown by the fact that in other respects their nomenclature is even richer than ours. Thus they have different words for an elder brother and a younger brother, an elder sister and a younger sister; so again the names for a brother's son, a brother's daughter, a sister's son, and a sister's daughter depend on whether the person speaking is a man or a woman. Thus they [p.129] distinguish relationships which we correctly regard as equivalent, and confound others which are really distinct. Moreover, as the languages of distinct and distant races, such as the Iroquois of America and the Tamil of Southern India, agree in so many points, we cannot dismiss these peculiarities as mere accidents, but must regard them as founded on similar, though peculiar, views on the subject of relationship.

That in the case of the Iroquois this system arose from that of relationship through females, and did not degenerate from ours, is evident, because in it, though a man's sister's children are his nephews and nieces, his sister's grandchildren are also his grandchildren, indicating the existence of a period when his sister's children were his children, and, consequently, when relationship was traced in the female line. A man's brother's children are his children, because his brother's wives are also his wives. I have already mentioned (ante, p. 113) that relationship through females is the rule among the American tribes.

How completely the idea of relationship through the father, when once recognised, might replace that through the mother we may see in the very curious trial of Orestes. Agamennon, having been murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, was avenged by their son Orestes, who killed his mother for the murder of his father. For this act he was prosecuted before the tribunal of the gods by the Erinnyes, whose function it was to those who shed the blood of relatives defence, Orestes asks them why they did not punish Clytemnestra for the murder of Agamemnon, and when they reply that marriage does not constitute blood rela- [p.130] tionship,—'She was not the kindred of the man whom she slew,'—he pleads that by the same rule they cannot touch him, because a man is a relation to his father, but not to his mother. This view, which seems to us so unnatural, was supported by Apollo and Minerva, and being adopted by the majority of the gods, led to the acquittal of Orestes.

Hence we see that the views prevalent on relationship—views by which the whole social organisation is so profoundly affected—are by no means the same among different races, nor uniform at the same historical period. We ourselves still confuse affinity and consanguinity; but into this part of the question it is not my intention to enter: the evidence brought forward in the preceding pages is, however, I think sufficient to show that children were not in the earliest times regarded as related equally to their father and their mother, but that the natural progress of ideas is, first, that a child is related to his tribe generally; secondly, to his mother, and not to his father; thirdly, to his father, and not to his mother; lastly, and lastly only, that he is related to both.



THE religion of savages, though of peculiar interest is, in any respects, perhaps, the most difficult part of any whole subject. I shall endeavour to avoid as far as possible, anything which might justly give pain to any of my readers. Many ideas, however, which have been, or are, prevalent on religious matters are so utterly opposed to our own that it is impossible to discuss the subject without mentioning some things which are very repugnant to our feelings. Yet, while savages show us a melancholy spectacle of gross superstition, and ferocious forms of worship, the religious mind cannot but feel a peculiar satisfaction in tracing up the gradual evolution of more correct ideas and of noble creeds.

M. Arbronsset quotes the following touching remarks made to him by Sekesa, a very respectable Kaffir;302 'Your tidings,' he said, 'are what I want; and I was seeking before I knew you, as you shall hear and judge for yourselves. Twelve years ago I went to feed my flocks. The weather was hazy. I sat down upon a rock and asked myself sorrowful questions; yes sorrowful because I was unable to answer them. "Who has [p.132] touched the stars with his hands? On what pillars do they rest?" I asked myself. "The waters are never weary: they know no other law than to flow, without ceasing, from morning till night, and from night till morning; but where do they stop? and who makes them flow thus? The clouds also come and go, and burst in water over the earth. Whence come they? Who sends them? The diviners certainly do not give us rain, for how could they do it? and why do I not see them with my own eyes when they go up to heaven to fetch it? I cannot see the wind, but what is it? Who brings it, makes it blow, and roar and terrify us? Do I know how the corn sprouts? Yesterday there was not a blade in my field; to-day I returned to the field and found some. Who can have given to the earth the wisdom and the power to produce it?" Then I buried my face in both my hands.'

This, however, was an exceptional case. As a general rule savages do not set themselves to think out such questions, but adopt the ideas which suggest themselves most naturally; so that, as I shall attempt to show, races in the similar state of mental development, however distinct their origin may be, and however distant the regions they inhabit, have very similar religious conceptions. Most of those who have endeavoured to account for the various superstitions of savage races have done so by crediting them with a much more elaborate system of ideas than they in reality possess. Thus Lafitau supposes that fire was worshipped because it so well represents 'cette suprême intelligence dégagée de la nature, dont la puissance est [p.133] toujours active.'303 Again, with reference to idols, he observes304 that 'La dépendance que nous avons de l'imagination et des sens ne nous permettaut pas de voir Dieu autrement qu'eu énigne, comme parle saint Paul, a causé une espèce de necessité de nous le montrer sous des images sensibles, lesquelles fussent autant de symboles, qui nous élevassent jusqu'a lui, comme le portrait nous remet dans l'idée de celui dont il est la peinture.' Plutarch, again, supposed that the crocodile was worshipped by Egypt because, having no tongue, it was a type of the Deity who made laws for nature by his mere will! Explanations, however, such as these are radically wrong.

I have felt doubtful whether this chapter should not be entitled 'the superstitions' rather than 'the religion' of savages; but have preferred the latter, partly because many of the superstitious ideas pass gradually into nobler conceptions, and partly from a reluctance to condemn any honest belief, however absurd and imperfect it may be. It must, however, be admitted that religion, as understood by the lower savage races, differs essentially from ours; nay, it is not only different, but even opposite. Thus their deities are evil, not good; they may be forced into compliance with the wishes of man; they require bloody, and rejoice in human, sacrifices; they are mortal, not immortal; a part, not the author, of nature: they are to be approached by dances rather than by prayers; and often approve what we call vice, rather than what we esteem as virtue.

In fact, the so-called religion of the lower races bears [p.134] somewhat the same relation to religion in its higher forms that astrology does to astronomy, or alchemy to chemistry. Astronomy is derived from astrology, yet their spirit is in entire opposition; and we shall find the same difference between the religions of backward and of advanced races. We regard the Deity as good; they look upon him as evil; we submit ourselves to him; they endeavour to obtain the control of him; we feel the necessity of accounting for the blessings by which we are surrounded; they think the blessings come of themselves, and attribute all evil to the interference of malignant beings.

These characteristics are not exceptional and rare. On the contrary I shall attempt to show that, though the religions of the lower races have received different names, they agree in their general characteristics, and are but phases of one sequence, having the same origin, and passing through similar, if not identical, stages. This will explain the great similarities which occur in the most distinct and distant races, which have puzzled many ethnologists, and in some cases led them to utterly untenable theories. Thus even Robertson, though in many respects he held very correct views as to the religious condition of savages, remarks that Sun-worship prevailed among the Natchez and the Persians, and observes,305 'this surprising coincidence in sentiment between two nations in such different states of improvement is one of the many singular and unaccountable circumstances which occur in the history of human affairs.'

Although however we find the most remarkable [p.135] coincidences between the religions of distinct races, one of the peculiar difficulties in the study of religion arises from the fact that, while each nation has generally but one language, we may almost say that in religious matters, quot homines tot sententiæ; no two men having exactly the same views, however much they may wish to agree.

Many travellers have pointed out this difficulty. Thus Captain Cook, speaking of the South Sea Islanders, says: 'Of the religion306 of these people we were not able to acquire any clear and consistent knowledge we found it like the religion of most other countries—involved in mystery and perplexed with apparent inconsistencies.' Many also of those to whom we are indebted for information on the subject, fully expecting to find among savages ideas like our own, obscured only by errors and superstition, have put leading questions, and thus got misleading answers. We constantly hear, for instance, of a Devil, but in fact no spiritual being in the mythology of any savage races possesses the characteristics of Satan. Again, it is often very difficult to determine in what sense an object is worshipped. A mountain, or a river, for instance, may be held sacred either as an actual Deity or merely as his abode; and in the same way a statue may be actually worshipped as a god, or merely reverenced as representing the Divinity.

To a great extent, moreover, these difficulties arise from the fact that when Man, either by natural progress or the influence of a more advanced race, rises to the conception of a higher religion, he still retains his old [p.136] beliefs, which long linger on, side by side with, and act in utter opposition to, the higher creed. The new and more powerful Spirit is an addition to the old Pantheon, and diminishes the importance of the older deities; gradually the worship of the latter sinks in the social scale, and becomes confined to the ignorant and the young. Thus a belief in witchcraft still flourishes among our agricultural labourers and the lowest classes in our great cities, and the deities of our ancestors survive in the nursery tales of our children. We must therefore expect to find in each race traces—nay, more than traces, of lower religions. Even if this were not the case we should still be met by the difficulty that there are few really sharp lines in religious systems. It might be supposed that a belief in the immortality of the soul, or in the efficacy of sacrifices, would give us good lines of division; but it is not so: these and many other ideas rise gradually, and even often appear at first in a form very different from that which they ultimately assume.

Hitherto it has been usual to classify religions according to the nature of the object worshipped: fetichism, for instance, being the worship of inanimate objects, Sabæism that of the heavenly bodies. The true test, however, seems to me to be the estimate in which the Deity is held. The first great stages in religious thought may, I think, be regarded as—

Atheism; understanding by this term not a denial of the existence of a Deity, but an absence of any definite ideas on the subject.

Fetichism; the stage in which man supposes he can force the Deity to comply with his desires.


Nature-worship, or Totemism; in which natural objects, trees, lakes, stones, animals, &:c., are worshipped.

Shamanism; in which the superior deities are far more powerful than man, and of a different nature. Their place of abode also is far away, and accessible only to Shamans.

Idolatry, or Anthropomorphism; in which the gods take still more completely the nature of men, being, however, more powerful. They are still amenable to persuasion; they are a part of nature, and not creators. They are represented by images or idols.

In the next stage the Deity is regarded as the author, not merely a part, of nature, he becomes for the first time a really supernatural being.

The last stage to which I will refer is that in which morality is associated with religion.

Since the above was written, my attention was called by De Brosse's 'Culte des Dieux fetiches' to a passage in Sanchoniatho, quoted by Eusebius. From his description of the first thirteen generations of men I extract the following passages:

Generation 1.—The 'first men consecrated the plants shooting out of the earth, and judged them gods, and worshipped them, upon whom they themselves lived.'
Gen. 2.—The second generation of men 'were called Genus and Genea, and dwelt in Phoenicia; but when great droughts came, they stretched their hands up to heaven towards the sun, for him they thought the only Lord of Heaven.'
Gen. 3.—Afterwards other mortal issue was begotten, whose names were Plios, Pur, and Phlox (i.e. Light, Fire, and Flame). These found out the way of generating fire [p.138] by rubbing of pieces of wood against each other, and taught men the use thereof.
Gen. 4.—The fourth generation consists of giants.
Gen. 5.—With reference to the fifth he mentions the existence of communal marriage, and that Usous 'consecrated two pillars to Fire and Wind, and bowed down to them, and poured out to them the blood of such wild beasts as had been caught in hunting.'
Gen. 6.—Hunting and fishing are invented; which seems rather inconsistent with the preceding statement.
Gen. 7.—Chrysor, whom he affirms to be Vulcan, discovered iron and the art of forging. 'Wherefore he also was worshipped after his death for a god, and they called him Diamichius (or Zeus Michius).'
Gen. 8.—Pottery was discovered.
Gen. 9.—Now comes Agrus, 'who had a much-worshipped statue, and a temple carried about by one or more yoke of Oxen in Phoenicia.'
Gen. 10.—Villages were formed, and men kept flocks.
Gen. 11.—Salt was discovered.
Gen 12.—Taautus or Hermes discovered letters. The Cabiri belongs to this generation.

Thus then we find mentioned in order the worship of plants, heavenly bodies, pillars, and men; later still comes Idolatry coupled with Temples. It will be observed that he makes no special mention of Shamanism, and that he regards the worship of plants as aboriginal.

The opinion that religion is general and universal has been entertained by many high authorities. Yet it is opposed to the evidence of numerous trustworthy [p.139] observers. Sailors, traders, and philosophers, Roman Catholic priests and Protestant missionaries, in ancient and in modern times, in every part of the globe, have concurred in stating that there are races of men altogether devoid of religion. The case is the stronger because in several instances the fact has greatly surprised him who records it, and has been entirely in opposition to all his preconceived views. On the other hand, it must he confessed that in some cases travellers denied the existence of religion merely because the tenets were unlike ours. The question as to the general existence of religion among men is, indeed, to a great extent a matter of definition. If the mere sensation of fear, and the recognition that there are probably other beings more powerful than oneself, are sufficient alone to constitute a religion, then we must, I think, admit that religion is general to the human race. But when a child dreads the darkness, and shrinks from a lightless room, we never regard that as an evidence of religion. Moreover, if this definition be adopted, we cannot longer regard religion as peculiar to man. We must admit that the feeling of a dog or a horse towards its master is of the same character; and the baying of a dog to the moon is as much an act of worship as some ceremonies which have been so described by travellers.

In 'Prehistoric Times,'307 I have quoted the following writers as witnesses to the existence of tribes without religion. For some of the Esquimaux tribes, Captain Ross;308 for some of the Canadians, Hearne; for the Californians, Baegert, who lived among them seventeen [p.140] years, and La Perouse; for many of the Brazilian tribes, Spix and Martius, Bates and Wallace; for Paraguay, Dobritzhoffer; for some of the Polynesians, Williams' Missionary Enterprises, the Voyage of the Novara, and Dieffenbach; for Damood Island (north of Australia), Jukes (Voyage of the Fly); for the Pellew Islands, Wilson; for the Aru Islands, Wallace; for the Andamaners, Mouatt; for certain tribes of Hindostan, Hooker and Shortt; for some of the eastern African nations, Burton and Grant; for the Bachapin Kaffirs, Burchell; and for the Hottentots, Le Vaillant. I will here only give a few instances.

'It is evident,' says M. Bik,309 'that the Arafuras of Vorkay (one of the Southern Arus) possess no religion whatever. ... Of the immortality of the soul they have not the least conception. To all my enquiries on this subject they answered, "No Arafura has ever returned to us after death, therefore we know nothing of a future state, and this is the first time we have heard of it." Their idea was, Mati, Mati sudah (when you are dead there is an end of you). Neither have they any notion of the creation of the world. To convince myself more fully respecting their want of knowledge of a Supreme Being, I demanded of them on whom they called for help in their need, when their vessels were overtaken by violent tempests. The eldest among them, after having consulted the others, answered that they knew not on whom they could call for assistance, but begged me, if I knew, to be so good as to inform them.'

'The Wilder Bedouins,' says Burton,310 'will enquire [p.141] where Allah is to be found: when asked the object of the question, they reply, "If the Eesa could but catch him they would spear him upon the spot,—who but he lays waste their women and kills their cattle and wives?" He also considers that atheism is the natural condition of the savage and uninstructed mind, the night of spiritual existence, which disappears before the dawn of a belief in things unseen. A Creator is to creation what the cause of any event in life is to its effect; those familiar to the sequence will hardly credit its absence from the minds of others.'311

Among the Koossa Kaffirs, Lichtenstein312 affirms that 'there is no appearance of any religious worship whatever.'

'It might be the proper time now,' says Father Baegert, 'to speak of the form of Government and the religion of the Californians previous to their conversion to Christianity; but neither the one nor the other existed among them. They had no magistrates, no police, and no laws; idols, temples, religious worship or ceremonies, "were unknown to them, and they neither believed in the true and only God, nor adored false deities. ... I made diligent enquiries, among those with whom I lived, to ascertain whether they had any conception of God, a future life, and their own souls, but I never could discover the slightest trace of such a knowledge. Their language has no words for "God."'313

Although, as Captain John Smith314 quaintly puts it, there was 'in Virginia no place discovered to be so [p.142] savage in which they had not a religion, Deere, and bows and arrows,' still the ruder tribes in the far North, according to the testimony of Hearne, who knew them intimately, had no religion.

Several tribes, says Robertson,315 have been discovered in America, which have no idea whatever of a Supreme Being, and no rites of religious worship. Some rude tribes have not in their language any name for the Deity, nor have the most accurate observers been able to discover any practice or institution which seemed to imply that they recognised his authority, or were solicitous to obtain his favour.'

In the face of such a crowd of witnesses it may at first sight seem extraordinary that there can still be any difference of opinion on the subject. This, however, arises partly from the fact that the term 'Religion' has not always been used in the same sense, and partly from a belief that, as has no doubt happened in several cases, travellers may, from ignorance of the language, or from shortness of residence, have overlooked a religion which really exists.

For instance, the first describers of Tahiti asserted that the natives had no religion, which subsequently proved to be a complete mistake; and several other similar cases might be quoted. As regards the lowest races of men, however, it seems to me even a priori very difficult to suppose that a people so backward as to be unable to count their own fingers should be sufficiently advanced in their intellectual conceptions as to have any system of belief worthy of the name of a religion.

We shall, however, obtain a clearer view of the ques- [p.143] tion if we consider the superstitions of those races which have a rudimentary religion, and endeavour to trace these ideas up into a more developed condition.

Here again we shall perhaps be met by the doubt whether travellers have correctly understood the accounts given to them. In many cases, however, when the narrator had lived for months, or years, among those whom he was describing, we need certainly feel no suspicion, and in others we shall obtain a satisfactory result by comparing together the statements of different observers and using them as a check one upon the other.

The religious theories of savages are certainly not the result of deep thought, nor must they be regarded as constituting any elaborate or continuous theory. A Zulu candidly said to Mr. Callaway316 'Our knowledge does not urge us to search out the roots of it; we do not try to see them; if anyone thinks ever so little, he soon gives it up, and passes on to what he sees with his eyes; and he does not understand the real state of even what he sees.' Dulaure317 truly observes, that the savage 'aime mieux soumettre sa raison, souvent révoltée, à ce que ses institutions ont de plus absurde, que de se livrer à l'examen, parce que ce travail est toujours pénible pour celui qui ne s'y est point exercé.' With this statement I entirely concur, and I believe that through all the various religious systems of the lower races may be traced a natural and unconscious process of development.

The ideas of religion among the lower races of man [p.144] are intimately associated with, if indeed they have not originated from, the condition of man during sleep, and especially from dreams. Sleep and death have always been regarded as nearly related to one another. Thus, in classical mythology, Somnus, the god of sleep, and Mors, the god of death, were both fabled to have been the children of Nox, the goddess of night. So, also, the savage would naturally look on death as a kind of sleep, and would expect—hoping on even against hope—to see his friend awake from the one as he had so often done from the other.

Hence, probably, one reason for the great importance ascribed to the treatment of the body after death. But what happens to the spirit during sleep? The body lies lifeless, and the savage not unnaturally concludes that the spirit has left it. In this he is confirmed by the phenomena of dreams, which consequently to the savage have a reality and an importance which we can scarcely appreciate. During sleep the spirit seems to desert the body; and as in dreams we visit other localities and even other worlds, living, as it were, a separate and different life, the two phenomena are not unnaturally regarded as the complements of one another. Hence the savage considers the events in his dreams to be as real as those of his waking hours, and hence he naturally feels that he has a spirit which can quit the body. 'Dreams,' says Burton, 'according to the Yorubans (West Africa) and to many of our fetichists, are not an irregular action and partial activity of the brain, but so many revelations brought by the manes of the departed.'318 So [p.145] strong was the North American faith in dreams that on one occasion, when an Indian dreamt he was taken captive, he induced his friends to make a mock attack on him, to bind him and treat him as a captive, actually submitting to a considerable amount of torture, in the hope thus to fulfil his dream.319 The Greenlanders320 also believe in the reality of dreams, and think that at night they go hunting, visiting, courting, and so on. It is of course obvious that the body takes no part in these nocturnal adventures, and hence it is natural to conclude that they have a spirit which can quit the body.

In Madagascar321 the people throughout the whole island have a 'religious regard to dreams, and imagine that their good demons (for I cannot tell what other name to give their inferior deities, which, as they say, attend on their owleys,) tell them in their dreams what ought to be done, or warn them of what ought to be avoided.'

Lastly, when they dream of their departed friends or relatives, savages firmly believe themselves to be visited by their spirits, and hence believe, not indeed in the immortality of the soul, but in its survival of the body. Thus the Veddahs of Ceylon believe in spirits, because their deceased relatives visit them in dreams,322 and the Manganjas (South Africa), expressly ground their belief in a future life on the same fact. Again, savages are rarely ill; their sufferings generally arise from wounds; their deaths are generally violent. As an external injury received in war causes pain, so when they [p.146] suffer internally they attribute it to some internal enemy. Hence when the Australian, perhaps after too heavy a meal, has his slumbers disturbed, he never doubts the reality of what is passing, but considers that he is attacked by some being whom his companions cannot see.

This is well illustrated in the following passage from the United States Exploring Expedition:323 'Sometimes, when the Australians are asleep, Koin makes his appearance, seizes upon one of them and carries him off. The person seized endeavours in vain to cry out, being almost strangled. At daylight, however, he disappears, and the man finds himself conveyed safely to his own fireside. From this it would appear that the demon is here a sort of personification of the nightmare—a visitation to which the natives, from their habits of gorging themselves to the utmost when they obtain a supply of food, must be very subject.'

Speaking of the North-Western Americans, Mr. Sproat says:324 'The apparition of ghosts is especially an occasion on which the services of the sorcerers, the old women, and all the friends of the ghost-seer are in great respect. Owing to the quantity of indigestible food eaten by the natives, they often dream that they are visited by ghosts. After a supper of blubber, followed by one of the long talks about departed friends, which take place round the fire, some nervous and timid person may fancy, in the night time, that he sees a ghost.' In some cases the belief that man possesses a spirit [p.147] seems to have been suggested by the shadow. Thus, among the Feejeeans,325 'some speak of man as having two spirits. His shadow is called "the dark spirit," which they say goes to Hades. The other is his likeness reflected in water or a looking-glass, and is supposed to stay near the place in which a man dies. Probably this doctrine of shadows has to do with the notion of inanimate objects having spirits. I once placed a good-looking native suddenly before a mirror. He stood delighted. "Now," said he softly, "I can see into the world of spirits."'

The North American Indians also consider a man's shadow as his soul or life. 'I have,' says Tanner, 'heard them reproach a sick person for what they considered imprudent exposure in convalescence, telling him that his shadow was not well settled down in him.'326

The natives of Benin 'call a man's shadow his passadoor, or conductor, and believe it will witness if he lived well or ill. If well, he is raised to great happiness and dignity in the place before mentioned; if ill, he is to perish with hunger and poverty.'327 They are indeed a most superstitious race; and Lander mentions a case in which an echo was taken for the voice of a Fetich.328

Thunder, also, was often regarded either as an actual deity, or as a heavenly voice. 'One night,' says Tanner, 'Meheto (a North American chief) becoming [p.148] much alarmed at the violence of the storm, got up and offered some tobacco to the thunder, entreating it to stop.'329

I have already mentioned that savages almost always regard spirits as evil beings. We can, I think, easily understand why this should be. Amongst the very lowest races every other man—amongst those slightly more advanced, every man of a different tribe—is regarded as naturally, and almost necessarily hostile. A stranger is synonymous with an enemy, and a spirit is but a member of an invisible tribe.

The Hottentots, according to Thunberg, have very vague ideas about a good Deity. 'They have much clearer notions about an evil spirit, whom they fear, believing him to be the occasion of sickness, death, thunder, and every calamity that befalls them.'330 The Bechuanas attribute all evil to an invisible god, whom they call Murimo, and 'never hesitate to show their indignation at any ill experienced, or any wish unaccomplished, by the most bitter curses. They have no religious worship, and could never be persuaded by the missionaries that this was a thing displeasing to God.'331

The Abipones of South America, so well described by Dobritzhoffer, had some vague notions of an evil spirit, but none of a good one.332 The Coroados333 of Brazil 'acknowledge no cause of good, or no God, but only an evil principle, which .... leads him astray, vexes [p.149] him, brings him into difficulty and danger, and then kills him.'

In Virginia and Florida the evil spirit was worshipped and not the good, because the former might be propitiated, while the latter was sure to do all the good he could.334 So also the 'Cemis' of the West Indian Islands were regarded as evil, and 'reputed to be the authors of every calamity that affects the human race.'335 'The Redskin,' says Carver,336 'lives in continual apprehension of the unkind attacks of spirits, and to avert them has recourse to charms, to the fantastic ceremonies of his priest, or the powerful influence of his manitous. Fear has of course a greater share in his devotions than gratitude, and he pays more attention to deprecating the wrath of the evil than securing the favour of the good being.' The Tartars of Katschiutzi also considered the evil spirit to be more powerful than the good.337 The West Coast Negroes, according to Artus,338 represent their deities as 'black and mischievous, delighting to torment them in various ways.' They said 'that the European's God was very good, who gave them such blessings, and treated them like his children. Others asked, murmuring, why God was not as kind to them? Why did not he supply them with woollen and linen cloth, iron, brass, and such things, as well as the Dutch? The Dutch answered, that God had not neglected them, since he had sent them gold, palm-wine, fruits, corn, oxen, goats, hens, and many other things necessary [p.150] there was no persuading them these things came from God. They said the earth, and not God, gave them food, which was dust out of its bowels: that the earth yielded them maize and rice; and that not without the help of their own labour; that for fruits they were obliged to the Portuguese, who had planted the trees; that their cattle brought them young ones, and the sea furnished them with fish; that, however, in all these their own industry and labour was required, without which they must starve; so that they could not see how they were obliged to God for any of those benefits.'

When Burton spoke to the Eastern Negroes about the Deity, they eagerly asked where he was to be found, in order that they might kill him; for they said, 'Who but he lays waste our homes, and kills our wives and cattle?'

The following expression of Eesa feelings, overheard by Burton, gives a dreadful illustration of this idea. An old woman, belonging to that Arab tribe, having a toothache, offered up the following prayer: 'Oh, Allah, may thy teeth ache like mine! Oh, Allah, may thy gums be as sore as mine!' Can this be called 'religion'? Surely in spirit it is the very reverse.

In New Zealand339 each disease was regarded as being caused by a particular god; thus 'Tonga was the god who caused headache and sickness: he took up his abode in the forehead. Mako-Tiki, a lizard god, was the source of all pains in the breast; Tu-tangata-kino was the god of the stomach; Titi-hai occasioned pains in the ankles and feet; Uongomai and Tuparitapu [p.151] were the gods of consumption; Koro-kio presided over childbirth.'

'Sickness,' says Yate,340 'is brought on by the "Atua," who, when he is angry, comes to them in the form of a lizard, enters their insides, and preys upon their vitals till they die. Hence they use incantations over the sick, with the expectation of either propitiating the angry deity or of driving him away; for the latter of which purposes they make use of the most threatening and outrageous language.' The Stiens of Cambodia believe, 'in an evil genius, and attribute all disease to him. If anyone be suffering from illness, they say it is the demon tormenting him; and, with this idea, make, night and day, an insupportable noise around the patient.'341

'The Koussa Kaffirs,' says Lichtenstein,342 ascribe all their diseases 'to one of three causes: either to being enchanted by an enemy; to the anger of certain beings, whose abode appears to be in the rivers: or to the power of evil spirits.' Among the Kols of Nagpore, as Colonel E. T. Dalton tells us, 'all disease in men and in cattle is attributed to one of two causes, the wrath of some evil spirit who has to be appeased, or the spell of some witch or sorcerer;'343 the Circassians344 and some of the Chinese345 have also the same belief.

Hence it is that mad people are in many countries looked on with so much reverence, since they are re- [p.152] garded as the special abode of some Deity.346 Savages who believe that diseases are owing to magic, naturally conclude that death is so too. Far from having realised to themselves the idea of a future life, they have not even learnt that death is the natural end of this. We find a very general conviction among savages that there is no such thing as natural death, and that when a man dies without being wounded, he must be the victim of magic.

Thus, Mr. Lang,347 speaking of the Australians, says, that whenever a native dies, 'no matter how evident it may be that death has been the result of natural causes, it is at once set down that the defunct was bewitched by the sorcerers of some neighbouring tribe.' Among the natives of Southern Africa no one is supposed to die naturally.348 The Bechuanas, says Philip, 'and all the Kaffir tribes, have no idea of any man dying except from hunger, violence, or witchcraft. If a man die even at the age of ninety if he do not die of hunger or by violence, his death is imputed to sorcery or to witchcraft, and blood is required to expiate or avenge it.'349 So also Battel tells us that 'on the Guinea Coast none on any account dieth, but that some other has bewitched them to death.'350 Dobritzhoffer351 mentions that, 'even if an Abipon die from being pierced with many wounds, or from having his house broken, or his strength exhausted by [p.153] extreme old age, his countrymen still deny that wounds or weakness occasioned his death, and anxiously try to discover by which of the jugglers, and for what reason, he was killed.' Stevenson352 states that in South America, 'The Indians never believe that death is owing to natural causes, but that it is the effect of sorcery and witchcraft. Thus on the death of an individual one or more diviners are consulted, who generally name the enchanter, and are so implicitly believed, that the unfortunate object of their caprice or malice is certain to fall a sacrifice.' Wallace353 found the same idea, among the tribes of the Amazons; Muller354 mentions it as prevalent among the Dacotahs; Hearne355 among the Hudson's Bay Indians.

But though spirits are naturally much to be dreaded on various accounts, it by no means follows that they should be conceived as necessarily wiser or more powerful than men. Of this our table-turners and spirit-rappers give a modern illustration. The natives of the Nicobar Islands were in the habit of putting up scarecrows to frighten the 'Eewees' away from their villages.'356 The inhabitants of Kamtschutka, according to Kotzebue,357 insult their deities if their wishes are unfulfilled. They even feel a contempt for them. If Kutka, they say, had not been so stupid, would he have made inaccessible rocks, and too rapid rivers?358 The Lapps, according to Klemm, made idols for their deities, and placed each in a separate box, on which [p.154] they indicate the name of the deity, so that each  may know its own box.359

Vancouver360 mentions that the inhabitants of Owhyhec were seriously offended with their deity for permitting the death of a popular young chief named Whokaa. Yate observes361 that the New Zealanders, attribute certain diseases to the attacks of the Atua, endeavour either to propitiate or drive him away; in the latter case 'they make use of the most threatening and outrageous language; sometimes telling their deity that they will kill and eat him.'

In India the seven great 'Rishis' or penitents are described in some of the popular tales as even superior to the Gods. One of them is said to have 'paid a visit to each of the three primeval divinities of India, and began his interview by giving each of them a kick! His object was to know how they would demean themselves, and to find out their temper, by the conduct which they would adopt upon such a salutation. The penitents always maintained a kind of superiority over the gods, and punished them severely when they found them in fault.'362

The negro of Guhica beats his Fetich if his wishes are not complied with, and hides him in his waist-cloth if about to do anything of which he is ashamed, so that the Fetich may not be able to see what is going on.363

During a storm the Bechuanas cursed the deity for sending thunder;364 and the Namaquas shot poisoned [p.155] arrows at storms to drive them away.365 When the Basuto (Kaffir) is on a marauding expedition, he 'gives utterance to those cries and hisses in which cattle drivers indulge when they drive a herd before them; thinking in this manner to persuade the poor divinities (of the country they are attacking) that he is bringing cattle to their worshippers, instead of coming to take it from them.'366

According to Thomson,367 the natives of Cambodia assumed that the Deity did not understand foreign languages. Franklin368 says that the Cree Indians treat their deity, whom they call Kepoochikawn, 'with considerable familiarity, interlarding their most solemn speeches with expostulations and threats of neglect if he fails in complying with their requests.'

The North Australian native369 will not be near graves 'at night by himself; but when they are obliged to pass them they carry a fire-stick to keep off the spirit of darkness.'

The Kyoungtha of Chittagong are Buddhists. Their village temples contain a small stand of bells and an image of Boodh, which the villagers generally worship morning and evening, 'first ringing the bells to let him know that they are there.'370 The Sinto temples of the Sun Goddess in Japan also contain a bell, 'intended to arouse the goddess and to awaken her attention to the prayers of her worshippers.'371


According to the Brahmans372 'two things are indispensably necessary to the sacrifice, in performing the ceremony: several lighted lamps, and a bell.'

The Tartars of the Altai picture to themselves the Deity as an old man, with a long beard, and dressed in the uniform of a Russian officer of Dragoons.373

Even the Greeks and Romans believed stories very derogatory not only to the moral character, but to the intellect and power, of their deities. Thus they were liable to defeat from mortals: Mars, though the god of War, was wounded by Diomede and fled away howling with pain. They had little or no power over the elements, they had no foreknowledge and were often represented as inferior, both morally and mentally, to men. Even Homer does not seem to have embraced the idea of omnipotence.374 In fact, it may truly be said that the savage has a much greater respect for his chief than for his god.375

This low estimate of spirits is shown in a very striking manner by the behaviour of savages during eclipses. All over the world we find races of men who believe that the sun and moon are alive, and who consider that during eclipses they are either quarrelling with each other or attacked by the evil spirits of the air. Hence it naturally follows, although to us it seems absurd, that the savage endeavours to assist the sun or moon. The Greenlanders376 regard the sun and moon as sister and brother; the former being the female, and being constantly pur- [p.157] sued by the latter. During an eclipse they think the moon goes about 'among the houses to pilfer their skins and eatables, and even to kill those people that have not duly observed the rules of abstinence. At such times they hide away everything, and the men carry chests and kettles on the top of the house, and rattle and beat upon them to frighten away the moon, and make him return to his place. At an eclipse of the sun the women pluck the dogs by the ears; if they cry, 'tis a sign that the end of the world is not yet come.'

The Iroquois, says Dr. Mitchell,377 believe that eclipses are caused by a bad spirit, 'who mischievously intercepts the light intended to be shed upon the earth and its inhabitants. Upon such occasions the greatest solicitude exists. All the individuals of the tribe feel a strong desire to drive away the demon, and to remove thereby the impediment to the transmission of luminous rays. For this purpose they go forth, and, by crying, shouting, drumming, and the firing of guns, endeavour to frighten him. They never fail in their object; for by courage and perseverance, they infallibly drive him off. His retreat is succeeded by a return of the obstructed light.'

The Caribs, says Lafitau, accounted for eclipses by supposing either that the moon was ill, or that she was attacked by enemies; these they endeavoured to drive away by dances, by cries, and by the sacred rattle.378 The Chiquito Indians,379 according to Dobritzhoffer, [p.158] think that the sun and moon during eclipses are 'cruelly torn by dogs, with which they think that the air abounds, when they see their light fail; attributing their blood-red colour to the bites of these animals. Accordingly, to defend their dear planets from those aerial mastiffs, they send a shower of arrows up into the sky, and loud vociferations, at the time of the eclipse.' When the Guaycurus, says Charlevoix, 'think themselves threatened with a storm, they sally out of their towns, the men armed with their mancanas, and the women and children howling with all their might; for they believe that, by so doing, they put to flight the devil that intended to excite it.'380 The ancient Peruvians, also, used to beat their dogs during eclipses, in order, apparently, that by their howlings they might frighten away the evil spirits.381 The Chinese of Kiatka thought that eclipses were caused by the evil spirit placing his hand on the moon, in whose defence they immediately made as much noise as possible.'382 The Stiens of Cambodia,383 like the Cambodians themselves, account for eclipses by the hypothesis 'that some being has swallowed up the sun and the moon; and, in order to deliver them, they made a frightful noise, beat the tam-tam, uttered savage cries, and shot arrows into the air, until the sun reappeared.'

During an eclipse the Sumatrans384 also 'make a loud noise with sounding instruments, to prevent one luminary from devouring the other, as the Chinese, to [p.159] frighten away the dragon; a superstition that has its source in the ancient systems of astronomy (particularly the Hindu), where the nodes of the moon are identified with the dragon's head and tail. They tell of a man in the moon who is continually employed in spinning cotton, but that every night a rat gnaws his thread, and obliges him to begin his work afresh.'

In Eastern Africa, Speke385 mentions that on one occasion, 'as there was a partial eclipse of the moon, all the Wanguana marched up and down from Rumunika's to Nnanimi's huts, singing and beating our tin cooking-pots to frighten off the spirit of the sun from consuming entirely the chief object of reverence, the moon.' Lander386 mentions that at Houssa, in Central Africa, an eclipse was attributed to an attack made by the sun on the moon. During the whole time the eclipse lasted the natives made as much noise as possible, 'in the hope of being able to frighten away the sun to his proper sphere, and leave the moon to enlighten the world as at other times.'

One of the difficulties in arriving at any clear conception of the religious system of the lower races arises from a confusion between a belief in ghosts and that in an immortal spirit. Yet the two are essentially distinct; and the spirit is not necessarily regarded as immortal because it does not perish with the body. The negroes, for instance, says one of our keenest observers, Captain Burton, 'believe in a ghost, but not in spirit; in a present immaterial, but not in a future.'387


Counting on nothing after the present life, there is for them no hope beyond the grave. They will find sorrow with a burden of despair. 'Amekwisha'—'he is finished'—is the East African's last word concerning parent or friend. 'All is done for ever,' sing the West Africans. The least allusion to loss of life makes their black skins pale. 'Ah,' they exclaim, 'it is bad to die: to leave house and home, wife and children; no more to wear soft cloth, nor eat meat, nor smoke tobacco.'388

The Hudson's Bay Indians, according to Hearne,389 a good observer and one who had ample means of judging, had no idea of any life after death.

In other cases the spirit is supposed to survive the body for a certain time, and to linger about its old abode.

Ask the negro, says Du Chaillu,390 'where is the spirit of his great-grandfather? he says he does not know; it is alone. Ask him about the spirit of his father or brother who died yesterday, then he is full of fear and terror; he believes it to be generally near the place where the body has been buried, and among many tribes the village is removed immediately after the death of one of the inhabitants.' The same belief prevails among the Amazulu Kaffirs, as has been well shown by Mr. Callaway.391 They believe that the spirits of their deceased fathers and brothers still live, because they appear in dreams; by inverse reasoning, [p.161] however, grandfathers are generally regarded as having ceased to exist.

Bosman mentions that on the Guinea Coast, when 'any considerable person dies, they perplex one another with horrid fears, proceeding from an opinion that he appears for several nights successively near his late dwelling.'392 This it seems that the power of a ghost after death bears some relation to that which the man possessed when alive. Other negroes think that after death they become white men393—a curious idea, which also occurs in Australia. Among the Tipperahs of Chittagong, if a man dies away from home, his relatives stretch a thread over all the intermediate streams, so that the spirit of the dead man may return to his own village; it being supposed that 'without assistance spirits are unable to cross running water; therefore; the stream here had been bridged in the manner aforesaid.'394 We know that a somewhat similar idea existed in Europe, and it occurs also, as we shall see (p. 167), in the Feejee Islands.

Again, some modes of death are supposed to kill not only the body but the spirit also. Thus a Bushman having put to death a woman, who was a magician, dashed the head of the corpse to pieces with large stones, buried her, and made a large fire over the grave, for fear, as he explained to Lichtenstein, lest she should rise again and 'trouble him.'395 Even the New Zealanders believed that a man who was eaten was destroyed both body and spirit. The same idea evidently influenced the Cali- [p.162] lornians who, as recorded by Mr. Gibbs, did not dispute the immortality of the whites who buried their dead, but could not believe the same of his own people, because they were in the habit of burning them.396

In these cases it will be observed that the existence of the ghost depends upon the manner of death, and the mode of burial. This is no doubt absurd, but it is not illogical. The savage's idea of a spirit is something ethereal indeed, but not altogether immaterial, and consequently it may be injured by violence. Some races believe in ghosts of the living as well as of the dead. For instance, the Feejeeans397 believe 'that the spirit of man who still lives will leave the body to trouble other people when asleep. When anyone faints or dies, their spirit, it is said, may sometimes be brought back by calling after it.'

Even when the ideas of a soul and of future life are more developed, they are far from always taking the direction of our beliefs.

Thus the Caribs and Redskins believe that a man has more than one soul; to this they are probably led by the pulsation of the heart and the arteries, which they regard as evidences of independent life. Thus also they account for inconsistencies of behaviour.

The belief in ghosts, then, is essentially different from our notions of a future life, ghosts are mortal, they haunt burial-grounds and hover round their own graves, Even when a higher stage has been gained, the place of departed souls is not a heaven, but merely a better earth.


Divination and sorcery are very widely distributed. Their characteristics are so well known and so similar all over the world, that I shall only give a few suggestive illustrations.

Whipple398 thus describes a scene of divination among the Cherokees. The priest having concluded an eloquent address, took 'a curiously wrought bowl, alleged to be of great antiquity; he tilled it with water and placed the black substance within, causing it to move from one side to the other, and from bottom to top, by a word. Alluding, then, to danger and foes, the enchanted mineral fled, from the point of his knife; but as he began to speak of peace and security, it turned toward and clung to it, till lifted entirely from the water. The priest finally interpreted the omen by informing the people that peace was in the ascendant, no enemy being near.'

In West Africa399 they have a mode of divination with nuts, 'which they pretend to take up by guess, and let fall again; after which they tell them, and form their answers according as the numbers are even or odd.' The negroes of Egba400 consult Shango by 'throwing sixteen pierced cowries: if eight fall upwards and eight downwards, it is peace; if all are upwards, it is also a good sign; and vice versa if all fall with their teeth to the ground, it is war.'

The Lapps have a curious mode of divination. They put a shoulder-blade in the fire, and then foretell the future by the arrangement of the cracks (figs. 15-17). [p.164] The same custom exists among the Mongols401 and Tunguses of Siberia,402 and the Bedouins. The lives vary of course greatly, still there are certain principal cracks which usually occur. The following figures of Kalmuck specimens are copied from Klemm, who explains, after Pallas, the meaning of the various lines. The Chipewyans of North America also make their magic drawings on shoulder-blades, which they then throw into the fire.403 Williams404 describes various modes of divination practised in Feejee.


In New Zealand, before a warlike expedition is undertaken, sticks are sometimes stuck in the ground in two rows, one of which denotes their own party, the other that of the enemy. If the wind blows the enemy's sticks backwards, they will be defeated; if forwards, they will be victorious; if obliquely, the expedition will be indecisive. The same criterion is applied to their own sticks.405

This is a case of divination, but from it to sorcery is a short and obvious step. When once it is granted that the fall of a stick certainly preludes that of the person it represents, it follows that by upsetting the stick, his death can be caused.

We find a very similar idea in the Western Highlands of Scotland, in the 'Sea Maiden' a mermaid appears to a fisherman, and gives him three seeds, which are to produce three trees, which 'will be a sign, when one of the sons dies, one of the trees will wither; and this accordingly took place.'406

A supposed prophet of the Shawnees (North America) sent word to Tanner that the fire in his lodge was intimately connected with his life. 'Henceforth,' said he, 'the fire must never be suffered to go out in your lodge. Summer and winter, day and night, in the storm, or when it is calm, you must remember that the life in your body and the fire in your lodge are the same. If you suffer your fire to be extinguished, at that moment your life will be at an end.'407

Father Merolla mentions a case in which a Congo (negro) witch tried to destroy him. With this object [p.166] she dug a hole in the ground, and I resolved, says the worthy Father,408 'not to stand long in one place, thereby to avoid the design she had upon me to bewitch me to death, that having been the reason of her making a hole in the earth. It seems their custom is, that when they have a mind to bewitch anyone mortally, they put a certain herb or plant into the hole they have so dug; which, as it perishes or decays, so the visions and spirits of the person they have a desire upon will fail and decay.' In Feejee409 'one mode of operating is to bury a cocoa-nut, with the eye upwards, beneath the temple-hearth, on which a fire is kept constantly burning; and as the life of the nut is destroyed, so the health of the person it represents will fail, till death ensues. At Matuku there is a grove sacred to the god Tokalau, the wind. The priest promises the destruction of any hated person in four days if those who wish his death bring a portion of his hair, dress, or food which he has left. This priest keeps a fire burning, and approaches the place on his hands and knees. If the victim bathe before the fourth day, the spell is broken. The most common method, however, is the Vakadranikau, or compounding of certain leaves supposed to possess a magical power, and which are wrapped in other leaves, or put into a small bamboo case, and buried in the garden of the person to be bewitched, or hidden in the thatch of his house. The native imagination is so absolutely under the control of the fear of these charms, that persons, hearing that they were the objects of such spells, [p.167] have lain down on their mats, and died through fear. Those who have reason to suspect others of plotting against them, avoid eating in their presence, or are careful to leave no fragment of food behind; they also dispose their garments so that no part can he removed. Most natives on cutting their hair hide what is cut off in the thatch of their own houses. Some build themselves a small house, and surround it with a moat, believing that a little water will neutralise the charms which are directed against them.' In North America, to ensure a successful war, courtship, or hunt, the Indians make a rude drawing, or a little image to represent the man, woman, or animal; then medicine is applied to it, or, if the desire is to cause death, the heart is pierced.410 The Romans, when sacrifices were forbidden, used as a substitute to throw dolls into the Tiber, and in India the magicians make small pictures of mud, on the breasts of which they write the names of those whom they wish to annoy. They then 'pierce the images, with thorns, or mutilate them, so as to communicate a corresponding injury to the person represented.'411

In other cases, the possession of a person's name is sufficient, and indeed, all over the world we find more or less confusion between a thing or a person, and its or his name. Hence the importance attached among the North American Indians and South Sea Islanders to an exchange of names. Hence, as already mentioned, we often find a person's real name concealed, lest a knowledge of it should give a power over the person. [p.168] Even the Romans when they besieged a town, had a curious ceremony founded on the same idea. They invoked the tutelar deity of the city, and tempted him by the offer of rewards and sacrifices 'to betray his friends and votaries.' In that ceremony the name of 'the tutelar deity was thought of importance, and for that reason the tutelar deity of Rome was a profound secret.'412

Sumatra gives us a curious instance of long survival of this idea in a somewhat advanced community. 'A Sumatran,413 ever scrupulously, abstains from pronouncing his own name; not, as I understand, from any motive of superstition, but merely as a punctilious in manners. It occasions him infinite embarrassment when a stranger, unacquainted with their customs, requires it of him. As soon as he recovers from his confusion, he solicits the interposition of his neighbour. He is never addressed, except in the case of a superior dictating to his dependent, in the second person, but always in the third; using his name or title instead of the pronoun; and when these are unknown, a general title of respect is substituted, and they say, for instance, "apa orang kaya punia suka," "what is his honour's pleasure," for "what is your, or your honour's pleasure." When criminals or other ignominious persons are spoken to, use is made of the pronoun personal kau (a contraction of angkau), particularly expressive of contempt.'

Generally, however, it was considered indispensable that the sorcerer should possess 'something connected [p.169] with the body of the object of vengeance. The parings of the nails, a lock of the hair, the saliva from the mouth, or other secretions from the body, or else a portion of the food which the person was to eat. This was considered as the vehicle by which the demon entered the person, who afterwards became possessed. It was called the tubu, growing or causing to grow. When procured, the tara was performed; the sorcerer took the hair, saliva, or other substance that had belonged to his victim, to his house, or marae, performed his incantations over it, and offered his prayers; the demon was then supposed to enter the tubu, and through it the individual, who afterwards became possessed.'414

Speaking of New Zealand, Tylor415 says that a 'person who wished to bewitch another, sought to obtain something belonging to him—a lock of hair, a portion of his garment, or even some of his food; this being possessed, he uttered certain karakias over it, and then buried it; as the article decayed, the individual also was supposed to waste away. This was sure to be the case if the victim heard of it; fear quickly accomplishing his enemy's wish. The person who bewitched another, remained three days without eating; on the fourth he ate, and his victim died.'

So also Seemann416 tells us that 'if a Feejeean wishes to cause the destruction of an individual by other means than open violence or secret poison, the case is put in the hands of one of these sorcerers, care being [p.170] taken to let this fact be generally and widely known. The sorcerer now proceeds to obtain any article that has once been in the possession of the person to be operated upon. These articles are then burnt with certain leaves, and if the reputation of the sorcerer be sufficiently powerful, in nine cases out of ten the nervous fears of the individual to be punished will bring on disease, if not death: a similar process is applied to discover thieves.'

Sir G. Grey thus describes a scene of witchcraft in New Zealand: 'The priests417 then dug a long pit, termed the pit of wrath, into which by their long enchantments they might bring the spirits of their enemies, and hang them and destroy them there; and when they had dug the pit, muttering the necessary incantations, they took large shells in their hands to scrape the spirits of their enemies into the pit with, whilst they muttered enchantments; and when they had done this they scraped the earth into the pit again to cover them up, and beat down the earth with their hands, and crossed the pit with enchanted cloths, and wove baskets of flax-leaves to hold the spirits of the foes which they had thus destroyed, and each of these acts they accompanied with proper spells.'

In North America, also, 'a hair from the head of the victim' is supposed to increase greatly the efficacy of charms, and the same idea occurs at the Cape; indeed, no one can read a book of African travels without being struck by the great dread of witchcraft felt by the natives of that continent.

We cannot wonder that savages believe in witchcraft, [p.171] since even the most civilised races have not long, nor entirely, ceased to do so.

Like our spirit-rappers and table-turners, the Chinese magicians,418 though they have never seen the person who consults them, they tell his name, and all the circumstances of his family; in what manner his house is situated, how many children he has, their names and age; with a hundred other particulars, which may be naturally enough supposed known to the demons, and are strangely surprising to weak and credulous minds among the vulgar.

'Some of these conjurers, after invoking the demons, cause the figures of the chief of their sect, and of their idols, to appear in the air. Formerly they could make a pencil write of itself, without anybody touching it, upon paper or sand, the answers to questions. They likewise cause all people of any house to pass in review in a large vessel of water; wherein they also show the changes that shall happen in the empire, and the imaginary dignities to which those shall be advanced who embrace their sect.'

In all parts of India, says De Faira,419 'there are prodigious wizards. When Vasco de Gama was sailing upon that discovery, some of them at Kalekut showed people, in basins of water, the three ships he had with him. When Don Francisco de Almeyda, the first viceroy of India, was returning to Portugal, some witches of Kochin told him he should not pass the Cape of Good Hope; and there he was buried.' (This is strained a little; for he did pass the Cape, and was [p.172] buried at the bay of Saldanna, some leagues beyond, as will be seen hereafter.) 'What follows is still more extraordinary. At Maskat there are such sorcerers that they eat the inside of a thing, only fixing their eyes upon it. With their sight they draw out the entrails of any human body, and so kill many people. One of these fascinators, fixing his eyes on a bateka, or water-melon, sucked out the inside; for, being cut open to try the experiment, it was found empty; and the wizard, to satisfy the spectators, vomited it up again.'

Father Merolla,420 a Capuchin 'missioner,' tells quite gravely the following story. The army of Sogno having captured a neighbouring town, found in it a large cock with a ring of iron round one leg. This they killed, cut in pieces, and put into a pot to boil; when, however, they thought to eat it, 'the boiled pieces of the cock, though sodden, and near dissolved, began to move about, and unite into the form they were in before, and being so united, the restored cock immediately raised himself up, and jumped out of the platter upon the ground, where he walked about as well as when he was first taken. Afterwards he leaped upon an adjoining wall, where he became new-feathered all of a sudden, and then took his flight to a tree hard by, where, fixing himself, he, after three claps of his wings, made a most hideous noise, and then disappeared. Everyone may easily imagine what a terrible fright the spectators were in at this sight, who, leaping with a thousand Ave-Marias in their mouths from the place [p.173] where this had happened, were contented to observe most of the particulars at a distance.'

To doubt the reality of witchcraft, says Lafitau,421 'est une industrie des athées, et un effet de cet esprit d'irréligion qui fait aujourd'hui des progres si sensibles dans le monde, d'avoir détruit en quelque sorte dans l'idée de ceux memes qui se piquent d'avoir de la religion, qu'il se trouve des hommes qui ayent commerce avec les démons par la voye des enchantemens et de la magie. On a attaché à cette opinion une certaine faiblesse d'esprit a la croire, qui fait qu'on ne la tolère plus que dans les femmelettes et dans le bas peuple, on dans les prêtres et dans les religieux, qu'on suppose avoir intérêt a entretenir ces visions populaires qu'un homme de sens auroit honte d'avouer. Pour établir cependant cet esprit d'incrédulité, il faut que ces prétendus esprits forts veuillent s'avengler au milieu de la lumiere, qu'ils renversent l'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament, qu'ils contredisent toute l'antiquité, l'histoire sacrée et la profane. On trouve partout des témoignages de ce commerce des hommes avec les divinités du paganisme, ou pour mieux dire avec les démons.'

He does not deny that some wizards were impostors, but he maintains that 'ce seroit rendre le monde trop sot, que de vouloir le supposer pendant plusieurs siècles la dupe de quelques misérables joueurs de gobelets.' Nay, he even maintained422 that America was, for some mysterious reason, handed over to the devil, and accounted for the remarkable similarity between some of the religious ceremonies, &c., in the new and old worlds, by the hypothesis that 'le démon, jaloux de la gloire de [p.174] Dieu, ret du bonheur de l'homme, a toujours été attentif à d'rober a l'un le culte qui lui est dû, et à perdre l'autre, en le rendant son adorateur. Pour cela il a érigé ante contre antel, et a affecté de maintenir le culte qu'il vouloit se faire rendre par les effets d'une puissance surhumaine, qui imposassent par le merveilleux, et qui fussent imités et copies d'apres ceux dont Dieu donnoit à son peuple des témoignages si authentiques par l'évidence des miracles qu'il faisoit en sa faveur.'

Father Labat423 also observes, 'qu'on exagère souvent dans ce qu'on en dit; mais je crois qu'il faut convenir que tout ce qu'on dit n'est pas entièrement faux, quoiqu'il ne soit peut-être pas entiêrement vrai. Je suis aussi persuade qu'il y a des faits d'une vérité très-constante;' and after mentioning four of these supposed facts, he concludes, 'il me semble que ces quatre faits suffisent pour prouver qu'il y a véritablement des gens qui ont commerce avec le diable, et qui se servent de lui en bien des choses.'

Some, even of our recent missionaries, according to Williams, believed that the Polynesian wizards really possessed supernatural powers, and were 'agents of the infernal powers.'424 Nay, Williams himself thought it 'not impossible.'

We may well be surprised that Europeans should believe in such things, and missionaries so credulous and ignorant ought, one might suppose, rather to learn than to teach; on the other hand, it is not surprising [p.175] that savages should believe in witchcraft, nor even that the wizards should believe in themselves.

We must indeed by no means suppose that sorcerers were always, or indeed generally, impostors.

The Shamans of Siberia are, says Wrangel,425 by no means 'ordinary deceivers, but a psychological phenomenon, well deserving of attention. Whenever I have seen them operate they have left me with a long-continued and gloomy impression. The wild look, the bloodshot eyes, the labouring breast and convulsive utterance, the seemingly involuntary distortion of the face and the whole body, the streaming hair, even the hollow sound of the drum, all contributed to the effect; and I can well understand that the whole should appear to the uncivilised spectator as the work of evil spirits.'

Speaking of the Ahts in North-west America, it is undoubtedly a fact, says Mr. Sproat,426 'that many of the sorcerers themselves thoroughly believe in their own supernatural powers, and are able, in their preparations and practices, to endure excessive fatigue, want of food, and intense prolonged mental excitement.'

Dobritzhoffer also concludes that the sorcerers of the Abipones427 themselves 'imagine that they are gifted with superior wisdom;' and Muller also is convinced that they honestly believe in themselves.428

We should, says Martius,429 'do them an injustice if we regarded the Brazilian sorcerers as mere impostors,' [p.176] though, he adds, they do not scruple to cheat where they can.

Williams, also, who was by no means disposed to take a favourable view of the native sorcerers, admits that they believed in themselves, a fact which it is only fair to bear in mind.430

This self-deception was much facilitated by, if not mainly due to, the very general practice of fasting by those who aspired to the position of wizards. The Greenlander, says Cranz,431 who would be an angekok, must retire from all mankind for a while into some solitary recess or hermitage, must spend the time in profound meditation, and call upon Torngarsuk to send him a torngak. At length, by abandoning the converse of men, by fasting and emaciating the body, and by a strenuous intenseness of thought, the man's imagination grows distracted, so that blended images of men, beasts, and monsters appear before him. He readily thinks these are real spirits, because his thoughts are full of spirits, and this throws his body into great irregularities and convulsions, which he labours to cherish and augment.'

Among the North American Indians,432 when a boy reaches maturity, he leaves home and absents himself for some days, during which he eats nothing, but lies on the ground thinking. When at length he falls asleep, the first animal about which he dreams is, he thinks, ordained to be his special protector through life.433 The [p.177] dream itself he looks on as a revelation. Indeed, Redskins fast before any great expedition, thinking that during their dreams they receive indications as to the course of action which they should pursue.434

Among the Cherokees also fasting is very prevalent, and an abstinence of seven days renders the devotee famous.435

The Flatheads of Oregon have a very similar custom. Here, however, a number of youths retire together. 'They spend three days and nights in the performance of these rites, without eating or drinking, by the languor of the body and the high excitement of the imagination produced during this time, their sleep must be broken and visited by visions adapted to their views.'436 These, therefore, they not unnaturally look on as the visits of spirits.

Those who by continued fasts have thus purified and cleared their minds from gross ideas, are supposed to be capable of a clearer insight into the future than that which is accorded to ordinary men, and are called 'Saiotkatta' by the Hurons, and 'Agotsinnachen' by the Iroquois, terms which mean literally 'seers.'437

In Brazil, a young man who wishes to be a paje dwells alone in some mountain, or in some lone place, and fasts for two years, after which he is admitted with certain ceremonies into the order of pajes.438 Among the Abipones439 and Caribs440 those who aspire to be 'keebet' proceed in a similar manner. Among the [p.178] South American Indians of the Ro de la Plata the Medicine-men were prepared for their office by a long fast.441 Among the Lapps, also, would-be wizards prepare themselves by a strict fast.442

At first sight the introduction of the 'dance' may seem out of place here. Among savages, however, it is to mere amusement. It is, says Robertson,443 a 'serious and important occupation, which mingles in every occurrence of public or private life. If any intercourse be necessary between two American tribes the ambassadors of the one approach in a solemn dance and present the calumet or emblem of peace; the sachems of the other receive it with the same ceremony. If war is denounced against an enemy, it is by a dance, expressive of the resentment which they feel, and of the vengeance which they meditate. If the wrath of their gods is to be appeased, or their beneficence to be celebrated—if they rejoice at the birth of a child, or mourn the death of a friend, they have dances appropriated to each of these situations, and suited to the different sentiments with which they are then animated. If a person is indisposed a dance is prescribed as the most effectual means to restore him to health; and if he himself cannot endure the fatigue of such an exercise, the physician or conjurer performs it in his name, as if the virtue of his activity could be transferred to his patient.'

Among the Kols of Nagpore Colonel Dalton444 describes [p.180] several dances which, he says, 'are all more or less connected with some religious ceremony.'

The Ostyaks also perform sacred sword dances in honour of their god Yelan.445

Fig. 18 represents a sacred dance as practised by the natives of Virginia. It is very interesting to see here a circle of upright stones, which, except that they are rudely carved at the upper end into the form of a head, exactly resemble our so-called Druidical temples.

In Brazil, again, 'some of the tribes had no other worship than dancing to the sound of very noisy instruments.'446

The idea is by no means confined to mere savages. Even Socrates447 regarded the dance as a part of religion, and David, we know, did so too.448

As sacrificial feasts so generally enter into religious ceremonials, we need not wonder that smoking is throughout America closely connected with all religious ceremonies, just as incense is used for the same purpose in the Old World.449 Among the Sonthals also, one of the aboriginal tribes of India, the whole of their religious observances 'are generally performed and attended to by the votaries whilst in a state of intoxication; a custom which reminds us of the worship of Bacchus among the Greeks and Romans.'450


RELIGION (continued)

I HAVE already observed that any rational classification of religions should be founded, not so much on the nature of the object worshipped, as on the conception formed of the nature of the Deity. In support of this view I will now quote some illustrations to show how widely distributed is the worship in various material objects, and how much they are interwoven with one another.

How ready Savages are to deify objects, both animate and inanimate, is well shown in the following story from Lander's 'Niger Expedition.'

In most African towns and villages, says Lander,451 'I was treated as a demigod.' He mentions that on one occasion, having landed at a village which white men had never visited before, his party caused great astonishment and terror. When at length they succeeded in establishing a communication with the natives, the chief of the village gave the following account of what had taken place. 'A few minutes,' he said,452 'after you first landed, one of my people came to me and said, that a number of strange people had arrived at the market-place. I sent him back again to get as near [p.182] to you as he could, to hear what you intended doing. He soon after returned to me and said that you spoke a language which he could not understand. Not doubting it was your intention to attack my village at night and carry off my people, I desired them to get ready to fight. But when you came to meet us unarmed, and we saw your white faces, we were all so frightened that we could not pull our bows, nor move hand or foot; and when you drew near me, and extended your hands towards me, I felt my heart faint within me, and believed that you were "children of Heaven," and had dropped from the skies.'

The worship of animals is very prevalent among races of men in a somewhat higher stage of civilisation than that characterised by Fetichism. Plutarch, long ago, suggested that it arose from the custom of representing animals upon standards; and it is possible that some few cases may be due to this cause, though it is manifestly inapplicable to the majority, because in the scale of human development, animal worship much precedes the use of standards, which, for instance, do not appear to have been used in the Trojan war.453 Diodorus explains it by the myth that the gods, being at one time hard pressed by the giants, concealed themselves for a while under the form of animals, which in consequence became sacred, and were worshipped by men. This absurd theory needs no refutation.

Another ancient suggestion was that the Egyptian chiefs wore helmets in the form of animals' heads, and [p.183] that hence these animals were worshipped. This theory, however, will not apply generally, because the other races which worship animals do not use such helmets, and even in Egypt there can be little doubt that the worship of animals preceded the use of helmets.

Plutarch, as already mentioned, supposed that the crocodile was worshipped because, having no tongue, it was a type of the Deity, who makes laws for nature by his mere will! This far-fetched explanation shows an entire misconception of savage nature.

The worship of animals is, however, susceptible of a very simple explanation, and has, I believe, really originated from the practice of naming, first individuals, and then their families, after particular animals. A family, for instance, which was called after the bear, would come to look on that animal first with interest, then with respect, and at length with a sort of awe.

The habit of calling children after some animal or plant is very common, which amongst the lowest races might naturally be expected from the poverty of their language.

The Issinese of Guinea name their children 'after some beast, tree, or fruit, according to their fancy. Sometimes they call it after their fetich or some white, who is a Mingo, that is friend to them.'454

The Hottentots also generally named their children after some animal.455 In Congo456 'some form of food is forbidden to everyone: in some it is a fish, in others a bird, and so on. This is not, however, expressly stated to be connected with the totem.'


In Southern Africa the Bechuanas are subdivided into men of the crocodile, men of the fish, of the monkey, of the buffalo, of the elephant, porcupine, lion, vine, and so on. No one dares to eat the flesh, or wear the skin, of the animal to the tribe of which he belongs. In this case, however, the totems are not worshipped.457

In China also the name is frequently 'that of a flower, animal, or such-like thing.'458 In Australia we seem to find the totem, or, as it is there called, kobong, almost in the very moment of deification. Each family, says Sir G. Grey,459 'adopts some animal or vegetable, as their crest or sign, or kobong as they call it. I imagine it more likely that these have been named after the families, than that the families have been named after them.'

'A certain mysterious connection exists between the family and its kobong, so that a member of the family will never kill an animal of the species to which his kobong belongs, should he find it asleep; indeed, he always kills it reluctantly, and never without affording it a chance of escape. This arises from the family belief, that some one individual of the species is their nearest friend, to kill whom would be a great crime, and to be carefully avoided. Similarly a native who has a vegetable for his kobong, may not gather it under certain circumstances, and at a particular period of the year.'

Here we see a certain feeling for the kobong or totem, [p.185] though it does not amount to worship.460 In America, on the other hand, it has developed into a veritable religion.

The totem of the Redskins, says Schoolcraft,461 'is a symbol of the name of the progenitor,—generally some quadruped, or bird, or other object in the animal kingdom, which stands, if we may so express it, as the surname of the family. It is always some animated object, and seldom or never derived from the inanimate class of nature. Its significant importance is derived from the fact, that individuals unhesitatingly trace their lineage from it. By whatever names they may be called during their lifetime, it is the totem, and not their personal name, that is recorded on the tomb, or adjedatig, that makes the place of burial. Families are thus traced when expanded into bands or tribes, the multiplication of which, in North America, has been very great, and has increased, in like ratio, the labours of the ethnologist. The turtle, the bear, and the wolf appear to have been primary and honoured totems in most of the tribes, and bear a significant rank to the traditions of the Iroquois and Lenapis, or Delawares; and they are believed to have more or less prominency in the genealogies of all the tribes who are organised on the totemic principle.'

Thus again the Osages462 believe themselves to be descended from a beaver, and consequently will not kill that animal. So also among the Khonds of India, the [p.186] different tribes take their designation from various animals, as the bear tribe, owl tribe, deer tribe,' &c. &c.463

The Kols of Nagpore also are divided into 'keelis' or clans, generally called after animals, which in consequence they do not eat. Thus the eel, hawk, and heron tribe abstain respectively from the flesh of these animals.464

If, moreover, we bear in mind that the deity of a savage is merely a being of a slightly different nature from—and generally somewhat more powerful than—himself, we shall at once see that many animals, such as the bear or elephant, fulfil in a great measure his conception of a deity.

This is still more completely the case with nocturnal animals, such as the lion and tiger, where the effect is heightened by a certain amount of mystery. As the savage crouching at night by his camp fire, listens to the cries and roars of the animals prowling about, or watches them stealing like shadows round and round among the trees, what wonder if he weaves mysterious stories about them; and if in his estimate of animals he errs in one direction, we perhaps have fallen into the opposite extremes.

As an object of worship, however, the Serpent is pre-eminent among animals. Not only is it malevolent and mysterious, but its bite—so trifling in appearance and yet so deadly—producing fatal effects, rapidly, and apparently by no adequate means—suggests to the [p.187] savage almost irresistibly the notion of something divine, according to his notions of divinity. There were also some lower, but powerful, considerations which tended greatly to the development of serpent-worship. The animal is long-lived and easily kept in captivity; hence the same individual might be preserved for a long time, and easily exhibited at intervals to the multitude. In other respects the serpent is a convenient god. Thus in Guinea, where the sea and the serpent were the principle deities, the priests, as Bosman expressly tells us, encouraged offerings to the serpent rather than to the sea, because, in their latter case, 'there happens no remainder to be left for them.'465

We are indebted to Mr. Fergusson for a special work on tree and serpent-worship. I cannot, however, agree with him in supposing that the beauty of the serpent, or the brilliancy of its eye, had any part among the causes of its original deification. Nor do I believe that serpent-worship is to be traced up to any common local origin; but, on the contrary, that it sprang up spontaneously in many places, and at very different times. In considering the wide distribution of serpent-worship, we must remember that in the case of the serpent we apply one name to a whole order of animals; and that serpents occur all over the world, except in very cold regions. On the contrary, the lion, the bear, the bull have less extensive areas, and consequently their worship could never be so general. If, however, we compare, as we ought, serpent-worship with quad- [p.188] ruped-worship, or bird-worship, or sun-worship, we shall find that it has no exceptionally wide area.

Mr. Fergusson, like previous writers, is surprised to find that the serpent-god is frequently regarded as a beneficent Being. Muller, in his Scientific Mythology, has endeavoured to account for this by the statement that the serpent typified, not only barren, impure, nature, but also youth and health. This is not, I think, the true explanation. It may be the serpent-god commenced as a malevolent being, who was flattered, as cruel rulers always are, and that, in process of time, this flattery, which was at first the mere expression of fear, came to be an article of faith. If, however, the totemic origin of serpent-worship, as above suggested, be the correct one, the serpent, like other totemic deities, would, from its origin, have a benevolent character.

As mentioned in Mr. Fergusson's work, the serpent was worshipped anciently in Egypt,466 in India,467 Phoenicia,468 Babylonia,469 Greece,470 as well as in Italy,471 where, however, it seems not to have prevailed much. Among the Lithuanians472 every family entertained a real 'serpent as a household god.'

We may now pass on to those cases in which the serpent is now worshipped, or was so until lately.

In Asia evidence of serpent-worship has been found [p.189] in Persia,473 Cashmere,474 Cambodia, Thibet,475 India,476 China (traces),477 Ceylon,478 and among the Kalmucks.479

In Africa the serpent was worshipped in some parts of Upper Egypt,480 and in Abyssinia.481 Among the negroes on the Guinea coast it used to be the principal deity.482

Smith, in his Voyage to Guinea,483 says that the natives 'are all Pagans, and worship three sorts of deities. The first is a large beautiful kind of snake, which is inoffensive in its nature. These are kept in fittish-houses, or churches, built for that purpose in a grove, to whom they sacrifice great store of hogs, sheep, fowls, and goats, &c., and if not devoured by the snake, are sure to be taken care of by the fetish-men or pagan priests.' From Liberia to Benzuela, if not farther, the serpent was the principal deity,484 and, as elsewhere, is regarded as being on the whole beneficent. To it they resort in times of drought and sickness, or other calamities. No negro would intentionally injure a serpent, and anyone doing so by accident would assuredly be put to death. Some English sailors once [p.190] having killed one which they found in their house, were furiously attacked by the natives, who killed them all, and burned the house. All over the country are small huts, built on purpose for the snakes,485 which are attended and fed by old women. These snakes are frequently consulted as oracles.

In addition to those small huts were temples, which, judged by a negro standard, were of considerable magnificence,486 with large courts, spacious apartments, and numerous attendants. Each of these temples had a special snake. That of Whydah was supposed to have appeared to the army during an attack on Ardra. It was regarded as a presage of victory, which so encouraged the soldiers that they were perfectly successful. Hence this fetich was ever called beyond all others, and an annual pilgrimage was made to its temple with much ceremony. It is rather suspicious that any young women who are ill may be taken off to the snake's house to be cured. For this questionable service the attendants charge a high price to the parents.

It is observable that the harmless snakes only are thus worshipped. 'Agoye' the fetich of Whydah, which has serpents and lizards coming out of its head487 (fig. 19) presents a remarkable similarity to some of the Hindoo idols.

The Kaffirs of South Africa have a general belief that the spirits of their ancestors appear to them in the form of serpents.488


Ellis mentions that in ^ladr rlicm 'with a sort of superstition.'489

In Feejee, 'the god490 most generally known is 'Ndengei, who seems to be an impersonation of the [p.192] ' abstract idea of eternal existence. He is the subject 'of no emotion or sensation, nor any appetite except hunger. The serpent—the world-wide symbol of eternity—is his adopted shrine. Some traditions represent him with the head and part of the body of that reptile, the rest of his form being stone, emblematic of everlasting and unchangeable duration. He passes u monotonous existence in a gloomy cavern; evincing no interest in anyone but his attendant, Uto, and giving no signs of life beyond eating, answering his priest, and changing his position from one side to the other.'

In the Friendly Islands the water snake was much respected.491

In America serpents were worshipped by the Aztecs,492 Peruvians,493 Natchez,494 Caribs,495 Monitarris,496 Mandans,497 &c.

Alvarez, during his attempt to reach Peru from Paraguay, is reported498 to have seen the 'temple and residence of a monstrous serpent, whom the inhabitants had chosen for their divinity, and fed with human flesh, he was as thick as an ox, and seven-and-twenty feet long, with a very large head, and very fierce though small eyes. His jaws, when extended, displayed two ranks of crooked fangs. The whole body, except the tail, which was smooth, was [p.193] covered with round scales of a great thickness. The Spaniards, though they could not be persuaded by the Indians that this monster delivered oracles, were exceedingly terrified at the first sight of him; and their terror was greatly increased, when, on one of them having fired a blunderbuss at him, he gave a roar like that of a lion, and with a stroke of his tail shook the whole tower.'

The worship of serpents being so widely distributed, and presenting so many similar features, we cannot wonder that it has been regarded as something special, that attempts have been made to trace it up to one source, and that it has been regarded by some as the primitive religion of man.

I will now, however, proceed to mention other cases of zoolatry.

Animal worship was very prevalent in America.499 The Redskins reverenced the bear,500 the bison, the hare,501 and the wolf,502 and some species of birds.503 The jaguar was worshipped in some parts of Brazil, and especially in La Plata.504 In South America birds and jaguars seem to have been the specially sacred animals. The owl in Mexico was regarded as an evil spirit;505 in South America toads,506 eagles and goatsuckers were much venerated.507 The Abipones508 think that certain little ducks 'which fly about at night, uttering a mournful hiss, are the souls of the departed.'


In Yucatan it was customary to leave an infant alone in a place sprinkled with ashes. Next morning the ashes were examined, and if the footprints of any animals were found on them, that animal was chosen as the deity of the infant.509

The semi-civilised races of Mexico510 and Peru were more advanced in their religious conceptions. In the latter the sun was the great deity.511 Yet in Peru,512 even at the time of the conquest, many species of animals were still much reverenced, including the fox, dog, llama, condor, eagle, and puma, besides the serpent. Indeed, every species of animal was supposed to have a representative, or archetype, in heaven.513 In Mexico a similar feeling prevailed, but neither here nor in Peru can it truly be said that animals at the time of the conquest were notionally regarded as actual deities.

The Polynesians, also, had generally advanced beyond the stage of Totemism. The heavenly bodies were not worshipped, and when animals were regarded with veneration, it was rather as representatives of the deities, than with the idea that they were really deities. Still the Tahitians514 had a superstitious reverence for various kinds of fish and birds; such as the heron, kingfisher, and woodpecker, the latter apparently because they frequented the temples.

The Sandwich Islanders515 seem to have regarded the raven as sacred,516 and the New Zealanders, according to [p.195] Forster, regarded a species of tree-creeper as the 'bird of the divinity.'517 The Tongans considered that the deities 'sometimes come into the living bodies of lizards, porpoises, and a species of water snake; hence these animals are much respected.'518

The Bishop of Wellington informs us that 'spiders were special objects of reverence to Maoris, and as the priests further told them that the souls of the faithful went to heaven on gossamer threads, they were very careful not to break any spiders' webs, or gossamers. Lizards were also supposed to be chosen by the Maori gods as favourite abodes.'519

In the Feejee520 Islands, besides the serpent, 'certain birds, fish and plants, and some men, are supposed to have deities closely connected with or residing in them. At Lakemba, Tui Lakemba, and on Vanua Levu, Ravuravu, claim the hawk as their abode; Viavia, and other gods the shark. One is supposed to inhabit the eel, and another the common fowl, and so on, until nearly every animal becomes the shrine of some deity. He who worships the god dwelling in the eel must never eat of that fish, and thus of the rest; so that some are Tabu from eating human flesh, because the shrine of their god is a man.'

In Siberia Erman mentions that 'the Polar bear, as the strongest of God's creatures, and that which seems to come nearest to the human being, is as much venerated by the Samoyedes, as his black congener by the Ostyaks. They even swear by the throat of this [p.196] strong animal, whom they kill and eat; but when it is once killed, they show their respect for it in various ways.'521

Each tribe of the Jakuts 'look on some particular creature as sacred, e.g. a swan, goose, raven, &c., and such is not eaten by that tribe, though the others may eat it.'522 The same feeling extends even to plants, and in China, when the sacred apricot tree is broken to make the spirit pen, it is customary to write an apology on the bark.523

The Hindus, says Dubois,524 'in all things extravagant, pay honour and worship, less or more solemn, to almost every living creature, whether quadruped, bird, or reptile.' The cow, the ape, the eagle (known as garuda), and the serpent, receive the highest honours; but the tiger, elephant, horse, stag, sheep, hog, dog, cat, rat, peacock, cock, chameleon, lizard, tortoise, fish, and even insects, have been made objects of worship.

The ox is held especially sacred throughout most of India and Ceylon. Among the Todas525 the 'buffaloes and bell are fused into an incomprehensible mystic whole, or unity, and constitute their prime object of adoration and worship.'... 'Towards evening the herd is driven back to the tuel, when such of the male and female members of the family as are present assemble, and make obeisance to the animals.' The goose is worshipped in Ceylon,526 and the alligator in the Philippines.


The ancient Egyptians were greatly addicted to animal worship, and even now Sir S. Baker states that on the White Nile the natives will not eat the ox.527 The common fowl also is connected with superstitious ceremonies among the Obbo and other Nile tribes.528

The King of Ardra, on the Guinea Coast, had certain black birds for his fetiches,529 and the negroes of Benin also reverence several kinds of birds.

The negroes of Guinea regard530 'the sword-fish and the bonito as deities, and such is their veneration for them, that they never catch either sort designedly. If a sword-fish happen to be taken by chance, they will not eat it till the sword be cut off, which, when dried, they regard as fifetisso.' They also regard the crocodile as a deity. On the Guinea Coast, says Bosman, 'a great part of the negroes believe that man was made by Anansie, that is, a great spider.'531

In Madagascar, Ellis532 tells us that the natives regard crocodiles 'as possessed of supernatural power, invoke their forbearance with prayers, or seek protection by charms, rather than attack them; even the shaking of a spear over the waters would be regarded as an act of sacrilegious insult to the sovereign of the flood, imperilling the life of the offender the next time he should venture on the water.'

The nations of Southern Europe had for the most part advanced beyond animal worship even in the earliest historical times. The extraordinary sanctity [p.198] attributed, in the Twelfth Odyssey, to the oxen of the sun, stands almost alone in Greek mythology, and is regarded by Mr. Gladstone as of Phoenician origin. It is true that the horse is spoken of with mysterious respect, and that deities on several occasions assumed, the form of birds; but this does not amount to actual worship.

The deification of animals explains probably the curious fact that various savage races habitually apologise to the animals which they kill in the chase; thus, the Vogulitzi533 of Siberia, when they have killed a bear, address it formally, and maintain 'that the blame is to be laid on the arrows and iron, which were made and forged by the Russians.' Pallas534 narrates a similar action on the part of an Ostyak. Schoolcraft535 mentions a case of an Indian on the shores of Lake Superior begging pardon of a bear which he had shot.

Before engaging in a hunt the Chippeways have a 'medicine' dance in order to propitiate the spirits of the bears or other game.536 So also in British Columbia,537 when the fishing season commences, and the fish begin coming up the rivers, the Indians used to meet them, and 'speak to them. They paid court to them, and would address them thus: "You fish, you fish; you are all chiefs, you are; you are all chiefs."'

The Koussa Kaffirs538 had a very similar custom. 'Before a party goes out hunting, a very odd ceremony or sport takes place, which they consider as absolutely [p.199] necessary to ensure success to the undertaking. One of them takes a handful of grass into his mouth, and crawls about upon all-fours to represent some sort of game. The rest advance as if they would run him through with their spears, raising the hunting cry, till at length he falls upon the ground as if dead. If this man afterwards kills a head of game, he hangs a claw upon his arm as a trophy, but the animal must be shared with the rest.' Lichtenstein also mentions that 'if an elephant is killed after a very long and wearisome chase, as is commonly the case, they seek to exculpate themselves towards the dead animal, by declaring to him solemnly, that the thing happened entirely by accident, not by design.'539 To make the apology more complete, they cut off the trunk and bury it carefully with much flattery.

Speaking of a Mandingo who had killed a lion, Gray says: 'As540 I was not a little surprised at seeing the man, whom I conceived ought to be rewarded for having first so disabled the animal as to prevent it from attacking us, thus treated, I requested an explanation; and was informed that being a subject only, he was guilty of a great crime in killing or shooting a sovereign, and must suffer this punishment until released by the chiefs of the village, who, knowing the deceased to have been their enemy, would not only do so immediately, but commend the man for his good conduct. I endeavoured to no purpose to find out the origin of this extraordinary mock ceremony, but could only gain the answer, frequently given by an African, "that his forefathers had always done so."'


The Stiens of Cambodia541 believe that 'animals also have souls which wander about after their death; thus, when they have killed one, fearing lest its soul should come and torment them, they ask pardon for the evil they have done to it, and offer sacrifices proportioned to the strength and size of the animal.'

The Sumatrans speak of tigers542 'with a degree of awe, and hesitate to call them by their common name (rimau or machang), terming them respectfully satwa (the wild animals), or even nenek (ancestors); as really believing them such, or by way of soothing and coaxing them. When an European procures traps to be set, by means of persons less superstitious, the inhabitants of the neighbourhood have been known to go at night to the place, and practise some forms, in order to persuade the animals that it was not laid by them, or with their consent.'

The deification of inanimate objects seems at first somewhat more difficult to understand than that of animals. The names of individuals, however, would be taken not only from animals, but also from inanimate objects, and would thus, as suggested at p. 196, lead to the worship of the latter as well as of the former. Some of them, moreover, are singularly lifelike. No one, I think, can wonder that rivers should have been regarded as alive. The constant movement, the ripples and eddies on their surface, the vibrations of the reeds and other water plants growing in them, the murmuring and gurgling sounds, the clearness and transparency of the water, [p.201] combine to produce a singular effect on the mind even of civilised man.

Seneca long ago observed, that 'if you walk in a grove, thick planted with ancient trees of unusual growth, the interwoven boughs of which exclude the light of heaven; the vast height of the wood, the retired secrecy of the place, the deep unbroken gloom of shade, impress your mind with the conviction of a present deity.'

The savage also is susceptible to such influences, and is naturally prone to personify not only rivers but also other inanimate objects.

Who can wonder at that worship of the sun, moon, and stars, which has been regarded as a special form of religion, and is known as Sabæism? It does not, however, in its original form, essentially differ from mountain or river worship. To us, with our knowledge of astronomy, the sun worship naturally seems a more sublime form of religion, but we must remember that the lower races who worship the heavenly bodies have no idea of their distance, nor consequently of their magnitude. Hence the curious ideas with reference to eclipses which I have already mentioned (p. 156). Again, the New Zealanders believed that Mawe, their ancestor, caught the sun in a noose, and wounded it so severely that its movements have been slower, and the days consequently longer, ever since.543

According to another account, Mawe 'tied a string to the sun and fastened it to the moon, that as the former went down, the other, being pulled after it by [p.202] the superior power of the sun, may rise and give light during his absence.'544

We must always bear in mind that the savage notion of a deity is essentially different from that entertained by higher races. Instead of being supernatural, he is merely a part of nature. This goes far to explain the tendency to deification which at first seems so strange.

A good illustration, and one which shows how easily deities are created by men in this frame of mind, is mentioned by Lichtenstein. The king of the Koussa Kaffirs having broken off a piece of a stranded anchor, died soon afterwards, upon which all the Kaffirs looked upon the anchor as alive, and saluted it respectfully whenever they passed near it.545 Again, the natives near Sydney made it an invariable rule never to whistle when beneath a particular cliff, because on one occasion a rock fell from it and crushed some natives who were whistling underneath it.546

A very interesting case is recorded by Mr. Fergusson.547 'The following instance of tree-worship,' he says, 'which I myself witnessed, is amusing, even if not instructive. While residing in Tessore, I observed at one time considerable crowds passing near the factory I then had charge of. As it might be merely an ordinary fair they were going to attend, I took no notice; but as the crowd grew daily larger, and assumed a more religious character, I enquired, and was told that a god had appeared in a tree at a place about six miles off. Next morning, I rode over, and [p.203] found a large space cleared in a village I knew well, in the centre of which stood an old decayed date tree, hung with garlands and offerings. Around it houses were erected for the attendant Brahmins, and a great deal of business was going on in offerings and Pûja. On my enquiring how the god manifested his presence, I was informed that soon after the sun rose in the morning the tree raised its head to welcome him, and bowed it down again when he departed. As this was a miracle easily tested, I returned at noon and found it was so! After a little study and investigation, the mystery did not seem difficult of explanation. The tree had originally grown across the principal pathway through the village, but at last hung so low, that in order to enable people to pass under it, it had been turned aside and fastened parallel to the road. In the operation the bundle of fibres which composed the root had become twisted like the strands of a rope. When the morning sun struck on the upper surface of these, they contracted in drying, and hence a tendency to untwist, which raised the head of the tree. With the evening dews they relaxed, and the head of the tree declined, thus proving to the man of science as to the credulous Hindu, that it was due to the direct action of the Sun God.'

The savage, indeed, accounts for all movement by life. Hence the wind is a living being. Nay, even motionless objects are regarded in a particular stage of mental progress as possessing spirits. The chief of Teah could hardly be persuaded but that Lander's watch was alive and had the power of moving.548 It is [p.204] probably for this reason that in most languages inanimate objects are distinguished by genders, being at first regarded as either male or female. Hence also the practice of breaking or burning the weapons, &c. buried with the dead. It has been generally supposed that this was merely to prevent them from being a temptation to robbers. This is not so, however; savages do not invade the sanctity of the tomb. Just, however, as they kill a man's wives and slaves, his favourite horse or dog, that they may accompany him to the other world, so do they 'kill' the weapons, that the spirits of the bows, &c. may also go with their master, and that he may enter the other world armed as a chief should be. Thus the Tahitians549 believed 'that not only all other animals, but trees, fruit, and even stones, have souls which at death, or upon being consumed, or broken, ascend to the divinity, with whom they first mix, and afterwards pass into the mansion allotted to each.'

The Feejeeans550 considered that 'if an animal or a plant die, its soul immediately goes to Bolotoo; if a stone or any other substance is broken, immortality is equally its reward; nay, artificial bodies have equal good luck with men and hogs, and yams. If an axe or a chisel is worn out or broken up, away flies its soul for the service of the gods. If a house is taken down, or any way destroyed, its immortal part will find a situation on the plains of Bolotoo.'

Sproat,551 speaking of N. W. America, says, that 'when [p.205] the dead are buried, the friends often burn blankets with them, for by destroying the blankets in this upper world, they send them also with the departed soul to the world below.'

In China,552 'if the dead man was a person of note, the Bonzes make great processions; the mourners following them with candles and perfumes burning in their hands. They offer sacrifices at certain distances, and perform the obsequies; in which they burn statues of men, women, horses, saddles, and other things, and abundance of paper money; all which, they believe, in the next life, are converted into real ones, for the use of the party deceased.' Thus then by man in this stage of progress everything was regarded as having life, and being more or less a deity.

In India, says Dubois,553 'a woman adores the basket which serves to bring or to hold her necessaries, and offers sacrifices to it; as well as to the rice-mill, and other implements that assist her in her household labours. A carpenter does the like homage to his hatchet, his adze, and other tools; and likewise offers sacrifices to them. A Brahman does so to the style with which he is going to write; a soldier to the arms he is to use in the field; a mason to his trowel, and a labourer to his plough.'

Sir S. Baker554 says, 'Should the present history of the country be written by an Arab scribe, the style of the description would be purely that of the Old Tes- [p.206] tament, and the various calamities or the good fortunes that have in the course of nature befallen both the tribes and the individuals, would be recounted either as special visitations of Divine wrath, or blessings for good deeds performed. If in a dream a particular course of action is suggested, the Arab believes that God has spoken and directed him. The Arab scribe or historian would describe the event as the "voice of the Lord" (Kallam el Allah) having spoken unto the person: or, that God appeared to him in a dream, &c." Thus, much allowance would be necessary, on the part of a European reader, for the figurative ideas and expressions of the people.'

Mr. Fergusson, indeed, regards tree-worship, in association with serpent-worship, as the primitive faith of mankind. Mr. Wake555 also says, 'How are we to account for the Polynesians also affixing a sacred character to a species of the banyan, called by them the ava tree, and for the same phenomenon being found among the African tribes on the Zambesi and the Shire, among the negroes of Western equatorial Africa, and even in Northern Australia? Such a fact as this cannot be accounted for as a mere coincidence.'

Since, however, tree-worship equally prevails in America, we cannot regard it as any 'evidence of the common origin of the various races which practise it.' It is, however, one among many illustrations that the human mind, in its upward progress, everywhere passes through the same or very similar phases.

Tree-worship formerly existed in Assyria, Greece,556 [p.207] Poland,557 and France. In Persia the Homa of Soma worship was perhaps a case in point; Tacitus558 mentions the sacred groves of Germany, and those of England and familiar to everyone. In the eighth century, St. Boniface found it necessary to cut down a sacred oak, and even recently an oak copse at Loch Siant, in the Isle of Skye, was held so sacred that no person would venture to cut the smallest branch from it.559

At the present day tree-worship prevails throughout Central Africa, south of Egypt and the Sahara. The Shangallas in Bruce's560 time worshipped 'trees, serpents, the moon, planets, and stars.'

The negroes of Guinea561 worshipped three deities,—serpents, trees, and the sea. Park562 observed a tree on the confines of Bondou, hung with innumerable offerings, principally rags. 'It had,' he says, 'a very singular appearance, being decorated with innumerable rags or strips of cloth, which persons travelling across the wilderness had tied to the branches.'

Chapman mentions a sacred tree among the Kaffirs, which was hung with numerous offerings.563

The negroes of Congo564 'adored a sacred tree called Mirrone.' One is generally planted near the houses, as if it were the tutelar god of the dwelling, the Gentiles [p.208] adoring it as one of their idols.' They place calabashes of palm wine at the feet of these trees, in case they should be thirsty. Bosman also states that along the Guinea coast almost every village has its sacred grove.565 At Addacoodah, Oldfield566 saw a 'gigantic tree, twelve yards and eight inches in circumference. I soon found it was considered sacred, and had several arrows stuck in it, from which were suspended fowls, several sorts of birds, and many other things, which had been offered by the natives to it as a deity.'

The Bo tree is much worshipped in India567 and Ceylon.568 'The planting of the Rajayatana tree by Buddha,' says Fergusson, 'has already been alluded to, but the history of the transference of a branch of the Bo tree from the Buddh-gya to Anuradhapura, is as authentic and as important as any event recorded in the Ceylonese annals. Sent by Asoka (250 B.C.), it was received with the utmost reverence by Devanam-piyatisso, and planted in the most conspicuous spot in the centre of his capital. There it hat been reverenced as the chief and most important "numen" of Ceylon for more than 2,000 years, and it, or its lineal descendant, sprung at least from the old root, is there worshipped at this hour. The city is in ruins; its great dagobas have fallen to decay; its monasteries have disappeared; but the great Bo tree still flourishes according to the legend,—Ever green, never growing or decreasing, but living on for ever for the delight [p.209] and worship of mankind. Annually thousands repair to the sacred precincts within which it stands, to do it honour, and to offer up those prayers for health and prosperity which are more likely to be answered if uttered in its presence. There is probably no older idol in the world, certainly none more venerated.'

Some of the Chittagong Hill Tribes worship the bamboo.569 In Siberia the Jakuts have sacred trees on which they 'hang all manner of nicknacks, as iron, brass, copper, &c.'570 The Ostyaks also, as Pallas informs us, used to worship trees.571

'There was pointed out to us,' says Erman,572 'is an important monument of an early epoch in the history of Beresov, a larch about fifty feet high, and now through age, flourishing only at the top, which has been preserved in the churchyard. In former times, when the Ostyak rulers dwelt in Beresov, this tree was the particular object of their adoration. In this, as in many other instances, observed by the Russians, the peculiar sacredness of the tree was due to the singularity of its form and growth, for about six feet from the ground, the trunk separated into two equal parts, and again united. It was the custom of the superstitious natives to place costly offerings of every kind in the opening of the trunk; nor have they yet abandoned the usage; a fact well known to the enlightened Kosaks, who enrich themselves by carrying off secretly the sacrificial gifts.' Hanway,573 in his [p.210] Travels in Persia, mentions a tree 'to which were affixed a number of rags left there as health-offerings by persons afflicted with ague. This was beside a desolate caravanserai where the traveller found nothing but water.'

In some parts574 of Sumatra likewise 'they superstitiously believe that certain trees, particularly those of venerable appearance (as an old jawi-jawi or banian tree), are the residence, or rather the material frame of spirits of the woods; an opinion which exactly answers to the idea entertained by the ancients of the dryades and hamadryades. At Benkunat, in the Lanipong country, there is a long stone, standing on a flat one, supposed by the people to possess extraordinary power of virtue. It is reported to have been once thrown down into the water, and to have raised itself again into its original position; agitating the elements at the same time with a prodigious storm. To approach it without respect, they believe to be the source of misfortune to the offender.'

Among the natives of the Philippines also we find the worship of trees.575 They 'believed that the world at first consisted only of sky and water, and between these two a glede; which, weary with flying about, and finding no place to rest, set the water at variance with the sky, which, in order to keep it in bounds, and that it should not get uppermost, loaded the water with a number of islands, in which the glede might settle and leave them at peace. Mankind, they said, sprang out of a large cane with two joints, that floating about in [p.211] the water, was at length thrown by the waves against the feet of the glede, as it stood on shore, which opened it with its bill, the man came out of one joint, the woman out of the other. These were soon after married by the consent of their god, Bathala Meycapal, which caused the first trembling of the earth; and from thence are descended the different nations of the world.'

The Feejeeans also worshipped certain plants.576 'Tree-worship was less prevalent in America. Trees and plants were worshipped by the Mandans and Monitarees.577 A large ash was venerated by the Indians of Lake Superior.578

In North America, Franklin579 describes a sacred tree on which the Crees 'had hung strips of buffalo flesh, and pieces of cloth.' They complained to him of some Stone Indians, who, two nights before, had stripped their revered tree of many of its offerings.

In Mexico, Mr. Tylor580 observed an ancient cypress of remarkable size: 'all over its branches were fastened votive offerings of the Indians, hundreds of locks of coarse black hair, teeth, bits of coloured cloth, rags and morsels of ribbon. The tree was many centuries old, and had probably had some mysterious influence ascribed to it, and been decorated with such simple offerings long before the discovery of America.' In Nicaragua, large trees, but even maize and beans, were [p.212] worshipped.581 Maize was also worshipped in the Peruvian province of Huanca.582

In Patagonia, Mr. Darwin583 mentions a 'sacred tree which the Indians reverence as the altar of Walleechu. It is situated on a high part of the plain, and hence is a landmark visible at a great distance. As soon as a tribe of Indians come in sight of it, they offer their adorations by loud shouts. It stands by itself without any neighbour, and was indeed the first tree we saw; afterwards we met with a few others of the same kind, but they were far from common. Being winter, the tree had no leaves, but in their place numberless threads, by which the various offerings, such as cigars, bread, meat, pieces of cloth, &c., had been suspended. Poor people not having any thing better, only pulled a thread of their ponchos, and fastened it to the tree. The Indians, moreover, were accustomed to pour spirits and mate into a certain hole, and likewise to smoke upwards, thinking thus to afford all possible gratification to Walleechu. To complete the scene, the tree was surrounded by the bleached bones of the horses which had been slaughtered as sacrifices. All Indians, of every age and sex, made their offerings; they then thought that their horses would not tire, and that they themselves should be prosperous. The Gaucho who told me this, said that in the time of peace he had witnessed this scene, and that he and others used to wait till the Indians had passed by, for the sake of stealing their offerings from Walleechu. The Gauchos [p.213] think that the Indians consider the tree as the god itself; but it seems far more probable that they regard it as the altar,'—a distinction, however, which a Patagonian Indian would hardly perceive.

The Abenaquis also had a sacred tree.584

Trees were worshipped by the ancient Celts, and De Brosses585 even derives the word kirk, now softened into church, from quercus an oak, that species being peculiarly sacred.

The Lapps also used to worship trees.586

Thus, then, this form of religion can be shown to be general to most of the great races of men at a certain stage of mental development.

We will now pass to the worship of lakes, rivers, and springs, which we shall find to have been not less widely distributed. It was at one time very prevalent in Western Europe. According to Cicero, Justin, and Strabo, there was a lake near Toulouse in which the neighbouring tribes used to deposit offerings of gold and silver. Tacitus, Pliny, and Virgil also allude to sacred lakes. In the sixth century, Gregory of Tours mentions a sacred lake on mount Helanus.

In Britanny there is the celebrated well of St. Anne of Auray, and the sacred fountain at Lanmeur in the crypt of the church of St. Melars, to which crowds of pilgrims still resort.587

In our own country, traces of water-worship are also abundant. It is expressly mentioned by Gildas,588 and is [p.214] said to be denounced in a Saxon homily preserved in Cambridge.589 'At St. Fillans590 well at Comrie in Perthshire, numbers of persons in search of health, so late as 1791, came or were brought to drink of the waters and bathe in it. All these walked or were carried three times deasil (sunwise) round the well. They also threw each a white stone on an adjacent cairn, and left behind a scrap of their clothing as an offering to the genius of the place.' In the Scotch islands also are many sacred wells, and I have myself seen the holy well in one of the islands of Loch Maree, surrounded by the little offerings of the peasantry, consisting principally of rags and halfpence.

Colonel Forbes Leslie observes591 that in Scotland 'there are few parishes without a holy well; nor was it much less general in Ireland. The kelpie, or spirit of the waters, assumed various forms, that of a man, woman, horse, or bull being the most common. Scotland and Ireland are full of legends about this spirit, a firm belief in the existence of which was general in the last century, and is even now far from abandoned.

Of river-worship we have many cases recorded in Greek history.592 Peleus dedicated a lock of Achilles' hair to the river Spercheios. The Pulians sacrificed a bull to Alplieios; Themis summoned the rivers to the great Olympian assembly. Okeanos the Ocean, and various fountains, were regarded as divinities. Water-worship in the time of Homer was, however, gradually [p.215] ebbing away; and belonged rather, I think, to an earlier stage in development, than, as Mr. Gladstone believes, to a different race.593

In Northern Asia the Tunguses worship various springs.594 De Brosses mentions that the river Sogd was worshipped at Samarcand.595 'In596 the tenth century a schism took place in Persia among the Armenians, one party being accused of despising the holy well of Vargaschiebat.'

The Bouriats also, though Buddhists, have sacred lakes, Atkinson thus describes one. In an after-dinner ramble, he says,597 'I came upon the small and picturesque lake of Ikeougoun, which lies in the mountains to the north of San-ghin-dalai, and is held in veneration. They have erected a small wooden temple on the shore, and here they come to sacrifice, offering up milk, butter, and the fat of the animals, which they burn on the little altars. The large rock in the lake is with them a sacred stone, on which some rude figures are traced; and on the bank opposite they place rods with small silk flags, having inscriptions printed on them.' Lake Ahoosh also is accounted sacred among the Baskhirs.598

The divinity of water, says Dubois, is recognised by 'all the people of India.599 'Besides the well-known worship of the holy Ganges, the tribes of the Neilgherry Hills600 worship rivers under the name of Gangamma, [p.216] and in crossing them it is usual to drop a coin into the water as an offering, and the price of a safe passage. In the Deccan and in Ceylon, trees and bushes near springs may often be seen covered with votive offerings.601 The Khonds also worship rivers and fountains.602 The people of Sumatra 'are said to pay a kind of adoration to the sea, and to make it an offering of cakes and sweetmeats on their beholding it for the first time, deprecating its power of doing them harm.'603

The negroes on the Guinea Coast worshipped the sea.604

Herodotus mentions the existence of sacred fountains among the Libyans.605 In the Ashantee country, Bosman mentions 'the Chamascian river, or Rio de San Juan, called by the negroes Bossum Pra, which they adore as a god, as the word Bossum signifies.'606 The Eufrates, the principal river of Whydah, is also looked on as sacred, and a yearly procession is made to it.607 Phillips608 mentions, that on one occasion, in 1693, when the sea was unusually rough, the Kabosheers complained to the king, who 'desired them to be easy, and he would make the sea quiet next day. Accordingly he sent his fetishman with a jar of palm oil, a bag of rice and corn, a jar of pitto, a bottle of brandy, a piece of painted calico, and several other things to present to the sea. Being come to the seaside (as the author was [p.217] informed by his men, who saw the ceremony), he made a speech to it, assuring it that his king was its friend, and loved the white men; that they were honest fellows, and came to trade with him for what he wanted; and that he requested the sea not to be angry, nor hinder them to land their goods; be told it, that if it wanted palm oil, his king had sent it some; and so threw the jar with the oil into the sea, as he did, with the same compliment, the rice, corn, pitto., brandy, calico, &c.' Again, Villault609 mentions that lakes, rivers, and ponds come in also for their share of worship. He was present at a singular ceremony near Akkra. A great number of blacks assembled about a pond, bringing with them a sheep and some gallipots, which they offered to the pond, M. Villault being informed 'that this lake, or pond, being one of their deities, and the common messenger of all the rivers of their country, they threw in the gallipots with these ceremonies to implore his assistance; and to beg him to carry immediately that pot, in their name, to the other rivers and lakes to buy water for them, and hoped, at his return, he would pour the pot-full on their corn, that they might have a good crop.'

Some of the Negroes on the Guinea Coast610 'looked on the Winces as the gods of the sea; that the mast was a divinity that made the ship walk, and the pump was a miracle, since it could make water rise up, whose natural property is to descend.'

In North America the Dacotahs611 worship a god of [p.218] the waters under the name of Unktalie. They say that 'this god and its associates are seen in their dreams. It is the master-spirit of all their juggling and superstitious belief. From it the medicine-men obtain their supernatural powers, and a great part of their religion springs from this god.' Franklin612 mentions that the wife of one of his Indian guides 'being ill, her husband made an offering to the water-spirits, whose wrath he apprehended to be the cause of her malady. It consisted of a knife, a piece of tobacco, and some other trifling articles, which were tied up in a small bundle, and committed to the rapid.' Carver613 observes that when the Redskins 'arrive on the borders of Lake Superior, on the banks of the Mississippi, or any other great body of water, they present to the spirit who resides there some kind of offering, as the prince of the Winnebagoes did when he attended me to the Falls of St. Anthony.' Tanner also gives instances of this custom.614 On one occasion a Redskin, addressing the spirit of the waters, 'told him that he had come a long way to pay his adorations to him, and now would make him the best offerings in his power. He accordingly first threw his pipe into the stream; then the roll that contained his tobacco; after these the bracelets he wore on his arms and wrists; next an ornament that encircled his neck, composed of beads and wires; and at last the earrings from his ears; in short, he presented to his god every part of his dress that was valuable.'615


The Mandans also were in the habit of sacrifices to the spirit of the waters.616

In North Mexico, near the 35th Parallel, Lieutenant Whipple found a sacred spring which from time immemorial 'had been held sacred to the rain-god.'617 No animal may drink of its waters. It must be annually cleansed with ancient vases, which, having been transmitted from generation to generation by the caciques, are then placed upon the walls, never to be removed. The frog, the tortoise, and the rattlesnake, represented upon them, are sacred to Montezuma, the patron of the place, who would consume by lightning any sacrilegious hand that should dare to take the relics away. In Nicaragua rain was worshipped under the name of Quiateot. The principal water-god of Mexico, however, was Tlaloc, who was worshipped by the Toltecs, Chichimecs, and Aztecs.618 In New Mexico, not far from Zuni, Dr. Bell619 describes a sacred spring 'about eight feet in diameter, walled round with stones, of which neither cattle nor men may drink: the animals sacred to water (frogs, tortoises, and snakes) alone must enter the pool. Once a year the cacique and his attendants perform certain religious rights at the spring: it is thoroughly cleared out; water-pots are brought as an offering to the spirit of Montezuma, and are placed bottom upwards on the top of the wall of stones. Many of these have been removed; but some still remain, while the ground around is strewn with fragments of vases which have crumbled into decay from age.' [p.220] In Peru the sen, under the name of Mama Cocha, was the principal deity of the Chinchas;620 one branch of the Collas deduced their origin from a river, the others from a spring: there was also a special rain-goddess. In Paragnay621 also the rivers are propitiated by offerings of tobacco.

We will now pass to the worship of stones and mountains, a form of religion not less general than those already described.

Dulaure, in his 'Histoire Abregee des Cultes,' explains the origin of Stone-worship as arising from the respect paid to boundary stones. I do not doubt that the worship of some particular stones may thus have originated. Hermes or Termes was evidently of this character, and hence we may perhaps explain the peculiar characteristics of Hermes or Mercury, whose symbol was an upright stone.

Mercury or Hermes, says Lempriere, 'was the messenger of the gods. He was the patron of travellers and shepherds; he conducted the souls of the dead into the infernal regions, and not only presided over orators, merchants and declaimers, but he was also the god of thieves, pickpockets, and all dishonest persons.' He invented letters and the lyre, and was the originator of arts and sciences.

It is difficult at first to see the connection between these various offices, characterised as they are by such opposite peculiarities. Yet they all follow from the custom of marking boundaries by upright stones. Hence the name Hermes, or Termes, the boundary. In [p.221] the troublous times of old, it was usual, in order to avoid disputes, to leave a tract of neutral territory between the possessions of different nations. These were called marches; hence the title of Marquis, which means an officer appointed to watch the frontier or 'march.' These marches not being cultivated, served as grazing grounds. To them came merchants in order to exchange on neutral ground the products of their respective countries; here also for the same reason treaties were negotiated. Here again international games and sports were held. Upright stones were used to indicate places of burial; and lastly, on them were engraved laws and decrees, records of remarkable events, and the praises of the deceased.

Hence Mercury, represented by a plain upright stone, was the god of travellers, because he was a landmark; of shepherds, as presiding over the pastures; he conducted the souls of the dead into the infernal regions, because even in very early days upright stones were used as tombstones; he was the god of merchants, because commerce was carried on principally at the frontiers; and of thieves, out of sarcasm. He was the messenger of the gods, because ambassadors met at the frontiers; and of eloquence for the same reason. He invented the lyre, and presided over games, because contests in music, &c., were held on neutral ground; and he was regarded as the author of letters, because inscriptions were engraved on upright pillars.

Stone-worship, however, in its simpler forms has, I think, a different origin from this, and is merely a form of that indiscriminate worship which characterises the human mind in a particular phase of development.


Pallas states that the Ostyaks622 and Tunguses worship mountains,623 and the Tatars stones.624 Near Lake Baikal625 is a sacred rock which is regarded as the special abode of an evil spirit, and is consequently much feared by the natives. In India stone-worship is very prevalent. The Asagas of Mysore 'worship a god called Bhunia Devam, who is represented by a shapeless stone.'626 'One thing is certain,' says Mr. Hislop, 'the worship (of stones) is spread over all parts of the country, from Berar to the extreme east of Bustar, and that not merely among the Hinduised aborigines, who had begun to honour Khandova, &c., but among the rudest and most savage tribes. He is generally adored in the form of an unshapely stone covered with vermilion.'627 Two rude slave castes in Tulava (Southern India), the Bakadara and Betadara, worship a benevolent deity named Huta, represented by a stone kept in every house.628 Indeed, 'in every part of Southern India, four or five stones may often be seen in the ryots field, placed in a row and daubed with red paint, which they consider as guardians of the field and call the five Pandus.'629 Colonel Forbes Leslie supposes that this red paint is intended to represent blood.630 The god of each Khond village is represented by three stones.631 Pl. III. represents a [p.223] group of sacred stones, near Delgamn in the Dekkan, from a figure given by Colonel Forbes Leslie in his interesting work.632 The three largest stood in front of the centre of two straight lines, each of which consisted of thirteen stones. These lines were close together, and the edges of the stones were placed as near to each other as it was possible to do with slabs which, although selected, had never been artificially shaped. The stone in the centre of each line was nearly as high as the highest of the three that stood in front, but the others gradually decreased in size from the centre, until those at the ends were less than a foot above the ground, into which they were all secured. Three stones, not fixed, were placed in front of the centre of the group; they occupied the same position, and were intended for the same purposes, as those in the circular temple just described. All the stones had been selected of an angular shape, with somewhat of an obelisk form in general appearance. The central group and double lines faced nearly east, and on that side were whitewashed. On the white, near, although not reaching quite to the apex of each stone, nor extending altogether to the sides, was a large spot of red point, two thirds of which from the centre were blacked over, leaving only a circular external belt of red. This gave, as I believe it was intended to do, a good representation of a large spot of blood.'

In connection with these painted stones it is remarkable that in New Zealand red is a sacred colour, and 'the way of rendering anything tapu was by making it [p.224] red. When a person died, his house was thus painted; when the tapu was laid on anything, the chief erected a post and painted it with the kura; wherever a corpse rested, some memorial was set up; oftentimes the nearest stone, rock, or tree served as a monument; but whatever object was selected, it was sure to be painted red. If the corpse was conveyed by water, wherever they landed a similar token was left; and when it readied its destination, the canoe was dragged on shore, painted red, and abandoned. When the hahunga took place, the scraped bones of the chief thus ornamented, and wrapped in a red-stained mat, were deposited in a box or bowl smeared with the sacred colour, and placed in a painted tomb. Near his final resting-place a lofty and elaborately carved monument was erected to his memory; this was called the tiki, which was also thus coloured.'633 Red was also a sacred colour in Congo.634

Colonel Dalton describes635 a ceremony which curiously resembles the well-known scene in the life of Elijah, when he met the Priests of Baal on the top of Carmel, showed his superior power, and recalled Israel to the old faith. The Sonthals of Central Hindostan worship a conspicuous hill called 'Marang Boroo.' In times of drought they go to the top of this sacred mountain, and offer their sacrifices on a large fiat stone, playing on drums and beseeching their god for rain. 'They shake their heads violently, till they work themselves into a phrensy, and the movement becomes involuntary. They go on thus wildly gesticulating, till a "little cloud like a man's hand" is seen. Then they arise, [p.225] take up the drums, and dance the kurrun on the rock, till Marang Boroo's response to their prayer is heard in the distant rumbling of thunder, and they go home rejoicing. They must go "fasting to the mount," and stay there till "there is a sound of abundance of rain," when they get them down to eat and drink. My informant tells me it always comes before evening.'

The Arabians also down to the time of Mahomet worshipped a black stone. The Phoenicians also worshipped a deity under the form of an unshapen stone.636 The god Heliogabalus was merely a black stone of a conical form. Upright stones wore worshipped by the Romans and the Greeks, under the name of Hermes or Mercury. The Thespians had a rude stone which they regarded as a deity, and the Bœotians worshipped Hercules under the same form.637 The Laplanders also had sacred mountains and rocks.638

In Western Europe during the middle ages we meet with several denunciations of stone-worship, proving its deep hold on the people. Thus 'the worship639 of stones was condemned by Theodoric, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the seventh century, and is among the acts of heathenism forbidden by King Edgar in the tenth, and by Cnut in the eleventh century. In a council held at Tours in a.d. 507 priests were admonished to shut the doors of their churches against all persons worshipping upright stones, and Mahé states that a manuscript record of the proceedings of a council held at Nantes in the seventh century makes mention of the stone-worship of the Armoricans.'


'Les Francais,' says Dulaure,640 'adorerent des pierres plusieurs siècles àpres l'établissement du christianisme parmi eux. Diverses lois civiles et religieuses attestent l'existence de ce culte. Un capitulaire de Charlemagne, et le concile de Leptine, de l'an 743, defendent les ceremonies superstitieuses qui se pratiquent auprès des pierres et auprès des Fans consacrés à Mercure et à Jupiter. Le concile de Nantes, cite par Réginon, fait la même défense. Il nous apprend que ces pierres étaient situées dans des lieux agrestes, et que le peuple, dupe des tromperies des démons, y apportait ses voeux et ses offrandes. Les conciles d'Arles, de Tours, le capitulaire d'Aix-la-Chapelle, de l'an 789, et plusieurs synodes, renouvellent ces prohibitions.'

In Ireland in the fifth century. King Laoghaire worshipped a stone pillar called the Crom-Cruach, which was overthrown by St. Patrick. Another stone at Clogher was worshipped by the Irish under the name of Kermand-Kelstach.641 There was a sacred stone in Jura642 round which the people used to move 'deasil,' i.e. sunwise. 'In some of the Hebrides643 the people attributed oracular power to a large black stone.' In the island of Skye 'in every district there is to be met with a rude stone consecrated to Gruagach or Apollo. The Rev. Mr. McQueen of Skye says that in almost every village the sun, called Grugach or the Fair-haired, is represented by a rude stone; and he further states that libations of milk were poured on the gruaich-stones.'

Passing to Africa, Caillie observed near the negro [p.227] village of N'pal a sacred stone, on which every one as he passed threw a thread out of his 'pagne' or breech cloth, as a sort of offering. The natives firmly believe that when any danger threatens the village, this stone leaves its place and 'moves thrice round it in the preceding night, by way of warning.'644

Bruce observes that the pagan Abyssinians 'worship a tree, and likewise a stone.'645 The Tahitians believed in two principal gods; 'the Supreme Deity, one of these two first beings, they call Taroataihetoomoo, and the other, whom they suppose to have been a rock, Tepapa.'646

In the Feejee647 Islands 'rude consecrated stones (fig. 20) are to be seen near Vuna, where offerings of food are sometimes made. Another stands on a reef near Naloa to which the natives tayna; and one near Thokova, Na Viti Levu, named Lovekaveka, is regarded as the abode of a goddess, for whom food is provided. This, as seen in the engraving, is like a round black milestone, slightly inclined, and having a liku (girdle) tied round the middle. The shrine of Kawau is a large stone, which, like the one near Naloa, hates mosquitoes, and keeps them from collecting near where he rules; he has also two large stones for his wives, one of whom came from Yandua, and the other from Yasawa. Although no one pretends to know the origin of Ndengei, it is said that his mother, in the form of two great stones, lies at the bottom of a moat. Stones are also used to denote the locality of some other gods, [p.228] and the occasional resting-places of others. On the southern beaches of Vanua Levu, a large stone is seen which has fallen upon a smaller one. These, it is said, represent the gods of two towns on that coast fighting, and their quarrel has for years been adopted by those towns.' On one of these sacred stones in the same neighbourhood are circular marks, closely resembling those on some of our European menhirs, &c. The Sumatrans also, as already mentioned (ante, p. 223), had sacred stones.

Prescott648 says, that a Dacotah Indian 'will pick up a round stone, of any kind, and paint it, and go a few rods from his lodge, and clean away the grass, say from one to two feet in diameter, and there place his stone, or god, as he would term it, and make an offering of some tobacco and some feathers, and pray to [p.229] the stone to deliver him from some danger that he has probably dreamed of, or from imagination.'

The Monitarris also before any great undertaking were in the habit of making offerings to a sacred stone named Mih Choppenish.649 In Florida a mountain called Olaimi was worshipped, and the Natchez of Louisiana had a deity which was a conical stone.650

Fire-worship is so widely distributed as to be almost universal. Since the introduction of lucifer matches we can hardly appreciate the difficulty which a savage has in obtaining a light, especially in damp weather. It is said, however, that some Australian tribes did not know how to do so, and that others, if their fire went out, would go many miles to borrow a spark from another tribe, rather than attempt to produce a new one for themselves. Hence in several very widely separated parts of the world we find it has been customary to tell off some one or more persons whose sole duty it should be to keep up a continual fire. Hence, no doubt, the origin of the Vestal virgins, and hence also the idea of the sacredness of fire would naturally arise.

According to Lafitau,651 M. Huet, in a work which I have not been able to see, 'fait une longue énumération des peuples qui entretenoient ce feu sacré, et il cite partout ses autorités, de sorte qu'il paroit qu'il n'y avoit point de partie du monde connu, où ce culte ne fût universellement repandu. Dans l'Asie, outre les Juifs et les Chaldéens dont nous venous de parler, outre les peuples de Phrygie, de Lycie, et de l'Asie-Mineure, il étoit encore chez les Perses, les Medes, les Scythes, les Sarmates, chez toutes les nations du Ponte et de la Cappadoce, chez toutes celles des Indes, où [p.230] l'on se faisoit un devoir du se jeter dans les flammes, et de s'y consumer en holocauste, et chez toutes celles des deux Arabies, où chaque jour a certaines heures on faisoit un sacrifice au feu, dans lequel plusieurs personnes se dévouoient. Dans l'Afrique il etoit non-seulement chez les Egyptiens, qui entretenoient ce feu immortel dans chaque temple, ainsi que I'assure Porphyre, mais encore dans l'Ethiopie, dans la Lybie, dans le temple de Jupiter Ammon, et chez les Atlantiques, où Hiarbas, roy des Garamantes et des Getules, avoit dressé cent autels, et consacre autant de feux, que Virgile appelle des feux vigilans et les gardes éternelles des dieux. Dans I'Europe le culte de Vesta étoit si bien établi, que, sans parler de Rome et de l'Italie, il n'y avoit point de ville de la Grece qui n'eut un temple, un prytanée, et un feu éternel, ainsi que le remarque Casaubon dans ses "Notes sur Athénée." Les temples célèbres d'Hercule dans les Espagnes et dans les Gaules, celui de Vulcain au Mont Ethna, de Vénus Erycine, avoient tons leurs pyrèthes ou feux sacrés. On peut citer de semblables témoignages des nations les plus reculées dans le nord, qui étoient toutes originaires des Scythes et des Sarmates. Enfin M. Huet pretend qu'il n'y a pas encore long-temps que ce culte a été aboli dans l'Hybernie et dans la Moscovie, qu'il est encore aujourd'hui, non-seulement chez les Gaures, mais encore chez les Tartares, les Chinois, et dans l'Amérique chez les Mexiquains. Il pouvoit encore en ajouter d'autres.'

Among the ancient Prussians a perpetual fire was kept up in honour of the god Potrimpos, and if it was allowed to go out, the priest in charge was burnt to death.652


The Natchez had a temple in which they kept up a perpetual fire.653 The Ojibwas654 maintained a 'continual fire as a symbol of their nationality. They maintained also a civil polity, which, however, was much mixed up with their religious and medicinal beliefs.' In Mexico also we find the same idea of sacred fire. Colonel McLeod has seen the sacred fire still kept burning in some of the valleys of South Mexico.655 At the great festival of Xiuhmolpia, the priests and people went in procession to the mountain of Huixachtecatl; then an unfortunate victim was stretched on the 'stone of sacrifice,' and killed by a priest with a knife of obsidian; the dish made use of to kindle the new fire was then placed on the wound, and fire was obtained by friction.656

In Peru657 the sacred flame was 'entrusted to the care of the virgins of the sun; and if, by any neglect, it was suffered to go out in the course of the year, the event was regarded as a calamity that boded some strange disaster to the monarchy.'

Fire is also regarded as sacred in Congo.

No one can wonder that the worship of sun, moon, and stars is very widely distributed. It can, however, scarcely be regarded as of a higher character than the preceding forms of Totemism; it is rare in Africa, unknown in Australia, and almost so in Polynesia.

In hot countries the sun is generally regarded as an evil, and in cold as a beneficent, being. It was the chief object of religious worship among the Natchez,658 and [p.232] was also worshipped by the Navajos, and other allied tribes in N. America.659 Among the Comanches of Texas 'the sun, moon, and earth are the principal objects of worship.'660 Lafitau observes that the Americans did not worship the stars and planets, but only the sun.661 The Ahts of North-west America worship both the sun and moon, but especially the latter. They regard the sun as feminine and the moon as masculine, being, moreover, the husband of the sun.662 It has been said that the Esquimaux of Greenland used to worship the sun. This, however, seems more than doubtful, and Crantz663 expressly denies the statement.

In South America the Coroados worship the sun and moon, the moon being the greatest.664 The Abipones665 thought that they were descended from the Pleiades, and 'as that constellation disappears at certain periods from the sky of South America, upon such occasions they suppose that their grandfather is sick, and are under a yearly apprehension that he is going to die: but as soon as those seven stars are again visible in the month of May, they welcome their grandfather, as if returned and restored from sickness, with joyful shouts, and the festive sound of pipes and trumpets, congratulating him on the recovery of his health.'

In Central India 'the worship of the sun as the Supreme Deity is the foundation of the religion of the Hos and Oraons as well as of the Moondahs. By the former he is invoked as Dhurmi, the Holy One. He [p.233] is the Creator and the Preserver, and with reference to his purity, white animals are offered to him by his votaries.666 The sun and moon are both regarded as deities by the Khonds,667 Tunguses, and Buraets.668 In Northern Asia the Samoyeds are said to have worshipped the sun.

In Western Africa, according to Merolla669 'at the appearance of every new moon, these people fall on their knees, or else cry out, standing and clapping their hands, "So may I renew my life as thou art renewed."' They do not, however, appear to venerate either the sun or the stars. Bruce also mentions moon-worship as occurring among the Shangallas.670 Herodotus671 mentions that the Atarantes curse the sun as he passes over their heads.

It is remarkable that the heavenly bodies do not appear to be worshipped by the Polynesians. According to Lord Kames,672 the inhabitants of Celebes formerly 'acknowledged no gods but the sun and moon.' The people of Borneo also are said to have done the same.

These are the principal deities of man in this stage of his religious development. They are, however, by no means the only ones. The Scythians worshipped an iron scimetar as a symbol of Mars; 'to this scimetar they bring yearly sacrifices of cattle and horses; and to these scimetars they offer more sacrifices than to the rest of their gods.'673 In the Sagas many of the swords have special names, and are treated with the [p.234] greatest respect. Similarly the Feejeeans regarded certain clubs with superstitious respect;674 and the Negroes of Irawo, a town in Western Yoruba, worshipped an iron bar with very expensive ceremonies.675 The New Zealanders and some of the Melanesians worshipped the rainbow.676

In Central India, as mentioned in p. 218, a great variety of inanimate objects are treated as deities. The Todas are said to worship a buffalo-bell.677 The Kotas worship two silver plates, which they regard as husband and wife; 'they have no other deity.'678 The Kurumbas worship stones, trees, and anthills.679 The Toreas, another Neilgherry Hill tribe, worship especially a 'gold nose-ring, which probably once belonged to one of their women.'680 According to Nonnius, the sacred lyre sang the victory of Jupiter over the Titans, without being touched.681 Many other inanimate objects have also been worshipped. De Brosses even mentions an instance of a king of hearts being made into a deity.682

According to some of the earlier travellers in America, even the rattle was regarded as a deity.683

Thus, then, I have attempted to show that animals and plants, water, mountains and stones, fire and the heavenly bodies, some, or have been all very extensively and often simultaneously worshipped, so that they do not form the basis of a natural classification of religions.


RELIGION (continued).

IN tracing up the gradual evolution of religious beliefs we may begin with the Australians, who possess merely certain vague ideas as to the existence of evil spirits, and a general dread of witchcraft. This belief cannot be said to influence them by day, but it renders them very unwilling to quit the camp fire by night, or to sleep near a grave. They have no idea of creation, nor do they use prayers; they have no religious forms, ceremonies, or worship. They do not believe in the existence of a Deity, nor is morality in any way connected with their religion, if it can be so called, the words 'good' or 'bad' had reference to taste or bodily comfort, and did not convey any idea of right or wrong.684 Another curious notion of the Australians is that white men are blacks who have risen from the dead. This notion was found among the natives north of Sydney as early as 1711, and can scarcely, therefore, be of missionary origin.685 It occurs also among the negroes of Guinea.686 The ideas of the Australians on this point, however, seem to have been very various and confused. [p.236] They had certainly no general and definite view on the subject.

As regards the North Australians we have trust-worthy accounts given by a Scotchwoman, Mrs. Thomson, who was wrecked on the Eastern Prince of Wales Island. Her husband and the rest of the crew were drowned, but she was saved by the natives, and lived with them nearly five years, until the visit of the 'Rattlesnake,' when she escaped with some difficulty. On the whole she was kindly treated by the men, though the women were long jealous of her, and behaved towards her with much cruelty. These people have no idea of a Supreme Being.687 They do not believe in the immortality of the soul, but hold that they are 'after death changed into white people or Europeans, and as such pass the second and final period of their existence; nor is it any part of their creed that future rewards and punishments are awarded.'688

Mrs. Thomson was supposed to be the ghost of Giom, a daughter of a man named Piaquai, and when she was teased by children, the men would often tell them to leave her alone, saying, 'Poor thing! she is nothing—only a ghost.' This, however, did not prevent a man named Horoto making her his wife, which shows how little is actually implied in the statement the Australians believe in spirits. They really do no more than believe in the existence of men, somewhat different from, and a little more powerful than, themselves. The South Australians, as described by Stephens, have [p.237] no religious rites, ceremonies, or worship; no idea of a Supreme Being; but a vague dread of evil spirits.689

The Veddahs of Ceylon, according to Davy, believe in evil beings, but 'have no idea of a supreme and beneficent God, or of a state of future existence, or of a system of rewards and punishments; and, in consequence, they are of opinion that it signifies little whether they do good or evil.'690

The Indians of California have been well described by Father Baegert, a Jesuit missionary, who lived among them no less than seventeen years.691 As to government or religion, he says,692 'neither the one nor the other existed among them. They had no magistrates, no police, and no laws; idols, temples, religions worship or ceremonies were unknown to them, and they neither believed in the true and only God, nor adored false deities. They were all equals, and everyone did as he pleased, without asking his neighbour or caring for his opinion, and thus all vices and misdeeds remained unpunished, excepting such cases in which the offended individual or his relations took the law into their own hands and revenged themselves on the guilty party. The different tribes represented by no means communities of rational beings, who submit to laws and regulations and obey their superiors, but resembled far more herds of wild swine, which ran about according to their own liking, being together today and scattered to-morrow, till they meet again by accident at some future time.


'In one word, the Californians lived, salva venia as though they had been freethinkers and materialists.

'I made different enquiries, among those with whom I lived, to ascertain whether they had any conception of God, a future life, and their own souls, but I never could discover the slightest trace of such a knowledge. Their language has no words for "God" and "soul," for which reason the missionaries were compelled to use in their sermons and religious instructions the Spanish words Dios and alma. It could hardly be otherwise with people who thought of nothing but eating and merry-making, and never reflected on serious matters, but dismissed everything that lay beyond the narrow compass of their conceptions with the phrase aipekeriri, which means, "who knows that?" I often asked them whether they had never put to themselves the question who might be the Creator and Preserver of the sun, moon, stars, and other objects of nature, but was always sent home with a vara, which means "no" in their language.' They had, however, certain sorcerers, whom they believed to possess power over diseases, to bring small-pox, famine, &c., and of whom, therefore, they were in much fear.

Mr. Gibbs, speaking of the Indians living in the valleys drained by the Sacramento and the Sangoaquin, says: 'One of this tribe, who had been for three or four years among the whites, and accompanied the expedition, on being questioned as to his own belief in a Deity, acknowledged his entire ignorance on the subject. As regarded a future state of any kind, he was equally uninformed and indifferent; in fact, did not believe in any for himself. As a reason why his people [p.239] did not go to another country after death, while the whites might, he assigned that the Indians burned their dead, and he supposed there was an end of them.'693

The religion of the Bachapiris, a Kaffir tribe, has been described by Burchell. They had no outward worship, nor, so far as he could learn, any private devotion; indeed, they had no belief in a beneficent Deity, though they feared an evil Being called 'Muleemo,' or 'Murinio.' They had no idea of creation. Even when Burchell suggested it to them, they did not attribute it to Muleemo, but asserted that everything made itself, and that trees and herbage grew by their own will.'694 They believed in sorcery, and in the efficacy of amulets.

Dr. Vanderkemp, the first missionary to the Kaffirs, 'never could perceive that they had any religion, or any idea of the existence of God.' Mr. Moffat also, who lived in South Africa as a missionary for many years, says that they were utterly destitute of theological ideas; and Dr. Gardner, in his 'Faiths of the World,' concludes as follows:695 'From all that can be ascertained on the religion of the Kaffirs, it seems that those of them who are still in their heathen state have no idea, (1) of a Supreme Intelligent Ruler of the universe; (2) of a Sabbath; (3) of a day of judgment; (4) of the guilt and pollution of sin; (5) of a Saviour to deliver them from the wrath to come.'

The Rev. Canon Callaway has recently published a very interesting memoir on 'The Religious System of the Amazulu,' who are somewhat more advanced in [p.240] their religious conceptions. The first portion is entitled Unkulunkulu or the Tradition of Creation. It does not, however, appear that Unkulunkulu is regarded as a Creator, or even as a Deity at all. It is simply the first man, the Zulu Adam. Some complication arises from the fact that not only the ancestor of all mankind, but also the first of each tribe, is called Unkuhuikulu, so that there are many Onkuluidvulu, or Unkulunkulus. None of them, however, have any of the characters of Deity; no prayers or sacrifices are offered to them;696 indeed, they no longer exist, having been long dead.697 Unkulunkulu was in no sense a Creator,698 nor, indeed, is any special power attributed to him.699 He, i.e. man, arose from 'Undvlanghi,' that is 'a bed of reeds,' but how he did so, no one knew.700 Mr. Callaway agrees with Casalis, that 'it never entered the heads of the Zulus that the earth and sky might be the work of an "invisible Being."701 One native thought the white men made the world.702 They had, indeed, no idea of, or name for God.703 When Moffat endeavoured to explain to a chief about God, he exclaimed, 'Would that I could catch it! I would transfix it with my spear;' yet this was a man 'whose judgment on other subjects would command attention.'704

Yet they are not without a belief in invisible beings. This is founded partly on the shadow, but principally on the dream, they regard the shadow as in some way the spirit which accompanies the body (reminding us of [p.241] the similar idea among the Greeks), and they have a curious notion that a dead body casts no shadow.705

Still more important has been the influence of dreams. when a dead father or brother appears to a man in his sleep, he does not doubt the reality of the occurrence, and hence concludes that they still live. Grandfathers, however, are by inverse reasoning regarded as generally dead.706

Diseases are regarded as being often caused by the spirits of discontented relatives. In other respects these spirits are not regarded as possessing any special powers; though prayed to, it is not in such a manner as to indicate a belief that they have any supernatural influence, and they are clearly not regarded as immortal. In some cases departed relatives are regarded as reappearing in the form of snakes,707 which may be known from ordinary snakes by certain signs,708 such as their frequenting huts, not eating mice, and showing no fear of man. Sometimes a snake is recognised as the representative of a given man by some peculiar mark or scar, the absence of an eye, or some other similar point of resemblance.

In such cases sacrifices are sometimes offered to the snake, and when a bullock is killed part is put away for the use of the dead or Amatongo, who are specially invited to the feast, whose assistance is requested, and whose wrath is deprecated. Yet this can hardly be called 'ancestor worship.' The dead have, it is true, the advantage of invisibility, but they are not regarded as omnipresent, omnipotent, or immortal. There are [p.242] even means by which troublesome spirits may be destroyed or 'dead.'709 In such cases as these, then, we see religion in a very high phase; that in which it consists merely of belief in the existence of evil beings, less material than we are, but mortal like ourselves, and if more powerful than man in some respects, even less so in others.


In the Fetichism of the negro, religion, if it can be so called, is systematised, and greatly raised in importance. Nevertheless from another point of view Fetichism may almost be regarded as an anti-religion. It has hitherto been derived as the worship of material substances. This does not seem to me to be the true characteristic. Fetichism is not truly a form of 'worship' at all. For the negro believes that by means of the fetich he can coerce and control his deity. In fact Fetichism is mere witchcraft. We have already seen that magicians all over the world think that if they can obtain a part of an enemy the possession of it gives them a power over him. Even a bit of his clothing will answer the purpose, or, if this cannot be got, it seems to them natural that an injury even to an image would affect the original. That is to say, a man who can destroy or torture the image, thus afflicts pain on the original, and, this being magical, is independent of the power of that original. Even in Europe, and in the eleventh century, some unfortunate Jews were accused of having murdered a certain Bishop Aberhard in this [p.243] way. They made a wax image of him, had it baptised, and then burnt it, and so the bishop died.

Lord Kames says that at the time of Catherine de Medicis 'it was common to take the resemblance of enemies in wax, in order to torment them by roasting the figure at a slow fire, and pricking it with needles.'710

In India, says Dubois,711 'a quantity of mud is moulded into small figures, on the breasts of which they write the name of the persons whom they mean to destroy. ... They pierce the images with thorns, or mutilate them, so as to communicate a corresponding injury to the person represented.'

Now it seems to me that Fetichism is an extension of this belief. The negro supposes that the possession of a fetich representing a spirit, makes that spirit his servant. We know that the negroes beat their fetich if their prayers are unanswered, and I believe they seriously think they thus inflict suffering on the actual deity. Thus the fetich cannot fairly be called an idol. The same image or object may indeed be a fetich to one man and an idol to another; yet the two are essentially different in their nature. An idol is indeed an object of worship, while, on the contrary, a fetich is intended to bring the Deity within the control of man, an attempt which is less absurd than it at first sight appears, when considered in connection with their low religious ideas. If then witchcraft be not confused with religion, as I think it ought not to be, Fetichism can hardly be called a religion; to the true spirit of which it is indeed entirely opposed.


Anything will do for a fetich; it need not represent the human figure, though it may do so. Even an ear of maize will answer the purpose. If, said an intelligent negro to Bosman,712 if any of us is 'resolved to undertake anything of importance, we first of all search out a god to prosper our desired undertaking; and going out of doors with this design, take the first creature that presents itself to our eyes, whether dog, cat, or the most contemptible animal in the world, for our god: or perhaps, instead of that, any inanimate object that falls in our way, whether a stone, or piece of wood, or anything else of the same nature. This new-chosen god is immediately presented with an offering, which is accompanied with a solemn vow, that if he pleaseth to prosper our undertakings, for the future we will always worship and esteem him as a god. If our design prove successful, we have discovered a new and assisting god, which is daily presented with fresh offerings; but if the contrary happen, the new god is rejected as a useless tool, and consequently returns to his primitive estate. We make and break our gods daily, and consequently are the masters and inventors of what we sacrifice to.'

The term Fetichism is generally connected with the negro race, but a corresponding state of mind exists in many other parts of the world. In fact, it may almost be said to be universal, since it is nothing more nor less than witchcraft; and in the most advanced countries—even in our own—the belief in witchcraft has scarcely been entirely eradicated.


The Badagas (Hindostan), according to Metz, are still in a 'condition little above fetichism. Anything with them may become an object of adoration, if the head man or the village priest should take a fancy to deify it. As a necessary consequence, however, of this state of things, no real respect is entertained towards their deities, and it is not an uncommon thing to hear the people call them liars, and use opprobrious epithets respecting them.'713 Again, speaking of the Chota Nagpore tribes of Central India, Colonel Dalton observes that certain 'peculiarities in the paganism of the Oraon, and only practised by Moondahs who lived in the same village with them, appear to me to savour thoroughly of Fetichism.'714

In Jeypore715 the body of a small musk-rat is regarded as a powerful talisman. 'The body of this animal, dried, is inclosed in a case of brass, silver, or gold, according to the means of the individual, and is slung around the neck, or tied to the arm, to render the individual proof against all evil, not excepting sword and other cuts, musket-shot, &c.'

In all these cases the tribes seem to me to be naturally in the state of Fetichism, disguised however and modified by fragments of the higher Hindoo religions, which they have adopted without understanding.

Though the Redskins of North America have reached a higher state of religious development, they still retain fetiches in the form of 'medicine-bags.' 'Every Indian,' says Catlin,716 'in his primitive state, carries his medicine- [p.246] bag in some form or other,' and to it he looks for protection and safety. The nature of the medicine-bag is thus determined. At fourteen or fifteen years of age the boy wanders away alone upon the Prairie, where he remains two, three, four, or even five days, lying on the ground musing and fasting. He remains awake as long as he can, but when he sleeps the first animal of which he dreams becomes his 'medicine.' As soon as possible he shoots an animal of the species in question, and makes a medicine-bag of the skin. To this he looks for protection, to this he sacrifices: unlike the fickle Negro, however, the Redskin never changes his fetich. To him it becomes an emblem of success, like the shield of the Greek, or the more modern sword, and to lose it is disgrace.

The Columbian Indians have small figures in the form of a quadruped, bird, or fish. These, though called idols, are rather fetiches, because, as all disease is attributed to them, when anyone is ill they are beaten together, and the first which loses a tooth or claw is supposed to be the culprit.717

In China,718 also, the lower people, 'if after long praying to their images, they do not obtain what they desire, as it often happens, they turn them off as impotent gods; others use them in a most reproachful manner, loading them with hard names, and sometimes with blows.'

'"How now, dog of a spirit!" say they to them; "we give you a lodging in a magnificent temple, we gild you handsomely, feed you well, and offer incense to you; yet, after all this care, you are so ungrateful as to [p.247] refuse us what we ask of you." Hereupon they tie this image with cords, pluck him down, and drag him along the streets, through all the mud and dunghills, to punish him for the expense of perfume which they have thrown away upon him. If in the meantime it happens that they obtain their request, then, with a great deal of ceremony, they wash him clean, carry him back, and place him in his niche again; where they fall down to him, and make excuses for what they have done. "In a truth," say they, "we were a little too hasty, as well as you were somewhat too long in your grant. Why should you bring this beating on yourself? But what is done cannot be now undone; let us not therefore think of it any more. If you will forget what is past, we will gild you over again."'

Pallas, speaking of the Ostiaks, states that, 'Malgré la vénération et le respect qu'ils ont peur leurs idoles, malheur à elles lorsqu'il arrive un malheur à l'Ostiak, et que l'idole n'y remédie pas. Il la jette alors par terre, la frappe, la maltraite, et la brise en morceaux. Cette correction arrive frequemment. Cette colère est commune à tous les peuples idolâtres de la Sibérie.'719

In Whydah (W. Africa), and I believe generally, the negroes will not eat the animal or plant which they have chosen for their fetich.720

In Issini, on the contrary, 'eating the fetich' is a solemn ceremony on taking an oath, or as a token of friendship.721


Fetichism, strictly speaking has no temples, idols, priests, sacrifices, or prayer. It involves no belief in creation or in a future life, and a fortiori none in a state of rewards and punishments. It is entirely independent of morality. In most, however, of the powerful negro monarchies religion has made some progress in organisation: but though we find both sacred buildings and priests, the religion itself shows little, if any, intellectual improvement.


The next stage in religious progress is that which may be called Totemism. The savage does not abandon his belief in Fetichism, from which indeed no race of men has yet entirely freed itself, but he superinduces on it a belief in beings of a higher and less material nature. In this stage everything may be worshipped—trees, stones, rivers, mountains, the heavenly bodies, and animals, but the higher deities are no longer regarded as little to be controlled by witchcraft. Still they are not regarded as Creators; they do not reward virtue, or punish vice. The spirits of the departed have before them a weary and dangerous journey, and many perish by the way; heaven, however, seems to be merely a distant part of the earth.

Even the deities still inhabit this earth; they are part of nature, not supernatural: in fact we may say that in Fetichism the deities are non-human; in Totemism, superhuman; but do not become supernatural until a still further stage of mental development.

Again, Totemism is a deification of classes; the [p.249] Fetich is an individual. The negro who has, let us say, an ear of maize as a Fetich, values that particular ear, more or less as the case may be, but has no feeling for maize as a species. On the contrary, the Redskin who regards the bear, or the wolf, as his Totem, feels that he is in intimate, though mysterious, association with the whole species.

The name 'Totemism' is of North American origin, and is primarily used to denote the form of religion widely prevalent among the Redskins of that continent, but similar religious views are held in various other parts of the world.

In order to realise clearly the essential characteristics of the religions of different places, we must bear in mind that at the stage at which we have now arrived in the course; of our enquiry, the modifications of which a religion is susceptible may be divided into two classes, viz., developmental and adaptational. I use the term 'developmental' to signify those changes which arise from the intellectual progress of the race. Thus a more elevated idea of the Deity is a developmental change. On the other hand, a southern people is apt to look on the sun as a beneficent deity, while to a tropical race he would suggest drought and destruction. Again hunters tend to worship the moon, agriculturists the sun. These I call adaptational modifications. They are changes produced, not by difference of race or of civilisation, but by physical causes.

In some cases the character of the language has probably exercised much influence over that of religion. No one, for instance, can fail to be struck by the differences existing between the Aryan and Semitic religions. All [p.250] Aryan races have a complicated mythology, which is not the case with the Semitic races. Moreover, the character of the gods is quite different. The latter have El. Strong; Bel or Baal, Lord; Adonis, Lord; Shet, Master; Moloch, King; Ram and Rimmon, the Exalted; and other similar names for their deities. The Aryans, on the contrary, Zeus, the sky; Phoebus Apollo, the sun; Neptune, the sea; Mars, war; Venus, beauty, &c. Max Muller722 has very ingeniously endeavoured to explain this difference by the different character of the language in these two races.

In Semitic words the root remains always distinct and unmistakable. In Aryan, on the contrary, it soon becomes altered and disguised. Hence Semitic dictionaries are mostly arranged according to the roots, a method which in Aryan languages would be most inconvenient, the root being often obscure, and in many cases doubtful. Now take such an expression as 'the sky thunders,' in any Semitic tongue, the word 'sky' would remain unaltered, and so clear in its meaning, that it would with difficulty come to be thought of as a proper name. But among the Aryans the case was different, and we find in the earlier Vedic poetry that the names of the Greek gods stand as mere words denoting natural objects. Thus the Sanskrit Dyaus, the sky, became the Greek Zeus, and when the Greek said Ζεύς βραυτα his idea was not the sky thunders, but 'Zeus thunders.' When the gods were thus once created, the mythology follows as a matter of course. Some of the statements may be obscure, but when we [p.251] are told that Hupnos, the god of sleep, was the father of Morpheus, the god of dreams; or that Venus, married to Vulcan, lost her heart to Mars, and that the intrigue was made known to Vulcan by Apollo, the sun, we can clearly see how such myths might have arisen.

The attitude of the ancients towards them is very interesting. Homer and Hesiod relate them, apparently without suspicion, and we may he sure that the uneducated public received them without a doubt. Socrates, however, explains the story that Boreas carried off Oreithyia from the Hissos, to mean that Oreithyia was blown off the rocks by the north wind. Ovid also says that under the name of Vesta, mere fire is to be understood. We can hardly doubt that many others also must have clearly perceived the origin of at any rate a portion of these myths, but they were probably restrained from expressing their opinion by the dread of incurring the odium of heterodoxy.

One great charm of this explanation is that we thus remove some of the revolting features of ancient myths. Thus, as the sun destroys the darkness from which it springs, and at evening disappears in the twilight; so Œdipus was fabled to have killed his father, and then married his mother. In this way the whole of that terrible story may be explained as arising, not from the depravity of the human heart, but from a mistaken application of the statement that the sun destroys the darkness, and ultimately marries, as it were, the twilight from which it sprang.

But although Poetry may thus throw much light on the origin of the myths which formed the religion of Greece and Rome, it cannot explain the origin of [p.252] character of religion among the lower savages, because a mythology such as that of Greece and Rome can only arise amongst a people who have already made considerable progress. Tenable, therefore, as it may be to seek in the nature of language and the use of poetical expressions, an explanation of the religious systems of the lower races, and fully admitting the influence which these causes have exercised, we must look deeper for the origin of religion, and can be satisfied only by an explanation which is applicable to the lowest races possessing any religious opinions. In the preceding chapters I have attempted to do this, and to show how certain phenomena, as for instance sleep and dreams, pain, disease, and death, have naturally created in the savage mind a belief in the existence of mysterious and invisible beings.


As Totemism overlies Fetichism, so does Shamanism overlie Totemism. The word is derived from the name used in Siberia, where the 'Shamans' work themselves up into a fury, supposing or pretending that in this condition they are inspired by the Spirit in whose name they speak, and through whose inspiration they are enabled to answer questions and to foretell the future. In the phases of religion hitherto considered the deities, (if indeed they deserve the name), are regarded as visible to all, and present amongst us. Shamanism is a considerable advance, inasmuch as it presents us with a higher conception of religion. Although the name is Siberian, the phase of thought is widely distributed, and seems to be a necessary stage in the progress of [p.253] religious development. Those who are disposed to adopt this view advocated in this work will not be surprised to find that 'Shamanism' is no definite system of theology. Wrangel, however, regarding Shamanism as religion in the ordinary sense, was astonished in this: 'it is remarkable,' he says, 'that Shamanism has no dogmas of any kind; it is not a system taught or handed down from one to another; though it is so widely spread, it seems to originate with each individual separately, as the fruit of a highly excited imagination, acted upon by external impressions, which closely resemble each other throughout the deserts of Northern Siberia.'723

It is far from easy in practice always to distinguish Shamanism from Totemism on the one hand, and Idolatry on the other. The main difference lies in the conception of the Deity. In Totemism the deities inhabit our earth, in Shamanism they live generally in a world of their own, and trouble themselves little about what is passing here. The Shaman is occasionally honoured by the presence of Deity, or is allowed to visit the heavenly regions. Among the Esquimaux the 'Angekok' answers precisely to the Shaman. Graah thus describes a scene in Greenland.

The Angekok came in the evening, and, 'the lamps724 being extinguished, and skins hung before the windows (for such arts, for evident reasons, are best practised in the dark), took his station on the floor, close by a well-dried seal-skin there suspended, and commenced rattling it, beating the tambourine and singing, in [p.254] which last he was seconded by all present. From time to time his chant was interrupted by a cry of "Goie, Goie, Goie, Goie, Goie, Goie!" the meaning of which I did not comprehend, coming first from one corner of the hut, and then from the other. Presently, all was quiet, nothing being heard but the angekok puffing and blowing as if struggling with something superior to him in strength, and then again a sound resembling somewhat that of castanets, whereupon commenced once more the same song as before, and the same cry of "Goie, Goie, Goie!" In this way a whole hour elapsed before the wizard could make the torngak, or spirit, obey his summons. Come he did, however, at last, and his approach was announced by a strange rushing sound, very like the sound of a large bird flying beneath the roof. The angekok still chanting, now proposed his questions, which were replied to in a voice quite strange to my ears, but which seemed to me to proceed from the entrance passage, near which the angekok had taken his station.'

The account given by Crantz agrees with the above in all essential particulars.725

Williams726 gives the following very similar account of a scene in Feejee: 'Unbroken silence follows; the priest becomes absorbed in thought and all eyes watch him with unblinking steadiness. In a few minutes he trembles; slight distortions are seen in his face, and twitching movements in his limbs. These increase to a violent muscular action, which spreads until the [p.255] whole frame is strongly convulsed, and the man shivers as with a strong ague fit. In some instances this is accompanied with mummers and sobs, the veins are greatly enlarged and the circulation of the blood quickened, the priest is now possessed by his god, and all his words and actions are considered as no longer his own, but those of the deity who has entered into him. Shrill cries of "Koi au! Koi au!" "It is I! It is I!" fill the air, and the god is supposed thus to notify his approach. While giving the answer, the priest's eyes stand out and roll as in a frenzy; his voice is unnatural, his face pale, his lips livid, his breathing depressed, and his entire appearance like that of a furious madman; the sweat runs from every pore, and tears start from his strained eyes; after which the symptoms gradually disappear. The priest looks round with a vacant stare, and, as the god says, "I depart," announces his actual departure by violently flinging himself down on the mat, or by suddenly striking the ground with his club. The convulsive movements do not entirely disappear for some time.' A process described by Dohritzhoffer727 as occurring among the Abipones is also somewhat similar.

Among the Negroes of W. Africa Brue728 mentions a prophet 'who pretended to he inspired by the Deity in such a manner as to know the most hidden secrets; and go invisible wherever he pleased, as well as to make his voice be heard at the greatest distance. His disciples and accomplices attested the truth of what [p.256] he said by a thousand fabulous relations; so that the common people, always credulous and fond of novelty, readily gave in to the cheat.'

Colonel Dalton states that 'the paganism of the Ho and Moondah in all essential features is humanistic.'729


The worship of Idols characterises a somewhat higher stage of human development. We find no traces of it among the lowest races of men; and Lafitau730 says truly, 'On pent dire en général que le grand nombre des peuples sauvages n'a point d'idoles.' The error of regarding Idolatry as the general religion of low races, has no doubt mainly arisen from confusing the Idol and the Fetich. Fetichism, however, is an attack on the Deity, Idolatry is an act of submission to him; rude, no doubt, but yet humble. Hence Fetichism and Idolatry are not only different, but opposite, so that the one could not be developed directly out of the other. We must therefore expect to find between them, as indeed we do, a stage of religion without either the one or the other.

Captain Lyon states that the Esquimaux have no idols.731 'Neither among the Esquimaux nor the Tinne,' says Richardson, 'did I observe any image or visible object of worship.'732

Carver states that the Canadian Indians had no idols;733 [p.257] and this seems to have been true of the North American Indians generally. Lafitau mentions as an exception the existence of an idol named Oki in Virginia.734

In Eastern Africa Burton states that he knows 'but one people, the Wanyika, who have certain statuettes called Kisakas.' Nor do the West African negroes worship idols.735 It is true that some writers mention idols, but the context almost always shows that fetiches are really meant. In the kingdom of Whydah 'Agoye' was represented under the form of a deformed black man from whose head proceed lizards and snakes,736 bearing a striking similarity to some of the Indian idols. This is, however, an exceptional case. Battel only mentions particularly two idols;737 and Bosman738 expressly says that 'on the Gold Coast the natives are not in the least acquainted with image-worship;' adding, 'but at Ardra there are thousands of idols,' i.e. fetiches. At Loango there was a small black image named C'hikokke, which was placed in a little house close to the port.739 These, however, were merely fetiches in human form. Thus we are told by the same author that in Kakongo, the kingdom which lies to the south of Loango, the natives during the plague burnt their idols, saying, If they will not help us in such a misfortune as this, then when can we expect they should?'740 Thus, apparently, doubting not so much their power as their [p.258] will. Again, in Congo, the so-called idols are placed in fields to protect the growing crops.741 This is clearly the function of a fetich, not of a true idol.

Idolatry, says Williams, of the Feejeean, 'he seems never to have known; for he makes no attempt to fashion material representations of his gods.'742 As regards the New Zealanders, Yate743 says that 'though remarkably superstitious, they have no gods that they worship; nor have they anything to represent a being which they call God.' Dieffenbach also observes that in New Zealand 'there is no worship of idols, or of bodily representations of the Atoua.'744

Speaking of the Singeyaks,745 Sir James Brooke says, 'religion they have none; and although they know the name for a god (which is probably taken from the Hindoos), they have no priests nor idols, say no prayers, offer no offerings.' He subsequently modified this opinion on some points, but as regards the absence of idols it seems to be correct.

The Kols of Central India worship the sun, 'material idol worship they have none.'746 Originally, says Dubois, the Hindoos did not resort 'to images of stone or other materials .... but when the people of India had deified their heroes or other mortals, they began then, and not before, to have recourse to statues and images.'747 In China 'it is observable748 that there is not to be found, in the canonical books, [p.259] the least footstep of idolatrous worship till the image of Fo was brought into China, several ages after Confucius.'

The Ostyaks never made an image of their god 'Torium.'749 In fact, idols do not occur until we arrive at the stage of the highest Polynesian Islanders. Even then they are often, as this expression tells us,750 mere shapeless pieces of wood; thus leaving much to the imagination. It may, I think, be laid down almost as a constant rule, that mankind arrives at the stage of monarchy in government before he reaches idolatry in religion.

The idol usually assumes the human form, and idolatry is closely connected with that form of religion which consists in the worship of ancestors. We have already seen how imperfectly uncivilised man realises the conception of death; and we cannot wonder that death and sleep should long have been intimately connected together in the human mind, The savage, however, knows well that in sleep the spirit lives, even though the body appears to be dead. Morning after morning he wakes himself, and sees others rise from sleep. Naturally therefore he endeavours to rouse the dead. Nor can we wonder at the very general custom of providing food and other necessaries for the use of the dead. Among races leading a settled and quiet life this habit would tend to continue longer and longer. Prayers to the dead would reasonably follow from such customs, for even without attributing a greater power to the dead than to the living, they might yet, from [p.260] their different sphere and nature, exercise a considerable power, whether for good or evil. But it is impossible to distinguish a request to an invisible being from prayer; or a powerful spirit from a demi-god.

The nations of Mysore at the new moon 'observe a feast in honour of deceased parents.'751 The Kurumbars of the Deccan also 'sacrifice to the spirits of ancestors,' and the same is the case with the Santals.752 Indeed the worship of ancestors appears to be more or less prevalent among all the aboriginal tribes of Central India.

Burton753 considers that some of the Egba deities are 'palpably men and women of note in their day.'

The Kaffirs also sacrifice and pray to their deceased relatives, although 'it would perhaps be asserting too much to say absolutely that they believe in the existence and the immortality of the soul.'754 In fact, their belief seems to go no further than this, that the ghosts of the dead haunt for a certain time their previous dwelling-places, and either assist or plague the living. No special powers are attributed to them, and it would be a misnomer to call them 'Deities.'

Other races endeavour to preserve the memory of the dead by rude statues. Thus Pallas755 mentions that the Ostyaks of Siberia 'rendent aussi un culte à leurs morts. Ils sculptent des figures de bois pour representer les Oitiaks célèbres. Dans les repas de commémoration on place devant ces figures une partie des [p.261] mets. Les femmes qui ont chéri leurs maris ont de pareilles figures, les couchent avec elles, les parent, et ne mangent point sans leur présenter une partie de leur portion.' Erman756 also mentions that when a man dies 'the relatives form a rude wooden image representing, and in honour of, the deceased, which is set up in their yurt, and receives divine honours for a certain time.' At every meal they set an offering of food before the image; and should this represent a deceased husband, the widow embraces it from time to time and lavishes on it every sign of attachment.' In ordinary cases this semi-worship only lasts a few years, after which the image is buried. But when a Shaman dies, this custom changes, in his favour, into a complete and decided canonisation; for it is not thought enough that, in this case, the dressed block of wood which represents the deceased should receive homage for a limited period, but the priest's descendants do their best to keep him in vogue from generation to generation; and by well-contrived oracles and other arts, they manage to procure offerings for these their families' penates, as abundant as those laid on the altars of the universally acknowledged gods. But that these latter also have an historical origin, that they were originally monuments of distinguished men, to which prescription and the interest of the Shamans gave by degrees an arbitrary meaning and importance, seems to me not liable to doubt; and this is, furthermore, corroborated by the circumstance that of all the sacred yurts dedicated to these saints, which have been numerous from the earliest times in the vicinity of the river, only one [p.262] has been seen (near Samarovo) containing the image of a woman.'

It seems to me that in other countries also, statues have in this manner come to be worshipped as Deities.

Solomon,757 long ago, observed truly of idols that,

'13. Neither were they from the beginning, neither shall they be for ever.
14. For by the vain glory of men they entered into the world, and therefore shall they come shortly to an end.
15. For a father afflicted with untimely mourning, when he hath made an image of his child soon taken away, now honoured him as a god, which was then a dead man,
        and delivered to those that were under him ceremonies and sacrifices.
16. Thus, in process of time, an ungodly custom grown strong was kept as a law, and graven images were worshipped by the commandments of kings:
17. Whom men could not honour in presence, because they dwelt far off, they took the counterfeit of the visage from far, and make an express image of a king whom
        they honoured, to the end that by this their forwardness, they might flatter him that was absent, as if he were present.
18. Also the singular diligence of the artificer did help to set forward the ignorant to more superstition.
19. For he, per adventure willing to please one in authority, forced all his skill to make the resemblance of the best fashion.
20. And so the multitude, allured by the grace of [p.263] the work, took him now for a god, which a little before was but honoured as a man.'

The idol is by no means regarded as a mere emblem. In India,758 when the offerings of the people have been less profuse than usual, the Brahmans sometimes 'put the idols in irons, chaining their hands and feet. They exhibit them to the people in this humiliating state, into which they tell them they have been brought by rigorous creditors, from whom their gods had been obliged, in times of trouble, to borrow money to supply their wants. They declare that the inexorable creditors refuse to set the god at liberty, until the whole sum, with interest, shall have been paid. The people come forward, alarmed at the sight of their divinity in irons; and thinking it the most meritorious of all good works to contribute to his deliverance, they raise the sum required by the Brahmans for that purpose.'

'A statue of Hercules759 was worshipped at Tyre, not as a representative of the Deity but as the Deity himself; and accordingly when Tyre was besieged by Alexander, the Deity was fast bound in chains, to prevent him from deserting to the enemy.'

It is hard for us to appreciate the difficulty which an undeveloped mind finds in raising itself to any elevated conception. Thus Campbell mentions that a Highlander, wishing to describe a castle of the utmost possible magnificence, ended with this climax: 'That was the beautiful castle! There was not a shadow of a thing that was for the use of a castle that was not in it, even to a herd for the geese.' As, however, [p.264] civilisation progresses, and the chiefs, becoming more despotic, exact more and more respect, the people are introduced to conceptions of power and magnificence higher than any which they had previously entertained. Hence, though the worship of ancestors occurs among races in the stage of Totemism, it long survives, and may be regarded as characterising Idolatry; which is really a higher religion, and generally indicates a more advanced mental condition than the worship of animals or even of the heavenly bodies. At first sight the reverse would appear to be the case: most would regard the sun as a far grander deity than any in human form. As a matter of fact, however, this is not so, and sun-worship is generally, though not invariably, associated with a lower idea of the Deity than is the case with Idolatry.

Indeed, the very circumstances which to our minds almost render the sun worthy of deification are precisely those which made sun-worship comparatively a rare form of religion amongst the lower races of savages. Again, in the lowest religions, man does not form to himself any definite conception of Deity. If we enquire in what sense a savage regards a tree or a serpent as a deity, we are putting to ourselves a question which the savage does not think of asking. But when religion acquired a more intellectual character—when it included faith as well as feeling, belief as well as mystery—man first conceived the Deity as a being like himself in form, character, and attributes, only wiser and more powerful. This is one reason why the deities in this stage are anthropomorphous.

Another is the fact that the gradually increasing power of chiefs and kings has familiarised the mind with the [p.265] existence of a power greater than any which had been previously conceived. Thus, in Western Africa, the slave trade having added considerably to the wealth and consequently to the power of the chiefs or kings, they maintained much state, and insisted upon being treated with servile homage. No man was allowed to eat with them, nor to approach them excepting on his knees with an appearance of fear, which no doubt was in many cases sufficiently well-founded.

These marks of respect so much resembled adoration, that 'the individuals760 of the lower classes are persuaded that his (the king's) power is not confined to the earth.'

Battel also mentions that the king of Loanoo 'is honoured among them as though he were a god.'761 He is so holy that no one is allowed to see him eat or drink. The tyrants of Natal, says Casalis, 'exacted almost 'divine homage.'762

The king and queen of Tahiti were regarded as so sacred that nothing once used by them, not even the sounds forming their names, could be used for any ordinary purpose.763 The language of the court was characterised by the most ridiculous adulation. The king's 'houses were called the aarai, the clouds of heaven; anuanua, the rainbow, was the name of the canoe in which he voyaged; his voice was called thunder; the glare of the torches in his dwelling was denominated lightning; and when the people saw them in the evening, as they passed near his abode, instead of saying the [p.266] torches were burning in the palace, they would observe that the lightning was flashing in the clouds of heaven.'

Man-worship would not, indeed, be long confined to the dead. In many cases it extends to the living also. Indeed, the savage who worships an animal or a tree, would see no absurdity in worshipping a man. His chief is, in his eyes, almost as powerful, if not more so, than his Deity. Yet man-worship does not prevail in altogether uncivilised communities, because the chiefs, associating constantly with their followers, lack that mystery which religion requires, and which nocturnal animals so eminently possess. As, however, civilisation progresses, and the chiefs separate themselves more and more from their subjects, this ceases to be the case and man-worship becomes an important element of religion.

The worship of a great chief seems quite as natural as that of an idol. 'Why,' said a Mongol764 to Friar Ascelin, 'since you Christians make no scruple to adore sticks and stones, why do you refuse to do the same honour to Bayoth Noy, whom the Khan hath ordered to be adored in the same manner as he is himself?' This worship is, however, almost always accompanied by a belief in higher beings. We have already seen that the New Zealanders and some other nations have entirely abandoned the worship of animals, &c., without as yet realising the higher stage of Idolatry, owing probably in great measure to their political condition. In other cases where Shamanism has not so effectually replaced Totemism, the establishment of monarchical [p.267] government with its usual pomp and ceremonial, led to a much more organised worship of the old gods. Of this the serpent-worship in Western Africa, and the sun-worship in Peru, are striking examples.

I do not therefore wonder that white men should have been so often taken for deities. This was the case with Captain Cook in the Pacific, with Lander in Western Africa, and, as already mentioned, Mrs. Thomson was regarded by the North Australians as a spirit, though she lived with them for some years.

'Tuikilakila,765 the chief of Somosomo, offered Mr. Hunt a preferment of the same sort. '"If you die first," said he, "I shall make you my god." In fact there appears to be no certain line of demarcation between departed spirits and gods, nor between gods and living men, for many of the priests and old chiefs are considered as sacred persons, and not a few of them will also claim to themselves the right of divinity. "I am a god," Tuikilakila would sometimes say; and he believed it too. They were not merely the words of his lips; he believed he was something above a mere man.'

It seems at first sight hard to understand how men can be regarded as immortal. Yet even this belief has been entertained in various countries.

Merolla tells us766 that in his time the wizards of Congo were called Scinghili, that is to say Gods of the Earth. The head of them is styled 'Ganga Chitorne,' being reputed God of all the Earth.' He further asserts that his body is not capable of suffering a natural death; and, therefore, to confirm his adorers in [p.268] that opinion, whenever he finds his end approaching, either through age or disease, he calls for such a one of his disciples as he designs to succeed him, and pretends to communicate to him his great powers: and afterwards in public (where this tragedy is always acted) he commands him to tie a halter about his neck and to strangle himself therewith, or else to take a club and knock him down dead. This command being once pronounced, is soon executed, and the wizard thereby sent a martyr to the devil. The reason that this is done in public, is to make known the successor ordained by the last breath of the predecessor, and to show that it has the same power of producing rain, and the like. If this office were not thus continually filled, the inhabitants say that the earth would soon become barren, and mankind consequently perish. In my time, one of these magicians was cast into the sea, another into a river, a mother and her son put to death, and many others banished by our order, as has been said.'

So also the Great Lama of Thibet is regarded as immortal; though his spirit occasionally passes from one earthly tenement to another.

These, then, are the lowest intellectual stages through which religion has passed. It is no part of my plan to describe the various religious beliefs of the higher races. I have, however, stopped short sooner perhaps than I should otherwise have done, because the worship of personified principles, such as Fear, Love, Hope, &c., could not have been treated apart from that of the Phallus or Lingam with which it was so intimately associated in Greece, India, Mexico, and elsewhere; and which, though at first modest and pure, as all religions [p.269] are in their origin, led to such unbelievable practices, that it is one of the most painful chapters in human history.

I will now therefore pass on to some points intimately connected with religion, but which could not be conveniently treated in the earlier part of this work.

There is no difficulty in understanding that when once the idea of Spiritual Beings had become habitual—when once man had come to regard them as exercising an important influence, whether for good or evil—he would endeavour to secure their assistance and support. Before a war he would try to propitiate them by promising a share of the spoil after victory; and fear, even if no higher motive, would ensure the performance of his promise.

We, no doubt, regard, and justly regard, sacrifices as unnecessary. 'I will take no bullock,' says David,767 'out of thine house, nor he-goat out of thy folds.' This sentiment, however, was far in advance of its time, and even Solomon felt that sacrifices, in the then condition of the Jews, were necessary. They are, indeed, a stage through which, in any natural process of development, religion must pass. At first it is supposed that the Spirits actually eat the food offered to them. Soon, however, it would be observed that animals sacrificed did not disappear; and the natural explanation would be that the Spirit ate the spiritual part of the victim, leaving the grosser portion to his devout worshipper. Thus the Limboos, near Darjeeling, eat their sacrifices, dedicating, as they forcibly express it, 'the life-breath to the gods, the flesh to ourselves.'768


So also, as Sir G. Grey tells us, the New Zealand fairies, when Te Kanawa gave them his jewels, carried off the shadows only, not caring for the earthly substance.769 In Guinea, according to Bosman, 'the idol hath only the blood, because they like the flesh very well themselves.'770 In other cases the idols were smeared with the blood, while the devotees feasted on the flesh. The Ostyaks when they kill an animal rub some of the blood on the mouths of their idols. Even this seems at length to be replaced in some cases, as Mr. Tylor has suggested, by red paint. Thus the sacred stones in India, as Colonel Forbes Leslie has shown, are frequently ornamented with red.771 So also in Congo it is customary to daub the fetiches with red every new moon.772 Atkinson773 thus describes a Kirghiz sacrifice: 'A ram was led up by the owner, who wished for a large increase of his flocks and herds. It was handed to an assistant of the priest, who killed it in the usual manner. His superior stood near, looking towards the east, and began chanting a prayer, and beating on his large tambourine to rouse up his god, and then made his request for multitudes of sheep and cattle. The ram was being flayed; and when the operation was completed, the skin was put on a pole as shown in the accompanying sketch, raised above the framework, and placed with its head towards the east. The tambourine thundered forth its sound, and the performer continued his wild chant. The flesh [p.271] was cooked in the large cauldron, and the tribe held a great festival.'

Of the great offerings of food among the Fijians, says Williams,774 'native belief apportions merely the soul thereof to the gods, who are described as being enormous caters; the substance is consumed by the worshippers.'

Ellis775 mentions an indication of this in Tahiti, when human sacrifices prevailed, but cannibalism was abandoned. The priest handed a portion of the victim to the king, 'who raised it to his mouth as if desirous to eat it,' but then handed it to an attendant.

Gradually, indeed, it comes to be a necessary portion of the ceremony that the victim should be eaten by those present. Thus, in India,776 when 'the sacrifice is over, the priest comes out, and distributes part of the articles which have been offered to the idols. This is received as holy, and is eaten immediately.'

Among the Redskins,777 at the feast held when the hunting season begins, the victim 'must be all eaten and nothing left.' It is remarkable that among the Algonkins, another rule at the same feast is that not a bone of the victim must be broken.778

In many cases a curious confusion arises between the victim and the Deity, and the former is worshipped before it is sacrificed and eaten. Thus in ancient Egypt, Apis the victim was also regarded as the God,779 [p.272] and Iphigenia was supposed by some to be the same as Artemis.780

In Mexico781 at a certain period of the year the priest of Quetzalcoatl made an image of the Deity of meal mixed 'with infants' blood, and then, after many impressive ceremonies, killed the image by shooting it with an arrow, and tore out the heart, which was eaten by the king, while the rest of the body was distributed among the people, every one of whom was most anxious to procure a piece to eat, however small.782

The great yearly sacrifice in honour of Tezcatlipoca was also very remarkable. Some beautiful youth, usually a war captive, was chosen as the victim. For a whole year he was treated and worshipped as a god. When he went out he was attended by a numerous train of pages, and the crowd as he passed prostrated themselves before him, and did him homage as the impersonation of the good Deity. Everything he could wish was provided for him, and at the commencement of the last month, four beautiful girls were allotted to him as wives. Finally, when the fatal day arrived, he was placed at the head of a solemn procession, taken to the temple, and after being sacrificed with much ceremony [p.273] and every token of respect, he was eaten by the priests and chiefs.783

Again, among the Khonds784 of Central India human sacrifices prevailed until quite lately. 'A stout stake is driven into the soil, and to it the victim is fastened, seated, and anointed with ghee, oil, and turmeric, decorated with flowers, and worshipped during the day by the assembly. At nightfall the licentious revelry is resumed, and on the third morning the victim gets some milk to drink, when the presiding priest implores the goddess to shower her blessings on the people, that they may increase and multiply, prosperity attend their cattle and poultry, fertility their fields, and happiness to the people generally. The priest recounts the origin and advantage of the rite, as previously detailed, and concludes by stating that the goddess has been obeyed and the people assembled.

'Other softening expressions are recited to excite the compassion of the multitude. After the mock ceremony, nevertheless, the victim is taken to the grove where the sacrifice is to be carried out; and, to prevent resistance, the bones of the arms and legs are broken, or the victim drugged with opium or datura, when the janni wounds his victim with his axe. This act is followed up by the crowd; a number now press forward to obtain a piece of his flesh, and in a moment he is stripped to the bones.'

So also in some parts of Africa eating the fetich 'is a solemn ceremony, by which women swear fidelity to [p.274] their husbands, men to their friends.' On a marriage in Issini, the parties 'eat the fetish together, in token of friendship, and as an assurance of the woman's fidelity to her husband.'785 In taking an oath also the same ceremony is observed. To know, says Loyer, 'the truth from any negro, you need only mix something in a little water, and steeping a bit of bread, bid him eat or drink that fetish as a sign of the truth. If the thing be so, he will do it freely; but if otherwise, he will not touch it, believing he should die on the spot if he swore falsely. Their way is to rasp or grate a little of their fetish in water, or on any edible, and so put it in their mouth without swallowing it.'

The sacrifices, however, were as a general rule not eaten by all indiscriminately. In Feejee they were confined to the old men and priests; women and young men being excluded from any share.

In many cases the priests gradually established a claim to the whole, a result which could not fail to act as a considerable stimulus to the practice of sacrifice. It also affected the character of the worship. Thus, as Bosman tells us, the priests encouraged offerings to the Serpent rather than to the Sea, because, in the latter case, as he expresses it, 'there happens no remainder to be left for them.'

As already mentioned, the feeling which has led to the sacrifice of animals would naturally culminate in that of men. So natural, indeed, does the idea of human sacrifice appear to the human mind in this stage, that we meet with it in various nations all over the [p.275] world; and it is unjust to regard it, with Prescott,786 as evidence of fiendish passions: on the contrary, it indicates deep and earnest religious feeling, perverted by an erroneous conception of the Divine character.

Human sacrifices occurred in Guinea,787 and Burton788 saw 'at Benin city a young woman lashed to a scaffolding upon the summit of a tall blasted tree, and being devoured by the turkey-buzzards. The people declared it to be a "fetish" or charm for bringing rain.'

Captain Cook describes human sacrifices as prevalent among the islanders of the Pacific,789 and especially in the Sandwich group.790 He particularly describes791 the case of a sacrifice offered by Towha, chief of the district of Tettaha, in Tahiti, to propitiate the Deity on the occasion of an expedition against Eimeo (Pl. IV.); and mentions that, during the ceremony, 'a kingfisher, making a noise in the trees, Otoo (the king) turned to me, saying, "That is the Eatood," i.e. Deity.' War captives were frequently sacrificed in Brazil.

Various nations in India, besides the Khonds who have been already mentioned, used to offer up human sacrifices on extraordinary occasions; and even now in some places, though the actual sacrifice is no longer permitted, they make human figures of flour, paste, or clay, and then cut off the heads in honour of their gods;792 just as the Romans used to throw dolls into the Tiber as a substitute for human sacrifices.

Many cases of human sacrifice are mentioned in [p.276] ancient history. The Carthaginians, after their defeat of Agathocles, burnt some of their captives as a sacrifice; the Assyrians offered human sacrifices to the god Nergal.

Although resorted to on various critical occasions by the Greeks, human sacrifice appears to have been foreign to the mythology, and opposed to the spirit of that people. It requires a more earnest and melancholy theology. In Roman history they occur far more frequently, and even down to a late date. In the year 46 B.C., Caesar sacrificed two soldiers on the altar in the Campus Martius.793 Augustus sacrificed a maiden named Gregoria.794 Even Trajan, when Antioch was rebuilt, sacrificed Calliope, and placed her statue in the theatre.795 Under Commodus, Caracalla, Heliogabalus, and later emperors, human sacrifices appear to have been even more common; and a gladiator appears to have been sacrificed to Jupiter Latialis down to the times of Constantine.796 Yet these awful rites had been expressly forbidden B.C. 95; and Pliny asserts that in his time they were never openly solemnised.797

In Northern Europe they were even more common. The Yarl of the Orkneys is recorded to have sacrificed the son of the King of Norway to Odin in the year 893.798 In 993, Hakon Yarl sacrificed his own son to the Gods. Domald, King of Sweden, was burnt by his people as a sacrifice to Odin, in consequence of a severe famine.799 At Upsala was a celebrated temple, round [p.272] which an eye-witness assured Adam of Bremen that he had seen the corpses of seventy-two victims hanging up at one time.800

In Russia, as in Scandinavia, human sacrifices continued down to the introduction of Christianity. In Mexico and Peru they seem to have been peculiarly numerous. Muller801 has suggested that this may have partly arisen from the fact that these nations were not softened by the possession of domestic animals. Various estimates have been made of the number of human victims annually sacrificed in the Mexican temples. Muller thinks 2,500 is a moderate estimate; and in one year it appears to have exceeded 100,000.

Among the Jews we find a system of animal sacrifices on a great scale, and symbols of human sacrifices, which can, I think, only be understood on the hypothesis that the latter were once usual. The case of Jephtha's daughter is generally looked upon as quite exceptional, but the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth verses of the twenty-seventh chapter of Leviticus appear to indicate that human sacrifices were at one time habitual among the Jews.802

The lower savages have no temples or sacred buildings. Throughout the New World there was no such thing as a temple, excepting among the semi-civilised races of Central America and Peru.

The Stiens of Cambodia 'have neither priest nor temples.'803 'We should seek in vain,' says Casalis,804 [p.278] 'from the extremity of the southern promontory of Africa to the country far beyond the banks of the Zambesi, for anything like the pagodas of India, the maraes of Polynesia, or the fetish huts of Nigritia.' The people of Madagascar, as we are informed by Drury,805 who resided fifteen years among them, although they have settled abodes, keep large herds of cattle, and are diligent agriculturists, 'have no temples, no tabernacles, or groves for the public performance of their divine worship; neither have they solemn fasts, or festivals, or set days or times, nor priests to do it for them.'

Professor Nilsson was, I believe, the first to point out that certain races buried the dead in their houses, and that the chambered tumuli of Northern Europe are probably copies of the dwellings then used, sometimes perhaps the actual dwellings themselves. We know that as the power of chiefs increased, their tombs became larger and more magnificent; and Mr. Fergusson has well shown how in India the tumulus has developed into the temple.

In some cases, as for instance in India, it is far from easy to distinguish between a group of stone gods and a sacred fane. In fact, we may be sure that the very same stones are by some supposed to be actual deities, while others more advanced regard them as sacred only because devoted to religious purposes. Some of the ruder Hindostan tribes actually worship upright stones; but Colonel Forbes Leslie regards the sacred stones represented in Pl. III. as a place of worship, rather than as [p.270] actual deities; and this is at any rate the case with another group (Pl. V.) similarly painted, which he observed near Andlee, also in the Dekhan, and which is peculiarly interesting from its resemblance to those stone circles of our own country, of which Stonehenge is (see Frontispiece) the grandest representative. Fig. 18, p. 170, represents806 a religions dance as practised by the Redskins of Virginia. Here, also, as already mentioned, we see a sacred circle of stones, differing from those of our own country and of India only in having a human head rudely carved on each stone.

The lower races of men have no Priests, properly so called. Many passages, indeed, may be quoted which, at first sight, appear to negative this assertion. If, however, we examine more closely the true functions of these so-called 'priests,' we shall easily satisfy ourselves that the term is a misnomer, and that wizards only are intended. Without temples and sacrifices there cannot be priests.

Even the New Zealanders807 had 'no regular priesthood.' Mr. Gladstone808 observes that the priest was not, 'as such a significant personage in Greece at any period, nor had the priest of any one place or deity, so far as we know, any organic connection with the priest of any other; so that if there were priests, yet there was not a priesthood.'

I have already pointed out (ante., p. 159) the great difference between the belief in ghosts and in the existence of a soul. Even, however, those races which have so far advanced as to believe in the latter, yet [p.280] differ from us very much in their views; and in fact the belief in a universal, independent, and endless existence is confined to the very highest races of men. The New Zealanders believe that a man who is eaten as well as killed, is thus destroyed both soul and body.809 Even, however, those who have proper interment are far from secure of reaching the happier regions in the land of spirits. The road to these is long and dangerous, and many a soul perishes by the way. In the Tonga Islands the chiefs are regarded as immortal, the Tooas or common people as mortal; with reference to the intermediate class or Mooas there is a difference of opinion.

A friend of Mr. Lang's810 tried long and potently to make a very intelligent docile Australian black understand his existence without a body, but the black never could keep his countenance and generally made an excuse to get away. 'One day the teacher watched and found that he went to have a hearty fit of laughter at the absurdity of the idea of a man living and going about without arms, legs, or mouth to eat; for a long time he could not believe that the gentleman was serious, and when he did realise it, the more serious the teacher was the more ludicrous the whole affair appeared to the black.'

The resurrection of the body as preached by the missionaries,811 appeared to the Tahitians 'astounding' and 'incredible;' and 'as the subject was more frequently brought under their notice in public discourse, [p.281] or in reading the Scriptures, and their minds were more attentively exercised upon it in connection with their ancestry, themselves, and their descendants, it appeared invested with more than ordinary difficulty, bordering, to their apprehension, on impossibility.'

Although the Feejeeans believe that almost everything has a spirit, few spirits are immortal: the road to Mbulu is long, and beset with so many difficulties, that after all 'few attain to immortality.'812 As regards Central India, Colonel Dalton says,813 'I do not think that the present generation of Kols have any notion of a heaven or a hell that may not be traced to Brahminical or Christian teaching. The old idea is that the souls of the dead become "bhoots," spirits, but no thought of reward or punishment is connected with the change. When a Ho swears, the oath has no reference whatever to a future state. He prays that if he speak not the truth he may be afflicted in this world with the loss of all—health, wealth, wife, children; that he may sow without reaping, and finally may be devoured by a tiger; but he swears not by any happiness beyond the grave. He has in his primitive state no such hope; and I believe that most Indian aborigines, though they may have some vague ideas of continuous existence, will be found equally devoid of original notions in regard to the judgment to come.'

Even when the spirit is supposed to survive the body, the condition of souls after death is not at first considered to differ materially from that during life. Heaven is merely a distant part of earth. Thus the [p.282] 'seats of happiness are represented by some Hindu writers to be vast mountains on the north of India.'814 Again, in Tonga the souls are supposed to go to Bolotoo, a large island to the north-west, well stocked815 with all kinds of useful and ornamental plants, 'always bearing the richest fruits and the most beautiful flowers according to their respective natures; that when these fruits or flowers are plucked, others immediately occupy their place ... The island of Bolotoo is supposed to be so far off as to render it dangerous for their canoes to attempt going there; and it is supposed, moreover, that even if they were to succeed in reaching so far, unless it happened to be the particular will of the gods, they would be sure to miss it.'

They believe, however, that on one occasion a canoe actually reached Bolotoo. The crew landed, but when they attempted to touch anything, 'they could no more lay hold of it than if it had been a shadow.' Consequently hunger soon overtook them, and forced them to return, which they fortunately succeeded in doing.

A curious notion, already referred to, is the belief that each man has several souls. It is common to various parts of America,816 and exists also in Madagascar. It apparently arises from the idea that each pulse is the seat of a different life. It also derives an appearance of probability from the inconsistencies of behaviour to which savages are so prone. The Feejeeans also believed that each man has two spirits.817 Among [p.283] the ancient Greeks and Romans there are some indications of the existence of a similar belief.818

The belief in a future state, if less elevated than our own, is singularly vivid among some barbarous races. Thus it is said that among the Ancient Britons money was habitually lent on what may strictly be termed 'postobits'—promises to pay in another world.

The Feejeeans believe that 'as they die, such will be their condition in another world; hence their desire to escape extreme infirmity.'819 The way to Mbulu, as already mentioned, is long and difficult; many always perish, and no diseased or infirm person could possibly succeed in surmounting all the dangers of the road. Hence as soon as a man feels the approach of old age, he notifies to his children that it is time for him to die. If he neglects to do so, the children after a while take the matter into their own hands. A family consultation is held, a day appointed, and the grave dug. The aged person has his choice of being strangled or buried alive. Mr. Hunt gives the following striking description of such a ceremony once witnessed by him. 'A young man came to him and invited him to attend his mother's funeral, which was just going to take place. Mr. Hunt accepted the invitation, and joined the procession, but, surprised to see no corpse, he made enquiries, when the young man pointed out his mother, who was walking along with them, as gay and lively as any of those present, and apparently as much pleased. Mr. Hunt expressed his surprise to the young man, and asked how he could deceive him, so [p.284] much by saying his mother was dead, when she was alive and well. He said, in reply, that they had made her death-feast, and were now going to bury her; that she was old, that his brother and himself had thought she had lived long enough, and it was time to bury her, to which she had willingly assented, and they were about it now. He had come to Mr. Hunt to ask his prayers, as they did those of the priest. He added, that it was from love for his mother that he had done so; that, in consequence of the same love, they were now going to bury her, and that none but themselves could or ought to do such a sacred office! Mr. Hunt did all in his power to prevent so diabolical an act; but the only reply he received was that she was their mother, and they were her children, and they ought to put her to death. On reaching the grave, the mother sat down, when they all, including children, grandchildren, relations and friends, took an affectionate leave of her; a rope, made of twisted tapa, was then passed twice around her neck by her sons, who took hold of it and strangled her; after which she was put in her grave, with the usual ceremonies.'820

So general was this custom that in one town containing several hundred inhabitants Captain Wilkes did not see one man over forty years of age, all the old people having been buried.

In Dahomey the king sends constant messages to his deceased father, by messengers who are killed for the purpose. The same firm belief which leads to this reconciles the messengers to their fate. They are well [p.285] treated beforehand, and their death being instantaneous is attended with little pain. Hence we are assured that they are quite cheerful and contented, and scarcely seem to look on their death as a misfortune.

The North American Indian, as Schoolcraft tells us, has little dread of death. 'He does not fear to go to a land which, all his life long, he has heard abounds in rewards without punishments.'821

We know that the Japanese commit suicide for the most trifling causes; and it is said that in China, if a rich man is condemned to death, he can always purchase a willing substitute at a very small expense.

The lower races have no idea of Creation, and even among those somewhat more advanced, it is at first very incomplete. Their deities are part of, not the makers of, the world; and even when the idea of creation dawns upon the mind, it is not strictly a creation, but merely the raising of land already existing at the bottom of the original sea.

The Abipones had no theory on the subject; when questioned by Dobritzhoffer,822 'my father, replied Ye-hoalay readily and frankly, our grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, were wont to contemplate the earth alone, solicitous only to see whether the plain afforded grass and water for their horses. They never troubled themselves about what went on in the heavens, and who was the creator and governor of the stars.'

Father Baegert,823 in his account of the Californian Indians, says, 'I often asked them whether they had never put to themselves the question who might be [p.286] the Creator and Preserver of the sun, moon, stars, and other objects of nature, but was always sent home with a "vara," which means "no" in their language.'

The Chipewyans824 thought that the world existed at first in the form of a globe of water, out of which the Great Spirit raised the land. The Lenni Lenape825 say that Manitu at the beginning swam on the water, and made the earth out of a grain of sand. He then made a man and woman out of a tree. The Mingos and Ottawwaws believe that a rat brought up a grain of sand from the bottom of the water, and thus produced the land. The Crees826 had no ideas at all as to the origin of the world.

Stuhr, who was, as Muller says, a good observer of such matters, tells us that the Siberians had no idea of a Creator. When Burchell suggested the idea of Creation to the Bachapin Kaffirs, they 'asserted that everything made itself, and that trees and herbage grew by their own will.'827 It also appears from Canon Callaway's researches that the Zulu Kaffirs have no notion of Creation. Casalis makes the same statement: all the natives, he says, 'whom we questioned on the subject have assured us that it never entered their heads that the earth and sky might be the work of an Invisible Being.'828 The same is also the case with the Hottentots.

The Australians, again, had no idea of Creation. According to Polynesian mythology, heaven and earth [p.287] existed from the beginning.829 The latter, however, was at first covered by water, until Mawe drew up New Zealand by means of an enchanted fish-hook.830 This fish-hook was made from the jawbone of Muri-rangawhenna, and is now the cape forming the southern extremity of Hawkes' Bay. The Tongans831 have a very similar tale. Here the islands were drawn up by Tangaloa, 'but the line accidentally breaking, the act was incomplete, and matters were left as they now are. They show a hole in the rock, about two feet in diameter, which quite perforates it, and in which Tangaloa's hook got fixed. It is moreover said that Tooitonga had, till within a few years, this very hook in his possession.'

As regards Tahiti, Williams832 observes that the 'origin of the Gods, and their priority of existence in comparison with the formation of the earth, being a matter of uncertainty even among the native priests, involves the whole in the greatest obscurity.' Even in Sanskrit there is no word for creation, nor does any such idea appear in the Rigveda, in the Zendavesta, or in Homer.

When the Capuchin missionary Merolla833 asked the queen of Singa, in Western Africa, who made the world, she 'without the least hesitation, readily answered, "My ancestors." "Then," replied the Capuchin, "does your majesty enjoy the whole power of your ancestors?" "Yes," answered she, "and much [p.288] more, for over and above what they had, I am absolute mistress of the kingdom of Matamba!" A remark which shows how little she realised the meaning of the term "Creation."' The negroes in Guinea thought that man was created by a great black spider.834 Other negroes, however, have more just ideas on the subject, probably derived from the missionaries.

The Kumis of Chittagong believe that a certain Deity made the world and the trees and the creeping things, and lastly 'he set to work to make one man and one woman, forming their bodies of clay; but each night, on the completion of his work, there came a great snake, which, while God was sleeping, devoured the two images.'835 At length the Deity created a dog, which drove away the snake, and thus the creation of man was accomplished.

We cannot fail also to be struck with the fact that the lower forms of religion are almost independent of prayer. To us prayer seems almost a necessary part of religion. But it evidently involves a belief in the goodness of God, a truth which, as we have seen, is not early recognised.

Of the Hottentots Kolben says, 'It is most certain they neither pray to any one of their deities nor utter a word to any mortal concerning the condition of their souls or a future life. .... Even those negroes, says Bosman, who have a faint conception of a higher Deity 'do not pray to him, or offer any sacrifices to him; for which they give the following reasons: [p.289] '"God," say they, "is too high exalted above us, and too great to condescend so much as to trouble himself, or think of mankind."'836

The Mandingoes, according to Park, regard the Deity as 'so remote, and of so exalted a nature, that it is idle to imagine the feeble supplications of wretched mortals can reverse the decrees, and change the purposes, of unerring Wisdom.'837 They seem, however, to have little confidence in their own views, and generally assured Park, in answer to his enquiries about religion and the immortality of the soul, that 'no man knows anything about it.' 'Neither among the Eskimos nor Tinne,' says Richardson, 'could I ascertain that prayer was ever made to the "Kitche Manito" the Great Spirit or "Master of Life."'838 Mr. Prescott, in Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes, also states that the North American Indians do not pray to the Great Spirit.839 The Caribs considered that the Good Spirit 'is endued with so great goodness, that it does not take any revenge even of its enemies: whence it comes that they render it neither honour nor adoration.'840

According to Metz, the Todas (Neilgherry Hills) never pray. Even among the priests, he says, 'the only sign of adoration that I have ever seen them perform is lifting the right hand to the forehead, covering the nose with the thumb, when entering the sacred dairy: and the words, "May all be well," are [p.290] all that I have ever heard them utter in the form of a prayer.'841

The connection between morality and religion will be considered in a later chapter. Here, I will only observe that the deities of the lower races, being subject to the same passions as man, and in many cases, indeed, themselves monsters of iniquity, regarded crime with indifference, so long as the religious ceremonies and sacrifices in their honour were not neglected. Hence it follows that through all these lower races there is no idea of any being corresponding to Satan. So far, indeed, as their deities are evil they may be so called; but the essential character of Satan is that of the Tempter: hence in the order of succession this idea cannot arise until morality has become connected with religion.

Thus, then, I have endeavoured to trace the gradual development of religion among the lower races of man.

The lower savages regard their deities as scarcely more powerful than themselves; they are evil, not good; they are to be propitiated by sacrifices, not by prayer; they are not creators; they are neither omniscient nor all-powerful; they neither reward the good nor punish the evil; far from conferring immortality on man, they are not even in all cases immortal themselves.

Where the material elements of civilisation developed themselves without any corresponding increase of knowledge, as for instance in Mexico and Peru, a more correct idea of Divine power, without any corresponding enlightenment as to the Divine nature, led to a [p.291] religion of terror, which finally became a terrible scourge of humanity.

Gradually, however, an increased acquaintance with the laws of nature enlarged the mind of man. He first supposed that the deity fashioned the earth, raising it out of the water, and preparing it as a dwelling-place for man; and subsequently realised the idea that land and water were alike created by Divine power. After regarding spirits as altogether evil, he rose to a belief in good as well as in evil deities, and gradually subordinating the latter to the former, worshipped the good spirits alone as gods, the evil sinking to the level of demons. From believing only in ghosts, he came gradually to the recognition of the soul: at length uniting this belief with that in a beneficent and just Being, he connected Morality with Religion, a step the importance of which it is scarcely possible to over-estimate.

Thus we see that as men rise in civilisation their religion rises with them. The Australians dimly imagine a being, spiteful, malevolent, but weak, and dangerous only in the dark. The Negro's deity is more powerful, but not less hateful. Invisible, indeed, but subject to pain, mortal like himself, and liable to be made the slave of man by enchantment. The deities of the South Sea Islanders are some good, some evil; but on the whole, more is to be feared from the latter than to be hoped from the former. They fashioned the land, but are not truly creators, for earth and water existed before them. They do not punish the evil, nor reward the good. They watch [p.292] over the affairs of men; but if,—on the one hand, witchcraft has no power over them, neither, on the other, can prayer influence them,—they require to share the crops or the booty of their worshippers.

It appears, then, that every increase in science—that is, in positive and ascertained knowledge—brings with it an elevation of religion. Nor is this progress confined to the lower races. Even within the last century, science has purified the religion of Western Europe by rooting out the dark belief in witchcraft, which led to thousands of executions, and hung like a black pall over the Christianity of the middle ages.

The immense service which Science has thus rendered to the cause of Religion and of Humanity, has not hitherto received the recognition which it deserves. Science is still regarded by many excellent, but narrow-minded, persons as hostile to religious truth, while in fact she is only opposed to religious error. No doubt her influence has always been exercised in opposition to those who present contradictory assertions under the excuse of mystery, and to all but the highest conceptions of Divine power. The time, however, is approaching when it will be generally perceived that so far from Science being opposed to Religion, true religion is, without Science, impossible; and if we consider the various aspects of Christianity as understood by different nations, we can hardly fail to perceive that the dignity, and therefore the truth, of their religious beliefs is in direct relation to their knowledge of Science and of the great physical laws by which our universe is governed.



THE accounts which we possess of the character of savage races are both conflicting and unsatisfactory. In some cases travellers have expressed strong opinions for which they had obviously no sufficient foundation. Thus the unfortunate La Perouse, who spent only one day on Easter Island, states his belief that the inhabitants 'are as corrupt as the circumstances in which they are placed will permit them to be.'842 On the other hand, the Friendly Islanders were so called by Captain Cook on account of the apparent kindness and hospitality with which they received him. Yet, as we now know, this appearance of friendship was entirely hypocritical. The natives endeavoured to lull him into security, with the intention of seizing his ship and massacring the crew, which design a fortunate accident alone prevented them from carrying into effect; yet Captain Cook never had the slightest suspicion of their treachery, or of the danger which he so narrowly escaped.

In some cases the same writer gives accounts at variance with one another. Thus Mr. Ellis,843 the excellent missionary of the Pacific, states that the moral [p.294] character of the Tahitians was 'awfully dark, and notwithstanding the apparent mildness of their disposition, and the cheerful vivacity of their conversation, no portion of the human race was ever, perhaps, sunk lower in brutal licentiousness and moral degradation.' Yet, speaking of this same people, and in the very same volume, he states that they were most anxious to obtain Bibles: on the day when they were to be distributed, the natives came from considerable distances, and 'the place was actually thronged until the copies were expended. In their application at our own houses, we found it impossible to restrain the people, so great was their anxiety.' Under these circumstances we cannot wonder that Captain Cook and other navigators found in them much to admire as well as to condemn.

The Kalmuks, again, have been very differently described by different travellers. Pallas, speaking of their character, says, 'Il m'a paru infiniment meilleur que ne l'ont dépeint plusieurs de nos historiens voyageurs. Il est infiniment préférable à celui des autres peuples nomades. Les Kalmouks sont affables, hospitaliers et francs; ils aiment à rendre service; ils sont toujours gais et enjoués, ce qui les distingue des Kirguis, qui sont beaucoup plus flegmatiques. Telles sont leurs bonnes qualités; voici les mauvaises. Ils sont sales, paresseux et fort rusés; ils abusent tres-souvent de ce dernier défaut.'844 So also the aboriginal tribes of India, as pointed out by M. Hunter,845 have been painted in the blackest colours by some, and highly praised by others.

Mariner gives an excellent account of the state of [p.295] manners among the Tongans, and one which well illustrates the difficulty of arriving at correct ideas on such a subject, especially among a people of a different race from ourselves and in a different state of civilisation, he describes them as loyal846 and pious,847 obedient children,848 affectionate parents,849 kind husbands,850 modest and faithful wives,851 and true friends.852

On the other hand, they seem to have had little feeling of morality. They 'had no words for justice or injustice, for cruelty or humanity.'853 'Theft, revenge, rape, and murder under many circumstances are not held to be crimes.' They had no idea of future rewards and punishments. They saw no harm in seizing ships by treachery and murdering the crew. The men were cruel, treacherous, and revengeful. Marriages were terminable at the whim of the husband,854 and excepting in married women chastity was not regarded as a virtue, though it was thought improper for a woman frequently to change her lover. Yet we are told that on the whole,855 'this system, although so opposed to our feelings, had not the least appearance of any bad effect. The women 'were tender kind mothers, the children well cared for.' Both sexes appeared to be contented and happy in their relations to each other, and 'as to domestic quarrels they were seldom known.' We must not judge them too hardly for their proposed treachery to Captain Cook. Even in Northern Europe shipwrecks were long considered fair spoil, the strangers being connected with [p.296] the natives by no civil or family ties, and the idea of natural right not being highly developed.856

Lastly, if in addition to the other sources of difficulty, we remember that of language, we cannot wonder that the characters of savage races have been so differently described by different travellers. We all know how difficult it is to judge an individual, and it must be much more so to judge a nation. In fact, whether any given writer praises or blames a particular race, depends at least as much on the character of the writer as on that of the people.

On the whole, however, I think we may assume that life and property are far less secure in savage than in civilised communities; and though the guilt of a murder or a theft may be very different under different circumstances, to the sufferer the result is much the same.

Mr. Galbraith, who lived for many years, as Indian agent, among the Sioux (North America), thus describes them:857 'They are bigoted, barbarous, and exceedingly superstitious. They regard most of the vices as virtues. Theft, arson, rape, and murder are among them regarded as the means of distinction; and the young Indian from childhood is taught to regard killing as the highest of virtues. In their dances, and at their feasts, the warriors recite their deeds of theft, pillage, and slaughter as precious things; and the highest, indeed the only ambition of a young brave is to secure "the feather," which is but a record of his having murdered or participated in the murder of some human being—whether man, woman, or child, it is immaterial; [p.297] and, after he has secured his first "feather," appetite is whetted to increase the number in his cap, as an Indian brave is estimated by the number of his feathers.'

In Tahiti the missionaries considered that 'not less than two-thirds of the children were murdered by their parents.'858 Mr. Ellis adds, 'I do not recollect having met with a female m the islands during the whole period of my residence there, who had been a mother while idolatry prevailed, who had not imbrued her hands in the blood of her offspring.' Mr. Kott also makes the same assertion. Girls were more often killed than boys, because they were of less use in fishing and in war.

Mr. Wallace maintains that savages act up to their simple moral code at least as well as we do; but if a man's simple moral code permits him to rob or murder, that may be some excuse for him, but it is little consolation to the sufferer.

As a philosophical question, however, the relative character of different races is less interesting than the moral condition of the lower races of mankind as a whole.

Mr. Wallace, in the concluding chapter of his interesting work on the Malay Archipelago, has expressed the opinion that while civilised communities 'have progressed vastly beyond the savage state in intellectual achievements, we have not advanced equally in morals.' Nay, he even goes further: in a perfect social state, he says, 'every man would have a sufficiently well-balanced intellectual organisation to understand the moral law in all its details, and would require no other motive but the free impulses of his own nature to obey that law. Now, it is very remarkable that [p.298] among people in a very low state of civilisation, we find some approach to such a perfect social state;' and he adds, 'it is not too much to say that the mass of our populations have not at all advanced beyond the savage code of morals, and have in many cases sunk below it.'

Far from thinking this true, I should rather be disposed to say that Man has, perhaps, made more progress in moral than in either material or intellectual advancement; for while even the lowest savages have many material and intellectual attainments, they are, it seems to me, almost entirely wanting in moral feeling, though I am aware that the contrary opinion has been expressed by many eminent authorities.

Thus Lord Kames859 assumes as an undoubted fact 'that every individual is endued with a sense of right and wrong, more or less distinct:' and after admitting that very different views as to morals are held by different people and different races, he remarks, 'these facts tend not to disprove the reality of a common sense in morals: they only prove that the moral sense has not been equally perfect at all times, nor in all countries.'

Hume expresses the same opinion in very decided language. 'Let a man's insensibility,' he says, 'be ever so great, he must often be touched with the images of right and wrong; and let his prejudices be ever so obstinate, he must observe that others are susceptible of like impressions.'860 Nay he even maintains that 'those who have denied the reality of moral distinctions, may be ranked among the disingenuous disputants; nor is it conceivable that any human creature could [p.299] ever seriously believe that all characters and actions were alike entitled to the affection and regard of every one.'

Locke, on the other hand, questions the existence of innate principles, and terminates his chapter on the subject in the following words; 'it is reasonable,' he says,861 'to demand the marks and characters, whereby the genuine innate principles may be distinguished from others; that so, amidst the great variety of pretenders, I may be kept from mistakes in so material a point as this. When this is done, I shall be ready to embrace such welcome and useful propositions; and till then I may with modesty doubt, since I fear universal consent, which is the only one produced, will scarce prove a sufficient mark to direct my choice, and assure me of any innate principles. From what has been said, I think it past doubt, that there are no practical principles where all men agree; and therefore none innate.'

Let us now see what light is thrown on this interesting question by the phenomenon of savage life. Mr. Wallace draws a charming picture of some small savage communities which he has visited. Each man, he says, 'scrupulously respects the rights of his fellow, and any infraction of those rights rarely or never takes place. In such a community all are nearly equal. There are none of those wide distinctions of education and ignorance, wealth and poverty, master and servant which are the product of our civilisation; there is none of that wide-spread division of labour, which, while it increases wealth, produces also conflicting interests; [p.300] there is not that severe competition and struggle for existence, or for wealth, which the population of civilised countries inevitably creates.'

But does this prove that they are in a high moral condition? does it prove even that they have any moral sense at all? Surely not. For if it does, we must equally credit rooks and bees, and most other gregarious animals, with a moral state higher than that of civilised man. I would not indeed venture to assert that the ant or the bee is not possessed of moral feelings, but we are surely not in a position to affirm it. In the very passage quoted, Mr. Wallace has pointed out that the inducements to crime are in small communities much less than in populous countries. The absence of crime, however, does not constitute virtue, and, without temptation, mere innocence has no merit.

Moreover, in small communities almost all the members are related to one another, and family affection puts on the appearance of virtue. But though parental and filial affection possess a very moral aspect, they have a totally different origin and a distinct character.

We do not generally attribute moral feelings to quadrupeds and birds, yet, perhaps, among animals there is no stronger feeling than that of the mother for her offspring. She will submit to any sacrifices for their welfare, and fight against almost any odds for their protection. No follower of Mr. Darwin will be surprised at this; because for generation after generation those mothers in whom this feeling was most strong have had the best chance of rearing their young. It is not, however, moral feeling in the strict sense of the term; and she would indeed be a cold-hearted mother [p.301] who cherished and protected her infant only because it was right to do so.

Family affection and moral feeling have indeed been very generally confused together by travellers, yet there is some direct testimony which appears to show that the moral condition of savages is really much lower than has been usually supposed.

Thus, Mr. Dove, speaking of the Tasmanians, asserts that they were entirely without any 'moral views and impressions.'

Governor Eyre says of the Australians that 'having no moral sense of what is just and equitable in the abstract, their only test of propriety must in such cases be, whether they are numerically or physically strong enough to brave the vengeance of those whom they may have provoked, or injured.'862

'Conscience,' says Burton, 'does not exist in Eastern Africa, and "repentance" expresses regret for missed opportunities of mortal crime. Robbery constitutes an honourable man; murder—the more atrocious the midnight crime the better—makes the hero.'863

The Yoruba negroes, on the west coast of Africa, according to the same author,864 are covetous, cruel, and wholly deficient in what the civilised man calls conscience; though it is right to add that some of his other statements with reference to this tribe seem opposed to this view.

Mr. Neighbors states, that among the Comanches of Texas 'no individual action is considered a crime, [p.302] but every man acts for himself according to his own judgment, unless some superior power, for instance, that of a popular chief, should exercise authority over him. They believe that when they were created the Great Spirit gave them the privilege of a free and unconstrained use of their individual faculties.'865

Speaking of the Kaffirs, Mr. Casalis, who lived for twenty-three years in South Africa, says866 that 'morality among these people depends so entirely upon social order that all political disorganisation is immediately followed by a state of degeneracy, which the re-establishment of order alone can rectify.' Thus then, although their language contained words signifying most of the virtues, as well as the vices, it would appear from the above passages that their moral quality was not clearly recognised; it must be confessed, however, that the evidence is not very conclusive, as Mr. Casalis, even in the same chapter, expresses an opinion on the point scarcely consistent with that quoted above.

Similar accounts are given as regards Central Africa. Thus at Jenna,867 and in the surrounding districts, 'whenever a town is deprived of its chief, the inhabitants acknowledge no law—anarchy, trouble, and confusion immediately prevail, and till a successor is appointed all labour is at an end. The stronger oppress the weak, and consummate every species of crime, without being amenable to any tribunal for their actions.

'Private property is no longer respected; and thus before a person arrives to curb its licentiousness, a town is not unfrequently reduced from a flourishing [p.303] state of prosperity and of happiness to all the horrors of desolation.'

The Tongans, or Friendly Islanders, had in many respects made great advances, yet Mariner868 states that, on a strict examination of their language, we discover no words essentially expressive of some of the higher qualities of human merit: as virtue, justice, humanity; nor of the contrary, as vice, injustice, cruelty, &c. They have, indeed, expressions for these ideas, but they are equally applicable to other things. To express a virtuous or good man, they would say "tangata lille," a good man, or "tangata loto lille," a man with a good mind; but the word lille, good (unlike our virtuous) is equally applicable to an axe, canoe, or anything else; again, they have no word to express humanity, mercy, &c., but afa, which rather means friendship, and is a word of cordial salutation.'

Mr. Campbell observes that the Soors (one of he aboriginal tribes of India), 'while described as small, mean, and very black, and like the Santals naturally harmless, peaceable, and industrious, are also said to be without moral sense.'869

Indeed, I do not remember a single instance in which a savage is recorded as having shown any symptoms of remorse; and almost the only case I can call to mind, in which a man belonging to one of the lower races has accounted for an act, by saying explicitly that it was right, was when Mr. Hunt asked a young Feejeean why he had killed his mother.870

It is clear that religion, except in very advanced races, [p.304] has no moral aspect or influence. The deities are almost invariably regarded as evil.

In Feejee871 the names of the gods indicate their characters. Thus, 'Tunanibanga is the adulterer. Ndautliina steals women of rank and beauty by night or torch-light. Kunibunavanua is the rioter; Mbatimona, the brain-eater; Kavuravu, the murderer; Mainatavasara, fresh from the cutting-up or slaughter; and a host besides of the same sort.'

The character of the Greek gods is familiar to us, and was anything but moral. Such beings would certainly not reward the good, or punish the evil. Hence, it is not surprising that Socrates saw little connection between ethics and religion, or that Aristotle altogether separated morality from theology. Hence also we cannot be surprised to find that, even when a belief in a future state has dawned on the uncivilised mind, it is not at first associated with reward or punishment.

The Australians, though they had a vague belief in ghosts, and supposed that after death they become whitemen; that, as they say, 'Fall down blackman, jump up whiteman,' have no idea of retribution.872 The Guinea negroes 'have no idea of future rewards or punishments, for the good or ill actions of their past life.'873 Other negro races, however, have more advanced ideas on the subject.

'The Tahitians believe the immortality of the soul, at least its existence in a separate state, and that there are two situations of different degrees of happiness, somewhat analogous to our heaven and hell: the [p.305] superior situation they call "Tavirua I'erai," the other "Tiahoboo." They do not, however, consider them as places of reward and punishment, but as receptacles for different classes; the first for their chiefs and principal people, the other for those of inferior rank; for they do not suppose that their actions here in the least influence their future state, or indeed that they come under the cognizance of their deities at all.'874

In Tonga and at Nukahiva the natives believe that their chiefs are immortal, but not the common people.875 The Tonga people, says Mariner, 'do not indeed believe in any future state of rewards and punishments.'876

Williams877 tells us that 'offences, in Fijian estimation, are light or grave according to the rank of the offender. Murder by a chief is less heinous than a petty larceny committed by a man of low rank. Only a few crimes are regarded as serious; e.g., theft, adultery, abduction, witchcraft, infringement of a tabu, disrespect to a chief, incendiarism, and treason;' and he elsewhere mentions that the Feejeeans,878 though believing in a future existence, 'shut out from it the idea of any moral retribution in the shape either of reward or punishment.' The Sumatrans, according to Marsden, 'had some idea of a future life, but not as a state of retribution; conceiving immortality to be the lot of a rich rather than of a good man. I recollect that an inhabitant of one of the islands farther eastward observed to me, with great simplicity, [p.306] that only great men went to the skies; how should poor men find admittance there?'879

In the Island of Bintang,880 the people having an idea of predestination, always conceived present possession to constitute right, however that possession might have been acquired; but yet they made no scruple of deposing and murdering their sovereigns, and justified their acts by this argument; that the fate of concerns so important as the lives of kings was in the hands of God, whose vicegerents they were, and that if it was not agreeable to him, and the consequence of his will, that they should perish by the daggers of their subjects, it could not so happen. Thus it appears that their religious ideas were just strong enough to banish from their minds every moral sentiment.'

The Kookies of Chittagong 'have no idea of hell or heaven, or of any punishment for evil deeds, or rewards for good actions.'881 According to Bailey, again, the Veddahs of Ceylon 'have no idea of a future state of rewards and punishments.'882

The Hos in Central India 'believe that the souls of the dead become "bhoots," spirits, but no thought of reward or punishment is connected with the change.'883 Speaking of South Africa Kolben884 says, 'that the Hottentots believe the immortality of the soul has been shown in a foregoing chapter. But they have no notion, that ever I could gather, of rewards and punishments after death.'


Among the Mexicans885 and Peruvians,886 again, the religion was entirely independent of moral considerations, and in some other parts of America the future condition is supposed to depend not on conduct but on rank.887 In North America 'it is rare,' says Tanner, 'to observe among the Indians any ideas which would lead to the belief that they look upon a future state as one of retribution.'888

The Arabs conceive that a broken oath brings misfortune on the place where it was uttered.889

In fact, I believe that the lower races of men may be said to be deficient in the idea of right, though quite familiar with that of Law. This leads to the curious, though not illogical results, mentioned in page 302.

That there should be any races of men so deficient in moral feeling, was altogether opposed to the preconceived ideas with which I commenced the study of savage life, and I have arrived at the conviction by slow degrees, and even with reluctance. I have, however, been forced to this conclusion, not only by the direct statements of travellers, but also by the general tenor of their remarks, and especially by the remarkable absence of repentance and remorse among the lower races of men.

On the whole, then, it appears to me that the moral feelings deepen with the gradual growth of a race.

External circumstances, no doubt, exercise much influence on character. We very often see, however, [p.308] that the possession of one virtue is counterbalanced by some corresponding defect. Thus the North American Indians are brave and generous, but they are also cruel and reckless of life. Moreover, in the early stages of law, motive is never considered; a fact which shows how little hold morality has even on communities which have made considerable progress. Some cases which have been quoted as illustrating the contrast between the ideas of virtue entertained by different races seem to prove the absence, rather than the perversity, of sentiment on the subject. I cannot believe, for instance, that theft and murder have ever been really regarded as virtues. In a barbarous state they were, no doubt, means of distinction, and in the absence of moral feelings were regarded with no reprobation. I cannot, however, suppose that they could be considered as 'right,' though they might give rise to a feeling of respect, and even of admiration. So also the Greeks regarded the duplicity of Ulysses as an element in his greatness, but surely not as a virtue in itself.

What, then, is the origin of moral feeling? Some regard it as intuitive, as an original instinct implanted in the human mind. Herbert Spencer,890 on the contrary, maintains that 'moral intuitions are the results of accumulated experiences of utility; gradually organised and inherited, they have come to be quite independent of conscious experience. Just in the same way that I believe the intuition of space, possessed by any living individual, to have arisen from organised and consolidated experiences of all antecedent individuals, who bequeathed to him their slowly-developed nervous or- [p.309] ganisation: just as I believe that this intuition, requiring only to be made definite and complete by personal experiences, has practically become a form of thought apparently quite independent of experience; but do I believe that the experiences of utility, organised and consolidated through all past generations of the human race, have been producing corresponding nervous modifications, which, by continued transmission and accumulation, have become in us certain faculties of moral intuition—certain emotions responding to right and wrong conduct, which have no apparent basis in the individual experiences of utility.'

I cannot entirely subscribe to either of these views. The moral feelings are now, no doubt, intuitive, but if the lower races of savages have none, they evidently cannot have been so originally, nor can they be regarded as natural to man. Neither can I accept the opposite theory; while entirely agreeing with Mr. Spencer that 'there have been, and still are, developing in the race, certain fundamental moral intuitions.' I feel, with Mr. Hutton, much difficulty in conceiving that, in Mr. Spencer's words, 'these moral intuitions are the results of the accumulated experiences of Utility,' that is to say, of utility to the individual. When it is once realised that a given line of conduct would invariably be useful to the individual, it is at once regarded as 'sagacious' rather than 'virtuous.' Virtue implies temptation; temptation indicates a feeling that a given action may benefit the individual at the expense of others, or in defiance of authority. It is evident, indeed, that feeling's acting on veneration after generation might produce a continually deepening conviction, but I fail to perceive how this explains the difference between [p.310] 'right' and 'utility.' Yet utility in one sense has, I think, been naturally and yet unconsciously selected as the basis of morals.

Mr. Hutton, if I understand him correctly, doubts this. Honesty, for instance, he says,891 'must certainly have been associated by our ancestors with many unhappy as "well as many happy consequences, and we know that in ancient Greece dishonesty was openly and actually associated with happy consequences, in the admiration for the guile and craft of Ulysses. Hence the moral associations slowly formed, according to Mr. Spencer, in favour of honesty, must have been, in fact, a mere predominance of association with a balance on one side.'

This seems to me a good crucial case. Honesty, on their own part, may, indeed, have been, and no doubt was, 'associated by our ancestors with many unhappy, as well as many happy consequences;' but honesty on the part of others could surely have nothing but happy results. Thus, while the perception that 'Honesty is the best policy' was, no doubt, as Mr. Hutton observes, 'long subsequent to the most imperious enunciation of its sacredness as a duty,' honesty would be recognised as a virtue so soon as men perceived the sacredness of any duty. As soon as contracts were entered into between individuals or states, it became manifestly the interest of each that the other should be honest. Any failure in this respect would naturally be condemned by the sufferer. It is precisely because honesty is sometimes associated with unhappy consequences, that it is regarded as a virtue. If it had always been directly advantageous to all parties, it would have been classed as useful, not as right; it [p.311] would have lacked the essential element which entitles it to rank as a virtue.

Or take respect for Age. We find, even in Australia, laws, if I may so term them, appropriating the best of everything to the old men. Naturally the old men lose no opportunity of impressing these injunctions on the young; they praise those who conform, and condemn those who resist. Hence the custom is strictly adhered to. I do not say, that to the Australian mind, this presents itself as a sacred duty; but it would, I think, in the course of time have come to be so considered.

For when a race had made some progress in intellectual development, a difference would certainly be felt between those acts which a man was taught to do as conducive to his own direct advantage, and those which were not so, and yet which were enjoined for any other reason. Hence would arise the idea of right and duty, as distinct from mere utility.

How much more our notions of right depend on the lessons we receive when young than on hereditary ideas, becomes evident if we consider the different moral codes existing in our own country. Nay, even in the very same individual two contradictory systems may often be seen side by side in incongruous association. Thus the Christian code and the ordinary code of honour seem to be opposed in some respects, yet the great majority of men hold, or suppose that they hold, them both.

Lastly, it may be observed that in our own case religion and morality are closely connected together. Yet the sacred character, which forms an integral part in our conception of duty, could not arise until religion became moral. Nor would this take place until the deities were conceived to be beneficent beings. As [p.312] soon, however, as this was the case, they would naturally be supposed to regard with approbation all that tended to benefit their worshippers, and to condemn all actions of the opposite character. This step was an immense benefit to mankind, since that dread of the unseen powers which had previously been wasted on the production of mere ceremonies and sacrifices, at once invested the moral feelings with a sacredness, and consequently with a force, which they had not until then possessed.

Authority, then, seems to me the origin, and utility, though not in the manner suggested by Mr. Spencer, the criterion, of virtue. Mr. Hutton, however, in the concluding paragraph of his interesting paper, urges that surely by this time 'some one elementary moral law should be as deeply ingrained in human practice as the geometrical law that a straight line is the shortest way between two points. Which of them is it?' I see no such necessity. A child whose parents belong to different nations, with different moral codes, would, I suppose, have the moral feeling deep, and yet might be without any settled ideas as to particular moral duties. And this is in reality our own case. Our ancestors have, now for many generations, had a feeling that some actions were right and some were wrong, but at different times they have had very different codes of morality. Hence we have a deeply-seated moral feeling, and yet, as anyone who has children may satisfy himself, no such decided moral code. Children have a deep feeling of right and wrong, but no such decided or intuitive conviction as to which actions are right and which are wrong.



ALTHOUGH it has been at various times stated that certain savage tribes are entirely without Language, none of these accounts appear to be well authenticated, and they are a priori extremely improbable.

At any rate, even the lowest races of which we have any satisfactory account possess a language, imperfect though it may be, and eked out to a great extent by signs. I do not suppose, however, that this custom has arisen from the absence of words to represent their ideas, but rather because in all countries inhabited by savages the number of languages is very great, and hence there is a great advantage in being able to communicate by signs.

Thus James, in his expedition to the Rocky Mountains, speaking of the Kinwa-Kaskaia Indians, says, 'These nations, although constantly associating together and united under the influence of the Bear-Tooth, are yet totally ignorant of each other's language, insomuch that it was no uncommon occurrence to see two individuals of different nations sitting upon the ground, and conversing freely by means of the language of signs. In the art of this conveying their ideas they were thorough adepts; and their manual display was only interrupted at remote intervals by a [p.314] smile, or by the auxiliary of an articulated word of the language of the Crow Indians, which to a very limited extent passes current among them.'892 Fisher,893 also, speaking of the Comanches and various surrounding tribes, says that they have 'a language of signs, however, by which all Indians and traders can understand one another; and they always make these signs when communicating among themselves. The men, when conversing together, in their lodges, sit upon skins, cross-legged like a Turk, and speak and make signs in corroboration of what they say, with their hands, so that either a blind or a deaf man could understand them. For instance, I meet an Indian, and wish to ask him if he saw six waggons drawn by horned cattle, with three Mexican and three American teamsters, and a man mounted on horseback. I make these signs: I point "you," then to his eyes, meaning "see;" then hold up all my fingers on the right hand and the forefinger on the left, meaning "six;" then I make two circles by bringing the ends of my thumbs and forefingers together, and, holding my two hands out, move my wrists in such a way as to indicate waggon wheels revolving, meaning "waggons;" then, by making an upward motion with each hand from both sides of my head, I indicate "horns," signifying horned cattle; then by first holding up three fingers, and then by placing my extended right hand below my lower lip and moving it downward stopping in midway down the chest, I indicate "beard," meaning Mexican; and with three fingers again, and passing [p.315] my right hand from left to right in front of my forehead, I indicate "white brow" or "pale face." I then hold up my forefinger, meaning one man, and by placing the forefinger of my left hand between the fore and second finger of my right hand, representing a man astride of a horse and by moving my hands up and down give the motion of a horse galloping with a man on his back. I in this way ask the Indian, "You see six waggons, horned cattle, three Mexicans, three Americans, one man on horseback?" If he holds up his forefinger and lowers it quickly, as if he was pointing at some object on the ground, he means "Yes;" if he moves it from side to side, upon the principle that people sometimes move their head from side to side, he means "No." The time required to make these signs would be about the same as if you asked the question verbally.' The Bushmen also are said to intersperse their language with so many signs that they are unintelligible in the dark, and when they want to converse at night, are compelled to collect round their camp fires. So also Burton tells us that the Arapahos of North America, 'who possess a very scanty vocabulary, can hardly converse with one another in the dark; to make a stranger understand them they must always repair to the camp fire for powwow.'894

A very interesting account of the sign-language, especially with reference to that used by the deaf and dumb, is contained in Tylor's 'Early History of Man.' But although signs may serve to convey ideas in a manner which would probably surprise those who have not [p.316] studied this question; still it must be admitted that they are far inferior to the sounds of the voice; which, as already mentioned, are used for this purpose by all the races of men with whom we are acquainted.

Language, as it exists among all but the lowest races, although far from perfect, is yet so rich in terms, and possesses in its grammar so complex an organisation, that we cannot wonder at those who have attributed to it a divine and miraculous origin. Nay, their view may be admitted as correct, but only in that sense in which a ship or a palace may be so termed: they are human insofar as they have been worked out by man; divine, inasmuch as in doing so he has availed himself of the powers which providence has given him.895

M. Renan896 draws a distinction between the origin of words and that of language, and as regards the latter, says: 'Je persiste donc, àpres dix ans de nouvelles études, à envisager le langage comme formé d'un seul coup, et comme sorti instantanément du genie de chaque race,' a theory which involves that of the plurality of human species. No doubt the complexity and apparent perfection of the grammar among very low races, is at first sight very surprising, but we must remember that the language of children is more regular than ours. A child [p.317] says, 'I goed,' 'I comed,' badder, baddest, &c. Moreover the preservation of a complicated system of grammar among savage tribes shows that such a system is natural to them, and not merely a survival from more civilised times. Indeed, we know that the tendency of civilisation is towards the simplification of grammatical forms.

Nor must it by any means be supposed that complexity implies excellence, or even completeness, in a language. On the contrary, it often arises from a cumbersome mode of supplying some radical defect. Adam Smith long ago pointed out that the verb 'to be ' is 'the most abstract and metaphysical of all verbs, and consequently could by no means be a word of early invention.' And he suggests that the absence of this verb probably led to the intricacy of conjugations. 'When,' he adds, 'it came to be invented, however, as it had all the tenses and modes of any other verb, by being joined with the passive participle, it was capable of supplying the place of the whole passive voice, and of rendering this part of their conjugations as simple and uniform, as the use of prepositions had rendered their declensions.'897 He goes on to point out that the same remarks apply also to the possessive verb 'I have,' which affected the active voice, as profoundly as 'I am' influenced the passive; thus these two verbs between them, when once suggested, enabled mankind to relieve their memories, and thus unconsciously, but most effectually, to simplify their grammar.

In English we carry the same principle much further, and not only use the auxiliary verbs 'to have' and 'to [p.318] be,' but also several others—as do, did; will, would; shall, should; can, could; may, might.898 Adam Smith was, however, mistaken in supposing that the verb 'to be' exists 'in every language;'899 on the contrary, the complexity of the North American languages is in a great measure due to its absence. The auxiliary verb 'to be' is entirely absent in most American languages, and the consequence is that they turn almost all their adjectives and nouns into verbs, and conjugate them, through all the tenses, persons, and moods.900

Again, the Esquimaux, instead of using adverbs, conjugate the verb; they have special terminations implying ill, better, rarely, hardly, faithfully, &c.; hence such a word as aglekkigiartorasuarniarpok, 'he goes away hastily and exerts himself to write.'901

The number of words in the languages of civilised races is no doubt immense. Chinese, for instance, contains 40,000; Todd's edition of Johnson, 58,000; Webster's Dictionary, 70,000; and Flugel's more than 65,000.902 The great majority of these, however, can be derived from certain original words, or roots, which are very few in number. In Chinese there are about 450, Hebrew has been reduced to 500, and Muller doubts whether there are more in Sanskrit. M. D'Orsey even assures us that an ordinary agricultural labourer has not 300 words in his vocabulary.

Professor Max Muller903 observes, that 'this fact simplifies immensely the problem of the origin of language. [p.319] It has taken away all excuse for those rapturous descriptions of language which invariably preceded the argument that language must have a divine origin. We shall hear no more of that wonderful instrument which can express all we see, and hear, and taste, and touch, and smell; which is the breathing image of the whole world; which gives form to the airy feelings of our souls, and body to the loftiest dreams of our imagination; which can arrange in accurate perspective the past, the present, and the future, and throw over everything the varying hues of certainty, of doubt, of contingency.'

This, indeed, is no new view, but was that generally adopted by the philologists of the last century, and is fully borne out by more recent researches.

In considering the origin of these root-words, we must remember that most of them are very ancient, and much worn by use. This greatly enhances the difficulty of the problem.

Nevertheless, there are several large classes of words with reference to the origin of which there can be no doubt. Many names of animals, such as cuckoo, crow, peewit, &c., are evidently derived from the sounds made by those birds. Everyone admits that such words as bang, crack, purr, whizz, hum, &c., have arisen from the attempt to represent sounds characteristic of the object they are intended to designate.904

Take, again, the inarticulate human sounds—sob, sigh, moan, groan, laugh, cough, weep, whoop, shriek, yawn.


Or of animals; as cackle, chuckle, gobble, quack, twitter, chirp, coo, hoot, caw, croak, chatter, neigh, whinny, mew, purr, bark, gulp, roar, bellow.

The collision of hard bodies; clap, rap, tap, knap, snap, trap, flap, slap, crack, smack, whack, thwack, pat, bat, batter, beat, butt; and again, clash, flash, plash, splash, smash, dash, crash, bang, clang, twang, ring, ding, din, bump, thump, plump, boom, hum, drum, hiss, rustle, bustle, whistle, whisper, murmur, babble, &c.

So also sounds denoting certain motions and actions; whirr, whizz, puff, fizz, fly, flit, flow, flutter, patter, clatter, crackle, rattle, bubble, guggle, dabble, grabble, draggle, dripple, rush, shoot, shot, shut, &c.

Many words for cutting, and the objects cut, or used for cutting, &c., are obviously of similar origin. Thus we have the sound sh—r with each of the vowels; share, a part cut off; shear, an instrument for cutting; shire, a division of a country; shore, the division between land and sea, or as we use it in Kent, between two fields; a shower, a number of separate particles; again, scissors, scythe, scrape, shard, scale, shale, shell, shield, skull, schist, shatter, scatter, scar, scoop, score, scrape, scratch, scum, scour, scurf, surf, scuttle, sect, shape, sharp, shave, sheaf, shed, shoal, shred, split, splinter, splutter, &c.

Another important class of words is evidently founded on the sounds by which we naturally express our feelings. Thus from Oh! Ah! the instinctive cry of pain, we get woe, væ, Latin, wail, ache, άχος, Gr.

From the deep guttural sound ugh, we have ugly, huge, and hug.


From pr, or prut, indicating contempt or self-conceit, comes proud, pride, &c.

From fie, we have fiend, foe, feud, foul, Latin putris, Fr. puer, filth, fulsome, fear. In addition I will only remark that, from that of smacking the lips we get γλνχύς dulcis, lick, like.

Under these circumstances I cannot but think that we may look upon the words above mentioned as the still recognisable descendants of roots which were onomatopoeic in their origin; and I am glad to see that Professor Max Muller, in his second series of lectures on language,905 wishes to be understood as offering no opposition to this theory, although for the present 'satisfied with considering roots as phonetic types.'

It may be said, and said truly, that other classes of ideas are not so easily or naturally expressible by corresponding sounds; and that abstract terms seldom have any such obvious derivation. We must remember, however, firstly, that abstract terms are wanting in the lowest languages, and secondly, that most words are greatly worn by use, and altered by the difference of pronunciation. Even among the most advanced races a few centuries suffice to produce a great change; how then can we expect that any roots (excepting those which are preserved from material alteration by the constant suggestion of an obvious fitness) should have retained their original sound throughout the immense period which has elapsed since the origin of language? Moreover everyone who has paid any attention to children, or schoolboys, must have observed how nick- [p.322] names, often derived from slight and even fanciful characteristics, are seized on and soon adopted by general consent. Hence even if root-words had remained with little alteration, we should still be often puzzled to account for their origin.

Without, then, supposing with Farrar that all our root-words have originated from onomatopoeia, I believe that they arose in the same way as the nicknames and new slang terms of our own day. These we know are often selected from some similarity of sound, or connection of ideas, often so quaint, fanciful, or far-fetched, that we are unable to recall the true origin even of words which have arisen in our own time. How then can we wonder that the derivations of root-words which are thousands of years old should be in so many cases lost, or at least undeterminable with certainty?

Again, the words most frequently required, and especially those used by children, are generally represented by the simplest and easiest sounds, merely because they are the simplest. Thus in Europe we have papa and daddy, mamma, and biby: poupee for a doll; amme for a nurse, &c. Some authorities, indeed, have derived Pater and Papa from a root Pa to cherish, and Mater, Mother, from Ma to make; this derivation is accepted by writers representing the most opposite theories, as for instance by Renan, Muller, and even apparently by Farrar.

According to Professor Max Muller the fact that 'the name father was copied at that early period, shows that the father acknowledged the offspring of his wife as his own, for thus only had he a right to claim the title of father. Father is derived from a root Pa, which [p.323] means, not to beat but to protect, to support, to nourish. The father, as genitor, was called in Sanskrit ganitar, but as protector and supporter of his offspring he was called pitar; hence, in the Veda, these two names are used together, in order to express the full idea of father. Thus the poet says:

Dyaus me peta ganita
Jovis mei pater genitor

In a similar manner matar, mother, is joined with ganita, genitrix, which shows that the word matar must soon have lost its etymological meaning, and have become an expression of respect and endearment. For among the early Arians, matar had the sense of maker, from Ma, to fashion.'906

Now let us see what are the names for father and mother among some other races, omitting all languages derived from Sanskrit.


Language Father Mother
Bola (N.W. Africa) Papa Ni
Sarar Papa Ne
Pepel Papa Nana
Biafada Baba Na
Timne Pa Kara
Mandenga Fa Na
Kabunga " "
Toronka " "
Dsalunka " "
Kankanka " "
Bambarra " Ba
Kono " Ndé


Vei Fa Ba
Soso Fafe Nga
Kisekise " "
Tene Fafa "
Dewoi (Guinea) Ba Ma
Basa " Ne
Gbe " De
Dahome Da Noe
Mahi " also Dady "
Ota Baba Iya
Egba " "
Idsesa " "
Yoruba " "
Yagba " "
Eki " "
Dsumu " "
Oworo " "
Dsebu " "
Ife " Yeye
Ondo " Ye
Mose (High Sudan) Ba Ma
Gurma " Na
Sebo (Niger District) Wawa Nene
Udso Dada Ayo
Nupe Nda Nna
Kupa Dada Mo
Esitako Da Na
Musu Nda Meya
Hasa Ba Nno
Opanda Ada Onyi
Igu " Onya
Egbira " "
Buduma (Central Africa) Bawa Ya
Borru Aba "
Munio Bawa "
Nguru " Iya
Kanem Mba "
Karchare Baba Nana


Ngodsin Baba Nana
Doai " Aye
Basa Ada Am
Kamuku Baba Bina
Songo (S. W. Africa) Papa Mama
Kiriman (S. E. Africa) Baba Mma
Bidsogo (Unclassified language) " Ondsunei
Wun " Omsion
Gadsaga " Ma
Gura Da Nye
Banyun Aba Aai
Nalu Baba Nya
Bulanda " Ni
Limba Papa Na
Landoma " Mama
Barba Bapa Inya
Timbuktu " Nya
Bagrmi Babi Kunyun
Kadzina Baba Ua
Timbo " Nene
Salum " Yuma
Goburu " Inna
Kano " Iua
Yala Ada Ene
Dsarawa Tada Nga
Koro Oda Ma
Yasgua Ada Ama
Kambali Dada Omo
Soa (Arabic group) Aba Aye
Wadai Abba Omma


Turkish Baba Ana
Georgian Mama Deda
Mantsbu Ama Eme
Javanese Bapa Ibu
Malay " "
Syami (Thibet) Dhada Ma


Language Father Mother
Thibetan Pha Ama
Serpa (Nepal) Aba Ama
Murmi Apa Annna
Pakhya Babai Aina
Lepcha (Sikkim) Abo Amo
Bhutani Appa Ai
Dhimal (N. E. Bengal) Aba Ama
Kocch Bap Ma
Garo Aba Ama
Burman (Burmah) Ahpa Ami
Mru Pa Au
Sak Aba Anu
Talain (Siam) Ma Ya
Ho (Central India) Appu Enga
Santhali Baba Ayo
Uraon Babe Ayyo
Gayeti Baba Dai
Khond Abba Ayya
Tuluva (Southern India) Annuo Appe
Badaga Appa Avve
Irula Annna Avve
Cinghalese Appa Amma
Chinese Fu Mu


New Zealand Pa-Matuatana Matua wahina
Tonga Islands Tamny Fae
Erroob (N. Australia) Bab Ama
Lewis' Murray Island Baab Hammah


Lajowrong (N.W. Australia) Marmook Barbook
Knenkorcnwurro Marmak Bar Danorook
Burapper Marmook Barbook
Taungurong Warredoo Parbanook
Boraipar (S. Australia) Marnune Parppe
Murruiubidgee Kunny Manuua


Western Australia Mammun Ngangan
Port Lincoln Pappi Maitya


Esquimaux (Hudson's Bay) Atata Amama
Tshuktohi (Asia) Atta ?

The American languages seem at first sight opposed to the view here suggested; on close examination, however, this is not the case, since the pronunciation of the labials is very difficult to many American races. Thus, La Hontan (who is confirmed by Gallatin907) informs us that the Hurons do not use the labials, and that he spent four days in attempting without success to teach a Huron to pronounce b, p, and m. The Iroquois are stated not to use labials. Garcilasso de la Vega tells us that the Peruvian language wanted the letters b, d, f, g, s, and x, and the Indians of Port au Français, according to M. Lamanon, made no use of the consonants b, d, f, j, p, v, or x.908 Still even in America we find some cases in which the sounds for father resemble those so general elsewhere; thus—

Language Father Mother
Costanos (N. W. America) Ah Pah Ah nah
Tahkali Apa "
Tlatskanai Mama Naa
Nasqually Baa Sogo
Nootka Api Una
Athapascans (Canada) Appa Unnungcool
Omahas (Missouri) Dadai Eehong
Minnetarces Tantai Eeka
Choctas (Mississippi) Aunkke Iskeh
Caribs Baba Bibi


Uainamben (Amazon) Pai Ami
Cobeu Ipaki Ipako
Tucano Pagui Maou
Turlana Paica Naca
Baniwa Pudjo Nadjo
Barre Mbaba Memi

Finding, then, that the easiest sounds which a child can produce denote father and mother almost all over the world; remembering that the root ba or pa indicates baby as well as father; and observing that in some cases the usual sounds are reversed; as for instance in Georgian, where mama stands for father, and dada for mother; or in Tuluva, where amnie is father, and aipe mother; or some of the Australian tribes, in which combinations of the sound mar stand for father, and bar for mother; we must surely admit that the Sanskrit verb pa, to protect, comes from pa, father, and not vice versa.

There are few more interesting studies than the steps by which our present language has been derived from these original roots. This subject has been admirably dealt with by my friend Professor Max Muller in his 'Lectures on Language,' and, tempting as it would be to do so, I do not propose to follow him into that part of the science. As regards the formation of the original roots, however, he declines to express any opinion. Rejecting what he calls the pooh-pooh and bow-wow theories909 (though they are in reality but one), he observes that the theory which is suggested to us by 'an analysis of language carried out according to the principles of comparative philology is the very oppo- [p.329] site. We arrive in the end at roots, and every one of these expresses a general, not an individual idea.' But the whole question is how were these roots chosen? How did particular things come to be denoted by particular sounds?

Here, however, Professor Max Muller stops. Nothing, he admits,910 'would be more interesting than to know from historical documents the exact process by which the first man began to lisp his first words, and thus to be rid for ever of all the theories on the origin of speech. But this knowledge is denied us: and, if it had been otherwise, we should probably be quite unable to understand those primitive events in the history of the human mind.'

Yet in his last chapter he says,911 'And now I am afraid I have but a few minutes left to explain the last question of all in our science, namely—How can sound express thought? How did roots become the sum of general ideas? How was the abstract idea of measuring expressed by ma, the idea of thinking by man? How did ga, come to mean going, tha standing, sad sitting, da giving, mar dying, char walking, kar doing? I shall try to answer as briefly as possible. The 400 or 500 roots which remain as the constituent elements in different families of language are not interjections, nor are they imitations. They are phonetic types produced by a power inherent in human nature. They exist, as Plato would say, by nature; though with Plato we should add that, when we say by nature, we mean by the hand of God. There is a law which runs through nearly the whole [p.330] of literature, that every thing which is struck rings. ... Man, in his primitive and perfect state, was not only endowed, like the brute, with the power of expressing his sensations by interjections, and his perceptions by onomatopoeia. It possessed likewise the faculty of giving more articulate expression to the natural conceptions of his mind. That faculty was not of his making. It was an instinct, an instinct of the mind as irresistible as any other instinct. So far as language is the production of that instinct, it belongs to the realm of nature.'

This answer, though expressed with Professor Max Muller's usual eloquence, does not carry to my mind any definite conception. On the other hand, it appears to me that at any rate as regards some root, we have, as already pointed out, a satisfactory explanation. Professor Max Muller,912 indeed, admits that 'there are some names, such as cuckoo, which are clearly formed by an imitation of sound. But,' he adds, 'words of this kind are, like artificial flowers, without a root. They are sterile, and are unfit to express anything beyond the one object which they imitate. If you remember the variety of derivatives that could be formed from the root spac, to see, you will at once perceive the difference between the fabrication of such a word as cuckoo, and the true natural growth of words.' It has, however, been already shown that such roots, far from being sterile, are on the contrary very fruitful, and we must remember that savage languages are extremely poor in abstract terms.

Indeed the vocabularies of the various races are most [p.331] interesting from the indications which they afford with reference to the condition of those by whom they are used. Thus we get a melancholy idea of the moral state and family life of tribes which are deficient in terms of endearment. Colonel Dalton913 tells us that the Hos of Central India have no 'endearing epithets.' The Algonquin language, one of the richest in North America, contained no verb 'to love,' and when Elliot translated the Bible into it in 1661, he was obliged to coin a word for the purpose. The Tinne Indians on the other side of the Rocky Mountains had no equivalent for 'dear' or 'beloved.' 'I endeavoured,' says General Lefroy, 'to put this intelligibly to Nanette, by supposing such an expression as ma chere femme; ma chere fille. When at length she understood it, her reply was (with great emphasis), "I' disent jamais ya; i' disent ma femme, ma fille."' The Kalmucks and some of the South Sea Islanders are said to have had no word for 'thanks.' Lichtenstein,914 speaking of the Bushmen, mentions it as a remarkable instance of the total absence of civilisation among them that 'they have no names, and seem not to feel the want of such a means of distinguishing one individual from another.' Pliny915 makes a similar statement concerning a race in Northern Africa. Freycinet916 also asserts that some of the Australian tribes did not name their women. I confess that I am inclined to doubt these statements, and to refer the supposed absence of names to the curious superstitions already referred to (ante, p. 167), [p.332] and which make savages so reluctant to communicate their true names to strangers. The Brazilian tribes, according to Spix and Martius, had separate names for the different parts of the body, and for all the different animals and plants with which they were acquainted, but were entirely deficient in such terms as 'colour,' 'tone,' 'sex,' 'genus,' 'spirit,' &c.

Bailey917 mentions that the language of the Veddahs (Ceylon) 'is very limited. It only contains such phrases as are required to describe the most striking objects of nature, and those which enter into the daily life of the people themselves. So rude and primitive is their dialect that the most ordinary objects and actions of life are described by quaint periphrases.'

According to missionaries the Fuegians had 'no abstract terms.' In the North American languages a term 'sufficiently general to denote an oak-tree is exceptional.' Thus the Choctaw language has names for the black oak, white oak, and red oak, but none for an oak; still less for a tree.

The Tasmanians, again, had no general term for a tree, though they had names for each particular kind; nor could they express 'qualities such as hard, soft, warm, cold, long, short, round,' &c.

Speaking of the Coroados (Brazil), Martins observes that 'it would be in vain to seek among them words for the abstract ideas of plant, animal, and the still more abstract notions colour, tone, sex, species, &c.; such a generalisation of ideas is found among them only in the frequently used infinitive of the verbs to walk, to eat, to drink, to dance, to see, to hear, &c. They [p.333] have no conception of the general powers and laws of nature, and therefore cannot express them in words.'918

There is perhaps no more interesting part of the study of language than that which concerns the system of numeration, nor any more striking proof of the low mental condition of many savage races than the undoubted fact that they are unable to count their own fingers, even of one hand.

According to Lichtenstein the Bushmen could not count beyond two; Spix and Martins make the same statement about the Brazilian Wood-Indians. The Cape Yorkers of Australia count as follows:

One Netat
Two Naes
Three Naes-netat
Four Naes-naes
Five Naes-naes-netat
Six Naes naes-naes

Speaking of the Lower Murray nations Mr. Doveridge says, 'their numerals are confined to two alone, viz. ryup, politi, the first signifying "one" and the second "two." To express five, they say ryup murnangin, or one hand, and to express ten, politi murnangin, or two hands.'919 Indeed, no Australian can go beyond four, their term for five simply implying a large number. The Dammaras, according to Galton, used no term beyond three. He gives so admirable and at the same time so amusing an account of Dammara difficulties in language and arithmetic that I cannot resist [p.334] quoting it in full. 'We had,' he says,920 'to trust to our Dammara guides, whose ideas of time and distance were most provokingly indistinct; besides this they have no comparative in their language, so that you cannot say to them, "Which is the longer of the two, the next stage or the last one?" but you must say, "The last is little; the next is it great?" The reply is not, it is a "little longer," or "very much longer," but simply, "it is so," or "it is not so." They have a very poor notion of time. If you say, "Suppose we start at sunrise, where will the sun be when we arrive?" they make the wildest points in the sky, though they are something of astronomers, and give names to several stars. They have no way of distinguishing days, but reckon by the rainy season, or the pig-nut season. When inquiries are made about how many days' journey off a place may be, their ignorance of all numerical ideas is very annoying. In practice, whatever they may possess in their language, they certainly use no numeral greater than three. When they wish to express four, they take to their fingers, which are to them as formidable instruments of calculation as a sliding rule is to an English school-boy. They puzzle very much after five, because no spare hand remains to grasp and secure the fingers that are required for units. Yet they seldom lose oxen; the way in which they discover the loss of one is not by the number of the herd being diminished, but by the absence of a face they know. When bartering is going on, each sheep must be paid for separately. Thus, suppose two sticks of tobacco to be the rate of [p.335] exchange for one sheep, it would sorely puzzle a Dammara to take two sheep and give him four sticks. I have done so, and seen a man put two of the sticks apart, and take a sight over them at one of the sheep he was about to sell. Having satisfied himself that that one was honestly paid for and finding to his surprise that exactly two sticks remained in hand to settle the account for the other sheep, he would be afflicted with doubts; the transaction seemed to come out too "pat" to be correct, and he would refer back to the first couple of sticks; and then his mind got hazy and confused, and wandered from one sheep to the other, and he broke off the transaction until two sticks were put into his hand, and one sheep driven away, and then the other two sticks given him, and the second sheep driven away. When a Dammara's mind is bent upon number, it is too much occupied to dwell upon quantity; thus a heifer is bought from a man for ten sticks of tobacco, his large hands being both spread out upon the ground, and a stick placed upon each finger. He gathers up the tobacco, the size of the mass pleases him, and the bargain is struck. You then want to buy a second heifer; the same process is gone through, but half sticks instead of whole sticks are put upon his fingers; the man is equally satisfied at the time, but occasionally finds it out, and complains the next day.

'Once while I watched a Dammara floundering hopelessly in a calculation on one side of me, I observed Dinah, my spaniel, equally embarrassed on the other. She was overlooking half-a-dozen of her new-born puppies, which had been removed two or three times [p.336] from her, and her anxiety was excessive, and she tried to find out if they were all present, or if any were still missing. She kept puzzling and running her eyes over them, backwards and forwards, but could not satisfy herself. She evidently had a vague notion of counting, but the figure was too large for her brain. Taking the two as they stood, dog and auiniara, the comparison reflected no great honour on the man.'

All over the world the fingers are used as counters, and although the numerals of most races are so worn down by use that we can no longer detect their original meaning, there are many savage tribes in which the words used are merely the verbal expressions of the signs used in counting with the fingers.

Of this I have just given one instance. In Labrador 'Tallek,' a hand, means also 'five,' and the term for twenty means hands and feet together.

So also the Esquimaux of Greenland921 for twenty say 'a man, that is, as many fingers and toes as a man has; and then count as many fingers more as are above the number; consequently instead of 100 they say five men. But the generality are not such learned arithmeticians, and therefore when the number is above twenty, they say "it is innumerable." But when they adjoin the thing itself to the number, they express many numbers otherwise, as innuit pingasut, three men.'

Speaking of the Ahts, Mr. Sproat922 says, 'It may be noticed that their word for one occurs again in that for six and nine, and the word for two in that for [p.337] seven and eight. The Aht Indians count upon their fingers. They always count, except where they have learnt differently from their contact with civilisation, by raising the hands with the palms upwards, and extending all the fingers, and bending down each finger as it is used for enumeration. They begin with the little finger. This little finger, then, is one. Now six is five (that is, one whole hand) and one more. We can easily see, then, why their word for six comprehends the word for one. Again, seven is five (one; whole hand) and two more—thus their word for seven comprehends the word for two. Again, when they have bent down the eighth finger, the most noticeable feature of the hand is that two fingers, that is, a finger and a thumb, remain extended. Now the Aht word for eight comprehends atlah, the word for two. The reason for this I imagine to be as follows: Eight is ten (or the whole hands) wanting two. Again, when the ninth finger is down, only one finger is left extended. Their word for nine comprehends tsowwank, the word for one. Nine is ten (or two whole hands) wanting one.'923

The Zamuca and Muysca Indians924 have a cumbrous, but interesting system of numeration. For five they say, 'hand finished.' For six, 'one of the other hand,' that is to say take a finger of the other hand; for ten they say, 'two hands finished,' or sometimes more simply 'quicha,' that is 'foot.' Eleven is foot-one; twelve, foot-two, thirteen, foot-three, and so on: twenty [p.338] is the feet finished; or in other cases 'agan,' because a man has ten fingers and ten toes, thus making twenty. Among the Jaruroes the word for forty is 'noenipune,' i.e. two men, from noeni, two, and eanipune, men.

Speaking of the Guiana natives, Mr. Brett observes925 that 'Another point in which the different nations agree is their method of enumeration. The first four numbers are represented by simple words, as in the table above given. Five is "my one hand," abar-dakabo in Arawak Then comes a repetition, alar timen, biam timen, &c., up to nine. Biam-dakabo, "my two hands," is ten. From ten to twenty they use the toes (kuti or okuti), as abar-kuti-bana, "eleven," biam-kuti-bana, "twelve," &c. They call twenty abar-loko, one loko or man. They then proceed by men or scores; thus, forty-five is laboriously expressed by biam-loko-abar-dakabo tajeajo, ''two men and one hand upon it." For higher numbers they have now recourse to our words, hundred and thousand. So also among the Caribs, the word for 'ten,' Chonroucabo raim, meant literally 'the fingers of both hands;' and that for 'twenty' was Chonnougouci raim, i.e. the fingers and toes.926

The Coroados927 generally count only by the joints of the fingers, consequently only to three, every greater number they express by the word 'mony.'

According to Dobritzhoffer, the Guaranies when questioned respecting a thing exceeding four, immediately [p.339] reply ndipapahapi, or ndipapnhai, innumerable.928 So also the Abipones929 can only express three numbers in proper words. Inudra, one. Inoahn, two. Inoaka yekhaini, three. They make up for the other numbers by various arts; thus, gejenk nate, the fingers of an emu, which, as it has three in front and one turned back, are four, serves to express that number: nenh halik, a beautiful skin spotted with five different colours, is used to signify the number five: lanam rikgeni, the fingers of one hand, means five: lanam rikgeni, cat chachelaki anamic, the fingers of both hands and both feet, twenty.'

Among the Malays and throughout Polynesia the word for five is ima, lima, or rima. In Uali, lima also means a hand; this is also the case in the Bugis, Mandhar, and Ende languages; in the Makasar dialect it is liman; in Sasak it is ima; in Bima it is rima; in Sembawa it is limang.930

In the Mpongwe language 'tyani' or 'tani' is five, 'layame' is 'hand.'931 The Koossa Caffres make little use of numerals. Lichtenstein could never discover that they had any word for eight, few would reckon beyond ten, and many did not know the names of any numerals. Yet if a single animal was missing out of a herd of several hundred, they observed it immediately.932 This, however, as Mr. Galton explains, is merely because they miss a face they know. Among the Zulu [p.340] 'talitisupa,' six, means literally 'take the thumb,' i.e. having used the finger of one hand, take the thumb of the next. 'The numbers,' says Lichtenstein, 'are commonly expressed among the Beetjuans by fingers held up, so that the word is rarely spoken; many are even unacquainted with these numerals and never employ anything but the sign. It therefore occasioned me no small trouble to learn the numerals, and I could by no means arrive at any denomination for the numbers five and nine. Beyond ten even the most learned could not reckon, nor could I make out by what signs they ever designated these higher numbers.'933

Even in our own language the word 'five' has a similar origin, since it is derived from the Greek πεντε, which again is evidently connected with the Persian pendji; now in Persian 'pentcha' means a hand, as Humboldt has already pointed out.934

Hence, no doubt, the prevalence of the decimal system in arithmetic; it has no particular advantage; indeed, either eight or twelve would, in some respects, have been more convenient; eight, because you can divide it by two, and then divide the result again by two; and twelve because it is divisible by six, four, three, and two. Ten, however, has naturally been selected, because we have ten fingers.

These examples even appear to me very instructive; we seem as it were to trace up the formation of the numerals; we perceive the true cause of the decimal system of notation; and we obtain interesting, if melancholy, evidence of the extent to which the faculty of thought lies dormant among the lower races of man.



THE customs and laws of the lower races, so far as a religious and family relations are concerned, have already been discussed. There are, however, some other points of view with reference to which it seems desirable to make some remarks. The progress and development of law is indeed one of the most interesting as well as important sections of human history. It is far less essential, as Goguet935 truly observes, 'de savoir le nombre des dynasties et les noms des souverains qui les composoient; mais il est essentiel de connoitre les loix, les arts, les sciences et les usages d'une nation que toute l'antiquité a regardée comme un modele de sagesse et de vertu. Voilà les objets que je me suis ju'opposes, et que je vais traiter avec le plus d'exactitude qu'il me sera possible.' It is, however, impossible thoroughly to understand the laws of the most advanced nations, unless we take into consideration those customs of ruder communities from which they took their origin, by which they are so profoundly influenced.

It is, therefore, very much to be regretted that we are not more thoroughly acquainted with the laws and customs of savage races.

At the time Goguet published his celebrated work, [p.342] our knowledge was even more defective than is now the case.

Still I am surprised that with the evidence which was before him, and especially as he was one of the first to point out that much light is thrown by the condition of modern savages on that of our ancestors in times now long gone by,936 he should have regarded the monarchical form of government as the most ancient and most universally established.937 'C'est, sans contredit,' he says, 'le plus anciennement et le plus universellement établi.'

A more careful consideration of the evidence afforded by the lower races of man would probably have modified his views on some other points. For instance,938 he observes that 'il n'st pas difficile de l'aire sentir par quelles raisons le gouvernement monarchi que est le premier dont l'idée a dû se presenter. Il étoit plus aise aux peuples, lorsqu'ils out pensé a établir l'ordre dans la société, de se rassembler sous un seul chef, que sous plusieurs: la royaute est d'ailleurs une image de lautorité que les peres avoient originairement sur leurs enfants: ils etoient dans ces premiers terns les chefs et les l'égislateurs de leur famille.'

Whereas it has been already shown in the earlier [p.343] chapters of this work that the family is by no means so perfectly organised among the lowest races.

Sir G. Grey,939 speaking of the Australians, truly says that the 'laws of this people are unfitted for the government of a single isolated family, some of them being only adapted to the regulation of an assemblage of families; they could, therefore, not have been a series of rules given by the first father to his children: again, they could not have been rules given by an assembly of the first fathers to their children, for there are these remarkable features about them, that some are of such a nature as to compel those subject to them to remain in a state of barbarism.'

Again Goguet940 states that 'les loix du mariage ont mis nil frein à une passion qui n'en voudroit reconnoitre aucun. Elles out fait plus: en déterminant les degres de consanguinité qui rendent les alliances illegitimes, elles out appris aux hommes à connoitre et a respecter les droits de la nature,' which is very far from being the case. I have already observed (ante, p. 4) that even Mr. Maine would doubtless have modified in some points the views expressed in his excellent work,941 if he had paid more attention to the manners, customs, and laws of savages. But, although the progress and development of law belong, for the most part, to a more advanced stage of human society than that which is the subject of this work, still, in one sense, as already mentioned, even the lowest races of savages have laws.

Those who have not divested much attention to the subject have generally regarded the savage as having one [p.344] advantage, at least, over civilized man, that, namely, of enjoying an amount of personal freedom greater than that of individuals belonging to more civilized communities. There cannot be a greater mistake. The savage is nowhere free. All over the world his daily life is regulated by a complicated and often most inconvenient set of customs (as forcible as laws), of quaint prohibitions and privileges; the prohibitions as a general rule applying to the women, and the privileges to the men. Nay, every action of their lives is regulated by numerous rules, none the less stringent because unwritten. This Mr. Lang, speaking of the Australians,942 tells us that, instead of enjoying perfect personal freedom, as it would at first appear, they are governed by a code of rules and a set of customs which form one of the most cruel tyrannies that has ever, perhaps, existed on the face of the earth, subjecting not only the will, but the property and life of the weak to the dominion of the strong. The whole tendency of the system is to give everything to the strong and old, to the prejudice of the weak and young, and more particularly to the detriment of the women. They have rules by which the best food, the best pieces, the best animals, &c., are prohibited to the women and young men, and reserved for the old. The women are generally appropriated to the old and powerful, some of whom possess four to seven wives; while wives are altogether denied to young men, unless they have sisters to give in exchange, and are strong and courageous enough to prevent their sisters from being taken without exchange.'


'To believe,' says Sir G. Grey,943 'that man in a savage state is endowed with freedom, either of thought or action, is erroneous in the highest degree.'

In Tahiti,944 the men were allowed to eat the flesh of the pig, and of fowls, and a variety of fish, cocoa-nuts, and plantains, and whatever was presented as an offering to the gods, which the females, on pain of death, were forbidden to touch, as it was supposed they would pollute them. The fires on which the men's food was cooked were also sacred, and were forbidden to be used by the females. The baskets in which their provisions were kept, and the house in which the men ate, were also sacred, and prohibited to the females under the same cruel penalty; hence the inferior food, both for wives, daughters, &c., was cooked at separate fires, deposited in distinct baskets, and eaten in lonely solitude by the females, in little huts erected for the purpose.' 'Nothing,' says the Bishop of Wellington, 'can be more mistaken than to represent the New Zealanders as a people without law and order. They are, and were, the slaves of law, rule, and precedent.'945

If savages pass unnoticed many actions which we should consider as highly criminal, on the other hand they strictly forbid others which we should consider altogether immaterial.

The natives of Russian America, near the Yukon river, 'have certain superstitions with regard to the bones of animals, which they will neither throw on the fire nor to the dogs, but save them in their houses or caches. When they saw us careless in such matters, they said [p.346] it would prevent them from catching or shooting successfully. Also they will not throw away their hair or nails just cut short, but save them, hanging them frequently in packages on the trees.'946

The Mongols947 think it a fault to touch the fire, or take flesh out of the pot, with a knife, or to cleave wood with a hatchet near the hearth, imagining it takes away the fire's power. It is no less faulty to lean on a whip, or touch arrows with it; to kill young birds; or pour liquor on the ground: to strike a horse with a bridle; or break one bone against another. Mr. Tylor has already pointed out948 that almost exactly the same prohibitions occur in America.

Some savage rules are very sensible. Thus Tanner states that the Algonkin Indians, when on a war-path, must not sit upon the naked ground; but must, at least, have some grass or bushes under them. They must, if possible, avoid wetting their feet; but if they are compelled to wade through a swamp, or to cross a stream, they must keep their clothes dry, and whip their legs with bushes or grass, when they come out of the water.'949 For others the reason is not so obvious. Thus the small bowls out of which they drink are marked across the middle: in going out they must place one side to their mouth; in returning, the other. The vessels must also on their return be thrown away, or hung up in a tree.

Hunting tribes generally have well understood rules, with reference to game. Thus among the Greenlanders, [p.347] should a seal escape with a hunter's javelin in it, and be killed by another man afterwards, it belongs to the former. But if the seal is struck with the harpoon and bladder, and the string breaks, the hunter loses his right. If a man finds a seal dead with a harpoon in it, he keeps the seal but returns the harpoon. In reindeer hunting, if several hunters strike a deer together, it belongs to the one whose arrow is nearest the heart. The arrows are all marked, so that no dispute can arise, but since guns have been introduced, many quarrels have taken place. Any man who finds a piece of drift wood (which in the far North is extremely valuable), can appropriate it by placing a stone on it, as a sign that some one has taken possession of it. No other Greenlander will then touch it.

Again, far from being informed or extemporary, the salutations, ceremonies, treaties, and contracts of savages are characterised by the very opposite qualities.

Eyre mentions that in Australia 'in their intercourse with each other, natives of different tribes are exceedingly punctilious.'950

Mariner gives a long account of the elaborate ceremonies practised by the Tongans, and of their regard for rank.951

The king952 was by no means of the highest rank. The Tooitonga, Veachi, and several other chiefs preceded him. Indeed the name Tooitonga means King of Tonga; the office, however, had come to be wholly of a religious character; the Tooitonga being regarded as [p.348] descended from the gods, if not a deity himself. He was so sacred that some words were retained for his exclusive use.

Below Tooitonga and Veachi came the priests, while civil society was divided into five ranks, the kings, the nobles, the Matabooles, the Mooas, and the Tooas. The chief took the rank of the mother among the nobles, but the Matabooles were succeeded by the eldest son.

It is curious that the use of the third person in token of respect occurs in Tonga, as well as some other countries. 'Thus the King of Tonga addressing the Tooitongji says, "IIo cgi Tooitonga," that is, literally, thy Lord Tooitonga, in which the possessive pronoun thy, or your, is used instead of my; or, if the word egi be translated lordship, or chiefship, the term of address will be more consistent and similar to ours, your lordship, your grace, your majesty. The title, ho egi, is never used but in addressing a superior chief, or speaking of a god, or in a public speech. Ho egi! also means chiefs, as in the commencement of Finow's speech.'953

The Egbas, a negro race of West Africa, who are, says Burton,954 'gifted with uncommon loquacity and spare time, have invented a variety of salutations and counter-salutations applicable to every possible occasion. For instance, Oji re, did you wake well? Akwaro, good morning! Akuasan, good day! Akwale, good evening! Akware, to one tired. Akushe, to one at work. Akurin (from rin, to walk), to a traveller. Akulc, to one in the house. Akwatijo, after [p.349] a long absence. Akwalejo, to a stranger. Akurajo, to one in distress. Akujiko, to one sitting. Akudaro, to one standing. Akuta, to one selling. Wobele (be careful) to one met, and so forth. The servile shash-tanga or prostration of the Hindus is also a universal custom. It is performed in different ways; the most general is, after depositing the burden, and clapping hands once, twice, or thrice, to go on all-fours, touch the ground with the belly and breast, the forehead, and both sides of the face successively; kiss the earth, half rise up, then pass the left over the right forearm, and vice versa, and finally, after again saluting mother Hertha, to stand erect. The inferior prostrates to the superior, the son to the mother, the younger to the elder brother, and I have been obliged to correct a Moslem boy of the evil practice of assuming a position in which man should address none but his Maker. The performance usually takes place once a day on first meeting, but meetings are so numerous that at least one hour out of the twenty-four must thus be spent by a man about town. Equals kneel, or rather squat, before one another, and snap the fingers in the peculiarly West African way, which seems to differ in every tribe.'

In the religious customs of Tahiti,955 'however large or costly the sacrifices that had been offered, and however near its close the most protracted ceremony might be, if the priest omitted or misplaced any word in the prayers with which it was always accompanied, or if his attention was diverted by any means, so that the [p.350] prayer was hai, or broken, the whole was rendered unavailable, he must prepare other victims, and repeat his prayers over from the commencement.'

In Feegee956 'public business is conducted with tedious formality. Old forms are strictly observed, and innovations opposed. An abundance of measured clapping of hands, and subdued exclamations, characterise these occasions. Whales' teeth and other property are never exchanged or presented without the following or similar form: "A! woi! woi! woi! A! woi! woi! woi!! A tabua levu! woi! woi! A mudua, mudua, mudua!" (clapping).' But little consideration is required to show that this is quite natural. In the absence of writing, evidence of contracts must depend on the testimony of witnesses, and it is necessary therefore to avoid all haste which might lead to forgetfulness, and to imprint the ceremony as much as possible on the minds of those present.

Passing on to the question of property, 'La premiere loi,' says Goguet,957 'qu'on aura établie, aura été pour assigner et assurer a chaque habitant une certaine quantité de terrain. Dans les tems où le labourage n'etoit point encore connu, les terres étoient en commun. Il n'y avoit ni bornes ni limites qui en réglassent le partage, chacun prenoit sa subsistance où il jugeoit à propos. On abandonnoit, on reprenoit successivement les mêmes cantons, suivant qu'ils etoient plus ou moins epuises: cette manière de vivre n'a plus ete praticable quand l'agriculture a et introduite. Il fallut alors distinguer les possessions et prendre les mesures nécessaires pour faire jouir chaque citoyen du [p.351] fruit de ses travaux. Il étoit dans l'ordre que celui qui avoit seme du grain fut sûr de le recueillir, et ne vit pas les autres profiter des peines et des soins qu'il s'etoit donnes. De la sont emanées les loix sur la propriete des terres, sur la manière de les partager et d'en jouir.'

The same view has been taken by other writers. It does not, however, appear that property in land implies, or necessarily arose from, agriculture. On the contrary, it exists even in hunting communities. Usually, indeed, during the hunting stage, property in land is tribal, not individual. The North American Indians seem, as a general rule, to have had no individual property in land. It appears, therefore, at first sight remarkable, that among the Australians,958 who are in most respects so much lower in the scale, 'every male has some portion of land, of which he can always point out the exact boundaries. These properties are subdivided by a father among his sons during his own lifetime, and descend in almost hereditary succession. A man can dispose of or barter his lands to others, but a female never inherits, nor has primogeniture among the sons any peculiar rights or advantages.' Nay, more than this, there are some tracts of land, peculiarly rich in gum, &c., and over which, at the period when the gum is in season, numerous families have an acknowledged right, although they are not allowed to come there at other times.959 Even the water of the rivers is claimed as property by some of the Australian tribes. 'Trespass for the purpose of hunting' is in Australia [p.352] regarded as a capital offence, and is, when possible, punished with death.960

The explanation seems to be that the Redskins depended mainly on the larger game, while the Australians fed on opossums, reptiles, insects, roots, &c. The Redskin, therefore, if land had been divided into individual allotments, might have been starved in the vicinity of abundance; while the Australian could generally obtain food on his own property.

In Polynesia,961 where cultivation was carefully attended to, as in Tahiti, 'every portion of land has its respective owner; and even the distinct trees on the land had sometimes different proprietors, and a tree, and the land it grew on, different owners.'

Even, however, an agricultural condition does not necessarily require individual property in land; in the Russian 'Mirs,' or communal villages, moveable property alone was individual, the land was common.962

In other parts of Russia, 'after the expiration of a given, but not in all of cases of the same, period, separate ownerships are extinguished, the land of the village is thrown into a mass, and then it is re-distributed among the families composing the community, according to their number. This repartition having been effected, the rights of families and of individuals are again allowed to branch out into various lines, which they continue to follow till another period of division comes round.'963

It is stated to have been a principle of the earliest [p.353] Sclavonian laws that the property of families could not be divided for a perpetuity. Even now in parts of Servia, Croatia, and Austrian Sclavonia, the entire land is cultivated by the villagers, and the produce is annually divided.

Diodorus Siculus informs us that the Celtiberians divided their land annually among individuals, to be laboured for the use of the public; and that the product was stored up, and distributed from time to time among the necessitous.964

In New Zealand there were three distinct tenures of land:965 viz., by the tribe, by the family, and by the individual. The common rights of a tribe were often very 'Extensive, and complicated by intermarriages. The eel cuts, also, are strictly preserved as private property. Children, as soon as they were born, had a right to a share of the family property.'

It does not, however, necessarily follow that property in land involves the power of sale. 'We are too apt,' says Campbell,966 'to forget that property in land, as a transferable mercantile commodity absolutely owned and passing from hand to hand like any chattel, is not an ancient institution, but a modern development, reached only in a few very advanced countries.' 'It may be said,' he adds,967 'of all landed tenures in India previous to our rule, that they were practically not transferable by sale, and that only certain classes of the better-defined claims were to some extent transferable by mortgage. The seizure and sale of land for [p.354] private debt was wholly and utterly unknown—such an idea had never entered into the native imagination.'

Still less does the possession of land necessarily imply the power of testamentary disposition, and we find as a matter of fact that the will is a legal process of very late origin.

I have already mentioned (ante, p. 302) the state of entire lawlessness which exists in parts of Africa, between the death of one ruler and the election of his successor.

It is stated that formerly, when a Greenlander died, if he had no grown-up children, his property was regarded as having no longer an owner, and every one took what he chose, or at least what he could get, without the slightest regard to the wretched widow or children.968

There is, indeed, no more interesting chapter in Mr. Maine's work than that on the early history of testamentary succession. He points out that the essence of a will, as now understood, is—firstly, that it should take effect at death; secondly, that it may be secret; and thirdly, that it is revocable. Yet in Roman law wills acquired these characteristics but slowly and gradually, and in the earlier stages of civilisation wills were generally unknown.

In Athens the power of willing was introduced by Solon, only, however, in cases when a person died childless. The barbarians on the north of the Roman empire were, says Maine,969 'confessedly strangers to any such conception as that of a Will. The best authorities agree that there is no trace of it in those parts of their [p.355] written codes which comprise the customs practised by them in their original seats and in their subsequent settlement on the edge of the Roman Empire.' And again in studying the ancient German laws, 'one result has invariably disclosed itself—that the ancient nucleus of the code contains no trace of a will.'970

The Hindoos were also entire strangers to the will.971

It is therefore very remarkable that in Australia 'a father divides his land during his lifetime, fairly apportioning it amongst his several sons, and at as early an age as fourteen or fifteen they can point out the portion which they are eventually to inherit. If the males of a family become extinct, the male children of the daughters inherit their grandfather's land.'972

Again, in Tahiti, the system of willing was (I presume when there were no children) in full force,973 'not only with reference to land, but to any other kind of property. Unacquainted with letters, they could not leave a written will, but during a season of illness, those possessing property frequently called together the members of the family, or confidential friends, and to them gave directions for the disposal of their effects after their decease. This was considered a kind of sacred charge, and was usually executed with fidelity.' For the modern will, however, we are mainly indebted to the Romans. At first, indeed, even Roman wills, if so they may be called, were neither secret, deferred, nor revocable. On the contrary, they were made in public, before not less than five witnesses, they took effect at [p.356] once, and were irrevocable. Hence it is probable that they were only made just before death.

It seems likely that the power of willing was confined to those who had no natural heh's; such was certainly the case in Athens. So also in Rome, the will does not seem to have been used as a means of disinheriting, or of effecting an unequal distribution of the property.

Under these circumstances it appears at first sight remarkable that the Romans should have regarded forfeiture of testamentary privileges as one of the greatest misfortunes, and should have regarded as a bitter curse the wish that a man might die intestate. The explanation of this seems to lie in the ideas of family relationship. Children being slaves, and as such incapable of holding property,974 it would naturally be the wish of the father to emancipate his favourite sons; but as soon as this was effected they ceased to belong to the family, and could not consequently inherit as heirs at law. On the death of a Roman citizen, in the absence of a will, the property descended to the unemancipated children, and after them to the nearest grade of the agnatic kindred. Hence the same feeling which induced a Roman to emancipate his sons, impelled him also to make a will, for if he did not, emancipation involved disinheritance.

The turning point in the history of the Roman will appears to have been the period at which the presence of the true heir was dispensed with when the will was made. When this was first sanctioned does not seem to be exactly known, but it was permitted in the time of [p.357] Gaius, who lived during the reigns of the Antonines; at this period also wills had become revocable,975 and even in the time of Hadrian a testament was rendered invalid when a 'posthumus suus' arose, i.e. when a child was born after the will was made.976

In the absence of wills, the interests of the children were in some cases secured by customs resembling those of the Russian village communities, or 'Mirs,' in which children have a right to their share as soon as they are born. Nor are such rights confined to communal properties. In some countries the children have a vested right to a portion of their father's estate. Here, therefore, in the absence of children, the will is replaced by adoption, the importance attached to which is, as I have already mentioned, one of the reasons for the inaccuracy of thought among the lower races on the subject of relationship.

Among the Hindoos, 'the instant a son is born977 he acquires a vested right in his father's property, which cannot be sold without recognition of his joint-ownership. On the son's attaining full age, he can sometimes compel a partition of the estate, even against the consent of the parent; and should the parent acquiesce, one son can always have a partition even against the will of the others. On such partition taking place, the father has no advantage over his children, except that he has two of the shares instead of one. The ancient law of the German tribes was exceedingly similar. The Allod or domain of the family was the joint property of the father and his sons.' According [p.358] to ancient German law, also, children were co-proprietors with their father, and the family endowment could not be parted with except by general consent.

This probably explains the remarkable custom that in Tahiti the king abdicated as soon as a son was born to him; and landowners under similar circumstances lost the fee-simple of their land, and became mere trustees for the infant possessors.978

The Basutos have a strict system of primogeniture, and, even during the father's life, the eldest son has considerable power both over the property and the younger children.979

The same system, in combination with inheritance through females, is also in full force in Feejee, where it is known as Yasu. The word means a nephew or niece, 'but becomes a title of office in the case of the male, who, in some localities, has the extraordinary privilege of appropriating whatever he chooses belonging to his uncle, or those under his uncle's power.'980 This is one of the most remarkable parts of Feejee despotism. 'However high a chief may be, if he has a nephew he has a master,' and resistance is rarely thought of. Thakonauto, while at war with his uncle, actually supplied himself with ammunition from his enemies' stores.

Perhaps also the curious custom of naming the father after the child, may have originated from some such regulation. Thus in Australia,981 when a man's eldest child is named, the father takes 'the name of the child,' Kadlitpinna, the father of Kadli; the mother is called [p.359] Kadliganaki, or mother of Kadli, from ngangki, a female or woman.' This custom seems very general throughout the continent.

In America we find the same habit.982 Thus 'with the Kutchin the father takes his name from his son or daughter, not the son from the father as with us. The father's name is formed by the addition of the word tee to the end of the son's name; for instance, Que-ech-et may have a son and call him Sah-neu. The father is now called Sah-neu-tee, and the former name of Que-ech-et is forgotten.'

In Sumatra 'the father,983 in many parts of the country, particularly in Passu ra-mah, is distinguished by the name of his first child, as "Pa-Ladin," or "Pa-Rindu," (Pa for bapa, signifying "the father of") and loses, in this acquired, his own proper name. This is a singular custom, and surely less conformable to the order of nature than that which names the son after the father. There, it is not usual to give them a galar on their marriage, as with the Rejangs, among whom the filionymic is not so common, though sometimes adopted, and occasionally joined with the galar; as Radin-pa-Chirano. The women never change the name given them at the time of their birth; yet frequently they are called through courtesy, from their eldest child, "Ma si ano," the mother of such an one; but rather as a polite description than a name.' As a general rule property descends to the eldest son, if any, but Duhalde mentions that among the Tartars the youngest son inherits the property, because the [p.360] elder ones as they reach manhood leave the [paternal tent, and take with them the quantity of cattle which their father chooses to give them. A similar custom exists among the Mrus of the Arrawak hills,984 and even in some districts of our own country, under the name of Borough English.985

There are also cases, as for instance among the Hindoos, in which the rule of primogeniture is followed as regards office or power, politically, but not with reference to property.

Among the lower races of men, the chiefs scarcely take any cognisance of offences, unless they relate to such things as directly concern, or are supposed to concern, the interests of the community generally. As regards private injuries, every one must protect or avenge himself. The administration of justice, says Du Tertre,986 'among the Caribbians is not exercised by the captain, nor by any magistrate; but, as it is among the Tapinambous, he who thinks himself injured gets such satisfaction of his adversary as he thinks fit, according as his passion dictates to him, or his strength permits him: the public does not concern itself at all in the punishment of criminals, and if any one among them suffers an injury or affront, without endeavouring to revenge himself, he is slighted by all the rest, and accounted a coward, and a person of no esteem.'

In Ancient Greece there were no officers whose duty it was to prosecute criminals.987 Even in the case of [p.361] murder the state did not take the initiative; this was left to the family of the sufferer, nor was the accused placed under arrest until he was found guilty. Hence the criminal usually fled as soon as he found himself likely to be condemned.

Among the North American Indians,988 if a man was murdered, 'the family of the deceased only have the right of taking satisfaction; they collect, consult, and decree. The rulers of a town or of the nation have nothing to do or say in the business.' Indeed, it would seem that the object of legal regulations was at first not so much to punish the offender, as to restrain and mitigate the vengeance inflicted by the aggrieved party.

The amount of legal revenge, if I may so call it, is often strictly regulated, even where we should least expect to find such limitations. Thus in Australia,989 crimes 'may be compounded for by the criminal appearing and submitting himself to the ordeal of having spears thrown at him by all such persons as conceive themselves to have been aggrieved, or by permitting spears to be thrust through certain parts of his body; such as through the thigh, or the calf of the leg, or under the arm. The part which is to be pierced by a spear, is fixed for all common crimes, and a native who has incurred this penalty sometimes quietly holds out his leg for the injured party to thrust his spear through.' So strictly is the amount of punishment limited, that if in inflicting such spear wounds, a man, either through carelessness or from any other cause, [p.362] exceeded the recognised limits—if, for instance, he wounded the femoral artery—he would in his turn become liable to punishment.

Such cases as these seem to me to throw great light on the origin of the idea of property. Possession de facto needs of course no explanation. When, however, any rules were laid down regulating the amount or mode of vengeance which might be taken in revenge for disturbance; or when the chief thought it worth while himself to settle disputes about possession, and thus, while increasing his own dignity, to check quarrels which might be injurious to the general interests of the tribe; the natural effect would be to develop the idea of mere possession into that of property.

Since, then, crimes were at first regarded merely as personal matters, in which the aggressor and the victim alone were interested, and with which society was not concerned, any crime, even murder, might be atoned for by the payment of such a sum of money as satisfied the representatives of the murdered man. This payment was proportioned to the injury done, and had no relation to the crime as a crime. Hence, as the injury was the same whether the death was accidental or designed, so also was the penalty. Hence our word 'pay,' which comes from the Latin 'pacare,' to appease or pacify.

The Romans, on the contrary, based any claim for compensation on the existence of a 'culpa;' and hence laid down that where there had been no 'culpa,' no action for reparation could lie. This led to very inconvenient consequences. Thus, as Lord Kames990 has pointed out, 'Labeo scribit, si cum vi ventorum navis [p.363] impulsa esset in funcs anchorarum alterius, et nautie funes praecidissent; si, nullo alio modo, nisi praecisis funibus, explicare se potuit, nullam actionem dandam;' b. 29, § 3, ad leg. Aquil. 'Quod dicitur damnum injuria datum Aquilia persequi sic erit accipiendum, ut videatur damnum injuria datum quod cum darano injuriam attulerit; nisi magna vi cogente, fuerit factum. Ut Celsus scribit circa eum, qui incendu arcendi gratia vicinas aides intercidit: et sive pervcnit ignis, sive antea extinctus est, extimat legis Aquiliai actionem cessare.' b. 49, § 1, cod. In English thus: In the opinion of Labeo, if a ship is driven by the violence of a tempest among the anchor-ropes of another ship and the sailors cut the ropes, having no other means of getting free, there is no action competent. The Aquilian law must be understood to apply only to such damage as carries the idea of an injury along with it, unless such injury has not been wilfully done, but from necessity. Thus Celsus puts the case of a person who, to stop the progress of a fire, pulls down his neighbour's house; and whether the fire had reached that house which is pulled down, or was extinguished before it got to it, in neither case, he thinks, will an action be competent from the Aquilian law.'

It would however appear that, even in Roman law, the opposite and more usual principle originally prevailed. This is indicated, for instance, by the great difference in the penalties imposed by ancient laws on offenders caught in the act, and those only detected after considerable delay. In the old Roman law, as in that of some other countries, thieves were divided into manifest and non-manifest. The manifest thief who [p.364] was caught in the act, or at any rate with the stolen goods still in his possession, became, according to the law of the twelve tables, the slave of the person robbed, or if he was already a slave, was put to death. The non-manifest thief, on the other hand, was only liable to return double the value of the goods he had stolen. Subsequently, the very severe punishment in the case of the manifest thief was mitigated, but he was still forced to pay four times the value of what he had stolen, or twice as much as the non-manifest thief.

The same principle was followed by the North American Indians.991 Again, in the German and Anglo-Saxon codes, a thief caught in the act might be killed on the spot. Thus the law followed the old principles of private vengeance, and in settling the amount of punishment, took as a guide the measure of revenge likely to be taken by an aggrieved person under the circumstances of the case.992

In the South Sea Islands, according to Williams,931 cases of theft were seldom brought before the king or chiefs, but the people avenged their own injuries. The rights of retaliation, however, had almost a legal force, for 'although the party thus plundered them, they would not attempt to prevent the seizure: had they done so, the population of the district would have assisted those, who, according to the established custom, were thus punishing the aggressors. Such was the usual method resorted to for punishing the petty thefts committed among themselves.'


So also as regards personal injuries. Among the Anglo-Saxons the 'wergild,' or fine for injuries, was evidently a substitute for personal vengeance. Every part of the body had a recognised value, even the teeth, nails, and hair. Nay, the value assigned to the latter was proportionately very high; the loss of the beard being estimated at twenty shillings, while the breaking of a thigh was only fixed at twelve. In other cases also the effect on personal appearance seems to have carried great weight, for the loss of a front tooth was estimated at six shillings, while the fracture of a rib was only fixed at three. In the case of a slave the fine was paid to the owner.

The amount varied according to the rank of the person injured. All society below the royal family and the Ealdorman was divided into three classes; the Tywhind man, or Ceorl, was estimated at 200 shillings according to the laws of Mercia; the Sixhind man at 600 shillings, while the death of a royal thane was estimated at 1,200 shillings.934

The severity of early codes, and the uniformity in the amounts of punishment which characterises them, is probably due to the same cause. An individual who felt himself aggrieved would not weigh very philosophically the amount of punishment which he was entitled to inflict; and no doubt when in any community some chief, in advance of his time, endeavoured to substitute public law for private vengeance, his object would be to induce those who had cause of complaint to apply to the law for redress, rather than to avenge themselves; which of course would not be [p.366] the case if the penalty allotted by the law was much less than that which custom would allow them to inflict for themselves.

Subsequently, when punishment was substituted for pecuniary compensation, the same rule was at first applied, and the distinction of intention was overlooked. Nay, so long had the importance of intention been disregarded, that although it is now recognised in our criminal courts, yet, as Mr. Bain points out,995 'a moral stigma is still attached to intellectual error by many people, and even by men of cultivation.'

In this, as in so many of our other ideas and tastes, we are still influenced by the condition of our ancestors in bygone ages. What that condition was I have in this work attempted to indicate, believing as I do that the earlier mental stages through which the human race has passed, are illustrated by the condition of existing, or recent, savages. The history of the human race has, I feel satisfied, on the whole been one of progress. I do not of course mean to say that every race is necessarily advancing: on the contrary, most of the lower ones are almost stationary; and there are, no doubt, cases in which nations have fallen back; but it seems an almost invariable rule that such races are dying out, while those which are stationary in condition, are stationary in numbers also; on the other hand, improving nations increase in numbers, so that they always encroach on less progressive races.

In conclusion then, while I do not mean for a moment to deny that there are cases in which nations have [p.367] retrograded, I regard these as exceptional instances. The facts and arguments mentioned in this work afford, I think, strong grounds for the following conclusions; namely,—

That existing savages are not the descendants of civilised ancestors.
That the primitive condition of man was one of utter barbarism.
That from this condition several races have independently raised themselves.

These views follow, I think, from strictly scientific considerations. We shall not be the less inclined to adopt them, on account of the cheering prospects which they hold out for the future.

In the closing chapter of 'Prehistoric Times,' while fully admitting the charms of savage life, I have endeavoured to point out the immense advantages which we enjoy. Here I will only add that if the past history of man has been one of deterioration, we have but a groundless expectation of future improvement: on the other hand, if the past has been one of progress, we may fairly hope that the future will be so too; that the blessings of civilisation will not only be extended to other countries and to other nations, but that even in our own land they will be rendered more general and more equable; so that we shall not see before us always, as now, countrymen of our own living, in our very midst, a life worse than that of a savage; neither enjoying the rough advantages and real, though rude, pleasures of savage life, nor yet availing themselves of the far higher and more noble opportunities which lie within the reach of civilised Man.






SIDE by side with the different opinions as to the origin of man, there are two opposite views with reference to the primitive condition of the first men, or first beings worthy to be so called. Many writers have considered that man was at first a mere savage, and that the course of history has on the whole been a progress towards civilisation, though at times—and at some times for centuries—some races have been stationary, or even have retrograded. Other authors, of no less eminence, have taken a diametrically opposite view. According to them man was, from the commencement, pretty much what he is at present; if possible, even more ignorant of the arts and sciences than now but with mental qualities not inferior to our own savages they consider to be the degenerate descendants of far superior ancestors. Of the recent supporters of this theory, the late Archbishop of Dublin was amongst the most eminent.

Dr. Whately enunciates his opinions in the following words;996

'We have no reason to believe that any community ever did, or ever can emerge, unassisted by external helps, from a state of utter barbarism unto anything that can be called civilisation. Man has not emerged from the savage state; the progress of any community in civilisation, by its own internal means, must always have begun from a condition removed from that of complete barbarism, out of which it does not appear that men ever did or can raise themselves.'


Thus, he adds, 'the ancient Germans, who cultivated corn—though their agriculture was probably in a very rude state—who not only had numerous herds of cattle, but employed the labour of brutes, and even made use of cavalry in their wars, ... these cannot with propriety be reckoned savages; or if they are to be so called (for it is not worth while to dispute about a word), then I would admit that, in this sense, men may advance, and in fact have advanced, by their own unassisted efforts, from the savage to the civilised state.'

This limitation of the term 'savage' to the very lowest representatives of the human race no doubt renders Dr. Whately's theory more tenable by increasing the difficulty of bringing forward conclusive evidence against it. The Archbishop, indeed, expresses himself throughout his argument as if it would be easy to produce the required evidence in opposition to his theory, supposing that any race of savages ever had raised themselves to a state of civilisation. The manner, however, in which he has treated the case of the Mandans—a tribe of North American Indians—effectually disposes of this hypothesis. This unfortunate people is described as having been decidedly more civilised than those by which they were surrounded. Having, then, no neighbours more advanced than themselves, they were quoted as furnishing an instance of savages who had civilised themselves without external aid. In answer to this, Archbishop Whately asks,—

'1st. How do we know that these Mandans were of the same race as their neighbours?
2ndly. How do we know that theirs is not the original level from which the other tribes have fallen?
3rdly and lastly. Supposing that the Mandans did emerge from the savage state, how do we know that this may not have been through the aid of some strangers coming among them—like the Manco-Capac of Peru—from some more civilised country, perhaps long before the days of Columbus?'

Supposing, however, for a moment, and for the sake of argument, that the Mandans, or any other race, were originally savages, and had civilised themselves, it would still be manifestly—from the very nature of the case—impossible to bring forward the kind of evidence demanded by Dr. Whately. No [p.371] doubt he 'may confidently affirm that we find no one recorded instance of a tribe of savages, properly so styled, rising into a civilised state without instruction and assistance from a people already civilised.' Starting with the proviso that savages, properly so styled, are ignorant of letters, and laying it down as a condition that no civilised example should be placed before them, the existence of any such record is an impossibility: its very presence would destroy its value. In another passage, Archbishop Whately says, indeed, 'If man generally, or some particular race, be capable of self-civilisation, in either case it may be expected that some record, or tradition, or monument of the actual occurrence of such an event should be found.' So far from this, the existence of any such record would, according to the very hypothesis itself, be impossible. Traditions are short-lived and untrustworthy. A 'monument' which could prove the actual occurrence of a race capable of self-civilisation, I confess myself unable to conceive. What kind of a monument would the Archbishop accept as proving that the people by whom it was made had been originally savage? that they had raised themselves, and had never been influenced by strangers of a superior race?

But, says Archbishop Whately, 'We have accounts of various savage tribes, in different parts of the globe, who have been visited from time to time at considerable intervals, but have had no settled intercourse with civilised people, and who appear to continue, as far as can be ascertained, in the same uncultivated condition;' and he adduces one case, that of the New Zealanders, who 'seem to have been in quite as advanced a state when Tasman discovered the country in 1642, as they were when Cook visited it one hundred and twenty-seven years after.' We have been accustomed to see around us an improvement so rapid that we forget how short a period a century is in the history of the human race. Even taking the ordinary chronology, it is evident that if in 6,000 years a given race has only progressed from a state of utter savagery to the condition of the Australian, we could not expect to find much change in one more century. Many a fishing village, even on our own coast, is in very nearly the same condition as it was one hundred and twenty-seven years [p.372] ago. Moreover, I might fairly answer that, according to Whately's own definition of a savage state, the New Zealanders would certainly be excluded. They cultivated the ground, they had domestic animals, they constructed elaborate fortifications and made excellent canoes, and were certainly not in a state of utter barbarism. Or I might argue that a short visit, like that of Tasman, could give little insight into the true condition of a people. I am, however, the less disposed to question the statement made by Archbishop Whately, because the fact that many races are now practically stationary is in reality an argument against the theory of degradation, and not against that of progress. Civilised races are, I believe, the descendants of ancestors who were once in a state of barbarism. On the contrary, argue our opponents, savages are the descendants of civilised nations, and have sunk to their present condition. But Archbishop Whately admits that the civilised races are still rising, while the savages are stationary; and, oddly enough, seems to regard this as an argument in support of the very untenable proposition, that the difference between the two is due, not to the progress of the one set of races—a progress which every one admits—but to the degradation of those whom he himself maintains to be stationary. The delusion is natural, and like that which every one must have sometimes experienced in looking out of a train in motion, when the woods and fields seem to be flying from us, whereas we know that in reality we are moving and they are stationary.

But it is argued, 'If man, when first created, was left, like the brutes, to the unaided exercise of those natural powers of body and mind which are common to the European and to the New Hollander, how comes it that the European is not now in the condition of the New Hollander?' The answer to this is, I think, the following: In the first place, Australia possesses neither cereals nor any animals which can be domesticated with advantage; and in the second, we find even in the same family—among children of the same parents—the most opposite dispositions; in the same nation, there are families of high character, and others in which every member is more or less criminal. But in this case, as in the last, the Archbishop's argument, if good at all, is good against his own view. It is [p.373] like an Australian boomerang, which recoils upon its owner. The Archbishop believed in the unity of the human race, and argued that man was originally civilised (in a certain sense). 'How comes it, then,' I might ask him, 'that the New Hollander is not now in the condition of the European?' In another passage, Archbishop Whately quotes, with approbation, a passage from President Smith, of the college of New Jersey, who says that man, 'cast out an orphan of nature, naked and helpless into the savage forest, must have perished before he could have learned how to supply his most immediate and urgent wants. Suppose him to have been created, or to have started into being, one knows not how, in the full strength of his bodily powers, how long must it have been before he could have known the proper use of his limbs, or how to apply them to climb the tree!' &c. &c. Exactly the same, however, might be said of the gorilla or the chimpanzee, which certainly are not the degraded descendants of civilised ancestors.

Having thus very briefly considered the arguments brought forward by Archbishop Whately, I will proceed to state, also very briefly, some facts which, I think, support the view here advocated.

Firstly, I will endeavour to show that there are indications of progress even among savages.
Secondly, that among the most civilised nations there are traces of original barbarism.

The Archbishop supposes that men were, from the beginning, herdsmen and cultivators. We know, however, that the Australians, North and South Americans, and several other more or less savage races, living in countries eminently suited to our domestic animals, and to the cultivation of cereals, were yet entirely ignorant both of the one and the other. It is, I think, improbable that any race of men who had once been agriculturists and herdsmen should entirely abandon pursuits so easy and advantageous; and it is still more unlikely that, if we accept Usher's very limited chronology, all tradition of such a change should be lost. Moreover, even if in the course of time the descendants of the present colonists in (say) America or Australia were to fall into such a state of [p.374] barbarism, still herds of wild cattle, descended from those imported, would probably continue to live in those countries; and even if these were exterminated, their skeletons would testify to their previous existence; whereas, we know that not a single bone of the ox or of the domestic sheep has been found either in Australia or in America. The same argument applies to the horse, since the fossil horse of South America did not belong to the same species as our domestic race. So, again, in the case of plants. We do not know that any of our cultivated cereals would survive in a wild state, though it is highly probable that, perhaps in a modified form, they would do so. But there are many other plants which follow in the train of man, and by which the botany of South America, Australia, and New Zealand, has been almost as profoundly modified as their ethnology has been by the arrival of the white man. The Maoris have a melancholy proverb, that the Maoris disappear before the white man, just as the white man's rat destroys the native rat, the European fly drives away the Maori fly, and the clover kills the New Zealand fern.

A very interesting paper on this subject, by Dr. Hooker, whose authority no one will question, is contained in the Natural History Review for 1864: 'In Australia and New Zealand,' he says, 'for instance, the noisy train of English emigration is not more surely doing its work, than the stealthy tide of English weeds, which are creeping over the surface of the waste, cultivated, and virgin soil, in annually increasing numbers of genera, species, and individuals. Apropos of this subject, a correspondent, W. T. Locke Travers, Esq., F.L.S., a most active New Zealand botanist, writing from Canterbury, says, "You would be surprised at the rapid spread of European and foreign plants in this country. All along the sides of the main lines of road through the plains, a Polygonum (aviculare), called cow-grass, grows most luxuriantly, the roots sometimes two feet in depth, and the plants spreading over an area from four to five feet in diameter. The dock (Primex obtusifolius or R. crispus) is to be found in every river-bed, extending into the valleys of the mountain-rivers, until these become mere torrents. The sow-thistle is [p.375] spread all over the country, growing luxuriantly nearly up to 6,000 feet. The watercress increases in our still rivers to such an extent as to threaten to choke them. The cardoon of the Argentine Republics is another remarkable instance of the same fact. We may therefore safely assume that if Australia, New Zealand, or South America had ever been peopled by a race of herdsmen and agriculturists, the fauna and flora of those countries would almost inevitably have given evidence of the fact, and differed much from the condition in which they were discovered. We may also assert, as a general proposition, that no weapons or implements of metal have ever been found in any country inhabited by savages wholly ignorant of metallurgy. A still stronger case is afforded by pottery. Pottery is very indestructible; when used at all, it is always abundant, and it possesses two qualities—those, namely, of being easy to break and yet difficult to destroy, which render it very valuable in an archaeological point of view. Moreover it is, in most cases, associated with burials. It is therefore a very significant fact, that no fragment of pottery has ever been found in Australia, New Zealand, or the Polynesian Islands. It seems to me extremely improbable that an art so easy and so useful should ever have been lost by any race of men. Moreover, this argument applies to several other arts and instruments. I will mention only two, though several others might be brought forward. The art of spinning and the use of the bow are quite unknown to many races of savages, and yet would hardly be likely to have been abandoned when once known. The absence of architectural remains in these countries is another argument. Archbishop Whately, indeed, claims this as being in his favour; but the absence of monuments in a country is surely indicative of barbarism, and not of civilisation.

The mental condition of savages also seems to me to speak strongly against the 'degrading' theory. Not only do the religions of the low races appear to be indigenous, but, as already shown997—according to many trustworthy witnesses, merchants, philosophers, naval men, and missionaries alike—there are many races of men who are altogether destitute of a [p.376] religion. The cases are, perhaps, less numerous than they are asserted to be; but some of them rest on good evidence. Yet I feel it difficult to believe that any people who once possessed a religion would ever entirely lose it. Religion appeals so strongly to the hopes and fears of men, it takes so deep a hold on most minds, in its higher forms it is so great a consolation in times of sorrow and sickness, that I can hardly think any nation would ever abandon it altogether. Moreover, it produces a race of men who are interested in maintaining its influence and authority. Where, therefore, we find a race which is now ignorant of religion, I cannot but assume that it has always been so.

I will now proceed to mention a few cases in which some improvement does appear to have taken place, though, as a general rule, it may be observed that the contact of two races tends to depress rather than to raise the lower one. According to MacGillivray, the Australians of Port Essington, who, like all their fellow-countrymen, had formerly bark-canoes only, have now completely abandoned them for others hollowed out of the trunk of a tree, which they buy from the Malays. The inhabitants of the Andaman Islands have recently introduced outriggers. The Bachapins, when visited by Burchell, had just commenced working iron. According to Burton, the Wajiji negroes have recently learned to make brass. In Tahiti, when visited by Captain Cook, the largest moral, or burial-place, was that erected for the then reigning queen. The Tahitians, also, had then very recently abandoned the habit of cannibalism. Sha-gwaw-koo-sink, an Ottawwaw, who lived at the beginning of this century, first introduced the cultivation of corn among the Ojibbeways.998 Moreover, there are certain facts which speak for themselves. Some of the American races cultivated the potato. Now, the potato is an American plant, and we have here, therefore, clear evidence of a step in advance made by these tribes. Again, the Peruvians had domesticated the llama. Those who believe in the diversity of species of men may argue that the Peruvians and domestic llamas from the beginning. Archbishop Whately, however, would not take this line. He [p.377] would, I am sure, admit that the first settlers in Peru had no llamas, nor, indeed, any other domestic animal, excepting, probably, the dog. The bark-cloth of the Polynesians is another case in point. Another very strong case is the boomerang of the Australians. This weapon is known to no other race of men.999 We cannot look on it as a relic of primeval civilisation, or it would not now be confined to one race only. The Australians cannot have learnt it from any civilised visitors, for the same reason. It is, therefore, as it seems to me, exactly the case we want, and a clear proof of a step in advance—a small one, indeed, but still a step made by a people whom Archbishop Whately would certainly admit to be true savages. The Cherokees afford a remarkable instance of progress, and indeed—alone among the North American hunting races—have really become agriculturists. As long ago as 1825, with a population of 14,000, they possessed 2,923 ploughs, 7,683 horses, 22,500 black cattle, 46,700 pigs, and 2,566 sheep. They had 49 mills, 69 blacksmiths' shops, 762 looms, and 2,486 spinning-wheels. They kept slaves, having captured several hundred negroes in Carolina. Nay, one of them, a man of the name of Sequoyah, invented a system of letters, which, as far as the Cherokee language is concerned, is better than ours. Cherokee contains twelve consonants and five vowels, with a nasal sound 'ung.' Multiplying, then, the twelve consonants by the six vowels, and adding the vowels which occur singly, but omitting any sign for 'mung,' as that sound does not occur in Cherokee, he required seventy-seven characters, to which he added eight—representing the sounds s, ka, hna, nah, ta, te, ti, tla—making, altogether, eighty-five characters. This alphabet, as already mentioned, is superior to ours. The characters are indeed more numerous, but, when once learnt, the pupil can read at once. It is said that a boy can learn to read Cherokee, when thus expressed, in few weeks; while, if ordinary letters were used, two years would be required. Obviously, however, this alphabet is not applicable to other languages. The rude substitutes for writing found among other tribes—the wampum of the North American Indians, the picture-writing and quippu of Central [p.378] America must be regarded as of native origin. In the case of the system of letters invented by Mohammed Doahi, a negro of the Vei country, in West Africa, the idea was no doubt borrowed from the missionaries, although it was worked out independently. In other cases, however, I think this cannot be. Take that of the Mexicans. Even if we suppose that they were descended from a primitively civilised race, and had gradually and completely lost both the use and tradition of letters—to my mind, a most improbable hypothesis—still we must look on their system of picture-writing as being of American origin. Even if a system of writing by letters could ever be altogether lost, which I doubt, it certainly could not be abandoned for that of picture-writing, which is inferior in every point of view. If the Mexicans had owed their civilisation, not to their own gradual improvement, but to the influence of some European visitors, driven by stress of weather or the pursuit of adventure on to their coasts, we should have found in their system of writing, and all other respects, unmistakable proofs of such an influence. Although, therefore, we have no historical proof that the civilisation of America was indigenous, we have in its very character evidence, more satisfactory perhaps than any historical statements would be. The same argument may be derived from the names used for numbers by savages. I feel great difficulty in supposing that any race which had learned to count up to ten would ever unlearn a piece of knowledge so easy and yet so useful. Yet, as has been already pointed out, few, perhaps none, of those whom Archbishop Whately would call savages can count so far.

In many cases, where the system of numeration is at present somewhat more advanced, it bears on it the stamp of native and recent origin. Among civilised nations, the derivations of the numerals have long since been obscured by the gradual modification which time effects in all words—especially those in frequent use, and before the invention of printing. And if the numerals of savages were relics of a former civilisation, the waifs and strays saved out of the general wreck, they would certainly have suffered so much from the wear and tear of constant use, that their derivations would be obscured or wholly [p.379] undiscoverable, instead of which they are often perfectly clear and obvious, especially among races whose arithmetical attainments are lowest. These numerals, then, are recent, because they are uncorrupted; and they are indigenous, because they have an evident meaning in the language of the tribes by whom they are used.1000

Again, as I have already pointed out,1001 many savage languages are entirely deficient in such words as 'colour,' 'tone,' 'tree,' &c, having names for each kind of colour, every species of tree, but not for the general idea. I can hardly imagine a nation losing such words, if it had once possessed them.

Other similar evidence might be extracted from the language of savages; and arguments of this nature are entitled to more weight than statements of travellers, as to the objects found in use among savages. Suppose, for instance, that an early traveller mentioned the absence of some art or knowledge among a race visited by him, and that later ones found the natives in possession of it. Most people would hesitate to receive this as a clear evidence of progress, and rather be disposed to suspect that later travellers, with perhaps better opportunities, had seen what their predecessors had overlooked. This is no hypothetical case. The early Spanish writers assert that the inhabitants of the Ladrone Islands were ignorant of the use of fire. Later travellers, on the contrary, find them perfectly well acquainted with it. They have, therefore, almost unanimously assumed, not that the natives had made a step in advance, but that the Spaniards had made a mistake; and I have not brought this case forward in opposition to the assertions of Whately, because I am inclined to be of this opinion myself. I refer to it here, however, as showing how difficult it would be to obtain satisfactory evidence of material progress among savages, even admitting that such exists. The arguments derived from language, however, are liable to no such suspicions, but tell their own tale, and leave us at liberty to draw our conclusions.

I will now very briefly refer to certain considerations which seem to show that even the most civilised races were once in a state of barbarism. Not only throughout Europe—not only in [p.380] Italy and Greece—but even in the so-called cradle of civilisation itself, in Palestine, and Syria, in Egypt, and in India, the traces of a stone age have been discovered. It may, indeed, be said that these were only the fragments of those stone knives, &c., which we know were used in religious ceremonies long after metal was in general use for secular purposes. This, indeed, resembles the attempt to account for the presence of elephants' bones in England by supposing that they were the remains of elephants which might have been brought over by the Romans. But why were stone knives used by the Egyptian and Jewish priests? evidently because they had been at one time in general use, and a feeling of respect made the priests reluctant to introduce the use of the new substance in religious ceremonies.

There are, moreover, other considerations; for instance, the gradual improvement in the relation between the sexes, and the development of correct ideas on the subject of relationship, seem to me strongly to point to the same conclusion.

In the publications of the Nova Scotian Institute of Natural Science is an interesting paper, by Mr. Haliburton, on 'The Unity of the Human Race, proved by the universality of certain superstitions connected with sneezing.' 'Once establish,' he says, 'that a large number of arbitrary customs—such as could not have naturally suggested themselves to all men at all times—are universally observed, and we arrive at the conclusion that they are primitive customs which have been inherited from a common source, and, if inherited, that they owe their origin to an era anterior to the dispersion of the human race.' To justify such a conclusion, the custom must be demonstrably arbitrary. The belief that two and two make four, the decimal system of numeration, and similar coincidences of course prove nothing; but I very much doubt the existence of any universal, or even general, custom of a clearly arbitrary character. The fact is, that many things appear to us arbitrary and strange because we live in a condition so different from that in which they originated. Many things seem natural to a savage which to us appear absurd and unaccountable.

Mr. Haliburton brings forward, as his strongest case, the [p.381] habit of saying 'God bless you!' or some equivalent expression, when a person sneezes, he shows that this custom, which, I admits appears to us at first sight both odd and arbitrary, is ancient and widely extended. It is mentioned by Homer, Aristotle, Apuleius, Pliny, and the Jewish rabbis, and has been observed in Koordistan, in Florida, in Otaheite, and in the Tonga Islands.

It is not arbitrary, however, and it does not, therefore, come under his rule. A belief in invisible beings is very general among savages; and while they think it unnecessary to account for blessings, they attribute any misfortune to the ill-will of these mysterious beings. Many savages regard disease as a case of possession. In cases of illness, they do not suppose that the organs are themselves affected, but that they are being devoured by a god; hence their medicine-men do not try to cure the disease, but to extract the demon. Some tribes have a distinct deity for every ailment. The Australians do not believe in natural death. When a man dies, they take it for granted that he has been destroyed by witchcraft, and the only doubt is, who is the culprit? Now, a people in this state of mind—and we know that almost every race of men is passing, or has passed, through this stage of development-seeing a man sneeze, would naturally, and almost inevitably, suppose that he was attacked and shaken by some invisible being; equally natural is the impulse to appeal for aid to some other invisible being more powerful than the first.

Mr. Haliburton admits that a sneeze is 'an omen of impending evil:' but it is more—it is evidence, which to the savage mind would seem conclusive, that the sneezer was possessed by some evil-disposed spirit; evidently, therefore, this case, on which Mr. Haliburton so much relies, is by no means an 'arbitrary custom,' and does not, therefore, fulfil the conditions which he himself laid down. He has incidentally brought forward some other instances, most of which labour under the disadvantage of proving too much. Thus, he instances the existence of a festival in honour of the dead, 'at or near the beginning of November.' Such a feast is very general, and as there are many more races holding such a festival than there are months in the year, it is evident that, in several cases, they [p.382] must be held together. But Mr. Haliburton goes on to say: 'The Spaniards were very naturally surprised at finding that, while they were celebrating a solemn mass for All Souls, on November 22, the heathen Peruvians were also holding their annual commemoration of the dead.' This curious coincidence would, however, not only prove the existence of such a festival, as he says, 'before the dispersion' (which Mr. Haliburton evidently looks on as a definite event rather than as a gradual process), but also the ancestors of the Peruvians were at that epoch sufficiently advanced to form a calendar, and that their descendants were able to keep it unchanged down to the present time. This, however, we know was not the case. Again, Mr. Haliburton says: 'The belief in Scotland and equatorial Africa is found to be almost precisely identical respecting there being ghosts, even of the living, who are exceedingly troublesome and pugnacious, and can be sometimes killed by a silver bullet.' Here we certainly have what seems at first sight to be an arbitrary belief; but if it proves that there was a belief in ghosts of the living before the dispersion, it also proves that silver bullets were then in use. This illustration is, I think, a very interesting one; because it shows that similar ideas in distant countries owe their origin, not 'to an era before the dispersion of the human race,' but to the fundamental similarity of the human mind. While I do not believe that similar customs in different nations are 'inherited from a common source,' or are necessarily primitive, I certainly do see in them an argument for the unity of the human race, which, however (be it remarked), is not necessarily the same thing as the descent from a single pair.

On the other hand, I have attempted to show that ideas, which might at first sight appear arbitrary and unaccountable, arise naturally in very distinct nations as they arrive at a similar stage of progress; and it is necessary, therefore, to be extremely cautious in using such customs or ideas as implying any special connection between different races of men.


PART II.1002

At the Dundee Meeting of the British Association, I had the honour of reading a paper 'On the Origin of Civilisation and the Primitive Condition of Man,' in answer to certain opinions and arguments brought forward by the late Archbishop of Dublin. The views therein advocated met with little opposition at the time. The then Presidents of the Ethnological and Anthropological Societies both expressed their concurrence in the conclusions to which I arrived; and the Memoir was printed in extenso by the Association. It has, however, subsequently been attacked at some length by the Duke of Argyll;1003 and as the Duke has in some cases strangely misunderstood me, and in others (I am sure unintentionally) misrepresented my views—as, moreover, the subject is one of great interest and importance—I am anxious to make some remarks in reply to his Grace's criticisms. The Duke has divided his work into four chapters:—I. Introduction; II. The Origin of Man; III. and IV. His Primitive Condition.

I did not in my first Memoir, nor do I now propose to, discuss the subjects dealt with in the first half of the Duke's 'Speculations.' I will only observe that in attacking Prof. Huxley for proposing to unite the Bimana and Quadrumana in one Order, 'Primates,' the Duke uses a dangerous argument; for if, on account of his great mental superiority over the Quadrumana, Man forms an Order or even Class by himself, it will be impossible any longer to regard all men as belonging to one species or even genus. The Duke is in error when he supposes that 'mental powers and instincts' afford tests of easy application in other parts of the animal kingdom. On the contrary, genera with the most different mental powers and instincts are placed, not only in the same Order, but even in the same Family. Thus our most learned hymenopterologist (Mr. Frederick Smith) classes the Hive-bee, the Humble-bee, and the parasitic Apathus, in the same subfamily of Apidie. It seems to me, therefore, illogical to separate man zoologically [p.384] from the other primates on the ground of his mental superiority, and yet to maintain the specific unity of the human race, notwithstanding the mental differences between different races of men.

I do not, however, propose to discuss the origin of man, and pass on therefore at once to the Duke's third chapter; and here I congratulate myself at the outset that the result of my paper has been to satisfy him that 'Whately's argument,' though strong at some points, is at others open to assault, 'and that, as a whole, the subject now requires to be differently handled, and regarded from a different point of view.' 'I do not therefore,' he adds in a subsequent page,1004 'agree with the late Archbishop of Dublin, that we are entitled to assume it as a fact that, as regards the mechanical arts, no savage race has ever raised itself.' And again:1005 'The aid which man had from his Creator may possibly have been nothing more than the aid of a body and of a mind, so marvellously endowed, that thought was an instinct, and contrivance a necessity.'

I feel, however, less satisfaction on this account than would otherwise have been the case, because it seems to me that, though the Duke acknowledges the Archbishop's argument to be untenable, he practically reproduces it with but a slight alteration and somewhat protected by obscurity. What Whately called 'instruction' the Duke terms 'instinct;' and he considers that man had instincts which afforded all that was necessary as a starting ground. He admits, however, that monkeys use stones to break nuts; he might have added that they throw sticks at intruders. But he says, 'between these rudiments of intellectual perception and the next step (that of adapting and fashioning an instrument for a particular purpose) there is a gulf in which lies the whole immeasurable distance between man and brutes.' I cannot agree with the Duke in this opinion, nor indeed does he agree with himself, for he adds, in the very same page, that—'The wielding of a stick is, in all probability, an act equally of primitive intuition, and from this to throwing of a stick, and the use of javelins, is an easy and natural transition.'


He continues as follows: 'Simple as these acts are, they involve both physical and mental powers which are capable of all the developments which we see in the most advanced industrial arts. These acts involve the instinctive idea of the constancy of natural causes, and the capacity of thought, which gives men the conviction that what has happened under given conditions will, under the same conditions, always occur again.' On these he says, 'as well as on other grounds, I have never attached much importance to Whately's argument.' These are indeed important admissions, and amount to a virtual abandonment of Whately's position.

The Duke blames the Archbishop of Dublin for not having defined the terms 'civilisation' and 'barbarism.' It seems to me that Whately illustrated his meaning better by examines than he could have done by any definition. The Duke does not seem to have felt any practical difficulty from the omission; and it is remarkable that, after all, he himself omits to define the terms, thus being himself guilty of the very omission for which he blames Whately. In truth, it would be impossible in a few words to define the complex organisation which we call civilisation, or to state in a few words how a civilised differs from a barbarous people. Indeed, to define civilisation as it should be, is surely as yet impossible, since we are far indeed from having solved the problem how we may best avail ourselves of our opportunities, and enjoy the beautiful world in which we live.

As regards barbarism, the Duke observes, 'All I desire to point out here is, that there is no necessary connection between a state of mere childhood in respect to knowledge and a state of utter barbarism, words which, if they have any definite meaning at all, imply the lowest moral as well as the lowest intellectual condition.' To every opposition in this remarkable sentence I entirely demur. There is, I think, a very intimate connection between knowledge and civilisation. Knowledge and barbarism cannot coexist—knowledge and civilisation are inseparable.

Again, the words 'utter barbarism' have certainly a very definite signification, but as certainly, I think, not that which the Duke attributes to them. The lowest moral and the lowest [p.386] intellectual condition are not only, in my opinion, not inseparable, they are not even compatible. Morality implies responsibility, and consequently intelligence. The lower animals are neither moral nor immoral. The lower races of men may be, and are, vicious; but allowances must be made for them. On the contrary (corruptio optimi, pessunu est), the higher the mental power, the more splendid the intellectual endowment, the deeper is the moral degradation of him who wastes the one and abuses the other.

On the whole, the fair inference seems to be that savages are more innocent, and yet more criminal, than civilised races; they are by no means in the lowest possible moral condition, nor are they capable of the higher virtues.

In the first part of this paper I laid much stress on the fact that even in the most civilised nations we find traces of early barbarism. The Duke maintains, on the contrary, that these traces afford no proof, or even presumption, that barbarism was the primeval condition of man. He urges that all such customs may have been not primeval, but medieval; and he continues: 'Yet this assumption runs through all Sir J. Lubbock's arguments. Wherever a brutal or savage custom prevails, it is regarded as a sample of the original condition of mankind. And this in the teeth of facts which prove that many of such customs, not only may have been, but must have been the result of corruption.'

Fortunately, it is unnecessary for me to defend myself against this criticism, because in the very next sentence the Duke directly contradicts himself, and shows that I have not done that of which he accuses me. He continues his argument thus: 'Take cannibalism as one of these. Sir J. Lubbock seems to admit that this loathsome practice was not primeval.' Thus, by way of proof that I regard all brutal customs as primeval, he states, and correctly states, that I do not regard cannibalism as primeval. It would be difficult, I think, to find a more curious case of self-contradiction.

The Duke refers particularly to the practice of Bride-catching, which he states 'cannot possibly have been primeval.' He omits, however, to explain why, from his point of view, it could not have been so; and of course, assuming the word [p.387] primeval to cover a period of some length, it would have been interesting to know his reasons for this conclusion; in fact, however, it is not a case in point, because, as I have attempted to show. Marriage by Capture was preceded by a custom still more barbarous. It may, perhaps, however, be as well to state emphatically that all brutal customs are not, in my opinion, primeval. Human sacrifices, for instance, were, I think, certainly not so.

My argument, however, was that there is a definite sequence of habits and ideas; that certain customs (some brutal, others not so), which we find lingering on in civilised communities, are a page of past history, and tell a tale of former barbarism, rather on account of their simplicity than of their brutality, though many of them are brutal enough. Again, no one would go back from letter-writing to the use of the quippu or hieroglyphics; no one would abandon the fire-drill and obtain fire by hand-friction.

Believing, as he does, that the primitive condition of man was one of civilisation, the Duke accounts for the existence of savages by the remark that they are 'mere outcasts of the human race,' descendants of weak tribes which were 'driven to the woods and rocks.' But until the historical period these 'mere outcasts' occupied almost the whole of North and South America, all Northern Europe, the greater part of Africa, the great continent of Australia, a large part of Asia, and the beautiful islands of the Pacific. Moreover, until modified by man, the great continents were either in the condition of open plains, such as heaths, downs, prairies, and tundras, or they were mere 'woods and rocks.' Now everything tends to show that mere woods and rocks exercised on the whole a favourable influence. Inhabitants of great plains rarely rose beyond the pastoral stage. In America the most advanced civilisation was attained, not by the occupants of the fertile valleys, not along the banks of the Mississippi or the Amazon, but among the rocks and woods of Mexico and Peru. Scotland itself is a brilliant proof that woods and rocks are compatible with a high state of civilisation.

My idea of the manner in which, and the causes owing to which, man spread over the earth, is very different from that of [p.388] the Duke. He evidently supposes that new countries have been occupied by weak races, driven there by more powerful tithes. This I believe to be an entirely erroneous notion. Take, for instance, our own island. We are sometimes told that the Celts were driven by the Saxons into Wales and Cornwall. On the contrary, however, we know that Wales and Cornwall were both occupied long before the Saxons landed on our shores. Even as regards the rest of the country, it would not be correct to say that the Celts were driven away; they were either destroyed or absorbed.

The gradual extension of the human race has not, in my opinion, been effected by force acting on any given race from without, but by internal necessity, and the pressure of population; by peaceful, not by hostile force; by prosperity, not by misfortune. I believe that of old, as now, founders of new colonies were men of energy and enterprise; animated by hope and courage, not by fear and despair; that they were, in short, anything but mere outcasts of the human race.

The Duke relies a good deal on the case of America. 'Is it not true,' he asks, 'that the lowest and rudest tribes in the population of the globe have been found in the furthest extremities of its great continents, and in the distant islands which would be the last refuge of the victims of violence and misfortune? "The New World" is the continent which presents the most uninterrupted stretch of habitable land from the highest northern to the lowest southern latitude. On the extreme north we have the Esquimaux, or Inuit race, maintaining human life under conditions of extremest hardship, even amid the perpetual ice of the Polar Seas. And what a life it is! Watching at the blow-hole of a seal for many hours, in a temperature of 75° below freezing point, is the constant work of the Inuit hunter. And when at last his prey is struck, it is his luxury to feast upon the raw blood and blubber. To civilised man it is hardly possible to conceive a life so wretched, and in many respects so brutal as the life led by this race during the long lasting night of the arctic winter.'

To this question I confidently reply. No, it is not true; it is not true as a general proposition that the lowest races are found furthest from the centres of continents; it is not true in the [p.389] particular case of America. The natives of Brazil, possessing a country of almost unrivalled fertility, surrounded by the most luxuriant vegetation, watered by magnificent rivers, and abounding in animal life, were yet unquestionably lower than the Esquimaux,1006 whom the Duke pities and despises so much.1007 More, indeed, I think, than the case requires. Our own sportsmen willingly undergo great hardships in pursuit of game; and hunting in earnest must possess a keen zest which it can never attain when it is a mere sport.

'When we rise,' says Mr. Hill,1008 'twice or thrice a day from a full meal, we cannot be in a right frame either of body or mind for the proper enjoyments of the chase. Our sluggish spirits then want the true incentive to action, which should be hunger, with the hope before us of filling a craving stomach. I could remember once before being for a long time dependent upon the gun for food, and feeling a touch of the charm of a savage life (for every condition of humanity has its good as well as its evil), but never till now did I fully comprehend the attachment of the sensitive, not drowsy Indian.'

Esquimaux life, indeed, as painted by our Arctic voyagers, is by no means so miserable as the Duke supposes. Capt. Parry, for instance, gives the following picture of an Esquimaux hut. 'In the few opportunities we had in putting their hospitality to the test, we had every reason to be pleased with them. Both as to food and accommodation, the best they had were always at our service; and their attention, both in kind and degree, was everything that hospitality and even good breeding could dictate. The kindly offices of drying and mending our clothes, cooking our provisions and thawing snow for our drink, were performed by the women with an obliging cheerfulness which we shall not easily forget, and which demanded its due share of our admiration and esteem. While thus their guest I have passed an evening not only with comfort, but with extreme gratification; for with the women [p.390] working and singing, their husbands quietly mending their lines, the children playing before the door, and the pot boiling over the blaze of a cheerful lamp, one might well forget for the time that an Esquimaux hut was the scene of this domestic comfort and tranquillity; and I can safely affirm with Cartwright that, while thus lodged beneath their roof, I know no people whom I would more confidently trust, as respects either my person or my property, than the Esquimaux.' Dr. Rae,1009 who had ample means of judging, tells us that the Eastern Esquimaux 'are sober, steady and faithful .... Provident of their own property, and careful of that of others when under their charge .... Socially they are a lively, cheerful, and chatty people, fond of associating with each other and with strangers, with whom they soon become on friendly terms, if kindly treated In their domestic relations they are exemplary. The man is an obedient son, a good husband, and a kind father. The children when young are docile, the girls have their dolls, in making dresses and shoes for which they amuse and employ themselves. The boys have miniature bows, arrows, and spears. .... When grown up they are dutiful to their parents. ... Orphan children are readily adopted and well cared for until they are able to provide for themselves.' He concludes by saying, 'the more I saw of the Esquimaux the higher was the opinion I formed of them.'

Again, Hooper1010 thus describes a visit to an Asiatic Esquimaux belonging to the Tuski race: 'Upon reaching Mooldoo-yah's habitation, we found Captain Moore installed at his ease, with every provision made for comfort and convenience. Water and venison were suspended over the lamps in preparation for dinner; skins nicely arranged for couches, and the hangings raised to admit the cool air; our baggage was bestowed around us with care and comfort, and we were free to take our own way of enjoying such unobtrusive hospitality without a crowd of eager gazers watching us like Tunis at feed; nor were we troubled by importunate begging such as detracted from the dignity of Metra's station, which was undoubtedly high in the tribe.'


I know no sufficient reason for supposing that the Esquimaux were ever more advanced than they are now. The Duke indeed considers that before they were 'driven by wars and migrations' (a somewhat curious expression) they 'may have been nomads living on their flocks and herds;' and he states broadly that 'the rigours of the region they now inhabit have reduced this people to the condition in which we now see them;' a conclusion for which I know no reason, particularly as the Tinne and other Indians living to the south of the Esquimaux are ruder and more barbarous.

It is my belief that the great continents were already occupied by a widespread, though sparse population, when man was no more advanced than the lowest savages of to-day; and although I am far from believing that the various degrees of civilisation which now occur can be altogether accounted for by the external circumstances as they at present exist, still these circumstances seem to me to throw much light on the very different amount of progress which has been attained by different races.

In referring to the backwardness of the aboriginal Australians, I had observed that New Holland contained neither cereals nor any animals which could be domesticated with advantage, upon which the Duke remarks that 'Sir John Lubbock urges in reply to Whately that the low condition of Australian savages affords no proof whatever that they could not raise themselves, because the materials of improvement are wanting in that country, which affords no cereals, nor animals capable of useful domestication. But Sir J. Lubbock does not perceive that the same argument which shows how improvement could not possibly be attained, shows also how degradation could not possibly be avoided. If with the few resources of the country it was impossible for savages to rise, it follows that with those same sources it would be impossible for a half-civilised race not to fall. And as in this case again, unless we are to suppose a separate Adam and Eve for Van Diemen's land, its natives must originally have come from countries where both corn and cattle were to be had, it follows that the low condition of these natives is much more likely to have been the result of degradation than of primeval barbarism.'


But my argument was that a half-civilised race would have brought other resources with them. The dog was, I think, certainly introduced into that country by man, who would have brought with him other animals also if he had possessed any. The same argument applies to plants; the Polynesians carried the sweet potato and the yam, as well as the dog, with them from island to island; and even if the first settlers in Australia happened to have been without them and without the means of acquiring them, they would certainly have found some native plants which would have been worth the trouble of cultivation, if they had attained to the agricultural stage.

This argument applies with even more force to pottery; if the first settlers in Australia were acquainted with this art, I can see no reason why they should suddenly and completely have lost it.

The Duke, indeed, appears to maintain that the natives of Van Diemen's Land (whom he evidently regards as belonging to the same race as the Australians and Polynesians, from both of which they are entirely distinct) 'must originally have come from countries where both corn and cattle were to he had,' still 'degradation could not possibly be avoided.' This seems to be the natural inference from the Duke's language, and suggests a very gloomy feature for our Australian fellow-countrymen. The position is, however, so manifestly untenable, when once put into plain language, that I think it unnecessary to dwell longer on this part of the subject. Even the Duke himself will hardly maintain that our colonists must fall back because the natives did not improve. Yet he extends and generalises this argument in a subsequent paragraph, saying, 'there is hardly a single fact quoted by Sir J. Lubbock in favour of his own theory, which when viewed in connection with the same indisputable principles, does not tell against that theory rather than in its favour.' So far from being 'indisputable,' the principle that when savages remained savages, civilised settlers must descend to the same level, appears to me entirely erroneous. On reading the above passage, however, I passed on with much interest to see which of my facts I had so strangely misread.

The great majority of facts connected with savage life have [p.393] no perceptible bearing on the question, and I must therefore have been not only very stupid, but also singularly unfortunate, if of all those quoted by me in support of my argument 'there was hardly a single one' which read aright was not merely irrelevant, but actually told against me. In support of his statement the Duke gives three illustrations, but it is remarkable that not one of these three cases was referred to by me in the present discussion, or in favour of the theory now under discussion. If all the facts on which I relied told against me, it is curious that the Duke should not give an instance. The three illustrations which he quotes from my 'Prehistoric Times' seem to me irrelevant, but as the Duke thinks otherwise, and some may agree with him, it will be worth while to see how he uses them, and to enquire whether they give any real support to his argument. As already mentioned, they are three in number.

'Sir J. Lubbock,' he says, 'reminds us that in a cave on the north-west coast (of Australia), tolerable figures of sharks, porpoises, turtles, lizards, canoes, and some quadrupeds, &c. were found, and yet that the present natives of the country where they were found were utterly incapable of realising the most artistic vivid representations, and ascribe the drawings in the cave to diabolical agency.' This proves nothing, because the Australian tribes offer much in their artistic condition; some of them still make rude drawings like those above described.

Secondly, he says, 'Sir J. Lubbock quotes the testimony of Cook, in respect to the Tasmanians, that they had no canoes. Yet their ancestors could not have reached the island by walking on the sea.' This argument would equally prove that the Kangaroo and the Echidna must have had civilised ancestors; they inhabit both Australia and Tasmania, and it could have been impossible for their ancestors to have passed from the one to the other, 'by walking on the sea.' The Duke, though admitting the antiquity of man, does not I think appreciate the geological changes which have taken place during the human period.

The only other case which he quotes is that of the highland Esquimaux who had no weapons nor any idea of war. The Duke's comment is as follows: 'No wonder, poor people! [p.394] They had been driven into regions where no stronger race could desire to follow them. But that the fathers had once known what war and violence meant, there is no more conclusive proof than the dwelling-place of their children.' It is perhaps natural that the head of a great Highland Clan should regard with pity a people who having 'once known what war and violence meant,' have no longer any neighbours to pillage or to fight, but a Lowlander can hardly be expected seriously to regard such a change as one calculated to excite pity, or as any evidence of degradation.

In my first paper I deduced an argument from the condition of religion among the different races of man, a part of the subject which has since been admirably dealt with by Mr. Tylor in a lecture at the Royal Institution. The use of flint for sacrificial purposes long after the introduction of metal seemed to me a good case of what Mr. Tylor has aptly called 'Survival.' So also is the method of obtaining fire. The Brahman does not use ordinary fire for sacred purposes, he does not even obtain a fresh spark from flint and steel, but reverts to, or rather continues the old way of obtaining it by friction with a wooden drill, one brahman pulling the thong backwards and forwards while another watches to catch the sacred spark.

I also referred to the non-existence of religion among certain savage races, and as the Duke correctly observes, I argued that this was probably their primitive condition, because it is difficult to believe that a people which had once possessed a religion would ever entirely lose it.1011

This argument filled the Duke with 'astonishment.' Surely, he says, 'if there is one fact more certain than another in respect to the nature of Man, it is that he is capable of losing religious knowledge, of ceasing to believe in religious truth, and of falling away from religious duty. If by "religion" is meant the existence merely of some impressions of powers invisible and supernatural, even this, we know, can not only be lost, but be scornfully disavowed by men who are highly civilised.' Yet in the very same page the Duke goes on to say, 'the most cruel and savage customs [p.395] in the world are the direct effect of its "religions." And if men could drop religions when they would, or if they could even form the wish to get rid of those which sit like a nightmare on their life, there would be many more nations without a "religion" than there are found to be. But religions can neither be put on nor cast off like garments, according to their utility, or according to their beauty, or according to their power of comforting.'

With this I entirely agree. Man can no more voluntarily abandon or change the articles of his religious creed than he can make one hair black or white, or add one cubit to his stature. I do not deny that there may be exceptional cases of intellectual nun entirely devoid of religion; but if the Duke means to say that men who are highly civilised, habitually or frequently lose, and scornfully disavow religion, I can only say that I should adopt such an opinion with difficulty and regret. There is, so far as I know, no evidence on record which would justify such an opinion, and as far as my private experience goes, I at least have met with no such tendency. It is indeed true that from the times of Socrates downwards, men in relevance of their age have disavowed particular dogmas, and particular myths; but the Duke of Argyll would, I am sure, not confuse a desire for reformation with the scornful disavowal of religion as a whole. Some philosophers may object to prayers for rain, but they are foremost in denouncing the folly of witchcraft; they may regard matter as aboriginal, but they would never suppose with the Redskin that land was created while water existed from the beginning; nor does anyone now believe with the South-Sea Islanders that the Peerage are immortal, but not commoners. If, indeed, there is 'one fact more certain than another in respect to the nature of man,' I should have considered it to be the gradual diffusion of religious light, and of nobler conceptions as to the nature of God.

The lowest savages have no idea of a deity at all. Those slightly more advanced regard him as an enemy to be dreaded, but who may be resisted with a fair prospect of success, who may be cheated by the cunning and defied by the strong. Thus the natives of the Nicobar islands endeavour to terrify their deity by scarecrows, and the Negro beats his fetish if his [p.396] prayers are not granted. As tribes advance in civilisation, their deities advance in dignity, but their power is still limited; one governs the sea, another the land; one reigns over the plains, another among the mountains. The most powerful are vindictive, cruel, and unjust. They require humiliating ceremonies and bloody sacrifices. But few races have arrived at the conception of an omnipotent and beneficent Deity.

Perhaps the lowest form of religion may be considered to be that presented by the Australians, which consists of a mere unreasoning belief in the existence of mysterious beings. The native who has in his sleep a nightmare, or a dream, does not doubt the reality of that which passes, and as the beings by whom he is visited in his sleep are unseen by his friends and relations, he regards them as invisible.

In Fetichism this feeling is more methodised. The negro, by means of witchcraft, endeavours to make a slave of his deity. Thus Fetichism is almost the opposite of Religion; it stands towards it in the same relation as Alchemy to Chemistry, or Astrology to Astronomy; and shows how fundamentally our idea of a deity differs from that which presents itself to the savage. The Negro does not hesitate to punish a refractory Fetish, and hides it in his waistcloth if he does not wish it to know what is going on. Aladdin's lamp is, in fact, a well-known illustration of a Fetish.

A further stage, and the superiority of the higher deities is more fully recognised. Everything is worshipped indiscriminately—animals, plants, and even inanimate objects. In endeavouring to account for the worship of animals, we must remember that names are very frequently taken from them. The children and followers of a man called the Bear or the Lion would make that a tribal name. Hence the animal itself would be first respected, at last worshipped. This form of religion can be shown to have existed, at one time or another, almost all over the world.

'The Totem,' says Schoolcraft, 'is a symbol of the name of the progenitor,—generally some quadruped, or bird, or other object in the animal kingdom, which stands, if we may so express it, as the surname of the family. It is always some animated object, and seldom or never derived from the inani- [p. 397] mate class of nature. Its significant importance is derived from the fact that individuals unhesitatingly trace their lineage from it. By whatever names they may be called during their life-time, it is the totem, and not their personal name, that is recorded on the tomb or "adjedating" that marks the place of burial. Families are thus traced when expanded into bands or tribes, the multiplication of which, in North America, has been very great, and has decreased, in like ratio, the labours of the ethnologist.' Totemism, however, is by no means confined to America. In central India 'the Moondah "Enidhi," or Oraon "Minijrar," or eel tribe, will not kill or eat that fish. The Hawk, Crow, or Heron tribes will not kill or eat those birds. Livingstone, quoted in Latham, tells us that the subtribes of Bitshaunas (or Bechuanas) are similarly named after certain animals, and a tribe never eats the animal from which it is named, using the term "ila," hate or dread, in reference to killing it.'1012

Traces, indeed, of Totemism, more or less distinct, are widely distributed, and often connected with marriage prohibitions.

As regards inanimate objects, we must remember that the savage accounts for all active and movement by life: hence a watch is to him alive. This being taken in conjunction with the feeling that anything unusual is 'great medicine,' leads to the worship of any remarkable inanimate object. Mr. Fergusson has recently attempted to show the special prevalence of Tree and Serpent worship. He might, I believe, have made out as strong a case for many other objects. It seems clear that the objects worshipped in this stage are neither to be regarded as emblems, nor are they personified. Inanimate objects have spirits as well as men; hence when the wives and slaves are sacrificed, the weapons also are broken in the grave, so that the spirits of the latter, as well as of the former, may accompany their master to the other world.

The gradually increasing power of chiefs and priests led to Anthropomorphism, with its sacrifices, temples, and priests, &c. To this stage belongs idolatry, which must by no means be regarded as the lowest state of religion. Solomon,1013 indeed, long ago pointed out how it was connected with monarchical power.


Whom men could not honour in presence, because they dwelt far off, they took the counterfeit of his visage from far, and made an express image of a king, whom they honoured, to the end that by this, their forwardness, they might flatter him that was absent, as if he were present.

'Also the singular diligence of the artificer did help to set forward the ignorant to more superstition. For he, peradventure willing to please one in authority, forced all his skill to make the resemblance of the best fashion. And so the multitude, allured by the grace of the work, took him now for a God, which a little before was but honoured as a man.'

The worship of principles may be regarded as a still further stage in the natural development of religion.

It is important to observe that each stage of religion is superimposed on the preceding, and that bygone beliefs linger on among the children and the ignorant. Thus witchcraft is still believed in by the ignorant, and fairy tales flourish in the nursery.

It certainly appears to me that the gradual development of religious ideas among the lower races of men is a fair argument in opposition to the view that savages are degenerate descendants of civilised ancestors. Archbishop Whately would admit the connexion between these different phases of religious belief; but I think he would find it very difficult to show any process of natural degradation and decay which could explain the quaint errors and opinions of the lower races of men, or to account for the lingering belief in witchcraft, and other absurdities, &c., in civilised races, excepting by some such train of reasoning as that which I have endeavoured to sketch.

There is another case in this memoir wherein the Duke, although generally a fair opponent, brings forward an unsupportable accusation. He criticises severely the 'Four Ages,' generally admitted by archaeologists, especially referring to the terms 'Palaeolithic' and 'Neolithic,' which are used to denote the two earlier.

I have no wish to take to myself in particular the blame which the Duke impartially extends to archaeologists in general, but having suggested the two terms in question, I will [p.399] simply place side by side the passage in which they first appeared, and the Duke's criticism, and confidently ask whether there is any foundation for the sweeping accusation made by the noble Duke.

The Duke says: 'For here I must observe that Archaeologists are using language on this subject which, if not positively erroneous, requires, at least, more rigorous definitions and limitations of meaning than they are disposed to attend to. They talk of an Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic), and of a Newer Stone Age (Neolithic), and of a Bronze Age, and of an Iron Age. Now, there is no proof whatever that such Ages ever existed in the world. It may be true, and it probably is true, that most nations in the progress of the Arts have passed through the stages of using stone for implements before they were acquainted with the use of metals. Even this, however, may not be true of all nations. In Africa there appear to be no traces of any time when the natives were not acquainted with the use of iron, and I am informed by Sir Samuel Baker that iron ore is so common in Africa, and of a kind so easily reducible by heat, and
My words, when proposing the terms, were as follows:
'From the careful study of the remains which have come down to us, it would appear that the prehistoric archaeology may be divided into four great epochs.
Firstly, that of Drift, when man shared the possession of Europe with the Mammoth, the cave-bear, the woolly-haired rhinoceros and other extinct animals. This we may call the "Palaeolithic" period.
Secondly, the later or polished Stone Age; a period characterised by beautiful weapons and instruments made of flint and other kinds of stone, in which, however, we find no trace of the knowledge of any metal, excepting gold, which seems to have been sometimes used for ornaments. This we may call the Neolithic period.
Thirdly, the Bronze Age, in which bronze was used for arms and cutting instruments of all kinds.
Fourthly, the Iron Age in which that metal had super-


its use might well be discovered by the rudest tribes, who were in the habit of lighting fires. Then again it is to be remembered that there are some countries in the world where stone is as rare and difficult to get as metals.
The great alluvial plains of Mesopotamia are a case in point. Accordingly we know from the remains of the first Chaldean monarchy that a very high civilisation in the arts of agriculture and of commerce coexisted with the use of stone implements of a very rude character. This fact proves that rude stone implements are not necessarily any proof whatever of a really barbarous condition. And even if it were true that the use of stone has in all cases preceded the use of metals, it is quite certain that the same age which was an Age of Stone in one part of the world was an Age of Metal in the other. As regards the Eskimo and the South Sea islanders, we are now, or were very recently, living in a Stone Age.'
seded bronze for arms, axes, knives, &c.; bronze, however, still being in common use for ornaments, and frequently also for the handles of swords and other arms, but never for the blades.'
Stone weapons, however, of many kinds were still in use during the Age of Bronze, and even during that of Iron. So that the mere presence of a few stone implements is not in itself sufficient evidence that any given "find" belongs to the Stone Age.
In order to prevent misapprehension, it may be as well to state at once that I only apply this classification to Europe, though in all probability it might also be extended to the neighbouring parts of Asia and Africa. As regards other civilised countries, China and Japan for instance, we, as yet, know nothing of their prehistoric archaeology. It is evident, also, that some nations, such as the Fuegians, Andamaners, &c., are even now only in an Age of Stone.'

I have therefore actually pointed out those very limitations, the omission of which the Duke condemns.

I will now bring forward one or two additional reasons [p.401] in support of my view. There is a considerable body of evidence tending to show that the offspring produced by crossing different varieties tends to revert to the type from which these varieties are descended. Thus Tegetmeier states that 'a cross between two non-sitting varieties (of the common fowl) almost invariably produces a mongrel that becomes broody, and sits with remarkable steadiness.' Mr. Darwin gives several cases in which such hybrids or mongrels are singularly wild and untameable, the mule being a familiar instance. Messrs. Boitard and Corbie state that, when they crossed certain breeds of pigeons, they invariably got some young ones coloured like the wild C. livia. Mr. Darwin repeated these experiments, and found the statement fully confirmed.

So again the same is the case with fowls. The original of the Domestic Fowl was of a reddish colour, but thousands of the Black Spanish and the white silk fowls might be bred without a single red feather appearing, yet Mr. Darwin found that on crossing them he immediately obtained specimens with red feathers. Similar results have been obtained with ducks, rabbits, and cattle. Mules also have not unfrequently barred legs. It is unnecessary to give these cases in detail, because Mr. Darwin's work on 'Animals and Plants under Domestication' is in the hands of every naturalist.

Applying the same test to man, Mr. Darwin observes that crossed races of men are singularly savage and degraded.

'Many years ago,' he says, 'I was struck by the fact that in South America men of complicated descent between Negroes, Indians, and Spaniards, seldom had, whatever the cause might be, a good expression. Livingstone remarks that "it is unaccountable why half-castes are so much more cruel than the Portuguese, but such is undoubtedly the case." A native remarked to Livingstone "God made white men, and God made black men, but the devil made half-castes!" When two races, both low in the scale, are crossed, the progeny seems to be eminently bad. Thus the noble-hearted Humboldt, who felt none of that prejudice against the inferior races now so current in England, speaks in strong terms of the bad and savage disposition of Zambas, or half-castes [p.402] between Indians and Negroes, and this conclusion has been arrived at by various observers. From these facts we may perhaps infer that the degraded state of so many half-castes is in part due to reversion to a primitive and savage condition, induced by the act of crossing, as well as to the unfavourable moral conditions under which they generally exist.'

I confess, however, that I am not sure how far this may not be accounted for by the unfortunate circumstances in which half-breeds are generally placed. The half-breeds between the Hudson's Bay Company's servants and the native women, being well treated and looked after, appear to be a creditable and well-behaved set.1014

I would also call particular attention to the remarkable similarity between the mental characteristics of savages and those of children. 'The Abipones,' says Dobritzhoffer,1015 'when they are unable to comprehend anything at first sight, soon grow weary of examining it, and cry "orqueenam?" what is it after all? Sometimes the Guaraniea, when completely puzzled, knit their brows and cry "tuptloiquaa," God knows what it is. Since they possess such small reasoning powers, and have so little inclination to exert them, it's no wonder that they are neither able nor willing to argue a thing from another.'

Richardson says of the Dogrib Indians, 'that however high the reward they expected to receive on reaching their destination, they could not be depended on to carry letters. A slight difficulty, the prospect of a banquet on venison, or a sudden impulse to visit some friend, were sufficient to turn them aside for an indefinite length of time.'1016 Le Vaillant also observes of the Namaquas, that they closely resembled children in their great curiosity.1017

M. Bourien,1018 speaking of the wild tribes in the Malayan Peninsula, says that an 'inconstant humour, fickle and erratic, together with a mixture of fear, timidity, and diffidence, lies at the bottom of their character; they seem always to think that they would be better in any other place than in the one [p.403] they occupy at the time. Like children, their actions seem to be rarely guided by reaction, and they almost always act impulsively.' The tears of the South-Sea Islanders, 'like those of children, were always ready to express any passion that was strongly excited, and, like those of children, they also appeared to be forgotten as soon as shed.'1019

At Tahiti, Captain Cook mentions that Oberea, the Queen, and Tootahah, one of the principal chiefs, amused themselves with two large dolls. Orville tells us that a New Zealand chief, Tanvarva by name, 'cried like a child because the sailors spoilt his favourite cloak by powdering it with flour.'1020 Wiliiams1021 mentions that in Feejee not only the women, but even the men give vent to their feelings by crying. Burton even says that among East Africans the 'men cried more frequently than the women.'1022

Not only do savages closely resemble children in their general character, but a curious similarity exists between them in many small points. For instance, the tendency to reduplication, which is so characteristic of children, prevails remarkably also amongst savages. The first 1000 words in Richardson's dictionary (down to allege), contain only three, namely, adscititious, adventitious, agitator, and even in these it is reduced to a minimum. There is not a single word like ahi ahi, evening; ahe ahe, eternal; ahi, ahi, a bird; aniwania, the rainbow; anga anga, agreement; angi angi, aboard; aro aro, in front; aruaru, to woo; ati ati, to drive out; awa awa, a valley; or awanga wanga, hope, words of a class which abound in savage languages.

The first 1000 words in a French dictionary I found to contain only two reduplications, namely, anana and assassin, both of which are derived from a lower race, and cannot, strictly speaking, be regarded as French.

Again 1000 German words, taking for variety the letters C and D, contain six cases, namely, Cacadn (cockatoo), Cacao, Cocou (cocoon), Cncoshanm, a cocoa-tree, Cocosnuns, cocoa-nut, and dagegu, of which again all but the last are foreign.


Lastly, the first 1000 Greek words contained only two reduplications, one of which is άβαρβαροςs.

For comparison with the above I have examined the vocabularies of the following eighteen tribes, and the results are given in the following Table:


Number of
English ..........................
French ...........................
German .........................
Greek ............................




Both foreign.
All but one foreign.
One being αβαρβαρος

Beetjuan ........................
Bosjesman .....................
Namaqua Hottentot ........
Mpongwe ......................
Fulup .............................




H. Tindall.
Snowden and Prall.
Makals ..........................
Darien Indians ...............
Ojibwa ..........................
Tupy (Brazil) ................





Gonsalvez Dias.

Brumer Island ................
Redscar Bay ..................
Lowssade ......................
Erroob ...........................
Lewis Murraysland .......




Kowrarega ....................





Tonga .............................
New Zealand





For African languages I have examined the Bechuan and Bosjesman dialects given by Lichtenstein in his 'Travels in Southern Africa;' the Namaqua Hottentot, as given by Tindall in his 'Grammar and Vocabulary of the Namaqua Hottentot;' the Mpongwe of the Gaboon, from the 'Grammar of the Mpongwe Language,' published by Snowden and Prall of New York; and lastly the Fulup and Mbofon languages from Koelle's 'Polyglotta Africana.' For America, the Makah dialect, given by Mr. Swan in the Smithsonian Contributions for 1869; the Ojibwa vocabulary, given in Schoolcraft's 'Indian Tribes;' the Darien vocabulary, from the 6th vol. N. S. [p.405] of the Ethnological Society's Transactions; and the Tupy vocabulary, given in A. Gonsalvez Dias's 'Diccionaria da Lingua. Tupy, chaniada lingua geral dos indigenas do Brazil.' To these I have added the languages spoken on Brumer Island, in Madscar Bay, Kowrarega, and at the Louisiade, as collected by McGilllvray in the 'Voyage of the Rattlesnake;' and the dialects of Erroob and Lewis Murray Island, from Jukes's 'Voyage of the Fly.' Lastly, for Polynesia, the Tongan dictionary, given by Mariner, and that of New Zealand by Dieffenbach.

The result is, that while in the four European languages we get about two reduplications in 1000 words, in the savage ones the number varies from thirty-eight to 170, being from twenty to eighty times as many in proportion.

In the Polynesian and Feejee Islands they are particularly numerous; thus, in Feejee, such names as Somosomo, Raki vaki, Raviravi, Lumaluma are numerous. Perhaps the most familiar New Zealand words are meremeiv, patoo patoo, and kivi kivi. So generally, however, is reduplication a characteristic of savage tongues that it even gave rise to the term 'barbarous.'

The love of nets is very strongly developed among savages. Many instances have been given by Mr. Galton in his Memoir on the 'Domestication of Animals.'1023

Among minor indications may be mentioned the use of the rattle. Originally a sacred and mysterious instrument, as it is still among some of the Siberian Red-skin and Brazilian1024 tribes, it has with us degenerated into a child's toy. Thus Dobritzhoffer tells us, the Abipones at a certain season of the year worshipped the Pleiades. The ceremony consisted of a feast accompanied with dancing and music, alternating with praises of the stars, during which the principal priestess who conducts the festive ceremonies, dances at intervals, rattling a gourd full of hardish fruit-seeds to musical time, and whirling round to the right with one foot, and to the left with another, without ever removing from one spot, or in the least varying her motions.'1025 Spix and Martius1026 thus describe a Coroado chief: [p.406] 'In the middle of the assembly, and nearest to the pot, stood the chief, who, by his strength, cunning, and courage, had obtained some command over them, and had received from earlier the title of Captain. In his right hand he held the maraca, the above-mentioned Castanet, which they call gringerina, and rattled with it, beating time with his right foot. The Congo Negroes had a great wooden rattle, upon which they took their oaths.'1027 The rattle also is very important among the Indians of North America.1028 When any person is sick, the sorcerer or medicine-man brings his sacred rattle and shakes it over him. This, says Prescott, 'is the principal catholicon for all diseases.' Catlin1029 also describes the 'rattle, as being of great importance. Some tribes have a sacred drum closely resembling that of the Lapps.'1030 When an Indian is ill, the magician, says Carver,1031 'sits by the patient day and night, rattling in his ears a gourd-shell filled with dried beans, called a chichicone.'

Klemm1032 also remarks on the great significance attached to the rattle throughout America, and Staad even thought that it was worshipped as a divinity.1033

Schoolcraft1034 also gives a figure of Oslikabaiwis, the Redskin medical chief, 'holding in his hand the magic rattle,' which is indeed the usual emblem of authority in the American pictographs. I know no case of a savage infant using the rattle as a plaything.

Tossing halfpence, as dice, again, which used to be a sacred and solemn mode of consulting the oracles, is now a mere game for children.

So again the doll is a hybrid between the baby and the fetish, and exhibiting the contradictory characters of its parents, becomes singularly unintelligible to grown-up people. Mr. Tylor has pointed out other illustrations of this argument, and I would refer those who feel interested in this part of the subject to his excellent work.


Dancing is another case in point. With us it is a mere amusement. Among savages it is an important, and, in some cases, religious ceremony. 'If,' says Robertson,1035 'any intercourse be necessary between two American tribes, the ambassadors of the one approach in a solemn dance, and present the calumet or emblem of peace; the sachems of the other receive it with the same ceremony. If war is denounced against an enemy, it is by a dance, expressive of the resentment which they feel, and of the vengeance which they meditate. If the wrath of their gods is to be appeased, or their beneficence to be celebrated, if they rejoice at the birth of a child, or mourn the death of a friend, they have dances appropriated to each of these situations, and suited to the different sentiments with which they are then animated. If a person is indisposed, a dance is prescribed as the most effectual means of restoring him to health: and if he himself cannot endure the fatigue of such an exercise, the physician or conjuror performs it in his name, as if the virtue of his activity could be transferred to his patient.'

But it is unnecessary to multiply illustrations. Everyone who has read much on the subject will admit the truth of the statement. It explains the capricious treatment which so many white men have received from savage potentates; how they have been alternately petted and ill-treated, at one time loaded with the best of everything, at another neglected or put to death.

The close resemblance existing in ideas, language, habits, and character between savages and children, though generally admitted, has usually been disposed of in a passing sentence, and regarded rather as a curious accident than as in important truth. Yet from several points of view it possesses a high interest. Better understood, it might have saved us many national misfortunes, from the loss of Captain Cook down to the Abyssinian war. It has also a direct bearing on the present discussion.

The opinion is rapidly gaining ground among naturalists, that the development of the individual is an epitome of that of [p.408] the species, a conclusion which, if fully borne out, will evidently prove most instructive. Already many facts are on record which render it, to say the least, highly probable. Birds of the same genus, or of closely allied genera, which, when mature, differ much in colour, are often very similar when young. The young of the Lion and the Puma are often striped, and foetal whales have teeth. Leidy has shown that the milk-teeth of the genus Equus resemble the permanent teeth of Anchitherium, while the milk-teeth of Anchitherium again approximate to the dental system of Merychippus.1036 Rutimeyer, while calling attention to this interesting observation, adds that the milk-teeth of Equus cahullus in the same way, and still more those of E. fossilis, resemble the permanent teeth of Hipparion.1037

Agassiz, according to Darwin, regards it as a 'law of nature,' that the young states of each species and group resemble older forms of the same group; and Darwin himself says,1038 that 'in two or more groups of animals, however much they may at first differ from each other in structure and habits, if they pass through closely similar embryonic stages, we may feel almost assured that they have descended from the same parent form, and are therefore closely related.' So also Mr. Herbert Spencer says,1039 'Each organism exhibits within a short space of time, a series of changes which, when supposed to occupy a period indefinitely great, and to go on in various ways instead of one way, give us a tolerably clear conception of organic evolution in general.'

It may be said that this argument involves the acceptance of the Darwinian hypothesis; this would, however, be a mistake; the objection might indeed be tenable if men belonged to different species, but it cannot fairly be urged by those who regard all mankind as descended from, common ancestors; and, in fact, it is strongly held by Agassiz, one of Mr. Darwin's most uncompromising opponents. Regarded from this point of view, the similarity existing between savages and [p.409] children assumes a singular importance and become almost conclusive as regards the question now at issue.

The Duke ends his work with the expression of a belief that man, 'even in his most civilised condition, is capable of degradation, that his knowledge may decay, and that his religion may be lost.' That this is true of individuals, I do not of course deny; that it holds good with the human race, I cannot believe.1040 Far more true, far more noble, as it seems to me, are the concluding passages of Lord Dunraven's opening address to the Cambrian Archaeological Association, 'that if we look back through the entire period of the past history of man, as exhibited in the result of archaeological investigation, we can scarcely fail to perceive that the whole exhibits. One grand scheme of progression, which, notwithstanding partial periods of decline, has for its end the ever-increasing civilisation of man, and the gradual development of his higher faculties, and for its object the continual manipulation of the design, the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of Almighty God.'

I confess therefore that, after giving the augments of the Duke of Argyll my most attentive and candid consideration, I see no reason to adopt his melancholy conclusion, but I remain persuaded that the past history of man has, (m the whole, been one of progress, and that, in looking forward to the future, we are justified in doing so with confidence and with hope.



Page 60.
Position of Women in Australia.1041

'Fœminæ sese per totam pene vitam prostituunt. Apud plurimas tribus juventutcm utriusque sexus sine discrimine concumbere in usus est. Si juvenis forte indigenorum coctum quendam in castris manentem adveniat, ubi quævis sit puella mupta, mos est: nocte veniente et eubantibus omnibus, illam ex loco exsurgere et juvencni accidentem cum illo per noctem manere unde in sedem propriam ante diem redit. Cui foemina sit, em anucis libenter prajbet; si in itinere sit, uxori in castris manenti aliquis supplit illi vires. Adyonis ex longinque aocedentibus fœminæ ad tem pus dare hospitis esse boni judicatur. Viduis et fœminæ jam senescentibus sepe in id traditis, quandoque etiam invitis et inscus cognatis, adolescentes utuntur. Puella tenera; a decimo primum anno, et pueri a decimo tertio vel quarto, inter se miscentur. Senioribus mos est, si forte gentium plurium castra appropin quant, viros noctu hinc inde transeuntes, uxoribus ahemis uti et in sua castra ex utraque parte mane redire. Temporibus quinetiam certis, machina quajdam ex ligno ad formam ovi facta, sacra et mystica, nam fœminæ apicere hand licitum, decem plus minus uncias longa et circa quatuor lata, insculpta ac figuris diversis ornata, et ultimam perforata partem ad longam plerumque e crinibus humanis textam inserendam chordam cui nomen "Moo yumkarr," extra castra in gyrum versata, stridore magno e percusso icre facto, libertatem coeundi juventuti esse tum concessam omnibus indicat. Parentes sajpe infantum, viri uxorum qujestum corporum facmut. In urbe Adelaide panis pnumio parvi aut paucoruni [p.412] denarinnim merctricos fieri cas libenter cogunt. Facile potest intelligi, amorem inter inquitus vix posse esse grandeni, quam omnia que ad fœminæ attinent, homnum arbitrio ordinentur et taiita sexuuni socictati laxitas, et adolescentes qubus ita multa; ardoris exjdendi dantur occasiones, hand magnopere uxorcs, nisi ut servos, desideraturos.'

Page 76.

'Adjicienduni et hoc, quod post evcetionem ad Deos, Juno, Jovis suasu, filium sibi Herculem adoptavit, et omne deinceps tempus materna ipsuni benevolentia complexa fuerit. lllam adoptictnem hoc modo factain perhibent: Juno lectum ingressa, Herculem corpori suo admotum, ut verum imitaretui partum, subter vestes ad terram demisit. Quem in hoc usque tempus adoptionis ritum barbari observant.'1042

Page 101.
Expiation for Marriage.

The passage in St. Augustin is as follows:

'Sed quid hoc dicam, cum ibi sit et Priapus nimius masculus, super cujus immanissimum et turpisshnum fascinum sedere nova nupta jubcatur, more honestissimo et religiosissimo matronarum.'1043

In his description of Babylon customs, Herodotus says:1044

[Lubbock gives the original in Greek: omitted here.]

Mela1045 tells us that among the Auziles, another Ethiopian tribe, 'Feminis solemne est, noctc, qua nubunt, omnium stupro patere, qui cum munerc advcnerint: et tum, cum plurimis concubuisse, maximum decus; in reliquum pudicilia insignis est.'

Speaking of the Nasamonians, Herodotus observes:

[Lubbock gives the original in Greek: omitted here.]1046

Diodorus1047 also gives a very similar account of marriage in the Balearic Islands.

Page 344.
The Multiplicity of Rules in Australia.

It seems at first sight remarkable that a race so low as the Australians should have such stringent laws and apparently complex rules. In fact, however, they arc merely customs to which antiquity has gradually given the force of law; and it is obvious that when a race has long remained stationary, we should naturally expect to find many customs thus crystallised, as it were, by age.


ABEOKUTA, tattoos of the people of, 49
Abipones, their disbelief in natural death, 152
— sorcerers among them, 175, 177
— their worship of the Pleiades, 232
— their Shamanism, 255
— no idea among them of creation, 285
— their method of numeration, 339
Abyssinians, absence of the marriage ceremony among the, 67
— practice of adoption among them, 76
— their state-worship, 227
Adoption, prevalence among the lower races of men, 75
— among the Greeks and Romans, 76
— the milk tie, 76
Ethiopia, marriage customs in, 100
Africa, customs as to fathers- and mothers-in-law, 11
— writing used as medicine in, 19, 20
— drawings not understood in, 35
— personal ornamentation of various tribes, 48, 50
— their tattoos and tribal marks, 50, 63
— marriage and relationship in, 69
— practice of adoption in, 75
— marriage customs of the Futans, 94
and of the North Africans, 90
— restrictions on marriage in Eastern and Western Africa, 109
— inheritance through females in, 120
— how dreams are regarded by some tribes, 145
— their notions of a man's shadow, 147
— and of the Deity, 149
— behaviour of the people during eclipses, 156
— totemism in, 183
— serpent-worship in, 189
— animal-worship in, 189
— tree-worship in, 206
— water-worship in, 216
— stone-worship in, 220
— worship of men in, 267
— ceremony of eating the fetich in, 193, 217
— human sacrifices in, 275
— no notion of creation among the people of, 285
— absence of moral feeling in, 302
— poverty of the language of, 332
— methods of numeration in, 339, 340
— salutations of the people in, 348
Age, respect paid to, 311
Ages, the Four, true theory of, 398
Agoye, an idol of Whiddah, 191
Ahitas of the Philippines, marriage customs of the, 94
Ahoosh, Lake, held sacred by the Bashkirs, 215
Ahts, inactivity of their intellect, 6
— slavery of female captives among the, 117
— their sorcerers, 175
— their worship of the sun and moon, 202
Algonkins, their rules and ceremonies, 346
Alligator-worship, 196
Amazon Valley, marriage by capture among the tribes of the, 91
America, South, custom of La Couvade in, 12, 14
American Indians, customs among the, in reference to mothers-in-law, 9
— custom of La Couvade among the, 14
— their ideas with reference to portraits, 17, 18
— their use of writing as medicine, 19
— their mode of curing diseases, 23
— their treatment of twins, 20
— their picture-writings, 37-40, 42-45
— their grave-pasts, 41
— their personal ornamentation, 48
— marriage and relationship among them, 58
— absence of marriage ceremony, 66
— system of relationship among some tribes, 75
— custom among the Hudson Bay Indians of wrestling for a wife, 70
— marriage customs of the South Americans, 91
— restrictions on marriage among some of them, 112, 113
— importance of their totems, or crests, 112
— relationship through females among them, 124
— how dreams are regarded by them, 146
— their notion of a man's shadow, 117
— and of a Deity, 149
— absence of religion among some tribes, 142
— spirits, how regarded by some, 148
— how they regard death, 103
— their belief in a plurality of souls, 152
— in divination, 164
— their sorcery, 166, 167
— their fasting and supposed revelations, 177
— their religious ideas, 183
— their belief in fetiches, 191
— their totemism, 185
— their worship of the serpent, 192
— prevalence of animal worship among thorn, 193
— their tree-worship, 206, 207
— their water-worship, 217, 218
— their stone-worship, 228
— their fire-worship, 231
— their worship of the sun and moon, 232
— absence of idolatry among them, 256, 257
— their sacrifices, 271
— fearless of death, 285
— their ideas of creation, 286
— their notion of a future state, 307
— their languages, 318, 328
— their property in land, 361
— names taken by parents from their children, 369
— their punishment of crime. 360
Ancestors, worship of, 259, 261
Andaman Islands, relationship between the sexes in the, 69, 82
Anglo-Saxons, their wergild, 365
Animal-worship considered as a stage of religious progress, 132
— explanation of the ancients, 182
— among the ancient Egyptians, 197
— custom of apologising to animals for killing them, 198
Ant-hills worshipped, 234
Apis regarded by the Egyptians as a god, 271
Arabs, their ideas as to the influence of food, 16
— singular marriage of the Hassanyoh, 63
— relations of husband and wife, 65
— their ancient stone-worship, 226
— their notions of a broken oath, 307
Arawaks, absence of the marriage ceremony among the, 66
Arithmetic, difficulties of savages in, 336
— use of the fingers in, 336, 340
Armenia, marriage customs in, 100
Art, earliest traces of, 30
— in the Stone Age, 30
— almost absent in the Bronze Age, 30
— as an ethnological character, 33, 34
Aryan religions contrasted with Semitic, 259, 260
Ashantee, king of, his harem, 120
Ashantees, absence of the marriage ceremony among the, 67
— their water-worship. 216
Assyrians, their human sacrifices, 276
Atheism defined, 136
— the natural condition of the savage mind, 141
Australians, Dampier's mistake with the, 6
— their habit of non-contradiction 6
— their customs as fathers- and mothers-in-law, 11
— their modes of curing diseases, 23, 24
— some of them unable to understand a drawing, 31
— their personal ornaments, 46
— marriage among them, 60
— condition of their women, 60, 79
— their practice of marriage by capture, 80, 86
— restrictions on marriage among them, 109
— how dreams are regarded by them, 146
— their belief in an evil spirit, 162
— think they become white men after death, 161
— their religious ideas, 181
— Mrs. Thomson's residence among them, 182
— their totemism, 181
— had no idea of creation, 255
— their absence of moral feeling, 301
— no notion of future rewards and punishments, 304
— character of their laws, 344
— their salutations, 348
— their property in land, 351
— division of property into portions, 355
— their custom of taking the names of their children, 358
— condition of women among them, 411
BABYLONIA, marriage customs in, 100
Bachapins, their religions ideas, 239
Balearie Islands, marriage customs in the, 102
Bali, fancies of the natives of, respecting twins, 25
— practice of marriage by capture in, 86
Bamboo, the, worshipped, 200
Basutos, system of primogeniture of the, 308
Battas of Sumatra, relationship through females among the, 122
Bear, worship of the, 113
Bearn, custom of La Couvade in, 12
Bechuanas, their ideas regarding owl spirits, 148, 154
— their notions of the causes of death, 152
— their totemism, 184
Bedouins, absence of religion among the wilder, 141
— their mode of divination, 164
Bells, use of, by the Buddhists, 155
— and by the Japanese, 155
Berbers, their custom of inheritance through females, 121
Bintang Islanders, absence of moral sense among the, 306
Bird-worship, 193
Bo tree, worship of the, in India and Ceylon, 208
Borneo, condition of the wild men of the interior of, 7, 8
— customs as to mothers-in-law, 11
— and of La Couvade, 14
Bornouese, tribe marks of the, 51
Bouriats, their sacred lakes, 215
Brazilians, their custom of killing and eating captives, 103
— their marriage regulations, 114
— their notion of evil spirits, 149
— sorcerers among them, 175
Britons, postobits among the, 283
Brumer Island, tattooing among the women of, 52
Buffalo-bell, worship of, 234
Bunns of Africa, tribal marks of the, 50
Bushmen, Lichtenstein's description of the, quoted, 8
— their customs as to fathers- and mothers-in-law, 11
— unable to understand perspective, 36
— absence of the marriage ceremony among them, 68, 70
— their notions of ghosts, 161
CALIFORNIANS, absence of religion and government among the, 141
— their belief in the destruction of body and spirit, 162
— their religious ideas, 238
— absence of ideas respecting creation, 286
Cambodians, their low ideas regarding spirits, 155
— their notion of eclipses, 158
Caribs, their ideas respecting the influence of food, 15
— their practice of marriage by capture, 84
— their behaviour daring eclipses, 157
— their belief in the plurality of souls, 162
— their fasting and supposed revelations, 177
— their notion of the Deity, 301
Caroline Islander, tattooing of a, 53
Carthaginians, their human sacrifices, 276
Celts, their tree-worship, 207
Census roll, an American Indian, 39
Ceylon, two kinds of marriage in, 63
— polyandry in, 116
— religious ideas of the Veddahs of, 183
— tree-worship in, 208
— the sacred Bo tree, 208
Cheek studs, 48
Cherokees, divination practised by the, 163
— their practice of fasting, 177
— their progress in civilisation, 377
Chinese, their customs as to daughters-in-law, 10
— their custom of La Couvade, 14
— their notions as to the influence of food, 16
— their mode of salutation, 29
— their presents of coffins, 29
— their deficiency in the art of perspective, 36
— their knots for transacting business, 36
— their compression of ladies' feet, 55
— their marriage customs, 69
— restrictions on marriage amongst them, 111
— notions of the people of Kiatka with reference to eclipses, 158
— their idea of the man in the moon, 159
— witchcraft of the magicians, 171
— their fetiches, 181
— their treatment of their gods, 203
— life attributed by them to inanimate objects, 205
— their idolatry, 258
— their language, 318
Chipewyans, their idea of creation, 286
Chiquito Indians, their behaviour during eclipses, 157
Chittagong, marriage among the hill tribes of, 60, 65
Circassians, the milk tie among them, 76
— marriage by force among them, 95
— exogamy among the, 111
Coffins, presents of, 29
Comanches, their worship of the sun, moon, and earth, 232
— absence of moral feeling among the, 301
Communal marriage, 72,77, 81
Coroados, custom of La Couvade among the, 12
— personal ornaments of a woman, 47
— their worship of the sun and moon, 232
— their method of numeration, 339
Courtesans, respect paid in Greece to, 103
— their religious character in India, 105
Couvade, La, custom of, in Brearn, 12
— its wide distribution, 12, 13
— origin of the custom, 14
Creation, no idea of, among the lower races, 285
Crocodile-worship, 197
DACOTAHS, their notions as to the influence of food, 15
— their water-god, Unktahe, 218
— their stone-worship, 228
Dahomey, king of, his messengers to his deceased father, 285
Dampier, his mistake with Australians, 5
Dances, religious, among savages, 178, 407
— a dance among the Redskins of Virginia, 279
Death, disbelief among savages in the existence of natural, 152, 153
Decan, tattooing of the women of, 52
Deification, savage tendency to, 181, 186
Dekkan, sacred stones in the, 223
Disease, how regarded by savages, 21
— various modes of curing, 22
— causes of, according to the Kaffirs, 241
Divination among savage races, 163
— modes of, described, 163-165
Doingnaks, endogamy of the, 118
Dreams, religious ideas suggested by, 144
— influence of, according to the Kaffirs, 241
Dyaks of Borneo, custom of La Couvade among the, 14
— their ideas respecting the influence of food, 15
EAR ornaments, 49
Eclipses, behaviour of savages during, 156, 158
Egyptians, their animal-worship, 183, 197
Endogamy, origin of, 117
England, water-worship in, 213
— worship of stone, in, 225
Esquimaux. their attempts to render barren women fertile, 16
— their mode of curing diseases, 24
— their mode of salutation, 29
— their skill in drawing, 31, 32
— their picture-writing, 37
— their personal ornamentation, 45
— their habit of licking presents, 77
— their capture of brides, 91
— their Shamanism, 253
— their language, 318
— Capt. Parry's picture of a hut of the, 389
Eyebright, the, used for ocular complaints, 16
Exogamy, or marriage out of a tribe, 106
Expiation for marriage, 101
FAMILIA, of the Romans, 6l, 79
Fasting practised by savages, 176
Feejeeans, their custom of Vasu, 108, 124
— their tattooing, 52
— their hair-dressing, 56
— their polyandry, 64
— their marriage customs, 65
— their marriage by capture, 92
— their mode of sorcery, 166, 167, 170
— their serpent-worship, 191
— and worship of other animals, 195
— their worship of plants, 211
— their stone-worship, 227
— their Shamanism, 254
— their offerings of food to the gods, 271
— their notions of a future state, 281
— their practice of putting old people to death, 283
— names and character of their gods, 304
— have no notion of future rewards and punishments, 305
— their ceremonies, 350
Felatah ladies, toilet of, 48
Fetichism, defined, 136
— considered as a stage of religious progress, 182, 212
— belief of the negroes in, 183, 242
— believed in Europe and in other races, 243-246
— eating the fetich, 247
Fire-worship, 229
Flatheads of Oregon, their fasts and supposed revelation, 177
Formosa, tattooing in, 52
France, worship of stones in, 225
Friendly Islanders, their explanations to Labillardiere, 5
— their treachery, 293
Friesland, marriage by force in, 96
Futans, marriage customs of the, 94
Future life, absence of belief in a, among savages, 160
GALACTOPHAGI, communal marriage of the, 75
Gambier Islands, tattooing in the, 53
Gangamma, or rivers, worshipped in India, 215
Ganges, worship of the, 215
Germans, ancient, relationship among the, 124
Ghosts, belief of savages in, 159, 161, 162
Ghosts, difference in the belief in ghosts and in the existence of a soul, 279
Goguet, on property, 350
— on laws, 341
Goose, the, worshipped, 196
Grave-posts of American Indians, 41
Greeks, their marriage customs, 100
— their notions respecting their deities, 156
— their water-worship, 214
— their stone-worship, 220
— origin of their myths, 250
— character of their gods, 304
— their power of willing property, 354
— their officers for prosecuting criminals, 360
Greenlanders, their custom of La Couvade, 14
— their notions respecting dreams, 145
— their behaviour during eclipses, 156
— fasting and sorcery among them, 176
— seizure of property after a man's death, 354
Gruaich-stones in Skye, 226
Guam, endogamy in, 119
Guiana, custom of La Couvade in, 13
— medical treatment of the savages of, 27
— restrictions on marriage among the, 113
— native method of numeration, 138
Guinea, New, tattooing among the women of, 52
Guinea, tattooing in, 52
— human sacrifices at, 272
Guyacurus of Paraguay, matrimony among the, 60
HAIR-DRESSING of the Feejeeans, 56
— of other races, 56
Hawaii, system of relationship in, 71-74
— low ideas of the natives respecting spirits, 154
Head, compression of the, among some American tribes, 56
Heaven, ideas of, among the lower races, 281, 282
Heliogabalus, form of the god, 225
Hermes, or Termes, worship of stones under the name of, 220, 221
Hottentots, marriage among the, 58
— their evil spirits, 148
— their notion of prayer, 289
— but no idea of future rewards and punishments, 307
Hudson Bay Indians, relationship through female among the, 123
Human sacrifices, 269-276
Hunting, custom of the Koussa Kaffirs respecting, 198
— laws of savages, 346
Hurons, system of relationship among the, 127, 128
IDOLATRY, or anthropomorphism, 157
— considered as a stage of religious development, 256
— unknown to the lower races, 257, 258
— origin of, 259
— Solomon on idols, 262
— idols not regarded as mere emblems, 263
Ikeongom, lake of, held sacred, 215
India, absence of the marriage ceremony among some tribes in, 66
— marriage customs among others, 87, 88, 101
— respect paid to courtesans at Vesali, 104. 105
— restrictions on marriage in some races, 110, 111
— polyandry in, 116
— endogamy, 117
— sorcery of the magicians of, 167
— witchcraft in, 171
— religious dances in, 180
— fetichism in, 245
— animal-worship in, 196
— inanimate objects worshipped in, 202, 205
— tree-worship in, 202, 208
— water-worship in, 210
— stone-worship in, 222
— worship of the sun in, 232
— various other worship in, 234
— idolatry in, 258
— worship of ancestors in, 259
— human sacrifices in, 273, 275
— notions of future rewards and punishments among various races of, 306
— salutations and ceremonies in, 349
— rights of children in, 357
— primogeniture in, 360
Infanticide, causes of among savages, 107
Inheritance, custom of, through females, 120
Ireland, water-worship in, 211
— stone-worship in, 226
Iroquois, system of relationship among the, 127-128
— how they regard eclipses, 127
Italy, marriage custom in, 101
JAKUTS, restrictions on marriage among the, 111
— their worship of animals, 196
— their worship of trees, 209
Java, courtesans not despised at, 101
Jews, relationship among the, 121
— sacrifices among the, 269, 277
KAFFIRS, unable to understand drawings, 35
— ornamentation of the skin of the Bachapins, 56
— marriage among the, 58
— remarks of the chief Seseka to Mr. Arbrousset, 131
— absence of religion among the Koussas, 141
— a Zulu's notions of religion, 144
— disease attributed by the Koussas to three causes, 151
— their notion of the causes of death, 152
— and of evil spirits, 155
— religions ideas, 185
— curious hunting custom of the Koussas, 198
— their worship of ancestors, 260
— their notions of creation, 286
— absence of moral feeling among the, 302
— their method of numeration, 339, 340
Kalangs of Java, restrictions on marriage among the, 118
Kalmucks, marriage ceremonies of the, 88
— restrictions on marriage among the, 111
— their character, 201
Kamehadahs, marriage by capture among the, 89
— their low ideas of spirits, 153
Kamskatka, custom of La Couvade in, 11
Kenaiyers, restrictions on marriage among the, 112
— relationship through females among the, 123
Khasias of Hindostan, their fancies respecting twins, 23
Kirk, a derivation of the word, 213
Konds of Orissa, marriage customs among the, 87
— restrictions of marriage among the, 111
— their totemism, 199
— their water-worship, 216
— and stone-worship, 222
Konds, their worship of the sun and moon, 233
— human sacrifices among them, 273
Kirghiz, sacrifices among the, 270
Kissing, not universally practised, 29
Knots used as records, 36
Kols of Central India, marriage ceremonies of the, 88
— their belief in an evil genius, 151
— their religious dances, 178
Kookies of Chiitagong, have no notion of future rewards and punishments, 306
IABRETS of the Americans and Africans, 48
Lake-worship,  215
Lama, Great, of Thibet, worship of the, 268
Land, property in, among savages, 350
— communal property, 353
Language, probable influence of the character of, over that of religion, 249
— figurative, of savages, 266
— the language of the lowest races, 313
— gesture language, 314, 315
— origin of languages, 316
— root-words, 318
— onomatopoeia, 320
— abstract names, 321
— nicknames and slang terms, 322
— origin of the terms father and mother, 322
— choice of root-words, 328
— poverty of savage languages, 330-339
— table of seventeen languages, 404
Laplanders, their ideas with reference to portraits, 18
— their mode of divination. 163
— fasting of wizards among the, 178
Law, connection of, with right, 307
Laws of the lower races, 341
— character of their laws, 341
— their multiplicity, 345
— their rules and ceremonies, 346
— hunting laws, 346
— salutations, 348
— property in land, 350
— land tenures, 353
— wills, 354
— punishment of crime, 361
Letters, bark, of the American Indians, 43, 41
Licking presents, habit of, 77
Life, how regarded by savages, 25
Limboos, customs of relationship among the, 123
Locke questions the existence of innate principles, 299
Love songs, absence of, 59
Lycians, relationship through females among the, 121
MADAGASCAR, religions regard paid to dreams in, 145
— animals worshipped in, 210
— absence of temples in, 277
MLennan on marriage, vii. 57-69
Maine Mr., remarks on his 'Ancient Law,' 3
— on wills, 354
Maize, worship of, by the Peruvians, 212
Malays, their ideas respecting the influence of food, 13
— their marriage ceremonies, 88
— Mr. Wallace's picture of a savage community, 299
— their method of numeration, 339
Mama Cocha, principal deity of the Peruvians, 212
Mammoth, ancient drawing of a, 30
Mandans, their water-worship, 219
Mandingoes, marriage among the, 59
— absence of marriage ceremony among the, 67
— custom at marriage, 69
— marriage by force among the, 95
— animal-worship among the, 199
— their notion of prayer, 280
Mantchu Tartars, restrictions on marriage among the, 119
Maoris, their worship of animals, 194
Marriage among savages, 58
— different kinds of, 61, 63
— provisional marriages in Ceylon, 63
— absentee of marriage ceremony, 66
— and of any word for marriage, 68
— distinction between 'lax' and 'brittle' marriages, 68
— gradual development of the custom of marriage, 69
— communal marriage, 76, 77
— Bachofen's view, 78-80
— marriage with female supremacy, 7 8
— wrestling or wives, 79
— M'Lennan's views, 80
— the true explanation, 81, 82
— the prevalence of marriage by capture, 83
— which becomes subsequently a form, 87
— custom of lifting the bride over the doorstop, 97
— by confarrentio, 98
— expiation for marriage in various countries, 99, 412
— temporary wives, 102-105
— exogamy and its origin, 106
— restrictions against marrying women of the same stock, 109
— endogamy, 117
— marriage with half-sisters, 124
Mercury, his offices, 220
Mexicans, animal worship among the, 194
— their tree-worship, 211
— their water-worship, 219
— their fire-worship, 231
— their human sacrifices, 272, 273, 277
Milk tie, the, in Circassia, 76
— strength of the relationship among the Scotch Highlanders, 119
Mongols, marriage customs of the, 90
— their mode of divination, 164
— their laws, 346
Moon, worship of the, 232
Moral feeling, origin of, 308
— connection of religion and morality, 311
Mothers-in-law, customs in reference to, 9-11
Musicians, looked on as infamous, 104
NAIRS of INDIA, relationship among the, 70
— relationship through females among the, 121
Naples, fetichism in, 291
Natchez, their stone-worship, 229
— their fire-worship, 231
Nature-worship defined, 137
Naudowessies, custom of polyandry among the, 101
Negroes, inactivity of their intellect, 7
— their notion of evil spirits, 149, 160
— their belief in ghosts, 159
— their absence of belief in a future life, 160
— become white men after death, 161
— their mode of divination, 165
— their sorcery, 166
— their belief in fetichism, 189
— their tree-worship, 207
— their worship of the sea, 207, 216
— and of white men, masks, and pumps, 217
Negroes, and worship of an iron bar, 234
— Shamanism among them, 256
— have no notion of creation, 288
— nor of prayer to the Deity, 289
— absence of moral feeling among the, 302
— their salutations, 348
Nicaragua, rain-worship in, 219
Nicknames, origin of, 322
Nicobar Islands, ideas of the natives of, of spirits, 153
Nose-ring, worship of a, 234
Numerals, savage names of, 336, 338
Nyambanas, ornamentation of the skin of the, 50
OJIBWAS, their fire-worship, 244
Omahaws, their customs respecting sons-in-law, 9
Ornaments, personal, of savages, 46
Ostiaks, their customs as to daughters-in-law, 10
— their ornamentation of the skin, 51
— exogamy among them, 111
— their religious dances, 180
— their tree-worship, 209
— and stone-worship, 222
— their statues in memory of the dead, 260
Ox, the, held sacred in India and Ceylon, 196
PACIFIC Islands, human sacrifices in the, 276
Paraguay, sea-worship in, 220
Parents, custom of naming them after children, 359
Patagonians, their tree-worship, 212
Persia, Homa or Soma worship of, 207
Petition, an American Indian, 45
Peruvians, their mode of recording events, 30
— their notions of eclipses, 158
— their animal worship, 194
— their sea-worship, 220
— their fire-worship, 231
— their notion of religion and morals, 307
Philippine Islands, worship of trees in the, 210
Phoenicians, their stone-worship, 238
Picture-writing, 37, 38
Pleiades, worship of the, 232
Polyandry, reasons for, 64
— causes of, 116
Polyandry, list of tribes regarded polyandrous, 115
— considered as an exceptional phenomenon, 115, 116
— widely distributed over India, Thibet, and Ceylon, 116
Polygamy, causes of, 114, 115
Polynesians, relationship through females in, 124
— their drawings, 32
— polyandry among them, 116
— their powers of witchcraft, 174
— animal-worship among thorn, 194
— their worship of men, 267
— their method of numeration, 339
— their property in land, 353
— their laws, 364
Pond-worship, 217
Priests, absence of, among the lower races, 279
Prussians, their ancient fires in honour of the god Potrimpos, 230
QUIPPU, the, of the Peruvians, 36
RAIN, worship of, 219
Rainbow, worship of the, 234
Rattle, the, regarded as a deity, 234
Reddies of Southern India, marriage customs of the, 63
Reindeer, ancient drawing of a, 31, 32
Rejangs of Sumatra, their custom of filing and disfiguring the teeth, 49
Relationship among savages, 68
Relationships independent of marriage, 71
— adoption, 76
— the milk-tie, 76
— change in the relationship female to the male line, 125, 126
— system of kinship of the Iroquois and Huron Indians, 127, 129
— through females, 120
— through males, 126
— present system, 130
Religion of savages, 131
— their mental inactivity, 132
— character of their religion, 135
— classification of the lower religions, 136
— sequence of religions according to Sanchoniatho, 137
— religious condition of the lowest races, 391
— tribes among whom religion is absent, 140
— rudimentary religion, 143
— dreams, 144
— a man's shadow, 147
— spirits at first regarded as evil, 148
— and causing disease, 150
— low ideas of spirits entertained by savages, 154
— belief in ghosts, 159
— absence of belief in a future state, 160
— plurality of souls, 162
— divination and sorcery, 163-169
— witchcraft, 170
— religious dances, 178
— gradual development of religious ideas, 181-187
— fetichism, 242
— totemism, 137, 183, 248
— animal worship, 184
— deification of inanimate objects, 200
— tree-worship, 203
— water-worship, 213
— worship of stones and mountains, 220
— fire-worship, 229
— worship of the sun, moon, and stars, 201
— sundry other worships, 205
— developmental and adaptational changes, 235
Shamanism, 252
— idolatry, 256
— worship of ancestors and of men, 264, 265
— worship of principles, 269
— sacrifices, 209, 270
— temples, 277
— the soul, 280-283
— the future state, 284
— creation, 287
— prayer, 288
— the nature of idols, 291
— connection of religion and morality, 311
— progress of religious ideas among savages, 394, 395
Right, connection of, with law, 307
Rishis, or penitents, of India, how regarded, 154
River-worship, 214
Rock sculptures, 46
— of Western Europe, 46
Romans, their notions respecting their deities, 156
— sorcery among them, 168
— origin of their myths, 251
— their human sacrifices, 276
— their wills, 355
— their laws of property, 362
— property in land in, 353
Russia, human sacrifices in, 277
Sacrifices, human, 269-275
— confusion of the victim with the Deity, 271
— in ancient times, 275
Salutation, forms of, among savages, 29
Samoyedes, marriage among the, 60
— marriage by capture among the, 90
— exogamy among the, 111
Sanchoniatho, sequence of religions according to, 137
Sandwich Islander, tattooing of a, 54
— relationship among the, 70, 71
— endogamy among them, 119
— their animal worship, 194
Savages, their reasons for what they do and believe, 4
— difficulties of communicating with them, and consequent mistakes, 4
— inactivity of their intellect, 6
— condition of the lowest races of men, 7-9
— resemblance of different races in similar stages of development to one another, 9
— wide distribution of the custom of La Couvade, 12, 13
— ideas on the influence of food, 16
— their notions with reference to portraits, 17
— and as to the value of writing, 19, 20
— their idea of disease, 21
— their fancies respecting twins, 26
— how life is regarded by them, 27
— their forms of salutation, 28
— art among them, 29
— their personal ornaments, 46
— marriage and relationship among them, 58, et seq.
— their religion, 131
— their figurative language, 206
— their character and morals, 293
— difficulty of ascertaining the character of savage races, 296, 298
— their progress in morals, 298
— their family affection and moral feeling, 301
— have no notion of a future state, 304
— origin of moral feeling, 309
— language of the lowest races, 313
— their laws, 341
— true nature of barbarism, 385
— general conclusions respecting savage races, 367
— papers on the primitive condition of man, 309, 383
Scandinavia, human sacrifices in, 276
Science, services of, to the cause of religion and humanity, 291
Scotland, wafer-worship in, 214
— stone-worship in Skye, 226
Scythians, their worship of a scimitar, 217
Sea, worship of the, 216, 220
Semitic religions contrasted with Aryan, 249, 250
Serpent, worship of, 186
— races in which the serpent was and is worshipped, 188
Shadow, how regarded by savages, 147, 186
Shamanism defined, 137
— origin of the word Shaman, 252
— account of, 252
Shamans of Siberia, their supernatural powers, 175
Siberia, stone-worship in, 222
— worship of ancestors in, 260
— notions of the people of, as to Creation, 286
Sioux, system of relationship among the, 75
Skin, ornamentation of the, 49
Skye, worship of stones in. 226
Slang terms, origin of, 322
Smoking in religious ceremonies, 180
Snakes, departed relatives in the form of, 187
Sneezing, custom at, 381
Sonthals, marriage customs of the, 101
— their religious observances during intoxication, 180
— their mode of praying for rain, 238
Soors, absence of moral sense among the, 303
Sorcery among savages, 165, 166
— various modes of, 166-169
— sorcerers not necessarily impostors, 175
Soul, difference between the belief in ghosts and in the existence of a soul, 279
— souls of inanimate objects, 281
— belief that each man has several souls. 282
South Sea Islanders, their religion, 135
Spartans, their marriages by capture, 96
Spiders worshipped, 195
Spirits, always regarded by savages as evil, 118
— the authors of diseases, 150
Stars, worship of the, 232, 233
Statues, worshipped as deities, 200, 262
Stiens of Cambodia, their belief in an evil genius, 151
— their behaviour during eclipses, 158
— their animal-worship, 210
— absence of temples among the, 277
Stones, worship of, 220
Sumatrans, three kinds of marriage among the, 61, 63
— sorcery among them, 168
— their behaviour during an eclipse, 156
— their animal-worship, 200
— their tree-worship, 210
— their water-worship, 216
— their notion of a future state, 305
— their names taken from their children, 359
Sun, worship of the, 232
— original form of sun-worship, 214
Swords, worship of, 234
TACITUS, his observations on the ancient Germans, 3
Tahiti, marriage customs in, 68, 69
— life attributed by them to inanimate objects, 201
— animal-worship in, 204
— stone-worship in, 227
— worship of the king and queen of, 205
— human sacrifices in, 275
— absence of ideas as to creation in, 285
— character of the natives, 293, 297
— notions of the people as to future rewards and punishments, 304
— character of the laws of, 345
— and of the ceremonies of, 349
— property in land in, 352
— property left by will in, 355
— custom of abdication of the king of, 358
Tamils, system of relationship among the, 127, 129
Tanna,  tattooing among the women of, 52
Tapyrians, marriage custom of the, 102
Tartars, their notion of God, 156
— inheritance in the youngest son among the, 359
Tattooing, among the Africans, 50, 52
— among other races, 52-55
Teehurs of Oude, relationship of the sexes among the, 70
Teeth filed, 49
— pierced and ornamented, 49
Temples, unknown mostly to the lower races, 277
Thibet, polyandry in, 116
Thomson, Mrs., worshipped as a deity in Australia, 236
Thracians, marriage customs of the, 100
Tierra del Fuego, marriages in, 91
Tinne Indians, restrictions on marriage among the, 112
Tipperahs of Chittagong, their notions respecting the spirits of the dead, 101
Todas of the Neilgherry Hills, their system of relationships, 75
— their worship of the ox, 196
— never pray, 290
Tombstones of American Indians, 41
Tonga Islands, tattooing in the, 52
— practice of adoption in the, 76
— relationship through females in, 124
— immortality of their chiefs, 280
— but not of the common people, 280
— their notion of a future state, 282
— character of the islanders. 292, 293
— their absence of moral feeling, 303
— and of the idea of future rewards and punishments, 305
— ceremonies of the people of, 348
Totemism defined, 137
— considered as stage of religious progress, 183, 248
Totems, or crests, importance of, 112
Tottigars of India, system of relationship of the, 75
Tree-worship, universality of, 206
— case of, recorded by Mr. Fergusson, 202
Tribe marks of various African races, 51, 52
Tunguses, marriage by capture among the, 89
— their mode of divination, 164
— their water-worship, 228
Turkomans, marriage among the, 65
Tuski, their skill in drawing, 32
— their ornamentation of the skin, 51
Twins, fancies respecting, 25, 26
— cause of the general prejudice against, 26
Tylor, Early History of Man, vii
Tyro, worship of a statue of Hercules at, 263
UNKTAHE, water-god of the Dacotahy, 218
VEDDAHS of Ceylon, their religious ideas, 183
Vesali, religious character of the courtesans of, 104
Virginia, religious dance of the natives of, 179
WALES, marriage customs in, 96
Warali tribes, restrictions marriage in the, 110
Water-worship, in Europe, 213
— Siberia, 215
— India, 216
— Africa, 216, 217
— N. America, 217
— S. America, 220
Wells, sacred, in Scotland, 214
Wergild of the Anglo-Saxons. 365
Whately, Dr., Archbishop of Dublin, his views as to the condition of savages, 369
— answers to his arguments, 373
Whiddah, or Whydah, an idol of, 191
— water-worship at, 216
Wills, modern origin of, 354
Witchcraft among savages, 170
— its similarity in various parts of the world, 170, 171
— the belief in, shared by Europeans, 173
Wives, custom of supplying guests with, 92, 102
Women, position of, among savages, 59, 78
— communities in which women have exercised the supreme power, 78, 79
— origin of exogamy, 106
— causes of polygamy, 114
— endogamy, 117
— inheritance through females, 120
— position of women in Australia, 411
Wrestling for a wife, custom of, 79
Writing, used as medicine, 19
— surprise of savages at, as a mode of communication, 35
— picture-writing, 37
Indian bark letters, 42-44
— application of art to purposes of personal decoration, 46
YERKALAS of Southern India, marriage customs of the, 118
ZEALANDERS, New, their tattooing, 134
— their courtship and marriage, 92
— endogamy among them, 119
— evil spirits, how regarded by them, 150
— sorcery and witchcraft among them, 169, 170
— custom of hardening the heart to pity, 16
— causes of their cannibalism, 16
— their belief in the destruction of body and spirit, 161
— their mode of divination, 165
— their worship of animals, 194, 195
— red a sacred colour with them, 223
— their worship of the rainbow, 234
— their belief in the destruction of both body and soul, 280
— their absence of moral feeling, 298
— their three tenures of land, 353
Zoolatry, 182, 193
Zuni, sacred well of, 219




This page last updated: 28/12/2011