Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Sociology, Volume III (1898)

Herbert Spencer (1820–1903)  
[Created: 9 Jan., 2021]
[Updated: December 10, 2022 ]

This is part of a collection of works by Herbert Spencer.


Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Sociology, in three volumes (1874-1896). Edition used the “authorized” 3rd edition of 1898.

Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Sociology, in Three Volumes (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1898). Authorized third edition.

  • Volume I (1874–75; enlarged 1876, 1885) – pp. 3-773; Sections 1-342 [see HTML and facs . PDF]
    • Part I: Data of Sociology;
    • Part II: Inductions of Sociology;
    • Part III: Domestic Institutions -
  • Volume II (1879-1885) – pp. 3-667; Sections 343-582 [see HTML and facs . PDF]
    • Part IV: Ceremonial Institutions (1879);
    • Part V: Political Institutions (1882);
    • Part VI Ecclesiastical Institutions (1885) -
  • Volume III (1885-1896) – pp. 3-611; Sections 583-853 [see facs . PDF]
    • Part VI Ecclesiastical Institutions (1885);
    • Part VII: Professional Institutions (1896);
    • Part VIII: Industrial Institutions (1896)










Of the three divisions contained in this volume, two have already appeared in print—the first as a separate book, and the second in the shape of review-articles; but the third is new. With the publication of them in a united form, the issue of the Synthetic Philosophy comes to a close.

The series of works included under that title is complete and yet incomplete. There were to be ten volumes, and there are ten. According to the programme, besides a volume of First Principles, there were to be two volumes of Biology, two of Psychology, three of Sociology, and two of Ethics; and to each of these subjects the specified number of volumes has been appropriated. Still in one respect there is a falling short. The interpretation of the paradox is that the first two volumes of The Principles of Sociology have expanded into three, and the third (which, if written, would now be the fourth) remains unwritten. It was to have treated of Progress—Linguistic, Intellectual, Moral, Æsthetic. But obviously for an invalid of seventy-six to deal adequately with topics so extensive and complex, is impossible.

It must, however, be pointed out that while this portion of the original project remains unexecuted, considerable portions not projected, have been added. In The Principles of Psychology, the division “Congruities,” and in The Principles of Sociology, the division “Domestic Institutions,” are in excess of the divisions promised; and there have been joined with sundry of the volumes, various appendices, making altogether 430 pages extra. Something even now remains. Though not within the lines of the scheme as at first [3-vi] drawn, The Study of Sociology may properly be included as a component, as also may be eight essays directly or indirectly elucidating the general theory: leaving uncounted the published parts of the ancillary compilation, Descriptive Sociology. Hence it may fairly be said that, if not absolutely in the way specified, the promise of the prospectus has been redeemed.

On looking back over the six-and-thirty years which have passed since the Synthetic Philosophy was commenced, I am surprised at my audacity in undertaking it, and still more surprised by its completion. In 1860 my small resources had been nearly all frittered away in writing and publishing books which did not repay their expenses; and I was suffering under a chronic disorder, caused by over-tax of brain in 1855, which, wholly disabling me for eighteen months, thereafter limited my work to three hours a day, and usually to less. How insane my project must have seemed to onlookers, may be judged from the fact that before the first chapter of the first volume was finished, one of my nervous break-downs obliged me to desist. But imprudent courses do not always fail. Sometimes a forlorn hope is justified by the event. Though, along with other deterrents, many relapses, now lasting for weeks, now for months, and once for years, often made me despair of reaching the end, yet at length the end is reached. Doubtless in earlier days some exultation would have resulted; but as age creeps on feelings weaken, and now my chief pleasure is in my emancipation. Still there is satisfaction in the consciousness that losses, discouragements, and shattered health, have not prevented me from fulfilling the purpose of my life.

London, August, 1896.



Three years and a half have elapsed since the issue of Political Institutions—the preceding division of the Principles of Sociology. Occupation with other subjects has been one cause of this long delay; but the delay has been in a much greater degree caused by ill health, which has, during much of the interval, negatived even that small amount of daily work which I was previously able to get through.

Two other parts remain to be included in Vol. II—Professional Institutions and Industrial Institutions. Whether these will be similarly delayed, I cannot of course say. I entertain hopes that they may be more promptly completed; but it is possible, or even probable, that a longer rather than a shorter period will pass before they appear—if they ever appear at all.

Bayswater, October, 1885.


Notwithstanding precautions, errors creep in where many pieces of evidence are given. The detection of these is a service rendered by critics which is commonly of more value than other services rendered by them; and which, in some cases, partially neutralizes their disservices.

I have myself had special difficulties to encounter in maintaining correctness. Even with unshaken health, it would have been impossible for me to read the five hundred and odd works from which the materials for the Principles of Sociology have been extracted; and, as it is, having been long in a state in which reading tells upon me as much [3-viii] as writing, I have been obliged to depend mainly on the compilations made for me, and some years ago published under the title of Descriptive Sociology, joined with materials collected by assistants since that time. Being conscious that in the evidence thus gathered, there would inevitably be a per-centage of errors, I lately took measures to verify all the extracts contained in the first volume of the Principles of Sociology: fortunately obtaining the aid of a skilled bibliographer, Mr. Tedder, the librarian of the Athenæum Club. The result was not unsatisfactory. For though there were found many mistakes, literal and verbal, yet out of more than 2,000 statements quoted, two only were invalidated: one losing its point and the other being cancelled.

With this division of the work I followed what seemed a better course, but not with better result. While it was standing in type and before any of it was printed, I had all the extracts compared with the passages from which they were copied; and expected thus to insure perfect correctness. But though apparent errors were removed, two unapparent errors remained. In one case, the gentleman who had made for me an extract from the Records of the Past, had misunderstood a story translated from the hieroglyphics: a thing easy to do, since the meanings of the translations are often not very clear. And in the other case, an extract concerning the Zulus had been broken off too soon: the copyist not having, as it seems, perceived that a subsequent sentence greatly qualified the sense. Unfortunately, when giving instructions for the verification of extracts, I did not point out the need for a study of the context in every case; and hence, the actual words quoted proving to be correctly given, the errors of meaning passed unrectified.

Beyond removal of these mis-statements, two changes of expression have been made for the purpose of excluding perverse misinterpretations.

Bayswater, January 21, 1886.

The Principles of Sociology, Vol. III




§ 583. There can be no true conception of a structure without a true conception of its function. To understand how an organization originated and developed, it is requisite to understand the need subserved at the outset and afterwards. Rightly to trace the evolution of Ecclesiastical Institutions, therefore, we must know whence came the ideas and sentiments implied by them. Are these innate or are they derived?

Not only by theologians at large but also by some who have treated religion rationalistically, it is held that man is by constitution a religious being. Prof. Max Müller’s speculations are pervaded by this assumption; and in such books as that by Mr. R. W. Mackay on The Progress of the Intellect, it is contended that man is by nature a monotheist. But this doctrine, once almost universally accepted, has been rudely shaken by the facts which psychologists and anthropologists have brought to light.

There is clear proof that minds which have from infancy been cut off by bodily defects from intercourse with the minds of adults, are devoid of religious ideas. The deaf Dr. Kitto, in his book called The Lost Senses (p. 200), quotes the testimony of an American lady who was deaf and dumb, but at a mature age was instructed, and who said “the idea that the world must have had a Creator never occurred to her, nor to any other of several intelligent pupils, of similar [3-4] age.” Similarly, the Rev. Samuel Smith, after “twenty-eight years’ almost daily contact” with such, says of a deaf-mute, “he has no idea of his immortal nature, and it has not been found in a single instance, that an uneducated deaf-mute has had any conception of the existence of a Supreme Being as the Creator and Ruler of the universe.”

The implication is that civilized men have no innate tendency to form religious ideas; and this implication is supported by proofs that among various savages religious ideas do not exist. Sir John Lubbock has given many of these in his Prehistoric Times and his Origin of Civilization; and others may be added. Thus of a Wedda, who, when in jail received instruction, Mr. Hartshorne writes—“he had no idea of a soul, of a Supreme Being, or of a future state.” Concerning an African race Heuglin says—“the Dōr do not seem to have religious conceptions properly so called, but they believe in spirits.” We learn from Schweinfurth that “the Bongo have not the remotest conception of immortality. . . . All religion, in our sense of the word religion, is quite unknown to the Bongo.” It is true that in such cases there is commonly a notion, here distinct and there vague, of something supernatural associated with the dead. While now, in answer to a question, asserting that death brings annihilation, the savage at another time shows great fear of places where the dead are: implying either a half-formed idea that the dead will suddenly awake, as a sleeper does, or else some faint notion of a double. Not even this notion exists in all cases; as is well shown by Sir Samuel Baker’s conversation with a chief of the Latooki—a Nile tribe.

“ ‘Have you no belief in a future existence af class="bq"ter death?’ . .

Commoro (loq.).—‘Existence after death! How can that be? Can a dead man get out of his grave unless we dig him out?’

‘Do you think man is like a beast, that dies and is ended?’

Commoro.—‘Certainly; an ox is stronger than a man; but he dies, and his bones last longer; they are bigger. A man’s bones break quickly—he is weak.’


‘Is not a man superior in sense to an ox? Has he not a mind to direct his actions?’

Commoro.—‘Some men are not so clever as an ox. Men must sow corn to obtain food, but the ox and wild animals can procure it without sowing.’

‘Do you not know that there is a spirit within you more than flesh? Do you not dream and wander in thought to distant places in your sleep? Nevertheless, your body rests in one spot. How do you account for this?’

Commoro, laughing.—‘Well, how do you account for it? It is a thing I cannot understand; it occurs to me every night.’

* * *

‘Have you no idea of the existence of spirits superior to either man or beast? Have you no fear of evil except from bodily causes?’

Commoro.—‘I am afraid of elephants and other animals when in the jungle at night, but of nothing else.’

‘Then you believe in nothing; neither in a good nor evil spirit! And you believe that when you die it will be the end of body and spirit; that you are like other animals; and that there is no distinction between man and beast; both disappear, and end at death?’

Commoro.—‘Of course they do.’ ”

And then in response to Baker’s repetition of St. Paul’s argument derived from the decaying seed, which our funeral service emphasizes, Commoro said:—

“ ‘Exactly so; that I understand. But the original grain does not rise again; it rots like the dead man, and is ended; the fruit produced is not the same grain that we buried, but the production of that grain: so it is with man,—I die, and decay, and am ended; but my children grow up like the fruit of the grain. Some men have no children, and some grains perish without fruit; then all are ended.’ ”

Clearly, then, religious ideas have not that supernatural origin commonly alleged; and we are taught, by implication, that they have a natural origin. How do they originate?

§ 584. In the first volume of this work, nearly a score chapters are devoted to an account of primitive ideas at large; and especially ideas concerning the natures and actions of supernatural agents. Instead of referring the [3-6] reader back to those chapters, I think it better to state afresh, in brief, the doctrine they contain. I do this partly because that doctrine, at variance both with current beliefs and the beliefs of the mythologists, needs re-emphasizing; partly because citing a further series of illustrations will strengthen the argument; and partly because a greater effect may be wrought by bringing the several groups of facts and inferences into closer connexion.

As typifying that genesis of religious conceptions to be delineated in this chapter, a statement made by Mr. Brough Smyth in his elaborate work The Aborigines of Victoria may first be given. When an Australian, of mark as a hunter or counsellor, is buried, the medicine-man, seated or lying beside the grave, praising the deceased and listening for his replies, said—“The dead man had promised that if his murder should be sufficiently avenged his spirit would not haunt the tribe, nor cause them fear, nor mislead them into wrong tracks, nor bring sickness amongst them, nor make loud noises in the night.” Here we may recognize the essential elements of a cult. There is belief in a being of the kind we call supernatural—a spirit. There are praises of this being, which he is supposed to hear. On condition that his injunctions are fulfilled, he is said to promise that he will not make mischievous use of his superhuman powers—will not hurt the living by pestilence, nor deceive them, nor frighten them.

Is it not manifest that from germs of this kind elaborate religions may be evolved? When, as among the ancestor-worshipping Malagasy, we find, as given by M. Réville, the prayer,—“Nyang, méchant et puissant esprit, ne fais pas gronder le tonnerre sur nos têtes. Dis à la mer de rester dans ses bords. Épargne, Nyang, les fruits qui mûrissent. Ne sèche pas le riz dans sa fleur;” it is a conclusion scarcely to be resisted that Nyang is but the more developed form of a spirit such as that propitiated and petitioned by the Australian. On reading the Japanese sayings, “that the spirits [3-7] of the dead continue to exist in the unseen world, which is everywhere about us, and that they all become gods, of varying character and degrees of influence,” and also that “the gods who do harm are to be appeased, so that they may not punish those who have offended them, and all the gods are to be worshipped, so that they may be induced to increase their favours;” we are strengthened in the suspicion that these maleficent gods and beneficent gods have all been derived from “the spirits of the dead . . . of varying character and influence.” From the circumstance that in India as Sir Alfred Lyall tells us, “it would seem that the honours which are at first paid to all departed spirits come gradually to be concentrated, as divine honours, upon the Manes of notables,” we derive further support for this view. And when by facts of these kinds we are reminded that among the Greeks down to the time of Plato, parallel beliefs were current, as is shown in the Republic, where Socrates groups as the “chiefest of all” requirements “the service of gods, demigods, and heroes . . . and the rites which have to be observed in order to propitiate the inhabitants of the world below,” proving that there still survived “that fear of the wrath of the departed which strongly possessed the early Greek mind;” we get from this kinship of beliefs among races remote in time, space, and culture, strong warrant for the inference that ghost-propitiation is the origin of all religions.

This inference receives support wherever we look. As, until lately, no traces of pre-historic man were supposed to exist, though now that attention has been drawn to them, the implements he used are found everywhere; so, once being entertained, the hypothesis that religions in general are derived from ancestor-worship, finds proofs among all races and in every country. Each new book of travels yields fresh evidence; and from the histories of ancient peoples come more numerous illustrations the more closely they are examined.


Here I will re-exemplify the chief factors and stages in this genesis of religious beliefs; citing, in large measure, books that have been published since the first volume of this work.

§ 585. The African savage Commoro, quoted above, and shown by his last reply to be more acute than his questioner, had no theory of dreams. To the inquiry how he accounted for the consciousness of wandering while asleep, he said—“It is a thing I cannot understand.” And here it may be remarked in passing, that where there existed no conception of a double which goes away during sleep, there existed no belief in a double which survives after death. But with savages who are more ready to accept interpretations than Commoro, the supposition that the adventures had in dreams are real, prevails. The Zulus may be instanced. To Bishop Callaway one of them said:—

“When a dead man comes [in a dream] he does not come in the form of a snake, nor as a mere shade; but he comes in very person, just as if he was not dead, and talks with the man of his tribe; and he does not think it is the dead man until he sees on awaking, and says, ‘Truly I thought that So-and-so was still living; and forsooth it is his shade which has come to me.’ ”

Similarly with the Andamanese (who hold that a man’s reflected image is one of his souls), the belief is that “in dreams it is the soul which, having taken its departure through the nostrils, sees or is engaged in the manner represented to the sleeper.”

Abnormal forms of insensibility are regarded as due to more prolonged absences of the wandering double; and this is so whether the insensibility results naturally or artificially. That originally, the accepted interpretations of these unusual states of apparent unconsciousness were of this kind, we see in the belief expressed by Montaigne, that the “souls of men when at liberty, and loosed from the body, either by sleep, or some extasie, divine, foretel, and see things which whilst joyn’d to the body they could not see.” Then at the [3-9] present time among the Waraus (Guiana Indians) to gain magical power a man takes infusion of tobacco, “and, in the death-like state of sickness to which it reduces him, his spirit is supposed to leave the body, and to visit and receive power from the yauhahu . . . the dreaded beings under whose influence he is believed to remain ever after.”

From the ordinary absence of the other-self in sleep and its extraordinary absences in swoon, apoplexy, etc., the transition is to its unlimited absence at death; when, after an interval of waiting, the expectation of immediate return is given up. Still, the belief is that, deaf to entreaties though the other-self has become, it either does from time to time return, or will eventually return. Commonly, the spirit is supposed to linger near the body or revisit it; as by the Iroquois, or by the Chinooks, who “speak of the dead walking at night, when they are supposed to awake, and get up to search for food.” Long surviving among superior races, in the alleged nightly wanderings of de-materialized ghosts, this belief survives in its original crude form in the vampyre stories current in some places.

One sequence of the primitive belief in the materiality of the double, is the ministering to such desires as were manifest during life. Hence the shell with “some of her own milk beside the grave” of an infant, which an Andamanese mother leaves; hence the “food and oblations to the dead” by the Chippewas, etc.; hence the leaving with the corpse all needful implements, as by the Chinooks; hence the “fire kept burning there [the grave] for many weeks,” as among the Waraus; hence the immolation of wives and slaves with the chief, as still, according to Cameron, at Urua in Central Africa. Hence, in short, the universality among the uncivilized and semi-civilized of these funeral rites implying belief that the ghost has the same sensations and emotions as the living man. Originally this belief is entertained literally; as by the Zulus, who in a case named said, “the Ancestral spirits came and eat up all the meat, and [3-10] when the people returned from bathing, they found all the meat eaten up.” But by some peoples the ghost, conceived as less material, is supposed to profit by the spirit of the thing offered: instance the Nicaraguans, by whom food “was tied to the body before cremation;” and instance the Ahts, who “burn blankets when burying their friends,” that they may not be “sent shivering to the world below.”

Ministrations to the double of the deceased, habitually made at the funeral, are in many places continued—here on special occasions and here at regular intervals. For if the ghost is not duly attended to, there may come mischief. Men of various types visit their dead from time to time to carry food, drink, etc.; as the Gonds, by whom, at the graves of honoured persons, “offerings continue to be presented annually for many years.” Others, as the Ukiahs and Sanéls of California, “sprinkle food about the favorite haunts of the dead.” Elsewhere, ghosts are supposed to come to places where food is being prepared for them; as instance Zululand. Bishop Callaway quotes a Zulu as saying—“These dead men are fools! Why have they revealed themselves by killing the child in this way, without telling me? Go and fetch the goat, boys.”

The habitats of these doubles of the dead, who are like the living in their appetites and passions, are variously conceived. Some peoples, as the Shillook of the White Nile, “imagine of the dead that they are lingering amongst the living and still attend them.” Other peoples, as for instance the Santals, think that the ghosts of their ancestors inhabit the adjacent woods. Among the Sonoras and the Mohaves of North America, the cliffs and hills are their imagined places of abode. “The Land of the Blest” says Schoolcraft, “is not in the sky. We are presented rather . . . with a new earth, or terrene abode.” Where, as very generally, the ghost is believed to return to the region whence the tribe came, obstacles have to be overcome. Some, as the Chibchas, tell of difficult rivers to be crossed to reach [3-11] it; and others of seas: the Naowe (of Australia) think that their ghosts depart and people the islands in Spencer’s Gulf. With these materialistic conceptions of the other-self and its place of abode, there go similarly materialistic conceptions of its doings after death. Schoolcraft, describing the hereafter of Indian belief, says the ordinary avocations of life are carried on with less of vicissitude and hardship. The notion of the Chibchas was that “in the future state, each nation had its own particular location, so that they could cultivate the ground.” And everywhere we find an approach to parallelism between the life here and the imagined life hereafter. Moreover, the social relations in the other world, are supposed, even among comparatively-advanced peoples, to repeat those of this world. “Some of them [Taouist temples] are called Kung, palace; and the endeavour is made in these to represent the gods of the religion in their celestial abodes, seated on their thrones in their palaces, either administering justice or giving instruction:” recalling the Greek idea of Hades. That like ideas prevailed among the early English, is curiously shown by a passage Kemble quotes from King Alfred, concerning the permission to compound for crimes by the bot in money, “except in cases of treason against a lord, to which they dared not assign any mercy; because Almighty God adjudged none to them that despised him, nor did Christ . . . adjudge any to him that sold him unto death: and he commanded that a lord should be loved like himself.”

Grave-heaps on which food is repeatedly placed, as by the Woolwas of Central America, or heaps of stones such as the “obo” described by Prejevalski, which “a Mongol never passes without adding a stone, rag, or tuft of camels’ hair, as an offering,” and which, as in Afghanistan, manifestly arise as coverings over dead men, are by such observances made into altars. In some cases they acquire this character quite definitely. On the grave of a prince in Vera Paz, there was “a stone altar erected above all, upon which incense was [3-12] burned and sacrifices were made in memory of the deceased.” Various peoples make shelters for such incipient altars or developed altars. By the Mosquitos “a rude hut is constructed over the grave, serving as a receptacle for the choice food, drink,” etc. In Africa the Wakhutu “usually erect small pent-houses over them [the graves], where they place offerings of food.” Major Serpa Pinto’s work contains a cut representing a native chief’s mausoleum, in which we see the grave covered by a building on six wooden columns—a building needing but additional columns to make it like a small Greek temple. Similarly in Borneo. The drawing of “Rajah Dinda’s family sepulchre,” given by Bock, shows development of the grave-shed into a temple of the oriental type. A like connexion existed among the Greeks.

“The ‘heroön’ was a kind of chapel raised to the memory of a hero. . . . It was at first a funeral monument (σῆμα) surrounded by a sacred enclosure (τέμενος); but the importance of the worship there rendered to the heroes soon converted it into a real ‘hieron’ [temple].”

And in our own time Mohammedans, notwithstanding their professed monotheism, show us a like transformation with great clearness. A saint’s mausoleum in Egypt, is a “sacred edifice.” People passing by, stop and become “pious worshippers” of “our lord Abdallah.” “In the corner of the sanctuary stands a wax candle as long and thick as an elephant’s tusk;” and there is a surrounding court with “niches for prayer, and the graves of the favoured dead.” The last quotation implies something more. Along with development of grave-heaps into altars and grave-sheds into religious edifices, and food for the ghost into sacrifices, there goes on the development of praise and prayer. Instance, in addition to the above, the old account Dapper gives, translated by Ogilby, which describes how the negroes near the Gambia erected small huts over graves, “whither their surviving Friends and Acquaintance at set-times repair, to ask pardon for any offences or injuries done them while alive.”

The growth of ancestor-worship, thus far illustrated under [3-13] its separate aspects, may be clearly exhibited under its combined aspects by quotations from a recent book, Africana, by the Rev. Duff MacDonald, one of the missionaries of the Blantyre settlement. Detached sentences from his account, scattered here and there over fifty pages, run as follows:—

“The man may be buried in his own dwelling” (p. 109). “His old house thus becomes a kind of temple” (p. 109). “The deceased is now in the spirit world, and receives offerings and adoration” (p. 110). “Now he is a god with power to watch over them, and help them, and control their destiny” (p. 61). “The spirit of a deceased man is called his Mulungu” (p. 59). The probably correct derivation of this word is “stated by Bleek [the philologist], which makes it originally mean ‘great ancestor’ ” (p. 67). “Their god appears to them in dreams. They may see him as they knew him in days gone by” (p. 61). “The gods of the natives are nearly as numerous as their dead” (p. 68). “Each worshipper turns most naturally to the spirits of his own departed relatives” (p. 68). A chief “will present his offering to his own immediate predecessor, and say, ‘Oh, father, I do not know all your relatives, you know them all, invite them to feast with you’ ” (p. 68). “The spirit of an old chief may have a whole mountain for his residence, but he dwells chiefly on the cloudy summit” (p. 60). “A great chief that has been successful in his wars does not pass out of memory so soon. He may become the god of a mountain or a lake, and may receive homage as a local deity long after his own descendants have been driven from the spot. When there is a supplication for rain the inhabitants of the country pray not so much to their own forefathers as to the god of yonder mountain on whose shoulders the great rain clouds repose” (p. 70). “Beyond and above the spirits of their fathers, and chiefs localised on hills, the Wayao speak of others that they consider superior. Only their home is more associated with the country which the Yao left; so that they too at one time may have been looked upon really as local deities” (p. 71).

(Vol. I, pp. 59-110.)

Let us pass now to certain more indirect results of the ghost-theory. Distinguishing but confusedly between semblance and reality, the savage thinks that the representation of a thing partakes of the properties of the thing. Hence he believes that the effigy of a dead man (originally placed on the grave) becomes a habitation for his ghost. This belief spreads to effigies otherwise placed. Concerning “a rude figure of a naked man and woman” which some Land [3-14] Dyaks place on the path to their farms, St. John says “These figures are said to be inhabited each by a spirit.”

Because of the indwelling doubles of the dead, such images are in many cases propitiated. Speaking of the idols made by the people west of Lake Nyassa, Livingstone says “they present pombe, flour, bhang, tobacco, and light a fire for them to smoke by. They represent the departed father or mother, and it is supposed that they are pleased with the offerings made to their representatives . . . names of dead chiefs are sometimes given to them.” Bastian tells us that a negress in Sierra Leone had in her room four idols whose mouths she daily daubed with maize and palm-oil: one for herself, one for her dead husband, and one for each of her children. Often the representation is extremely rude. The Damaras have “an image, consisting of two pieces of wood, supposed to represent the household deity, or rather the deified parent,” which is brought out on certain occasions. And of the Bhils we read—“Their usual ceremonies consist in merely smearing the idol, which is seldom anything but a shapeless stone, with vermilion and red lead, or oil; offering, with protestations and a petition, an animal and some liquor.”

Here we see the transition to that form of fetichism in which an object having but a rude likeness to a human being, or no likeness at all, is nevertheless supposed to be inhabited by a ghost. I may add that the connexion between development of the ghost-theory and development of fetichism, is instructively shown by the absence of both from an African people described by Thomson:—

“The Wahebe appear to be as free from superstitious notions as any tribe I have seen . . . there was an entire absence of the usual signs of that fetichism, which is so prevalent elsewhere. They seem, however, to have no respect for their dead; the bodies being generally thrown into the jungle to be eaten by the hyenas.”

And just the same connexion of facts is shown in the account of the Masai more recently given by him.

In several ways there arises identification of ancestors [3-15] with animals, and consequent reverence for the animals: now resulting in superstitious regard, and now in worship. Creatures which frequent burial places or places supposed to be haunted by spirits, as well as creatures which fly by night, are liable to be taken for forms assumed by deceased men. Thus the Bongo dread—

“Ghosts, whose abode is said to be in the shadowy darkness of the woods. Spirits, devils, and witches have their general appellation of ‘bitaboh;’ wood-goblins being specially called ‘ronga.’ Comprehended under the same term are all the bats . . . as likewise are owls of every kind.”

Similarly, the belief that ghosts often return to their old homes, leads to the belief that house-frequenting snakes are embodiments of them. The negroes round Blantyre think that “if a dead man wants to frighten his wife he may persist in coming as a serpent;” and “when a man kills a serpent thus belonging to a spirit, he goes and makes an apology to the offended god, saying, ‘Please, please, I did not know that it was your serpent.’ ” Moreover, “serpents were regarded as familiar and domestic divinities by a multitude of Indo-European peoples;” and “in some districts of Poland [in 1762] the peasants are very careful to give milk and eggs to a species of black serpent which glides about in their . . . houses, and they would be in despair if the least harm befel these reptiles.” Beliefs of the same class, suggested in other ways, occur in North America. The Apaches “consider the rattlesnake as the form to be assumed by the wicked after death.” By the people of Nayarit it was thought that “during the day they [ghosts] were allowed to consort with the living, in the form of flies, to seek food:” recalling a cult of the Philistines and also a Babylonian belief expressed in the first Izdubar legend, in which it is said that “the gods of Uruk Suburi (the blessed) turned to flies.”

Identification of the doubles of the dead with animals—now with those which frequent houses or places which the doubles are supposed to haunt, and now with those which are like certain of the dead in their malicious or beneficent [3-16] natures—is in other cases traceable to misinterpretation of names. We read of the Ainos of Japan that “their highest eulogy on a man is to compare him to a bear. Thus Shinondi said of Benri the chief ‘He is as strong as a bear,’ and the old Fate praising Pipichari called him ‘The young bear.’ ” Here the transition from comparison to metaphor illustrates the origin of animal names. And then on finding that the Ainos worship the bear, though they kill it, and that after killing it at the bear-festival they shout in chorus—“We kill you, O bear! come back soon into an Aino,” we see how identification of the bear with an ancestral Aino, and consequent propitiation of the bear, may arise. Hence when we read “that the ancestor of the Mongol royal house was a wolf,” and that the family name was Wolf; and when we remember the multitudinous cases of animal-names borne by North American Indians, with the associated totem-system; this cause of identification of ancestors with animals, and consequent sacredness of the animals, becomes sufficiently obvious. Even without going beyond our own country we find significant evidence. In early days there was a tradition that Earl Siward of Northumbria had a grandfather who was a bear in a Norwegian forest; and “the bear who was the ancestor of Siward and Ulf had also, it would seem, known ursine descendants.” Now Siward was distinguished by “his gigantic stature, his vast strength and personal prowess;” and hence we may reasonably conclude that, as in the case of the Ainos above given, the supposed ursine descent had arisen from misinterpretation of a metaphor applied to a similarly powerful progenitor. In yet other cases, sacredness of certain animals results from the idea that deceased men have migrated into them. Some Dyaks refuse to eat venison in consequence of a belief that their ancestors “take the form of deer after death;” and among the Esquimaux “the Angekok announces to the mourners into what animal the soul of the departed has passed.” Thus there are several ways in which respect for, [3-17] and sometimes worship of, an animal arises: all of them, however, implying identification of it with a human being.

A pupil of the Edinburgh institution for deaf-mutes said, “before I came to school, I thought that the stars were placed in the firmament like grates of fire.” Recalling, as this does, the belief of some North Americans, that the brighter stars in the Milky Way are camp-fires made by the dead on their way to the other world, we are shown how naturally the identification of stars with persons may occur. When a sportsman, hearing a shot in the adjacent wood, exclaims—“That’s Jones,” he is not supposed to mean that Jones is the sound; he is known to mean that Jones made the sound. But when a savage, pointing to a particular star originally thought of as the camp-fire of such or such a departed man, says—“There he is,” the children he is instructing naturally suppose him to mean that the star itself is the departed man: especially when receiving the statement through an undeveloped language. Hence such facts as that the Californians think ghosts travel to “where earth and sky meet, to become stars, chiefs assuming the most brilliant forms.” Hence such facts as that the Mangaians say of certain two stars that they are children whose mother “was a scold and gave them no peace,” and that going to “an elevated point of rock,” they “leaped up into the sky;” where they were followed by their parents, who have not yet caught them. In ways like these there arises personalization of stars and constellations; and remembering, as just shown, how general is the identification of human beings with animals in primitive societies, we may perceive how there also originate animal-constellations; such as Callisto, who, metamorphosed into a she-bear, became the bear in heaven. That metaphorical naming may cause personalization of the heavens at large, we have good evidence. A Hawaiian king bore the name Kalani-nui-Liho Liho, meaning “the heavens great and dark;” whence it is clear that (reversing the order alleged by the mythologists) [3-18] Zeus may naturally have been at first a living person, and that his identification with the sky resulted from his metaphorical name.

There are proofs that like confusion of metaphor with fact leads to Sun-worship. Complimentary naming after the Sun occurs everywhere; and, where it is associated with power, becomes inherited. The chiefs of the Hurons bore the name of the Sun; and Humboldt remarks that “the ‘sun-kings’ among the Natches recall to mind the Heliades of the first eastern colony of Rhodes.” Out of numerous illustrations from Egypt, may be quoted an inscription from Silsilis—“Hail to thee! king of Egypt! Sun of the foreign peoples. . . . Life, salvation, health to him! he is a shining sun.” In such cases, then, worship of the ancestor readily becomes worship of the Sun. The like happens with other celestial appearances. “In the Beirût school,” says Jessup, “are and have been girls named . . . Morning Dawn, Dew, Rose. . . . I once visited a man in the village of Brummana who had six daughters, whom he named Sun, Morning, Zephyr breeze,” &c. Another was named Star. Here, again, the superiority, or good fortune, or remarkable fate, of an individual thus named, would originate propitiation of a personalized phenomenon. That personalization of the wind had an origin of this kind is indicated by a Bushman legend. “The wind” it says “was formerly a person. He became a feathered thing. And he flew, while he no longer walked as formerly; for he flew, and he dwelt in the mountain . . . he inhabited a mountain-hole.” Here, too, we are reminded that in sundry parts of the world there occurs the notion that not only the divine ancestors who begat the race came out of caves, but that Nature-gods also did. A legend of the Mexicans tells of the Sun and Moon coming out of caves; and in the conception of a cave inhabited by the wind, the modern Bushman does but repeat the ancient Greek. As descending from the traditions of cave-dwellers, stories of this kind, with accompanying [3-19] worship, are natural; but otherwise they imply superfluous absurdities which cannot be legitimately ascribed even to the most unintelligent. That in primitive times names are used in ways showing such lack of discrimination as leads to the confusions here alleged, we have proof. Grote says of the goddess Atē,—“the same name is here employed sometimes to designate the person, sometimes the attribute or event not personified.” And again, it has been remarked that “in Homer, Aïdes is invariably the name of a god; but in later times it was transferred to his house, his abode or kingdom.” Nature-worship, then, is but an aberrant form of ghost-worship.

In their normal forms, as in their abnormal forms, all gods arise by apotheosis. Originally, the god is the superior living man whose power is conceived as superhuman. From uncivilized peoples at present, and from civilized peoples during their past, evidence is derived. Mr. Selous says—“the chief of these kraals, ‘Situngweesa,’ is considered a very powerful ‘Umlimo,’ or god, by the Amandebele.” So, too, among existing Hindus, “General Nicholson . . . was adored as a hero in his lifetime, in spite of his violent persecution of his own devotees.” The Rig Veda shows that it was thus with the ancient people of India. Their gods are addressed—“Thou, Agni, the earliest and most Angiras-like sage” (R. V., i, 31). “Thou Agni, the most eminent rishi” (iii, 21, 3). “Thou [Indra] art an anciently-born rishi” (viii, 6, 41). “Indra is a priest, Indra is a rishi” (viii, 16, 7). That Achilles was apotheosized, and that according to tradition the Pythian priestess preferred to address Lykurgus as a god, are examples sufficiently reminding us of man-derived deities among the Greeks. It is a familiar fact, too, that with the Romans and subject peoples emperor-worship became a developed cult. In “every one of the Gaulish cities,” “a large number of men, who belonged to the highest as well as to the middle classes, were priests and flamens of Augustus, flamens of Drusus, priests [3-20] of Vespasian or Marcus Aurelius.” “The statues of the emperors were real idols, to which they offered incense, victims, and prayers.” And how natural to other European peoples in those days were conceptions leading to such cults, is curiously shown by an incident in the campaign of Tiberius, then a prince, carried on in Germany in ad 5, when Romans and Teutons were on opposite sides of the Elbe.

“One of the barbarians, an aged man, powerfully built and, to judge from his attire, of high rank, got into an excavated trunk (such as they use for boats) and rowed his vessel to the middle of the river. There he asked and obtained leave to come safely to our side and to see the prince. Having come to shore, he first for a long time silently looked at the prince and finally broke out into these words: ‘Mad, indeed, are our young men. For if you are far, they worship you as gods, and if you approach, they rather fear your weapons than do you homage. But I, by thy kind permission, O prince, to day have seen the gods of whom before I had heard.’ ”

That some of our own ancestors regarded gods simply as superior men is also clear. If the Norseman “thought himself unfairly treated, even by his gods, he openly took them to task and forsook their worship;” and, reminding us of some existing savages, we read of a Norse warrior “wishing ardently that he could but meet with Odin, that he might attack him.”

As, in primitive thought, divinity is thus synonymous with superiority; and as at first a god may be either a powerful living person (commonly of conquering race) or a dead person who has acquired supernatural power as a ghost; there come two origins for semi-divine beings—the one by unions between the conquering god-race and the conquered race distinguished as men, and the other by supposed intercourse between living persons and spirits. We have seen that dream-life in general is at first undistinguished from waking life. And if the events of ordinary dreams are regarded as real, we may infer that the concomitants of dreams of a certain kind create a specially strong belief in their reality. Once having become established in the popular mind, [3-21] this belief in their reality is, on occasion, taken advantage of. At Hamóa (Navigator’s Islands) “they have an idea which is very convenient to the reputation of the females, that some of these hotooa pow [mischievous spirits] molest them in their sleep, in consequence of which there are many supernatural conceptions.” Among the Dyaks it is the same. We are told both by Brooke and St. John of children who were begotten by certain spirits. Of like origin and nature was the doctrine of the Babylonians concerning male and female spirits and their offspring. And the beliefs in incubi and succubi lasted in European history down to comparatively late times: sometimes giving rise to traditions like that of Robert the Devil. Of course the statement respecting the nature of the supernatural parent is variable—he is demoniacal or he is divine; and consequently there now and then result such stories as those of the Greeks about god-descended men.

Thus Comparative Sociology discloses a common origin for each leading element of religious belief. The conception of the ghost, along with the multiplying and complicating ideas arising from it, we find everywhere—alike in the arctic regions and in the tropics; in the forests of North America and in the deserts of Arabia; in the valleys of the Himalayas and in African jungles; on the flanks of the Andes and in the Polynesian islands. It is exhibited with equal clearness by races so remote in type from one another, that competent judges think they must have diverged before the existing distribution of land and sea was established—among straight-haired, curly-haired, woolly-haired races; among, white, tawny, copper-coloured, black. And we find it among peoples who have made no advances in civilization as well as among the semi-civilized and the civilized. Thus we have abundant proofs of the natural genesis of religions.

§ 586. To give to these proofs, re-inforcing those before given, a final re-inforcement, let me here, however, instead [3-22] of taking separately each leading religious conception as similarly exhibited by different peoples, take the whole series of them as exhibited by the same people.

That belief in the reality of dream-scenes and dream-persons, which, as we before saw (§ 530), the Egyptians had in common with primitive peoples at large, went along with the belief, also commonly associated with it, that shadows are entities. A man’s shadow was “considered an important part of his personality;” and the Book of the Dead treats it “as something substantial.” Again, a man’s other-self, called his ka, accompanied him while alive; and we see “the Egyptian king frequently sculptured in the act of propitiating his own ka,” as the Karen does at the present day. “The disembodied personality” had “a material form and substance. The soul had a body of its own, and could eat and drink.” But, as partially implied by this statement, each man was supposed to have personalities of a less material kind. After death “the soul, though bound to the body, was at liberty to leave the grave and return to it during the daytime in any form it chose;” and a papyrus tells of mummies who “converse in their catacomb about certain circumstances of their past life upon earth.” Having desires, the ka must be ministered to; and, as M. Maspero says, “le double des pains, des liquides, de la viande, passait dans l’autre monde et y nourrissait le Double de l’homme.” Along with this belief that the bodily desires and satisfactions continued in the second life, there naturally went a conception of the second life as substantially like the first; as is shown by the elaborate delineations of it contained in ancient tombs, such as the tomb of Ti.

Along with ministrations to the appetites of the supposed material or semi-material dead, resulting from these beliefs, there went ministrations to desires of other kinds. In the richly-adorned sepulchral chamber of king Mycerinus’s daughter, there was a daily burning of incense; and at night a lamp was “kept burning in the apartment.” Habitually [3-23] there were public praises of the dead; and to tempt back to Egypt a valued subject, a king promises that “the poor shall make their moan at the door of thy tomb. Prayers shall be addressed to thee.” Such sacrifices, praises, and prayers, continued from festival to festival, and, eventually, from generation to generation, thus grew into established worships. “The monuments of the time of the building of the pyramids mention priests and prophets which were devoted to the service of Kheops, Chabryes, and other rulers, and who offered them sacrifices”—priests who had successors down even to the 26th dynasty. Such priesthoods were established for worship not of the royal dead only, but for worship of other dead. To ensure sacrifices to their statues, great landowners made “contracts with the priests of their town,” prescribing the kinds of food and drink to be offered. So far was this system carried that Hapi Tefa, the governor of a district, to maintain services to himself “for all time . . . provides salaries for the priests.” As implied in some of the foregoing extracts, there arose an idol-worship by differentiation from worship of the dead. The ka, expected eventually to return and re-animate the mummy, could enter also a statue of wood or stone representing the deceased. Hence some marvellous elaborations. In the Egyptian tomb, sometimes called the “house of the double,” there was a walled-up space having but a small opening, which contained images of the dead, more or less numerous; so that if re-animation of the mummy was prevented by destruction of it, any one of these might be utilized in its place.

The proofs thus furnished that their idolatry was developed from their ancestor-worship, are accompanied by proofs that their animal-worship was similarly developed. The god Ammon Ra is represented as saying to Thothmes III—

“I have caused them to behold thy majesty, even as it were the star Seschet (the evening star) . . . I have caused them to behold thy majesty as it were a bull young and full of spirit . . . I have caused them to behold thy majesty as it were a crocodile [and similarly with [3-24] a lion, an eagle, and a jackal] . . . It is I who protecteth thee, oh my cherished son! Horus, valiant bull, reigning over the Thebaid.”

Here, in the first place, we are shown, as we were shown by the Ainos, that there takes place a transition from simile to metaphor: “thy majesty, as it were a bull,” presently becomes “Horus, valiant bull.” This naturally leads in subsequent times to confusion of the man with the animal, and consequent worship of the animal. We may further see that complimentary comparisons to other animals, similarly passing through metaphors into identifications, are likely to generate belief in a deified individual who had sundry forms. Another case shows us how, from what was at first eulogistic naming of a local ruler, there may grow up the adoption of an animal-image for a known living person. We read of “the Ram, who is the Lord of the city of Mendes, the Great God, the Life of Ra, the Generator, the Prince of young women.” We find the king speaking of himself as “the image of the divine Ram, the living portrait of him . . . the divine efflux of the prolific Ram . . . the eldest son of the Ram.” And then, further, we are told that the king afterwards deified the first of his consorts, and “commanded that her Ram-image should be placed in all temples.”

So, too, literal interpretation of metaphors leads to worship of heavenly bodies. As above, the star Seschet comes to be identified with an individual; and so, continually, does the Sun. Thus it is said of a king—“My lord the Sun, Amenhotep III, the Prince of Thebes, rewarded me. He is the Sun-god himself;” and it is also said of him “no king has done the like, since the time of the reign of the Sun-god Ra, who possessed the land.” In kindred manner we are told of the sarcophagus provided for another king, Amenemhat, that “never the like had been provided since the time of the god Ra.” These quotations show that this complimentary metaphor was used in so positive a way as to cause acceptance of it as fact; and thus to generate a belief that the Sun had been actual ruler over Egypt.


The derivation of all these beliefs from ancestor-worship, clear as the above evidence makes it, becomes clearer still when we observe, on the one hand, how the name “god” was applied to a superior living individual, and, on the other hand, how completely human in all their attributes were the gods, otherwise so-called. The relatively small difference between the conceptions of the divine and the human, is shown by the significant fact that in the hieroglyphics, one and the same “determinative” means, according to the context, god, ancestor, august person. Hence we need not wonder on finding king Sahura of the 5th dynasty called “God, who strikes all nations, and reaches all countries with his arm;” or on meeting with like deifications of other historical kings and queens, such as Mencheres and Nofert-Ari-Aáhmes. And on finding omnipotence and omnipresence ascribed to a living king, as to Ramses II., we see little further scope for deification. Indeed we see no further scope; since along with these exalted conceptions of certain men there went low conceptions of gods.

“The bodies of the gods are spoken of as well as their souls, and they have both parts and passions; they are described as suffering from hunger and thirst, old age, disease, fear and sorrow. They perspire, their limbs quake, their head aches, their teeth chatter, their eyes weep, their nose bleeds, ‘poison takes possession of their flesh.’ . . . All the great gods require protection. Osiris is helpless against his enemies, and his remains are protected by his wife and sister.” [*]


The saying that one half the world does not know how the other half lives, may be paralleled by the saying that one half the world has no idea what the other half thinks, and what it once thought itself. Habitually at a later mental stage, there is a forgetting of that which was familiar at an earlier mental stage. Ordinarily in adult life many thoughts and feelings of childhood have faded so utterly that there is an incapacity for even imagining them; and, similarly, from the consciousness of cultured humanity there have so completely disappeared certain notions natural to the consciousness of uncultured humanity, that it has become almost incredible they should ever have been entertained. But just as certain as it is that the absurd beliefs at which parents laugh when displayed in their children, were once their own; so certain is it that advanced peoples to whom primitive conceptions seem ridiculous, had forefathers who held these primitive conceptions. Their own theory of things has arisen by slow modification of that original theory of things in which, from the supposed reality of dreams, there resulted the supposed reality of ghosts; whence developed all kinds of supposed supernatural beings.

§ 587. Is there any exception to this generalization? Are we to conclude that amid the numerous religions, varying [3-27] in their forms and degrees of elaboration, which have this common origin, there exists one which has a different origin? Must we say that while all the rest are natural, the religion possessed by the Hebrews which has come down to us with modifications, is supernatural?

If, in seeking an answer, we compare this supposed exceptional religion with the others, we do not find it so unlike them as to imply an unlike genesis. Contrariwise, we find it presenting throughout remarkable likenesses to them. We will consider these in groups.

In the first place, the plasma of superstitions amid which the religion of the Hebrews evolved, was of the same nature with that found everywhere. Though, during the early nomadic stage, the belief in a permanently-existing soul was undeveloped, yet there was shown belief in the reality of dreams and of the beings seen in dreams. At a later stage we find that the dead were supposed to hear and sometimes to answer; there was propitiation of the dead by gashing the body and cutting the hair; there was giving of food for the dead; spirits of the dead were believed to haunt burial-places; and demons entering into men caused their maladies and their sins. Much given, like existing savages, to amulets, charms, exorcisms, etc., the Hebrews also had functionaries who corresponded to medicine men—men having “familiar spirits,” “wizards” (Isaiah viii, 19), and others, originally called seers but afterwards prophets (1 Sam. ix, 9); to whom they made presents in return for information, even when seeking lost asses. And Samuel, in calling for thunder and rain, played the part of a weather-doctor—a personage still found in various parts of the world.

Sundry traditions they held in common with other peoples. Their legend of the deluge, besides being allied to that of the Accadians, was allied to that of the Hindus; among whom the Sathapatha-brāhmana tells how Manu was instructed by Vishnu to make an ark to escape the coming [3-28] flood, which came as foretold and “swept away all living creatures; Manu alone was left.” The story of Moses’ birth is paralleled by an Assyrian story, which says—“I am Sargina the great King . . . my mother . . . in a secret place she brought me forth: she placed me in an ark of bulrushes . . . she threw me into the river . . .” etc. Similarly with the calendar and its entailed observances. “The Assyrian months were lunar . . . the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days, being the sabbaths. On these sabbath days, extra work and even missions of mercy were forbidden . . . The enactments were similar in character to those of the Jewish code.”

So again is it with their Theology. Under the common title Elohim, were comprehended distinguished living persons, ordinary ghosts, superior ghosts or gods. That is to say, with the Hebrews as with the Egyptians and numerous other peoples, a god simply meant a powerful being, existing visibly or invisibly. As the Egyptian for god, Nutar, was variously used to indicate strength; so was Il or El among the Hebrews, who applied it to heroes and also “to the gods of the gentiles.” Out of these conceptions grew up, as in other cases, the propitiation or worship of various supernatural beings—a polytheism. Abraham was a demi-god to whom prayers were addressed. “They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not” (Deut. xxxii, 17). That the belief in other gods than Jahveh long survived, is shown by Solomon’s sacrifices to them, as well as by the denunciations of the prophets. Moreover, even after Jahveh had become the acknowledged great-god, the general conception remained essentially polytheistic. For just as in the Iliad (bk. v, 1000-1120) the gods and goddesses are represented as fighting with sword and lance the battles of the mortals whose causes they espoused; so the angels and archangels of the Hebrew pantheon are said to fight in Heaven when the peoples they respectively [3-29] patronize fight on earth: both ideas being paralleled by those of some existing savages.

Seeing then that Jahveh was originally one god among many—the god who became supreme; let us ask what was his nature as shown by the records. Not dwelling on the story of the garden of Eden (probably accepted from the Accadians) where God walked and talked in human fashion; and passing by the time when “the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded;” we may turn to such occasions as those on which Jacob wrestled with him, and on which “the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” These, and many kindred statements, show that by the Hebrews in early days, Jahveh, “the strong one,” “a man of war,” having been originally a local potentate (like those who even now are called gods by the Bedouins), was, in after times, regarded as the most powerful among the various spirits worshipped: the places where sacrifices to him were made, being originally high places (2 Kings xii, 3), such as those habitually used for the burials of superior persons; as they are still in the same regions. Says Burkhardt of the Bedouins—“the saints’ tombs are generally placed on the summits of mountains,” and “to him [a saint] all the neighbouring Arabs address their vows.” Here we see parallelism to the early religious ideas of Greeks, Scandinavians, and others; among whom gods, indistinguishable from men in appearance, sometimes entered into conflicts with them, not always successfully. Moreover, this “God of battles,” whose severe punishments, often inflicted, were for insubordination, was clearly a local god—“the god of Israel.” The command “thou shalt have none other gods but me,” did not imply that there were none other, but that the Israelites were not to recognize their authority. The admission that the Hebrew god was not the only god is tacitly made by the expression “our” god as used by the Hebrews to distinguish Jahveh from others. And though with these admissions that [3-30] Jahveh was one god among many, there were assertions of universality of rule; these were paralleled by assertions concerning certain gods of the Egyptians—nay, by assertions concerning a living Pharaoh, of whom it is said “no place is without thy goodness. Thy sayings are the law of every land. . . . Thou hast millions of ears. . . . Whatsoever is done in secret, thy eye seeth it.” Along with the limitations of Jahveh’s authority in range, went limitations of it in degree. There was no claim to omnipotence. Not forgetting the alleged failure of his attempt personally to slay Moses, we may pass on to the defeats of the Israelites when they fought by his advice, as in two battles with the Benjaminites, and as in a battle with the Philistines when “the ark of God was taken” (1 Sam. iv, 3-10). And then, beyond this, we are told that though “the Lord was with Judah,” he “could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” (Judges i, 19.) That is, there were incapacities equalling those attributed by other peoples to their gods. Similarly with intellectual and moral nature. Jahveh receives information; he goes to see whether reports are true; he repents of what he has done—all implying anything but omniscience. Like Egyptian and Assyrian kings, he continually lauds himself; and while saying “I will not give my glory to another” (Isai. xlviii, 11), he describes himself as jealous, as revengeful, and as a merciless destroyer of enemies. He sends a lying spirit to mislead a king, as Zeus does to Agamemnon (2 Chron. xviii, 20-2); by his own account he will deceive a prophet that he may prophesy falsely, intending then to destroy him (Ezekiel xiv, 9); he hardens men’s hearts that he may inflict evils on them for what they then do; and, as when he prompts David to number Israel, suggests a supposed sin that he may afterwards punish those who have not committed it. He acts as did the Greek gods; from whom bad impulses were supposed to come, and who were similarly indiscriminate in their revenges.


The forms of worship show us like parallelisms. Not dwelling on the intended or actual human sacrifices (though by grouping the sacrifice of a son with sacrifices of rams and calves, as methods of propitiation to be repudiated, Micah implies in ch. vi, 6-9 that the two had been associated in the Hebrew mind), it suffices to point out that the prescribed ceremonies in temples, had the characters usual everywhere. Called in sundry places the “bread of God,” the offerings, like those to Egyptian gods and mummies, included bread, meat, fat, oil, blood, drink, fruits, etc.; and there was maintained, as by other peoples, a constant fire, as well as burnings of incense: twice daily by the Hebrews, and four times daily by the Mexicans. Jahveh was supposed to enjoy the “sweet savour” of the burnt offerings, like the idol-inhabiting gods of the negroes (§ 161). Associated with the belief that “the blood is the life,” this, either poured on the ground or on the altar, according to circumstances, was reserved for Jahveh; as with the ancient Mexican and Central American gods, to whom was continually offered up the blood alike of sacrificed men and animals: now the image of the god being anointed with it, and now the cornice of the doorway of the temple. As the Egyptians and as the Greeks, so did the Hebrews offer hecatombs of oxen and sheep to their god; sometimes numbering many thousands (1 Kings viii, 62-64). To the Hebrews, it was a command that unblemished animals only should be used for sacrifices; and so among the Greeks a “law provided that the best of the cattle should be offered to the Gods,” and among the Peruvians it was imperative that “all should be without spot or blemish.” A still more remarkable likeness exists. Those orders made in Leviticus, under which certain parts of animals are to be given to Jahveh while other parts are left to the priests, remind us of those endowment-deeds, by which Egyptian landowners provided that for their ghosts should be reserved certain joints of the sacrificed animals, while the remaining parts were made [3-32] over to the ka-priests. Again, just as we have seen that the gods of the Wayao, who were ghosts of ancient great chiefs, dwelt on the cloudy summits of certain adjacent mountains; and just as the residence of “cloud-compelling Jove” was the top of Olympus, where storms gathered; so the Hebrew god “descended in the cloud” on the summit of Mount Sinai, sometimes with thunder and lightning. Moreover, the statement that from thence Moses brought down the tables of the commands, alleged to be given by Jahveh, parallels the statement that from Mount Ida in Crete, from the cave where Zeus was said to have been brought up (or from the connected Mount Iuktas reputed in ancient times to contain the burial place of Zeus), Rhadamanthus first brought down Zeus’ decrees, and Minos repaired to obtain re-inforced authority for his laws. [*]

Various other likenesses may be briefly noted. With the account of the council held by Jahveh when compassing Ahab’s destruction, may be compared the account of the council of the Egyptian gods assembled to advise Ra, when contemplating the destruction of the world, and also the accounts of the councils of the Greek gods held by Zeus. Images of the gods, supposed to be inhabited by them, have been taken to battle by various peoples; as by the Hebrews was the ark of the covenant, which was a dwelling place of [3-33] Jahveh. As by many savages, who even when living dislike their names to be known, it is forbidden to call a dead man by his real name, especially if distinguished; and as among the early Romans, it was a “deeply cherished belief that the name of the proper tutelary spirit of the community ought to remain for ever unpronounced;” so was it with the Hebrews in early days: their god was not named. Dancing was a form of worship among the Hebrews as it was among the Greeks and among various savages: instance the Iroquois. Fast and penances like those of the Hebrews exist, or have existed, in many places; especially in ancient Mexico, Central America, and Peru, where they were extremely severe. The fulfilments of prophecies alleged by the Hebrews were paralleled by fulfilments of prophecies alleged by the Greeks; and the Greeks in like manner took them to be evidence of the truth of their religion. Nay we are told the same even of the Sandwich Islanders, who said that Captain Cook’s death “fulfilled the prophecies of the priests, who had foretold this sad catastrophe.” The working of miracles alleged of the Hebrew god as though it were special, is one of the ordinary things alleged of the gods of all peoples throughout the world. The translation of the living Elijah recalls the Chaldean legend of Izdubar’s “translated ancestor, Hasisadra or Xisuthrus;” and in New World mythologies, there are the cases of Hiawatha, who was carried living to heaven in his magic canoe, and the hero of the Arawâks, Arawanili. As by the Hebrews, Jahveh is represented as having in the earliest times appeared to men in human shape, but not in later times; so by the Greeks, the theophany frequently alleged in the Iliad becomes rare in traditions of later date. Nay, the like happened with the ancient Central Americans. Said an Indian in answer to Fr. Bobadilla—“For a long time our gods have not come nor spoken to them [the devotees]. But formerly they used to do so, as our ancestors told us.”

Nor do parallelisms fail us when we turn to the more [3-34] developed form of the Hebrew religion. That the story of a god-descended person should be habitually spoken of by Christians as though it were special to their religion, is strange considering their familiarity with stories of god-descended persons among the Greeks,—Æsculapius, Pythagoras, Plato. But it is not the Greek religion only which furnished such parallels. The Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar asserted that he had been god-begotten. It is a tradition among the Mongols that Alung Goa, who herself “had a spirit for her father,” bore three sons by a spirit. In ancient Peru if any of the virgins of the Sun “appeared to be pregnant, she said it was by the Sun, and this was believed, unless there was any evidence to the contrary.” And among the existing inhabitants of Mangaia it is the tradition that “the lovely Ina-ani-vai” had two sons by the great god Tangaroa. The position, too, of mediator held by the god-descended son, has answering positions elsewhere. Among the Fijian gods, “Tokairambe and Tui Lakemba Randinandina seem to stand next to Ndengei, being his sons, and acting as mediators by transmitting the prayers of suppliants to their father.”

Once more we have, in various places, observances corresponding to the eucharist. All such observances originate from the primitive notion that the natures of men, inhering in all their parts, inhere also in whatever becomes incorporated with them; so that a bond is established between those who eat of the same food. As furnishing one out of many instances, I may name the Padam, who “hold inviolate any engagement cemented by an interchange of meat as food.” Believing that the ghosts of the dead, retaining their appetites, feed either on the material food offered or on the spirit of it, this conception is extended to them. Hence arise, in various parts of the world, feasts at which living and dead are supposed to join; and thus to renew the relation of subordination on the one side and friendliness on the other. And this eating with the ghost or the god, which by the Mexicans, [3-35] was transformed into “eating the god” (symbolized by a cake made up with the blood of a victim), was associated with a bond of service to the god for a specified period. Briefly stringing together minor likenesses, we may note that the Christian crusades to get possession of the holy sepulchre, had their prototype in the sacred war of the Greeks to obtain access to Delphi; that as, among Christians, part of the worship consists in reciting the doings of the Hebrew god, prophets, and kings, so worship among the Greeks consisted partly in reciting the great deeds of the Homeric gods and heroes; that Greek temples were made rich by precious gifts from kings and wealthy men to obtain divine favour or forgiveness, as Christian cathedrals have been; that St. Peter’s at Rome was built by funds raised from various catholic countries, as the temple of Delphi was rebuilt by contributions from various Grecian states; that the doctrine of special providences, general over the world, was as dominant among the Greeks as it has been among Christians, so that, in the words of Grote, “the lives of the Saints bring us even back to the simple and ever-operative theology of the Homeric age;” and lastly that various religions, alike in the new and old worlds, show us, in common with Christianity, baptism, confession, canonization, celibacy, the saying of grace, and other minor observances.

§ 588. What are we to conclude from all this evidence? What must we think of this unity of character exhibited by religions at large? And then, more especially, what shall we say of the family likeness existing between the creed of Christendom and other creeds? Observe the facts.

Alike in those minds among the civilized which, by defective senses, have been cut off from instruction, and in the minds of various primitive peoples, religious conceptions do not exist. Wherever the rudiments of them exist, they of the dead. The ghost-theory, with resulting propitiation have, as their form, a belief in, and sacrifices to, the doubles of ordinary ghosts, habitually survives along with belief in, [3-36] and propitiation of, supernatural beings of more powerful kinds; known at first by the same generic name as ordinary ghosts, and differentiating by small steps. And the worships of the supposed supernatural beings, up even to the highest, are the same in nature, and differ only in their degrees of elaboration. What do these correspondences imply? Do they not imply that in common with other phenomena displayed by human beings as socially aggregated, religions have a natural genesis?

Are we to make an exception of the religion current among ourselves? If we say that its likenesses to the rest hide a transcendant unlikeness, several implications must be recognized. One is that the Cause to which we can put no limits in Space or Time, and of which our entire Solar System is a relatively infinitesimal product, took the disguise of a man for the purpose of covenanting with a shepherd-chief in Syria. Another is that this Energy, unceasingly manifested everywhere, throughout past, present, and future, ascribed to himself under this human form, not only the limited knowledge and limited powers which various passages show Jahveh to have had, but also moral attributes which we should now think discreditable to a human being. And a third is that we must suppose an intention even more repugnant to our moral sense. For if these numerous parallelisms between the Christian religion and other religions, do not prove likeness of origin and development, then the implication is that a complete simulation of the natural by the supernatural has been deliberately devised to deceive those who examine critically what they are taught. Appearances have been arranged for the purpose of misleading sincere inquirers, that they may be eternally damned for seeking the truth.

On those who accept this last alternative, no reasonings will have any effect. Here we finally part company with them by accepting the first; and, accepting it, shall find that Ecclesiastical Institutions are at once rendered intelligible in their rise and progress.





§ 589. A satisfactory distinction between priests and medicine-men is difficult to find. Both are concerned with supernatural agents, which in their original forms are ghosts; and their ways of dealing with these supernatural agents are so variously mingled, that at the outset no clear classification can be made.

Among the Patagonians the same men officiate in the “three-fold capacity of priests, magicians, and doctors;” and among the North American Indians the functions of “sorcerer, prophet, physician, exorciser, priest, and rain-doctor,” are united. The Pe-i-men of Guiana “act as conjurors, soothsayers, physicians, judges, and priests.” So, too, Ellis says that in the Sandwich Islands the doctors are generally priests and sorcerers. In other cases we find separation beginning; as witness the New Zealanders, who, in addition to priests, had at least one in each tribe who was a reputed sorcerer. And with advancing social organization there habitually comes a permanent separation.

In point of time the medicine-men takes precedence. Describers of the degraded Fuegians, speak only of wizards; and even of the relatively-advanced Mapuchés on the adjacent continent, we read that they have no priests, though they have diviners and magicians. In Australian tribes the only men concerned with the supernatural are the boyala-men or doctors; and the like is alleged by Bonwick of the [3-38] Tasmanians. Moreover, in many other instances, those who are called priests among uncivilized peoples, do little else than practise sorcery under one or other form. The pajé or priest of the Mundurucús “fixes upon the time most propitious for attacking the enemy; exorcises evil spirits, and professes to cure the sick;” and the like is the case with the Uaupés. In various tribes of North America, as the Clallums, Chippewayans, Crees, the priests’ actions are simply those of a conjuror.

How shall we understand this confusion of the two functions, and the early predominance of that necromantic function which eventually becomes so subordinate?

§ 590. If we remember that in primitive thought the other world repeats this world, to the extent that its ghostly inhabitants lead similar lives, stand in like social relations, and are moved by the same passions; we shall see that the various ways of dealing with ghosts, adopted by medicine-men and priests, are analogous to the various ways men adopt of dealing with one another; and that in both cases the ways change according to circumstances.

See how each member of a savage tribe stands towards other savages. There are first the members of adjacent tribes, chronically hostile, and ever on the watch to injure him and his fellows. Among those of his own tribe there are parents and near relatives from whom, in most cases, he looks for benefit and aid; and towards whom his conduct is in the main amicable, though occasionally antagonistic. Of the rest, there are some inferior to himself over whom he habitually domineers; there are others proved by experience to be stronger and more cunning, of whom he habitually stands in fear, and to whom his behaviour is propitiatory; and there are many whose inferiority or superiority is so far undecided, that he deals with them now in one way and now in another as the occasion prompts—changing from bullying to submission or from submission to bullying, as he finds one [3-39] or other answer. Thus to the living around him, he variously adapts his actions—now to conciliate, now to oppose, now to injure, according as his ends seem best subserved.

Men’s ghosts being at first conceived as in all things like their originals, it results that the assemblage of them to which dead members of the tribe and of adjacent tribes give rise, is habitually thought of by each person as standing to him in relations like those in which living friends and enemies stand to him. How literally this is so, is well shown by a passage from Bishop Callaway’s account of the Zulus, in which an interlocutor describes his relations with the spirit of his brother.

“You come to me, coming for the purpose of killing me. It is clear that you were a bad fellow when you were a man: are you still a bad fellow under the ground?”

Ghosts and ghost-derived gods being thus thought of as repeating the traits and modes of behaviour of living men, it naturally happens that the modes of treating them are similarly adjusted—there are like efforts, now to please, now to deceive, now to coerce. Stewart tells us of the Nagas that they cheat one of their gods who is blind, by pretending that a small sacrifice is a large one. Among the Bouriats, the evil spirit to whom an illness is ascribed, is deluded by an effigy—is supposed “to mistake the effigy for the sick person,” and when the effigy is destroyed thinks he has succeeded. In Kibokwé, Cameron saw a “sham devil,” whose “functions were to frighten away the devils who haunted the woods.” Believing in spirits everywhere around, the Kamtschatkans “adored them when their wishes were fulfilled, and insulted them when their affairs went amiss.” The incantations over a sick New Zealander were made “with the expectation of either propitiating the angry deity, or of driving him away:” to which latter end threats to “kill and eat him,” or to burn him, were employed. The Wáralís, who worship Wághiá, on being asked—“Do you ever scold Wághiá?” replied—“To be sure, we do. We say, You fellow, [3-40] we have given you a chicken, a goat, and yet you strike us! What more do you want?” And then to cases like these, in which the conduct towards certain ghosts and ghost-derived gods, is wholly or partially antagonistic, have to be added the cases, occurring abundantly everywhere, in which those ghosts who are supposed to stand in amicable relations with the living, are propitiated by gifts, by praises, and by expressions of subordination, with the view of obtaining their good offices—ghosts who receive extra propitiations when they are supposed to be angry, and therefore likely to inflict evils.

Thus, then, arises a general contrast between the actions and characters of men who deal antagonistically with supernatural beings and men who deal sympathetically. Hence the difference between medicine-men and priests; and hence, too, the early predominance of medicine-men.

§ 591. For in primitive societies relations of enmity, both outside the tribe and inside the tribe, are more general and marked than relations of amity; and therefore the doubles of the dead are more frequently thought of as foes than as friends.

As already shown at length in §§ 118, 119, one of the first corollaries drawn from the ghost-theory is, that ghosts are the causes of disasters. Numerous doubles of the dead supposed to haunt the neighbourhood, are those of enemies to the tribe. Of the rest, the larger number are those with whom there have been relations of antagonism or jealousy. The ghosts of friends, too, and even of relatives, are apt to take offence and to revenge themselves. Hence, accidents, misfortunes, diseases, deaths, perpetually suggest the agency of malevolent spirits and the need for combating them. Modes of driving them away are devised; and the man who gains repute for success in using such modes becomes an important personage. Led by the primitive conception of ghosts as like their originals in their sensations, emotions, [3-41] and ideas, he tries to frighten them by threats, by grimaces, by horrible noises; or to disgust them by stenches and by things to which they are averse; or, in cases of disease, to make the body a disagreeable habitat by subjecting it to intolerable heat or violent ill-usage. And the medicine-man, deluding himself as well as others into the belief that spirits have been expelled by him, comes to be thought of as having the ability to coerce them, and so to get supernatural aid: as instance a pagé of the Uaupés, who is “believed to have power to kill enemies, to bring or send away rain, to destroy dogs or game, to make the fish leave a river, and to afflict with various diseases.”

The early predominance of the medicine-man as distinguished from the priest, has a further cause. At first the only ghosts regarded as friendly are those of relatives, and more especially of parents. The result is that propitiatory acts, mostly performed by descendants, are relatively private. But the functions of the medicine-man are not thus limited in area. As a driver away of malicious ghosts, he is called upon now by this family and now by that; and so comes to be a public agent, having duties co-extensive with the tribe. Such priestly character as he occasionally acquires by the use of propitiatory measures, qualifies but little his original character. He remains essentially an exorcist.

It should be added that the medicine-man proper, has some capacity for higher development as a social factor, though he cannot in this respect compare with the priest. Already in § 474, instances have been given showing that repute as a sorcerer sometimes conduces to the attainment and maintenance of political power; and here is another.

“The King of Great Cassan [Gambea] call’d Magro . . . was well skill’d in Necromantick Arts. . . . One time to shew his Art, he caused a strong Wind to blow. . . . Another time desiring to be resolved of some questioned particular, after his Charms a smoke and flame arose out of the Earth, by which he gathered the answer to his demand.”


We also saw in § 198 that the medicine-man, regarded with fear, occasionally becomes a god.

§ 592. In subsequent stages when social ranks, from head ruler downwards, have been formed, and when there has evolved a mythology having gradations of supernatural beings—when, simultaneously, there have grown up priesthoods ministering to those superior supernatural beings who cannot be coerced but must be propitiated; a secondary confusion arises between the functions of medicine-men and priests. Malevolent spirits, instead of being expelled directly by the sorcerer’s own power, are expelled by the aid of some superior spirit. The priest comes to play the part of an exorcist by calling on the supernatural being with whom he maintains friendly relations, to drive out some inferior supernatural being who is doing mischief.

This partial usurpation by the priest of the medicine-man’s functions, we trace alike in the earliest civilizations and in existing civilizations. At the one extreme we have the fact that the Egyptians “believed . . . in the incessant intervention of the gods; and their magical literature is based on the notion of frightening one god by the terrors of a more powerful divinity;” and at the other extreme we have the fact that in old editions of our Book of Common Prayer, unclean spirits are commanded to depart “in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

There may be added the evidence which early records yield, that the superior supernatural beings invoked to expel inferior supernatural beings, had been themselves at one time medicine-men. Summarizing a tablet which he translates, Smith says—

“It is supposed in it that a man was under a curse, and Merodach, one of the gods, seeing him, went to the god Hea his father and enquired how to cure him. Hea, the god of Wisdom, in answer related the ceremonies and incantations, for effecting his recovery, and these are recorded in the tablet for the benefit of the faithful in after times.”


§ 593. Thus, after recognizing the fact that in primitive belief the doubles of the dead, like their originals in all things, admit of being similarly dealt with, and may therefore be induced to yield benefits or desist from inflicting evils, by bribing them, praising them, asking their forgiveness, or by deceiving and cajoling them, or by threatening, frightening, or coercing them; we see that the modes of dealing with ghosts, broadly contrasted as antagonistic and sympathetic, initiate the distinction between medicine-man and priest.

It is needless here to follow out the relatively unimportant social developments which originate from the medicine-man. Noting, as we have done, that he occasionally grows politically powerful, and sometimes becomes the object of a cult after his death, it will suffice if we note further, that during civilization he has varieties of decreasingly-conspicuous descendants, who, under one or other name, using one or other method, are supposed to have supernatural power or knowledge. Scattered samples of them still survive under the forms of wise women and the like, in our rural districts.

But the other class of those who are concerned with the supernatural, becoming, as it does, conspicuous and powerful, and acquiring as society develops an organization often very elaborate, and a dominance sometimes supreme, must be dealt with at length.





§ 594. As we have before seen (§ 87), it is in some cases the custom to destroy corpses for the purpose of preventing resurrection of them and consequent annoyance by them; and in other cases where no such measure of protection is taken, the dead are, without discrimination between relatives and others, dreaded as causers of misfortunes and diseases. Illustrations of this belief as existing among various savages were given in Part I, Chaps. XVI, XVII. Here is another from New Britain.

The Matukanaputa natives “bury their dead underneath the hut which was lately inhabited by the deceased, after which the relatives go for a long canoe journey, staying away some months . . . they say . . . the spirit of the departed stays in his late residence for some time after his death, and eventually finding no one to torment goes away for good; the surviving relatives then return and remain there as formerly.”

Even where ghosts are regarded as generally looking on their descendants with goodwill, they are apt to take offence and to need propitiation. We read of the Santals that from the silent gloom of the adjacent grove—

“the byegone generations watch their children and children’s children playing their several parts in life, not altogether with an unfriendly eye. Nevertheless the ghostly inhabitants of the grove are sharp critics, and deal out crooked limbs, cramps and leprosy, unless duly appeased.”

But while recognizing the fact that ghosts in general are usually held to be more or less malicious, we find, as might [3-45] be expected, that the smallest amount of enmity and the greatest amount of amity are supposed to be felt by the ghosts of relatives. Indeed by some races such ghosts are considered purely beneficent; as by the Karens, who think their meritorious ancestors “exercise a general watch care over their children on earth.”

Though among various peoples there is propitiation chiefly of bad spirits, while good spirits are ignored as not likely to do mischief; yet wherever ancestor-worship preserves its original lineaments, we find the chief attention paid to the spirits of kindred. Prompted as offerings on graves originally are by affection for the deceased, and called forth as praises are by actual regrets for his or her departure, it naturally happens that these propitiations are made more by relatives than by others.

§ 595. Hence then the truth, everywhere illustrated, that those who perform the offices of the primitive cult are, at the outset, children or other members of the family. Hence then the fact that in Samoa—

“Prayers at the grave of a parent or brother or chief were common. Some, for example, would pray for health in sickness and might or might not recover.”

Hence the fact that the people of Banks’ Island, setting out on a voyage, would say—

“ ‘Uncle! Father! plenty of pigs for you, plenty of money, kava for your drinking, twenty bags of food for your eating in the canoe. I pray you look upon me; let me go safe on the sea.’ ”

And hence once more the fact that among the Blantyre negroes—

“If they pray for a successful hunting expedition and return laden with venison or ivory, they know that it is their old relative that has done it, and they give him a thank-offering. If the hunting party get nothing, they may say ‘the spirit has been sulky with us,’ . . . and refuse the thank-offering.”

Unquestionably these cases, re-inforcing many before given, show us the beginnings of a family-religion. Along [3-46] with that fear of a supernatural being which forms the central element of every religion, we see sacrifice and prayer, gratitude and hope, as well as the expectation of getting benefits proportionate to propitiations.

§ 596. An interpretation is thus furnished of the fact that in undeveloped societies the priestly function is generally diffused.

We find this to be the case at present among the uncivilized; as in New Caledonia, where “almost every family has its priest;” as in Madagascar, where other worships have arisen “long subsequently to the prevalence of the worship of household gods;” and as among the aborigines of India, who, though they propitiate ancestors, have not “in general, a regular and established priesthood.” So, too, was it with the people who made the first advances in civilization—the Egyptians. Each family maintained the sacrifices to its own dead; and the greater deities had a semi-private worship, carried on by actual or nominal descendants. The like held of the Greeks and Romans, who joined sacrifices made to their public gods, chiefly by priests, with sacrifices made by private persons to their household gods who were dead relatives. And it is the same at the present time in China, where priesthoods devoted to wider worships, have not supplanted the primitive worship of departed progenitors by their offspring.

Having thus observed that in the earliest stage, propitiation of the double of a dead man by offerings, praises, etc., is carried on by surviving relatives, we have now to observe that this family-cult acquires a more definite form by the devolution of its functions on one member of the family.





§ 597. Though in the earliest stages sacrifices to the ghost of the dead man are made by descendants in general, yet in conformity with the law of the instability of the homogeneous, an inequality soon arises: the propitiatory function falls into the hands of one member of the group. Of the Samoans we read that “the father of the family was the high-priest.” The like was true of the Tahitians: “in the family . . . the father was the priest.” Of Madagascar, Drury says—“Every man here . . . is a Priest for himself and Family.” Similarly in Asia. Among the Ostyaks “the father of a family was the sole priest, magician, and god maker;” and among the Gonds religious rites are “for the most part performed by some aged relative.” With higher races it is, or has been, the same. By existing Hindoos the daily offering to ancestors is made by the head of the family. While “every good Chinaman regularly, every day, burns incense before the tablet to his father’s memory,” on important occasions the rites are performed by the head of the brotherhood. That family-headship brought the like duties in respect of manes-worship among Greeks and Romans, needs no showing. Speaking of primitive Sabæans, Palgrave says—“presidence in worship was, it seems, the privilege merely of greater age or of family headship;” and even among the Jews, to whom propitiation of the dead had been forbidden, there long survived the usage which had resulted from it. Kuenen remarks that though, up to David’s time, “the competence of every Israelite to [3-48] offer sacrifice was not doubted,” yet “it was the kings and the heads of the tribes and families especially who made use of this privilege.”

In the course of evolution under all its forms, differentiations tend ever to become more definite and fixed; and the differentiation above indicated is no exception. Eventually the usage so hardens, that the performance of sacrificial rites to ancestors is restricted to particular descendants. Speaking of the ancient Aryans, Sir Henry Maine says—“not only must the ancestor worshipped be a male ancestor, but the worshipper must be the male child or other male descendant.”

§ 598. Hence certain sequences which we must note before we can rightly understand the institutions which eventually become established. In ancient Egypt “it was most important that a man should have a son established in his seat after him who should perform the due rites [of sacrifice to his ka, or double] and see that they were performed by others.” Still more strongly was the need felt by the ancient Aryans. Says Duncker, “according to the law [of the Brahmans] every man ought to marry; he must have a son who may one day pour for him the libations for the dead.” And we further read concerning them:—

“But the chief reason [for allowing polygamy] was that a son must necessarily be born to the father to offer libations for the dead to him. If the legitimate wife was barren, or brought forth daughters only, the defect must be remedied by a second wife. Even now Hindoo wives, in a similar case, are urgent with their husbands to associate a second wife with them, in order that they may not die without male issue. How strong the necessity was felt in ancient times is shown by an indication of the Rigveda, where the childless widow summons her brother-in-law to her bed, and by the narrative in the Epos of the widows of the king who died without a son, for whom children are raised up by a relation, and these children pass for the issue of the dead king (p. 85, 101). The law shows that such a custom did exist, and is not a poetic invention. It permits a son to be begotten by the brother of the husband, or the nearest of kin after him; in any case by a man of the same race (gotra), even in the life-time of the husband with his consent.”


Among the Jews, too, though interdicted by their law from making material sacrifices to the dead, there survived the need for a son to utter the sacrificial prayer.

“Part of this extreme desire for sons is rooted in the fact that men alone can really pray, that men only can repeat the Kaddish, a prayer that has become almost a corner-stone of Hebraism, for there is deemed inherent in it a marvellous power. It is held that this prayer spoken by children over their parents’ graves releases their souls from purgatory, that it is able to penetrate graves, and tell the dead parents that their children remember them.”

So is it too in China, where a chief anxiety during life is to make provision for proper sacrifices after death. Failure of a first wife to bear a male child who may perform them, is considered a legitimate reason for taking a second wife; and in the Corea, where the funeral ceremonies are so elaborate that the mourners have cues to weep or cease weeping, we are shown the quasi-priestly function of the son, and also get an indication of the descent of this function. After a death “a man must be at once appointed Shangjoo, or male Chief Mourner. The eldest son, if living, or, failing him, his son rather than his brother, is the proper Shangjoo. . . . When these friends arrive, they mourn altogether, with the Shangjoo at their head.” And among the Shangjoo’s duties is that of putting food into the deceased’s mouth: performing, at the same time, the reverential obeisance—baring his left shoulder.

§ 599. The primitive and long-surviving belief in a second life repeating the first in its needs—a belief which, as we see, prompted surprising usages for procuring an actual or nominal son who should minister to these needs—prompted, in other cases, a usage which, though infrequent among ourselves, has been and still is frequent in societies less divergent from early types: so frequent as to cause surprise until we understand its origin. Says Satow—“The practice of adoption, which supplies the childless with heirs, is common all over the East, but its justification in Japan is the necessity of keeping up the ancestral sacrifices.” Accounts [3-50] of Greeks and Romans show us that a kindred custom had among them a kindred motive. Though, as indicated in §§ 319 and 452, the practice of adoption had, among these people, survived from the times when its chief purpose was that of strengthening the patriarchal group; yet it is clear that the more special form of adoption which grew up had another purpose. Such a ceremony as that of a mock birth, whereby a fictitious son was made to simulate as nearly as might be a real son, could not have had a political origin, but must have had a domestic origin; and this origin was the one above indicated. As is pointed out by Prof. Hunter, Gaius speaks of “the great desire of the ancients to have vacant inheritances filled up, in order that there might be some one to perform the sacred rites, which were specially called for at the time of death.” And since the context shows that this was the dominant reason for easy legalization of inheritance, it becomes clear that it was not primarily in the interest of the son, or the fictitious son, or the adopted son, that heirship was soon settled; but in the interest of the departed person. Just as, in ancient Egypt, men made bequests and endowed priests for the purpose of carrying on sacrifices in the private shrines erected to them; so did Roman fathers secure to themselves dutiful heirs, artificial when not natural, to minister to their ghosts out of the transmitted property.

Further significant evidence is supplied by the fact that heirship involved sacrifice. It was thus with the Eastern Aryans. Sir Henry Maine, speaking of the “elaborate liturgy and ritual” for ancestor-worship among the Hindus, says—“In the eye of the ancient Hindu sacerdotal lawyer, the whole law of Inheritance is dependent on its accurate observance.” Or as Prof. Hunter remarks of these people—“The earliest notions of succession to deceased persons are connected with duties rather than with rights, with sacrifices rather than with property.” And it was so with the Western Aryans. Sir Henry Maine quotes the appeal of a Greek orator on behalf of a litigant—“Decide between us, which [3-51] of us should have the succession and make the sacrifices at the tomb.” And he points out that “the number, costliness, and importance of these ceremonies and oblations [to the dead] among the Romans,” were such that even when they came to be less regarded, “the charges for them were still a heavy burden on Inheritances.” Nay, even in mediæval Christendom there survived the same general conception in a modified form. Personal property was held to be “primarily a fund for the celebration of masses to deliver the soul of the owner from purgatory.”

That these obligations to the dead had a religious character, is shown by the fact that where they have survived down to our own day, they take precedence of all other obligations. In India “a man may be pardoned for neglecting all his social duties, but he is for ever cursed if he fails to perform the funeral obsequies of his parents, and to present them with the offerings due to them.”

§ 600. That we may the better comprehend early ideas of the claim supposed to be made by the double of the dead man on his property and his heir, it will be well to give some ancient examples of the way in which a son, or one who by a fiction stands in the position of a son, speaks of, or speaks to, his actual or nominal father who has died.

In Egypt, at Beni-hassan, an inscription by Chnumhotep says—“I made to flourish the name of my father, and I built the chapels for his ka. I caused my statues to be conveyed to the holy dwelling, and distributed to them their offerings in pure gifts. I instituted the officiating priest, to whom I gave donations in lands and peasants.” Similarly at Abydos, Rameses II says concerning the worship of his father, Seti I:—

“I dedicated to thee the lands of the South for the service of thy temple, and the lands of the North, they bring to thee their gifts before thy beautiful countenance . . . I fixed for thee the number of the fields . . . great is their number according to their valuation in acres. I provided thee with land-surveyors and husbandmen, to deliver the corn for thy revenues.”


Both which extracts exhibit the successor as being, in some sort, a steward for the deceased, administering on his behalf.

So was it in an adjacent empire. Assyria’s “first rulers were called Patesi or ‘Viceroys’ of Assur;” and an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser says:—

“Ashur (and) the great gods, the guardians of my kingdom, who have government and laws to my dominions, and ordered an enlarged frontier to their territory, having committed to (my) hand their valiant and warlike servants, I have subdued the lands and the peoples and the strong places, and the Kings who were hostile to Ashur.”

If now we remember that in Egypt the ka, or double of the dead man, was expected to return after a long period to re-animate his mummy and resume his original life—if we recall, too, the case of the Peruvians, who, similarly providing elaborately for the welfare of departed persons, similarly believed that they would eventually return—if we find ourselves thus carried back to the primitive notion that death is simply a long-suspended animation; we may suspect the original conception to be that when he revives, a man will reclaim whatever he originally had; and that therefore whoever holds his property, holds it subject to his prior claim—holds it as a kind of tenant who may be dispossessed by the owner, and whose sacred duty meanwhile is to administer it primarily for the owner’s benefit.

§ 601. Be this so or not, however, the facts grouped as above, clearly show how, among the progenitors of the civilized peoples of the Old World, as well as among peoples who still retain early institutions, there arose those arrangements of the family-cult which existed, or still exist.

What has happened where descent in the female line obtains, is not clear. I have met with no statements showing that in societies characterized by this usage, the duty of ministering to the double of the dead man devolved on one of his children rather than on others. But the above facts show that, where the system of counting kinship through males has been established, the descent of the priestly function [3-53] follows the same law as the descent of property; and there are other facts showing it more directly.

At the present time the connexion between the two is well displayed in China, where “it is regarded as indispensable that there should be some one to burn incense to the manes of the dead, from the eldest son down to posterity in the direct line of the eldest son, either by an own child or an adopted child;” and where the eldest son, who inherits more than other sons, has to bear the cost of the offerings. So, too, is it in the Corea, where, as already pointed out, the Shangjoo, or chief mourner, is either the eldest son or the eldest son of the eldest. When the corpse is buried, “if there are graves of ancestors in that place already, the Shangjoo sacrifices before them also, informing them of the new arrival.”

These facts, along with foregoing ones, show that devolution of the sacrificial office accompanies devolution of property, because the property has to bear the costs of the sacrifices. We see that in societies characterized by the patriarchal form of organization, a son, who alone was capable of inheriting, could alone have due means of ministering to the deceased, and therefore could alone be priest. Whence obviously resulted the necessity for having a male descendant, as indicated above.

At the same time we are shown how, under the patriarchal type of society in its first stages, the domestic, the political, and the ecclesiastical, are undistinguished. These sacrifices made to the departed head of a family-group are primarily domestic. As the family-group develops into the compound group, the patriarch at its head acquires a quasi-political character; and these offerings made to him after death are in the nature of tribute, while fulfilment of the commands he left, disobedience to which may bring punishment when he returns, implies civil subordination. At the same time, in so far as these actions are performed to propitiate a being distinguished as supernatural, those who perform them acquire a quasi-ecclesiastical character.





§ 602. In Chapters XIV and XV of Part I, we saw that according to the primitive Theory of Things, this life and this world stand in close relations with the other life and the other world. As implied at the end of the last chapter, one of the many results is that throughout early stages of social evolution, the secular and the sacred are but little distinguished.

Speaking of religion and politics, Huc remarks that “in the Eastern regions of Asia they were formerly one and the same thing, if we may judge from tradition. . . . The name of heaven was given to the Empire, the sovereign called himself God.” How intimately blended were conceived to be the affairs of the material and spiritual worlds by the ancient Ethiopians, is well shown in Maspero’s translation of a tablet describing the choice of a king by them.

“Then said each of them [the assembled host] unto his mate: ‘It is true! since the time heaven was, since the royal crown was, . . . Ra decreed to give it unto his son whom he loves, so that the king be an image of Ra amongst the living; and has not Ra put himself in this land, that this land may be in peace?’ Then said each of them unto his mate: ‘But Ra has he not gone away to heaven, and is not his seat empty without a king . . . ?’ So this whole host mourned, saying: ‘There is a Lord standing amongst us without our knowing him!’ ” [The host eventually agrees to go to Amen-Ra, “who is the god of Kush,” and ask him to give them their “Lord to vivify” them. Amen-Ra selects one of the Royal Brothers. The new king makes his obeisance to Amen-Ra, “and smelt the earth very much, very much, saying: ‘Come to me, Amen-Ra, Lord of the seats of both worlds.’ ”]


Again of the ancient Peruvians we read that—

“If the estates of the King were not sufficient to provide for the excessive cost of a war, then those of the Sun were made available, which the Ynca considered to be his, as the legitimate child and heir of the Deity.”

If from the primitive belief that the double of the dead man will presently return and resume his life, there results the conception that the son who holds his property and ministers to him from its proceeds is but a deputy, then this fusion of the sacred with the secular is a corollary. When we read of the New Caledonians that in Tokelau, while “the king, Tui Tokelau, is high priest as well,” “their great god is called Tui Tokelau, or king of Tokelau,” we have a typical instance of the union which results from this supposed vice-gerency.

§ 603. While the growth of the family into the cluster of families, ending in the formation of the village-community, which often includes affiliated strangers, involves that the patriarch ceases to have the three-fold character of domestic, political, and ecclesiastical head, his character remains twofold: he habitually retains, as in the case just named, the functions of ruler and priest. This connexion of offices we everywhere find in early stages of social evolution; and we observe it continuing through later stages.

In Tanna, “the chief acts as high-priest;” and the like is true in other islands of the group. The kings of Mangaia “were ‘te ara pia o Rongo’ i.e., ‘the mouth-pieces, or priests, of Rongo.’ ” Among the New Zealanders “the offices of chief and priest were generally united and hereditary.” “The king of Madagascar . . . is high-priest of the realm.” In the Sandwich Islands the king “uttered the responses of the oracle, from his concealment in a frame of wicker-work.” Of Humphrey’s Island we read that the king “was high priest as well.” Similarly with rude peoples in America. “The Pueblo chiefs seem to be at the same time priests,” says Bancroft; and we learn the like from Ross concerning the Chinooks, and from Hutchison [3-56] concerning the Bolivian Indians. Of various semi-civilized peoples, past and present, we have similar accounts. The traditional “founders of the Maya civilization, united in their persons the qualities of high-priest and king.” In ancient Peru, the Ynca was high-priest: “as the representative of the Sun, he stood at the head of the priesthood, and presided at the most important of the religious festivals.” Of Siam, Thomson writes—“the King himself is High Priest.” We are told by Crawfurd that the Javanese king is “the first minister of religion.” In China the ritual laws give to the Emperor-Pontiff “the exclusive privilege of worshipping the Supreme, and prohibit subjects from offering the great sacrifices.” And in Japan, the Mikado was “chief of the national religion.” The early records of Old World peoples show us the same connexion. The Egyptian king, head of the priesthood, was everywhere represented in their monuments as sacrificing to a god. The Assyrian king was similarly represented; and the inscriptions show that Tiglath Pileser was “high-priest of Babylon.” So, too, in the Hebrew records we read of David officiating as priest. It was the same with Aryan peoples in ancient days. Among the Greeks, as described by Homer, acts of public devotion “are everywhere performed by the chiefs without the intervention of a priest.” The Spartan kings were priests of Zeus; and they received the perquisites due to priests. So “at Athens, the archon-king . . . embraced in his functions all that belonged to the State-religion. He was a real rex sacrorum.” And that the like was the case among the Romans, “we know from the fact that the ‘rex sacrificulus’ was appointed on the abolition of the monarchy to perform such sacrifices as could only be performed by a king.” Nor did the Aryans who spread northwards fail to furnish illustrations. Among the primitive Scandinavians the head man was “minister and magistrate in one:” in early days “each chief, as he settled, built his own hof or temple, and assumed the functions of priest himself.”


This connexion long continued in a modified form throughout mediæval Europe. King Gontran was “like a priest among priests.” Charlemagne, too, had a kind of high-priestly character: on solemn occasions he bore relics on his shoulders and danced before relics. Nor indeed is the connexion entirely broken even now. [*]

§ 604. In illustrating this primitive identity of ruler and priest, and in tracing out the long-continued connexion between the two, I have been unavoidably led away from the consideration of this double function as seen at the outset. Fully to understand the genesis of the priest properly so called, we must return for a moment to early stages.

At first the priestly actions of the chief differ in nothing from the priestly actions of other heads of families. The heads of all families forming the tribe, severally sacrifice to their departed ancestors; and the chief does the like to his departed ancestors. How, then, does his priestly character become more decided than theirs?

Elsewhere I suggested that besides propitiating the ghosts of dead relatives, the members of a primitive community will naturally, in some cases, think it prudent to propitiate the ghost of a dead chief, regarded as more powerful than other ghosts, and as not unlikely to do them mischief if friendly [3-58] relations are not maintained by occasional offerings. I had not, when making the suggestion, any evidence; but conclusive evidence has since been furnished by the Rev. Duff MacDonald’s Africana. The following three extracts show the transition from priestly actions of a private character to those of a public character, among the Blantyre negroes.

“On the subject of the village gods opinions differ. Some say that everyone in the village, whether a relative of the chief or not, must worship the forefathers of the chief. Others say that a person not related to the chief must worship his own forefathers, otherwise their spirits will bring trouble upon him. To reconcile these authorities we may mention that nearly everyone in the village is related to its chief, or if not related is, in courtesy, considered so. Any person not related to the village chief would be polite enough on all public occasions to recognise the village god: on occasions of private prayer . . . he would approach the spirits of his own forefathers.”

“The chief of a village has another title to the priesthood. It is his relatives that are the village gods.”

“Apart from the case of dreams and a few such private matters, it is not usual for anyone to approach the gods except the chief of the village. He is the recognised high priest who presents prayers and offerings on behalf of all that live in his village.”

Here, then, we see very clearly the first stage in the differentiation of the chief into the priest proper—the man who intercedes with the supernatural being not on his own behalf simply, nor on behalf only of members of his family, but on behalf of unrelated persons. This is, indeed, a stage in which, as shown by the disagreement among the people themselves, the differentiation is incomplete. In another part of Africa, we find it more definitely established. At Onitsha on the Niger, “the people reverence him [the king] as the mediator between the gods and themselves, and salute him with the title of Igue, which in Ebo means supreme being.” A kindred state of things is illustrated among remote and unallied peoples. In Samoa, where the chiefs were priests, “every village had its god, and everyone born in that village was regarded as the property of that god.” And among the ancient Peruvians, more advanced though they were in their social organization, a like primitive arrangement [3-59] was traceable. The huacas were adored by the entire village; the canopas by particular families, and only the priests spoke to, and brought offerings to, the huacas.

These few out of many cases, while they sufficiently exemplify the incipient parting of the sacred function from the secular function, also illustrate the truth which everywhere meets us, that the political and religious obligations are originally both obligations of allegiance, very little distinguished from one another—the one being allegiance to the living chief and the other allegiance to the ghost of the dead chief.

To prevent misapprehension a parenthetic remark must be made. This growth of a distinction between the public worship of his ancestor by a chief, and the private worship of their ancestors by other men, which makes the chief’s priestly character relatively decided, is apt to be modified by circumstances. Where allegiance to the ghost of a deceased patriarch or founder of the tribe, has become so well established through generations that he assumes the character of a god; and where, by war or migration, the growing society is so broken up that its members are separated from their chief and priest; it naturally results that while continuing to sacrifice to the doubles of their dead relatives, these separated members of the society begin to sacrifice on their own account to the traditional god. Among the ancient Scandinavians “every father of a family was a priest in his own house,” where he sacrificed to Odin. Similarly among the Homeric Greeks. While chiefs made public sacrifices to the gods, sacrifices and prayers were made to them by private persons, in addition to the sacrifices made to their own ancestors. The like was the case with the Romans. And even among the Hebrews, prohibited from worshipping ancestors, the existence of public propitiators of Jahveh did not exclude “the competence of every Israelite” to perform propitiatory rites: the nomadic habits preventing concentration of the priestly function.

Phenomena of this kind, however, manifestly belong to a [3-60] more advanced stage and not to that first stage in which, as we see, the genesis of the god and the priest are concurrent.

§ 605. Thus, then, the ghost-theory, which explains the multitudinous phenomena of religion in general, explains also the genesis of the priestly function, and the original union of it with the governing function.

Propitiations of the doubles of dead men, made at first by all their relatives and afterwards by heads of families, come to be somewhat distinguished when made by the head of the most powerful family. With increased predominance of the powerful family, and conception of the ghost of its deceased head as superior to other ghosts, there arises the wish, at first in some, then in more, and then in all, to propitiate him. And this wish eventually generates the habit of making offerings and prayers to him through his ruling descendant, whose priestly character thus becomes decided.

We have now to observe how, with the progress of social evolution, the sacerdotal function, though for a long time retained and occasionally exercised by the political head, comes to be performed more and more by proxy.





§ 606. In §§ 480 and 504, I have drawn conclusions from the fact, obvious a priori and illustrated everywhere, that with increase of a chief’s territory, there comes an accumulation of business which necessitates the employment of assistants; whence follows the habit of frequently, and at length permanently, deputing one or other of his functions, such as general, judge, etc. Among the functions thus deputed, more or less frequently, is that of priest.

That such deputation takes place under pressure of affairs, civil or military, we see in the case of the Romans. As the kings could not always attend to the sacrifices, having often to make war, Numa (who performed, according to Livy, the majority of the sacerdotal offices) “instituted flamens to replace the kings when the latter were absent;” and, adds M. Coulanges, “thus the Roman priesthood was only an emanation from the primitive royalty.” How causes of this kind operate in simple societies, we are shown by a sentence in Mr. MacDonald’s account of the Blantyre negroes. He says:—“If the chief is from home his wife will act [as priest], and if both are absent, his younger brother.” As occurring in a ruder society where the blood-relationship of the chief to the god is still recognized, this case shows us, better than that of the Romans, how a priesthood normally originates.

This vicarious priest-ship of the younger brother, here arising temporarily, in other cases becomes permanent. Of the New Zealanders, who have in many cases chiefs who are [3-62] at the same time priests, we read that in other cases the brother of the chief is priest. In the Mexican empire “the high-priest in the kingdom of Acolhuacan [and in that of Tlacupan] was, according to some historians, always the second son of the king.” So, too, in ancient Peru “they had a high priest, who was an uncle or brother of the king, or at least a legitimate member of the royal family.” As this last case shows, when the ruling man, still exercising the priestly function on great occasions, does not invariably make his younger brother his deputy on ordinary occasions, the office of high-priest still habitually falls to some blood-relation. Thus of the Khonds we read that “the chief civil and sacerdotal offices appear originally to have been united, or, at least, to have been always held by members of the chief patriarchal family.” In Tahiti, where the king frequently personified the god, receiving the offerings brought to the temple and the prayers of the supplicants, and where he was sometimes the priest of the nation, “the highest sacerdotal dignity was often possessed by some member of the reigning family.” Dupuis tells us that one of the priests of Ashantee belonged to the “king’s own family.” Among the Maya nations of America “the high-priests were members of the royal families.” And in ancient Egypt there existed a kindred connexion. The king himself being high-priest, it was natural that the priesthood should include some of his relatives; and Brugsch, speaking of the high-priests of Ptah, says—“We find among their number princes of the blood royal. As an example we may name the prince Khamus, a favourite son of Ramses II.”

In some cases the priestly functions of the head man are performed by a female relative. Among the Damaras the chief’s daughter is priestess; and, “besides attending to the sacrifices, it is her duty to keep up the ‘holy fire.’ ” On appointed occasions among the Dahomans, sacrifices are brought to the tomb (presumably of a king) and “before the tomb, a Tansi-no priestess, of blood-royal, offers up to the Ghost a prayer.” Similarly in ancient Peru, a chief priestess [3-63] who was one of the virgins of the Sun, and who was regarded as his principal wife, “was either the sister or the daughter of the ruler.” On reading that among the Chibchas, with the priests “as with the caziques, the sister’s son inherited,” we may suspect that usages of this kind were consequent on descent in the female line. Among the Damaras this law of descent is still in force; it was manifestly at one time the law among the Peruvians; and the high political position of women among the Dahomans suggests that it was once the law with them also. Further reason for assuming this cause is supplied by the fact that in Dahomey and Peru, the priestly organization in general is largely officered by women; and that in Madagascar too, where descent is in the female line, there are women-priests. Obviously the transition from the usage of tracing descent through females to that of tracing descent through males, or the mixture of peoples respectively recognizing these unlike laws of descent, will cause anomalies; as instance that shown us by the Karens, whose village priests are males, but who, in their family ancestor-worship, “require that the officiating priest shall be a woman, the oldest of the family.”

This deputation of priestly functions to members of a ruling family, usual in early stages, may be considered the normal differentiation; since the god being the apotheosized ancestor, the sacrifices made to him continue to be the sacrifices made by descendants. Even where descent is not real, or has ceased to be believed, it is still pretended; as in Egypt, here the king habitually claimed kinship with a god, and where, by consequence, members of his family were hypothetically of divine descent.

§ 607. But while this is distinguishable as the usual origin of a priesthood, there are other origins. In a preceding chapter we saw that there is at the outset no clear distinction between the medicine-man and the priest. Though the one is a driver away of spirits rather than a propitiator of them, while the other treats them as friends rather than enemies, [3-64] yet either occasionally adopts the policy of the other. The priest sometimes plays the part of exorcisor and the medicine-man endeavours to appease: instance the Australian medicine-man described in § 584. Among the Ostyaks the shamans, who are medicine-men, are also “intermediators between the people and their gods.” The business of a Gond medicine-man is “to exorcise evil spirits, to interpret the wishes of the fetish, to compel rain, and so on.” And the same men who, among the Kukis, have to pacify a god who is angry and has caused disease, are often supposed to abuse “the influence they possess with supernatural agents.” Evidently there is here indicated another origin of a priesthood.

Especially in cases where the medicine-man is supposed to obtain for the tribe certain benefits by controlling the weather through the agency of supernatural beings, does he participate in the character of priest. On recalling the case of Samuel, who while a judge over Israel also offered sacrifice to Jahveh as a priest and also controlled the weather by his influence with Jahveh (thus uniting the offices of ruler, priest and weather-doctor), we are shown how a kindred union of functions may in other cases similarly arise. Such facts as that among the Obbo the chief is also the rain-maker, and that Sechele, king of the Bechuanas, practises “rain-magic,” besides re-inforcing the evidence given in § 474 that supposed power over supernatural beings strengthens the hands of political heads, shows also that, as having the function of obtaining from the supernatural beings benefits for the society, they in so far fulfil the priestly office.

In other cases there arise within the tribe the worships of apotheosized persons who were not related to the apotheosized chief; but who, for some reason or other, have left behind awe-inspiring reputations. Hislop tells us of a Gond who boasts of miraculous powers, and who “has erected a sacred mound to the manes of his father, who was similarly gifted, and he uses the awe which attaches to this spot as a [3-65] means of extorting money from the deluded Queen”—money partly spent in offerings to “his deified ancestor:” the rest being appropriated by himself. And Sir Alfred Lyall in his Asiatic Studies variously illustrates this sporadic origin of new deities severally apt to originate priesthoods.

Hence it seems inferable that in early stages there occasionally arise men not descended from the chief’s ancestor, who acquire quasi-priestly characters, and may even succeed in supplanting priests of normal origin. Especially is such usurpation likely to happen where by migration or by war, there have been produced fragments of the society which do not contain within themselves descendants of the traditional god.

§ 608. So long as there continues undivided, a community of which the deceased founder has become the village god, propitiated on behalf of his descendants by the nearest of kin among them, who also serves as intermediator for other heads of families respectively worshipping their ancestors, no advance in the development of a priesthood is likely to take place. But when increase of numbers necessitates parting, there comes a further differentiation. How this arises we are well shown by a statement of Andersson concerning the Damaras:—“A portion of such fire [sacred fire] is also given to the head man of a kraal, when about to remove from that of the chief. The duties of a vestal then devolves upon the daughter of the emigrant.” Evidently where a dead ruler, or other remarkable member of the tribe, has become a traditional god, so well established that propitiation of him has become imperative, migrating portions of the tribe, carrying their cult with them, must have someone to perform the rites on their behalf. Always the probability is that the detached group contains men akin to the chief of the parent tribe, and therefore descendants, direct or collateral, of the worshipped god; and on one of these, in virtue of greatest age or nearest relationship, the function [3-66] is likely to fall. And since the reasons which determine this choice tend also to determine inheritance of the function, the genesis of a priestly caste becomes intelligible. Light is thrown on the matter by Hislop’s statement that though the Gonds are without priests, there are “some men who, from supposed superior powers, or in consequence of their hereditary connection with a sacred spot, are held to be entitled to take the lead in worship.” The course which change in some cases takes is shown us by the Santals. Hunter says—

“Two of the tribes have more especially devoted themselves to religion, and furnish a large majority of the priests. One of these represents the state religion, founded on the family basis, and administered by the descendants of the fifth son, the original family priest. . . . In some places, particularly in the north, the descendants of the second son . . . are held to make better priests than those of the fifth. . . . They are for the most part prophets, diviners, and officiating Levites of forest or other shrines, representing demon-worship; and in only a few places do they take the place of the fifth tribe.”

Not only by the spread of a growing tribe into new habitats, are there thus produced conditions which further the growth of a priesthood; but kindred conditions are produced by the spread of a conquering tribe, and the establishment of its members as rulers over subordinate tribes. While it has to establish local governments, it has also to establish local ministrations of the cult it brings with it. The case of the Peruvians may be taken as typical. The Ynca-race, over-running indigenous races and leaving their religions intact, simply superposed their own religion. Hence the need for dispersed representatives of it. “The principal priest (or bishop) in each province was an Ynca, who took care that the sacrifices and ceremonies should be in conformity with those of the metropolitan.” Now since the Ynca-religion was a worship of the Sun, regarded as ancestor; and since his supposed most direct descendant, the king himself, was high-priest on important occasions, while the other chief priests were “all Yncas of the blood royal;” it becomes clear that this establishment of a local priesthood [3-67] of Ynca-blood, illustrates the development of a priestly caste from the ancestor-worshipping members of a conqueror’s family.

§ 609. In verification of the foregoing conclusions, some evidence might be added showing that in tribes which lead peaceful lives, and in which considerable advances have been made without the establishment of strong personal governments, and therefore without the rise of apotheosized chiefs serving as village gods, there is but a feeble marking off of the priest-class. Among the Bodo and Dhimáls, for example, the priestly office is not hereditary, and is participated in by the elders of the people.

It is scarcely practicable, however, and would not be very profitable, to trace further this rise of a priesthood. Influences of sundry kinds tend everywhere to complicate, in one way or other, the primitive course of development. While we see that worshipping the spirit of the dead chief, at first carried on by his heir, is in his heir’s absence deputed to a younger brother—while we see that temporary assumption of the function by a brother or other member of the family, tends to become permanent where the business of the chief increases—while we see that migrating parts of a tribe, are habitually accompanied by some of the village god’s direct or collateral descendants, who carry with them the cult and perform its rites, and that where conquest of adjacent communities leads to an extension of rule, political and ecclesiastical, members of the ruling family become local priests; we find at work sundry causes which render this process irregular. Besides the influence which the chief or his priestly relative is supposed to have with powerful supernatural beings, there is the competing influence ascribed to the sorcerer or rain-maker. Occasionally, too, the tribe is joined by an immigrant stranger, who, in virtue of superior knowledge or arts, excites awe; and an additional cult may result either from his teachings, or from his own apotheosis. Moreover, a leader of a migrating portion of the tribe, if [3-68] in some way specially distinguished, is likely at death to become himself the object of a worship competing with the traditional worship, and perhaps initiating another priesthood. Fluctuating conditions are thus apt, even in early stages, to produce various modifications in ecclesiastical organization.

But the complications thus resulting are small compared with others which they foreshadow, and to which we may now turn our attention.





§ 610. Already in the preceding chapters the rudimentary form of a polytheistic priesthood has been exhibited. For wherever, with the worship of an apotheosized founder of the tribe, there co-exist in the component families of the tribe, worships of their respective ancestors, there is an undeveloped polytheism and an incipient priesthood appropriate to it. In the minds of the people there is no contrast in kind between the undistinguished ghosts and the distinguished ghosts; but only a contrast in power. In the first stage, as in later and higher stages, we have a greater supernatural being amid a number of lesser supernatural beings; all of them propitiated by like observances.

The rise of that which is commonly distinguished as polytheism, appears to result in several ways; of which two may be named as the more important.

The first of them is a concomitant of the division and spreading of tribes which outgrow their means of subsistence. Within each separated sub-tribe eventually arises some distinguished chief or medicine-man, whose greatly-feared ghost, propitiated not by his descendants only but by other members of the sub-tribe, becomes a new local god; and where there survives the cult which the sub-tribe brought with it, there will, in addition to the worship of the more ancient god common to the spreading cluster of sub-tribes, grow up in each sub-tribe the worship of a more modern god [3-70] peculiar to it. Traces of this process we find in many places. What we read of the Malagasy may be instanced as typical. They have gods who belong “respectively to different tribes or divisions of the natives, and are supposed to be the guardians and benefactors, or the titular gods, of these particular clans or tribes. Four of these are considered superior to all others”—are public or national gods. And Ellis adds that the gods of one province have little weight or authority with people of another province. As a case remote in time may be named that of the ancient Egyptians. The nomes, or original divisions of which Egypt was composed, were “of the highest antiquity”: their limits being very exactly defined in inscriptions borne by the most ancient monumental structures. “Each district had a chief place where the [hereditary] governor resided, and enjoyed the protection and the cult of a special divinity, the sanctuary of which formed the centre of the religious worship of the district.” That kindred evidence is furnished by accounts of other ancient peoples needs no showing. Of course along with this process goes the rise of priesthoods devoted some to the local and some to the general cults, with consequent differences in dignity. Thus of Egyptian priests we read:—

“Some also, who were attached to the service of certain divinities, held a rank far above the rest; and the priests of the great gods were looked upon with far greater consideration than those of the minor deities. In many provinces and towns, those who belonged to particular temples were in greater repute than others.”

A genesis of polytheism, and of polytheistic priesthoods, equally important with, or perhaps more important than, the foregoing, but frequently, as in the last case, scarcely distinguishable from it, accompanies conquest. The overrunnings of tribe by tribe and nation by nation, which have been everywhere and always going on, have necessarily tended to impose one cult upon another; each of them already in most cases made composite by earlier processes of like kind. Not destroying the worships of the conquered, the conquerors bring in their own worships—either [3-71] carrying them on among themselves only, or making the conquered join in them; but in either case multiplying the varieties of priests. The survival of cults that were of Pelasgian origin amid those of the Greeks supplies an early instance in Europe; and later instances are supplied by the Romans. “As a conquering state Rome was constantly absorbing the religions of the tribes it conquered. On besieging a town, the Romans used solemnly to evoke the deities dwelling in it.” The process was illustrated in ancient American societies. “The high-priests of Mexico were the heads of their religion only among the Mexicans, and not with respect to the other conquered nations: these . . . maintaining their priesthood independent.” Similarly in Peru.

“The Yncas did not deprive the chiefs of their lordship, but his delegate lived in the valley, and the natives were ordered to worship the sun. Thus a temple was built, and many virgins and priests to celebrate festivals resided in it. But, notwithstanding that this temple of the sun was so pre-eminently established, the natives did not cease to worship also in their ancient temple of Chinchaycama.”

Of additional but less important causes of complication, three may be named. The spreading reputations of local deities, and the consequent establishment of temples to them in places to which they do not belong, is one of these causes. A good example is that of Æsculapius; the worship of whom, as a local ancestor and medicine-man, originated in Pergamon, but, along with his growth into a deity, spread East and West, and eventually became established in Rome. Another additional cause, well illustrated in ancient Egypt, is the deification of powerful persons who establish priesthoods to minister to their ghosts. And a third is the occasional apotheosis of those who, for some reason or other strike the popular imagination as remarkable. This is even now active in India. Sir Alfred Lyall has exemplified it in his Asiatic Studies.

§ 611. The frequent genesis of new worships and continued co-existence of many worships, severally having their [3-72] priesthoods, though quite normal as we here see, appears to many persons anomalous. Carrying back modern ideas to the interpretation of ancient usages, writers comment on the “tolerance” shown by the Romans in leaving intact the religions of the peoples conquered by them. But considered from their point of view instead of from our point of view, this treatment of local gods and their priests was quite natural. If everywhere, from ancestor-worship as the root, there grow up worships of known founders of tribes and traditional progenitors of entire local races, it follows that conquerors will, as a matter of course, recognize the local worships of the conquered while bringing in their own. The corollary from the universally-accepted belief is that the gods of the vanquished are just as real as those of the victors.

Sundry interpretations are yielded. Habitually in the ancient world, conquerors and settlers took measures to propitiate the local gods. All they heard about them fostered the belief that they were powerful in their respective localities, and might be mischievous if not prayed to or thanked. Hence, probably, the fact that the Egyptian Nekôs sacrificed to Apollo on the occasion of his victory over Josiah, king of Judah. Hence, to take a case from a remote region, the fact that the Peruvian Yncas, themselves Sun-worshippers, nevertheless provided sacrifices for the various huacas of the conquered peoples, “because it was feared that if any were omitted they would be enraged and would punish the Ynca.”

Co-existence of different cults is in some cases maintained by the belief that while the allegiance of each man to his particular deity or deities is obligatory, he is not required, or not permitted, to worship the deities belonging to fellow-citizens of different origin. Thus in early times in Greece, “by the combination of various forms of religious worship Athens had become the capital, and Attica one united whole. But . . . Apollo still remained a god of the nobility, and his religion a wall of separation. . . . According to the [3-73] plan of Solon this was to be changed. . . . To every free Athenian belonged henceforth the right and the duty of sacrificing to Apollo.”

All which facts make it clear that not only the genesis of polytheism but the long survival of it, and consequent persistence of priesthoods devoted to different gods, are sequences of primitive ancestor-worship.

§ 612. But while, during early stages of polytheism, overt efforts at subjugation of one cult by another are not conspicuous, there habitually arises a competition which is the first step towards subjugation.

A feeling like that occasionally displayed by boys, boasting of the strengths of their respective fathers, prompts men in early stages to exaggerate the powers of their ancestors, as compared with the powers which the ancestors of others displayed; and concerning the relative greatness of the deified progenitors of their tribes, there are certain to arise disputes. This state of things was exemplified in Fiji when first described by missionaries: “each district contending for the superiority of its own divinity.” Evidently among the Hebrews an implied belief, opposed to the beliefs of adjacent peoples, was—our god is greater than your god. Without denying the existence of other gods than their own, the superiority of their own was asserted. In Greece, too, the religious emulation among cities, and the desire to excite envy by the numbers of men who flocked to sacrifice to their respective deities, implied a struggle between cults—a struggle conducive to inequality. Influences such as those which caused supremacy of the Olympian festivals above kindred festivals, were ever tending among the Greeks to give some gods and their ministers a higher status than others. Religion being under its primary aspect the expression of allegiance—an allegiance shown first to the living patriarch or conquering hero and afterwards to his ghost; it is to be expected that causes which modify the degree and extent of allegiance to the head man while alive, [3-74] will similarly modify the allegiance to his ghost after his death. How closely connected are the two kinds of fealty we see in such a fact as that at a Santal marriage, the bride must give up her clan and its gods for those of her husband: reminding us of the representation made by Naomi to Ruth—“thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods;” and the rejoinder of Ruth—“thy people shall be my people, and thy god my god.”

So understanding the matter, we see how it naturally happens that just as the subjects of a living chief, for one reason or another dissatisfied with his rule, will some of them desert him and attach themselves to a neighbouring chief (§ 452); so, among a polytheistic people, this or that motive may prompt decrease in the number of devotees at one god’s temple and increase those at the temple of another. Disappointments like those which lead to the beating of their idols by savages, when in return for sacrifices the idols have not given what was wanted, will, among peoples somewhat more advanced, cause alienation from a deity who has proved obstinate, and propitiation of a deity who it is hoped will be more conceding. Even at the present day, we are shown by the streams of pilgrims to Lourdes, how the spread of belief in some alleged marvel may initiate a new worship, or re-inforce an old one. As with saints so with gods—there result gradations. Political influences, again, occasionally conduce to the elevation of some cults above others. Speaking of Greece, Curtius says:—

“Another religious worship which the Tyrants raised to a new importance was that of Dionysus. This god of the peasantry is everywhere opposed to the gods of the knightly houses, and was therefore favoured by all rulers who endeavoured to break the power of the aristocracy.”

Chiefly, however, inequalities among the ascribed powers of gods, where many co-exist, are due to conquests. Militant activities, which establish gradations of rank among the living, also establish gradations of rank among the worshipped dead. Habitually mythologies tell of victories achieved by the gods; habitually they describe fights [3-75] among the gods themselves; and habitually they depict the chief god as the one who acquired supremacy by force. These are just the traits of a pantheon resulting from the apotheosis of conquering invaders, and from the usurpations now and then witnessed among their leaders. And evidently the subjugation of peoples one by another, and consequent elevation of one pantheon above another, must be a chief cause of differences among the powers of the major and minor deities, and of contrasts in importance among their respective cults and priesthoods.

§ 613. Eventually there results under favouring conditions a gravitation towards monotheism. It is true that for a long time there may continue in the minds of a polytheistic people, a fluctuating conflict among the beliefs respecting the relative powers of their gods. Of the ancient Aryans, Professor Max Müller writes—“It would be easy to find, in the numerous hymns of the Veda, passages in which almost every single god is represented as supreme and absolute. . . . Agni is called the ruler of the universe; . . . Indra is celebrated as the strongest god, . . . and the burden of one of the songs . . . is . . . Indra is greater than all. Of Soma it is said that . . . he conquers every one.” Of the Egyptian gods too, a like fact is stated. The exaggerated language of worshippers attributes now to this of them and now to that, and sometimes to a living king, a greatness so transcendent that not only all other things but all other gods exist through him.

But the position of “father of gods and men” becomes eventually settled in the minds of believers; and if subsequently usurped, the usurpation does not diminish the tendency towards monotheism but increases it; since there results the idea of a divinity more powerful than was before believed in. How recognition of superiority in a conquering people, and by implication in their gods, tends to dwarf the gods of the conquered, the ancient Peruvians show. Garcilasso tells us that Indian tribes are said to have sometimes [3-76] submitted from admiration of the higher culture of the Yncas: the obligation to join in the Yncas’ worship being one of the concomitants. Then of the Yncas themselves, Herrera says—

“When they saw the Spaniards make Arches on Centers, and take them away when the Bridge was finish’d, they all ran away, thinking the Bridge would fall; but when they saw it stand fast, and the Spaniards walk on it, a Cacique said, It is but Justice to serve these Men, who are the Children of the Sun.”

Evidently the attitude thus displayed conduced to acceptance of the Spaniards’ beliefs and worship. And such mental conquests often repeated in the evolution of societies, tend towards the absorption of local and minor conceived supernatural agents in greater and more general ones.

Especially is such absorption furthered when one who, as a living ruler, was distinguished by his passion for subjugating adjacent peoples, leaves at death unfulfilled projects of conquest, and then has his ghost propitiated by extending his dominion. As shown by a preceding extract, this was the case with the Assyrian god Ashur (§ 600); and it was so, too, with the Hebrew god Jahveh: witness Deut. xx, 10—18.

“When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: and when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword. . . . But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them.”

From the beginning we are shown that, setting out with the double of the ordinary dead man, jealousy is a characteristic ascribed to supernatural beings at large. Ghosts not duly sacrificed to are conceived as malicious, and as apt to wreak vengeance on survivors; gods whose shrines have been neglected and whose festivals do not bring due offerings, [3-77] are said to be angry, and are considered the causers of disasters; while if one of them is derived from a ruler whose love of power was insatiable, and whose ghost is considered a jealous god, tolerating no recognition of others, he tends, if his devotees become predominant, to originate a worship which suppresses other worships.

Of course with such an advance towards monotheism there goes an advance towards unification of priesthoods. The official propitiators of minor deities dwindle away and disappear; while the official propitiators of the deity who has come to be regarded as the most powerful, or as the possessor of all power, become established everywhere.

§ 614. These influences conspiring to evolve monotheism out of polytheism are reinforced by one other—the influence of advancing culture and accompanying speculative capacity. Molina says that the Ynca Yupanqui “was of such clear understanding” as to conclude that the Sun could not be the creator, but that there must be “someone who directs him;” and he ordered temples to be erected to this inferred creator. So again in Mexico, “Nezahuatl, lord of Tezcuco,” disappointed in his prayers to the established idols, concluded that “there must be some god, invisible and unknown, who is the universal creator;” and he built a nine-storied temple “to the Unknown God, the Cause of Causes.” Here, among peoples unallied to them, we find results like those shown us by the Greeks. In the Platonic dialogues, along with repudiation of the gross conceptions current among the uncultured, there went arguments evidently implying an advance towards monotheism. And on comparing the ideas of the Hebrew prophets with those of primitive Hebrews, and those of most co-existing Hebrews, it becomes clear that mental progress operated as a part cause of Jewish monotheism.

It may be observed, too, that once having been set up, the change towards monotheism goes on with increasing momentum among the highest intelligences. A supremacy [3-78] of one supernatural agent having become established, there follows the thought that what power other supernatural agents exercise is exercised by permission. Presently they come to be conceived as deputies, entrusted with powers not their own; and in proportion as the Cause of Causes grows more predominant in thought, the secondary causes fade from thought.

§ 615. Rightly to conceive the evolution of monotheism and its accompanying ecclesiastical institutions, we must take note of several influences which qualify it.

The earlier tendencies towards the rise of a supreme deity are apt to prove abortive. Just as during the first stages of social integration, a predominant headship is often but temporary, and the power acquired by a conquering chief is frequently lost by his successor; so an ascribed headship among the gods is commonly not lasting. For this we may see more reasons than one. The double of a dead man, at first conceived as existing temporarily, becomes conceived as permanently existing only where circumstances favour remembrance of him; and in like manner supremacy among ghosts or gods, requires for its maintenance that traditions shall be well preserved, and the social state lend itself to orderly observances. In many places these conditions are inadequately fulfilled. Remarking upon the fading of traditions among the Comanches, Schoolcraft says—“I question if the names of any of their chiefs of the fourth generation ascending are retained among them;” and when, in 1770, Cook touched on the shores of New Zealand within fifteen miles of the place visited by Tasman a hundred and twenty-eight years before, he found no tradition of the event. So that though everywhere the original tendency is for the oldest known progenitor to become the chief god; yet, as we are shown by the Unkulunkulu of the Zulus, this headship of the supernatural beings is apt to fade from memory, and later headships only to be regarded. A further cause militating against an unchanged pantheon, is [3-79] the rise of usurpers, or of men who, by their successes in war or other achievements, so impress themselves on the popular mind as to make relatively weak the impressions derived from traditions of earlier deified men. The acquirement of supremacy by Kronos over Uranus, and again by Zeus over Kronos, serve as illustrations. And during times in which apotheosis is an ordinary process, there is an evident tendency to such substitutions. Yet another analogy between the changes of celestial headships and the changes of terrestrial headships, may be suspected. When dealing with political institutions, we saw that power is apt to lapse from the hands of a supreme ruler into the hands of a chief minister, through whom all information comes and all orders are issued. Similarly, a secondary supernatural being regarded as intercessor with a chief supernatural being, and constantly appealed to by worshippers in that capacity, seems liable to become predominant. Among Roman Catholics the Virgin, habitually addressed in prayers, tends to occupy the foreground of consciousness; the title “Mother of God” dimly suggests a sort of supremacy; and now in the Vatican may be seen a picture in which she is represented at a higher elevation than the persons of the trinity.

Another fact to be noted respecting the evolution of monotheisms out of polytheisms—a fact congruous with the hypothesis that they are thus evolved, but not congruous with other hypotheses—is that they do not become complete; or, at least, do not maintain their purity. Already I have referred to the truth, obvious enough though habitually ignored, that the Hebrew religion, nominally monotheistic, retained a large infusion of polytheism. Archangels exercising powers in their respective spheres, and capable even of rebellion, were practically demi-gods; answering in fact, if not in name, to the inferior deities of other pantheons. Moreover, of the derived creeds, that distinguished as trinitarian is partially polytheistic; and in the mystery plays of the Middle Ages marks of polytheism [3-80] were still more distinct. Nay, even belief in a devil, conceived as an independent supernatural being, implies surviving polytheism. Only by unitarians of the advanced type, and by those who are called theists, is a pure monotheism accepted.

Further, we may remark that where polytheism under its original form has been suppressed by a monotheism more or less complete, it habitually revives under a new form. Though the followers of Mahomet shed their own blood and the blood of others, to establish everywhere the worship of one god, the worship of minor gods has grown up afresh among them. Not only do the Bedouins make sacrifices at saints’ tombs, but among more civilized Mahometans there is worship of their deceased holy men at shrines erected to them. Similarly, throughout mediæval Christendom, canonized priests and monks formed a new class of minor deities. As now in Fiji “nearly every chief has a god in whom he puts special trust;” so, a few centuries back, every knight had a patron saint to whom he looked for succour.

That modifications of Ecclesiastical Institutions result from causes of this kind, is sufficiently shown by the fact, so familiar that we do not observe its significance, that churches are named after, or dedicated to, saints; and that such churches “as were built over the grave of any martyr, or called by his name to preserve the memory of him, had usually the distinguishing title of Martyrium, or Confessio, or Memoria, given them for that particular reason.” It may, indeed, be alleged that these usages were rather survivals than revivals; since, as Mosheim says, the early Christian bishops deliberately adopted them, believing that “the people would more readily embrace Christianity” if they “saw that Christ and the martyrs were worshipped in the same manner as formerly their gods were.” But taken either way the facts show that monotheism, and the sacerdotal arrangements proper to it, did not become complete.





§ 616. The component institutions of each society habitually exhibit kindred traits of structure. Where the political organization is but little developed, there is but little development of the ecclesiastical organization; while along with a centralized coercive civil rule there goes a religious rule no less centralized and coercive. Qualifications of this statement required to meet changes caused in the one case by revolutions and in the other case by substitutions of creeds, do not seriously affect it. Along with the restoration of equilibrium the alliance begins again to assert itself.

Before contemplating ecclesiastical hierarchies considered in themselves, let us, then, note more specifically how these two organizations, originally identical, preserve for a long time a unity of nature consequent on their common origin.

§ 617. As above implied, this relation is primarily illustrated by the cases in which, along with unsettled civil institutions there go unsettled religious institutions. The accounts given of the Nagas by Stewart and by Butler, which are to the effect that they “have no kind of internal government,” and have apparently no priesthood, show also that along with their disregard of human authority, they show extremely little respect to such gods as they recognize after a fashion: dealing with beings in the spirit-world as defiantly as they do with living men. Of the Comanches, again, Schoolcraft, saying that “the authority of their chiefs [3-82] is rather nominal than positive,” also says—“I perceived no order of priesthood . . . if they recognise any ecclesiastical authority whatever, it resides in their chiefs.” Evidently in the absence of established political headship, there cannot habitually arise recognition of a deceased political head; and there is consequently no place for an official propitiator.

With the rise of the patriarchal type of organization, both of these governmental agencies assume their initial forms. If, as in early stages, the father of a family, while domestic ruler, is also the one who makes offerings to the ancestral ghost—if the head of the clan, or chief of the village, while exercising political control also worships the spirit of the dead chief on behalf of others, as well as on his own behalf; it is clear that the ecclesiastical and political structures begin as one and the same: the co-existing medicine-man being, as already shown, not a priest properly so-called. When, for instance, we read of the Eastern Slavs that “it was customary among them for the head of the family or the tribe to offer sacrifices on behalf of all beneath a sacred tree,” we see that the civil and religious functions and their agents are at first undifferentiated. Even where something like priests have arisen, yet if there is an undeveloped ruling agency they are but little distinguished from others, and they have no exclusive powers: instance the Bodo and Dhimáls, whose village heads have “a general authority of voluntary rather than coercive origin,” and among whom elders “participate the functions of the priesthood.” Nomadic habits, while they hinder the development of a political organization, also hinder the development of a priesthood; even when priests are distinguishable as such. Tiele says of the primitive Arabs that “the sanctuaries of the various spirits and fetishes had their own hereditary ministers, who, however, formed no priestly caste.” So, too, such physical characters of a habitat, and such characters of its occupants as impede the massing of small groups into large ones, maintain simplicity of the ecclesiastical structure, as of the political. Witness the [3-83] Greeks, of whom Mr. Gladstone, remarking that the priest was never “a significant personage in Greece,” adds “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.”

Conversely, along with that development of civil government which accompanies social integration, there usually goes a development of ecclesiastical government. From Polynesia we may take, as an instance, Tahiti. Here, along with the ranks of king, nobility, land-owners, and common people, there went such distinctions among the priests that each officiated in that rank only to which he belonged; and “the priests of the national temples were a distinct class.” In Dahomey and Ashantee, along with a despotic government and a civil organization having many grades, there go orders of priests and priestesses divided into several classes. The ancient American states, too, exhibited a like union of traits. Their centralized and graduated political systems were accompanied by ecclesiastical systems which were analogous in complexity and subordination. And that in more advanced societies there has been something approaching to parallelism between the developments of the agencies for civil rule and religious rule, needs not to be shown in detail.

To exclude misapprehension it may be as well to add that establishment of an ecclesiastical organization separate from the political organization, but akin to it in structure, appears to be largely determined by the rise of a decided distinction in thought between the affairs of this world and those of a supposed other world. Where the two are conceived as existing in continuity, or as intimately related, the organizations appropriate to their respective administrations remain either identical or imperfectly distinguished. In ancient Egypt, where the imagined ties between dead and living were very close, and where the union of civil and religious functions in the king remained a real union, “a chief priest, surrounded by a numerous priesthood, governed [3-84] each city.” The Japanese, too, yield an instance. Along with the belief that Japan was “the land of spiritual beings or kingdom of spirits,” and along with the assumption by the Mikado of power to promote deceased persons to higher ranks in their second lives (§ 347), there went the trait that the Mikado’s court had six grades of ecclesiastical ranks, and in this chief centre of rule, sacred and secular functions were originally fused: “among the ancient Japanese, government and religion were the same.” Similarly in China, where the heavenly and the earthly are, as Huc points out, so little separated in conception, and where there is one authority common to the two, the functions of the established religion are discharged by men who are, at the same time, administrators of civil affairs. Not only is the emperor supreme priest, but the four prime ministers “are lords spiritual and temporal.” If, as Tiele says, “the Chinese are remarkable for the complete absence of a priestly caste,” it is because, along with their universal and active ancestor-worship, they have preserved that inclusion of the duties of priest in the duties of ruler, which ancestor-worship in its simple form shows us.

§ 618. Likeness between the ecclesiastical and political organizations where they have diverged, is largely due to their community of origin in the sentiment of reverence. Ready obedience to a terrestrial ruler is naturally accompanied by ready obedience to a supposed celestial ruler; and the nature which favours growth of an administration enforcing the one, favours growth of an administration enforcing the other.

This connexion was well illustrated by the ancient American societies. In Mexico, along with an “odious despotism” and extreme submissiveness of the people, making possible a governmental organization so ramified that there was a sub-sub-ruler for every twenty families, there went an immensely developed priesthood. Torquemada’s estimate of 40,000 temples is thought by Clavigero to be [3-85] greatly under the mark; and Clavigero says—“I should not think it rash to affirm, that there could not be less than a million of priests throughout the empire:” an estimate made more credible by Herrera’s statement that “every great Man had a Priest, or Chaplain.” Similarly in Peru; where, with an unqualified absolutism of the Ynca, and a political officialism so vast and elaborate that one out of every ten men had command of the others, there was a religious officialism no less extensive. Says Arriaga—“If one counts all the higher and lower officers, there is generally a minister for ten Indians or less.” Obviously in the moral natures of the Mexicans and Peruvians, lies the explanation of these parallelisms. People so politically servile as those ruled over by Montezuma, who was “always carry’d on the Shoulders of Noblemen,” and whose order was that “no Commoner was to look him in the Face, and if he did, dy’d for it,” were naturally people content to furnish the numberless victims annually sacrificed to their gods, and ready continually to inflict on themselves propitiatory blood-lettings. And of course the social appliances for maintenance of terrestrial and celestial subordination developed among them with little resistance in corresponding degrees; as they have done, too, in Abyssinia. In the words of Bruce, “the kings of Abyssinia are above all laws;” and elsewhere he says “there is no country in the world in which there are so many churches as in Abyssinia.”

Proof of the converse relation need not detain us. It will suffice to indicate the contrast presented, both politically and ecclesiastically, between the Greek societies and contemporary societies, to suggest that a social character unfavourable to the growth of a large and consolidated regulative organization of the political kind, is also unfavourable to the growth of a large and consolidated regulative organization of the ecclesiastical kind.

§ 619. Along with increase of a priesthood in size, there habitually go those specializations which constitute it a [3-86] hierarchy. Integration is accompanied by differentiation.

Let us first note how the simultaneous progress of the two is implied by the fact that while the ecclesiastical organization is at first less sharply marked off from the political than it afterwards becomes, its own structures are less definitely distinguished from one another. Says Tiele—

“That the Egyptian religion, like the Chinese, was originally nothing but an organised animism, is proved by the institutions of worship. Here, too, existed no exclusive priestly caste. Descendants sacrificed to their ancestors, the officers of state to the special local divinities, the king to the deities of the whole country. Not till later did an order of scribes and a regular priesthood arise, and even these as a rule were not hereditary.”

Again, we read that among the ancient Romans—

“The priests were not a distinct order from the other citizens. The Romans, indeed, had not the same regulations with respect to public employments as now obtain with us. With them the same person might regulate the police of the city, direct the affairs of the empire, propose laws, act as a judge or priest, and command an army.”

And though in the case of an adopted religion the circumstances are different, yet we see that in the development of an administrative organization the same essential principle displays itself. M. Guizot writes—

“In the very earliest period, the Christian society presents itself as a simple association of a common creed and common sentiments. . . . We find among them [the first Christians] no system of determinate doctrines, no rules, no discipline, no body of magistrates. . . . In proportion as it advanced . . . a body of doctrines, of rules, of discipline, and of magistrates, began to appear; one kind of magistrates were called πρεσβυτεροι, or ancients, who became the priests; another, επισκοποι, or inspectors, or superintendents, who became bishops; a third διακονοι, or deacons, who were charged with the care of the poor, and with the distribution of alms. . . . It was the body of the faithful which prevailed, both as to the choice of functionaries, and as to the adoption of discipline, and even doctrine. The church government and the Christian people were not as yet separated.”

In which last facts, while we see the gradual establishment of an ecclesiastical structure, we also see how, in the Church as in the State, there went on the separation of the small [3-87] ruling part from the greater part ruled, and a gradual loss of power by the latter.

In the ecclesiastical body as in the political body, several causes, acting separately or jointly, work out the establishment of graduated authorities. Even in a cluster of small societies held together by kinship only, there tends, where priests exist, to arise differences among their amounts of influence: resulting in some subordination when they have to co-operate. Thus we read of the priests among the Bodo and Dhimáls, that “over a small circle of villages one Dhámi presides and possesses a vaguely defined but universally recognised control over the Déóshis of his district.” Still more when small societies have been consolidated into a larger one by war, is the political supremacy of the conquering chief usually accompanied by ecclesiastical supremacy of the head priest of the conquering society. The tendency to this is shown even where the respective cults of the united societies remain intact. Thus it appears that “the high-priests of Mexico were the heads of their religion only among the Mexicans, and not with respect to the other conquered nations;” but we also read that the priesthood of Huitzilopochtli was that of the ruling tribe, and had, accordingly, great political influence. The Mexicatlteohuatzin had authority over other priesthoods than his own. Still more in ancient Peru, where the subjugation of the united peoples by the conquering people was absolute, a graduated priesthood of the conqueror’s religion was supreme over the priesthoods of the religions professed by the conquered. After an account of the priesthood of the Sun in Cuzco, we read that—

“In the other provinces, where there were temples of the Sun, which were numerous, the natives were the priests, being relations of the local chiefs. But the principal priest (or bishop) in each province was an Ynca, who took care that the sacrifices and ceremonies should be in conformity with those of the metropolitan.”

And then we are told by another writer that—

In the great temple of Cuzco, “the Ingas plac’d the Gods of all the Provinces they conquer’d, each Idol having its peculiar Altar, at which [3-88] those of the Province it belong’d to offer’d very expensive Sacrifices; the Ingas thinking they had those Provinces secure, by keeping their Gods as Hostages.”

In short the ancient Peruvian priesthood consisted of a major hierarchy posed on many minor hierarchies.

But besides these subordinations of one sacerdotal system to another caused by conquest, there are, as implied in the cases given, subordinations which arise within the organization of each cult. Such differences of rank and function existed in Egypt. Besides the high priests there were the prophetæ, the justophori, the stolistes, the hierogrammateis, and some others. Similarly among the Accadians. “On comptait à Babylone,” says Maury, “divers ordres de prêtres ou interprètes sacrés, les hakimim ou savants, peut être les médecins; les khartumim, ou magiciens, les asaphim, ou théologiens; et enfin les kasdim et les gazrim. c’est-à-dire les Chaldéens, les astrologues proprement dits.” Rome, too, “had a very rich and complicated religious establishment” (1) the Pontiffs, Augurs, etc.; (2) the Rex Sacrificulus, the Sacrificers, and the Vestal Virgins; (3) Salii and Fetiales; (4) Curiones; (5) Brotherhoods. And it was so with the Mexican priests. “Some were the sacrificers, others the diviners; some were the composers of hymns, others those who sung. . . . Some priests had the charge of keeping the temple clean, some took care of the ornaments of the altars; to others belonged the instructing of youth, the correcting of the calendar, the ordering of festivals, and the care of mythological paintings.”

Where, instead of coexisting religions with their priesthoods which we find in most compound societies produced by war in early stages, we have an invading religion which, monotheistic in theory, cannot recognize or tolerate other religions, there still, as it spreads, arises an organization similar in its centralization and specialization to those just contemplated. Describing the development of Church-government in Europe, M. Guizot says:—

“The bishop was, originally, the inspector, the chief of the religious [3-89] congregation of each town. . . . When Christianity spread into the rural districts, the municipal bishop no longer sufficed. Then appeared the chorepiscopi, or rural bishops . . . the rural districts once Christian, the chorepiscopi in their turn no longer sufficed . . . each Christian agglomeration at all considerable became a parish, and had a priest for its religious head . . . originally parish priests acted absolutely only as representatives, as delegates of the bishops, and not in virtue of their own right. The union of all the agglomerated parishes around a town, in a circumscription for a long time vague and variable, formed the diocese. After a certain time, and in order to bring more regularity and completeness into the relalations of the diocesan clergy, they formed a small association of many parishes under the name of the rural chapter. . . . At a later period many rural chapters were united . . . under the name of district, which was directed by an archdeacon . . . the diocesan organization was then complete. . . . All the dioceses in the civil province formed the ecclesiastical province, under the direction of the metropolitan or archbishop.”

Fully to understand this development of ecclesiastical organization, it is needful to glance at the process by which it was effected, and to observe how the increasing integration necessitated the increasing differentiation.

“During a great part of this [the second] century, the Christian churches were independent on each other, nor were they joined together by association, confederacy, or any other bonds, but those of charity. . . . But, in process of time, all the Christian churches of a province were formed into one large ecclesiastical body, which, like confederate states, assembled at certain times in order to deliberate about the common interests of the whole. . . . These councils . . . changed the whole face of the church, and gave it a new form; for by them the ancient privileges of the people were considerably diminished, and the power and authority of the bishops greatly augmented. The humility, indeed, and prudence of these pious prelates prevented their assuming all at once the power with which they were afterward invested. . . . But they soon changed this humble tone, imperceptibly extended the limits of their authority, turned their influence into dominion, and their counsels into laws. . . . Another effect of these councils was, the gradual abolition of that perfect equality, which reigned among all bishops in the primitive times. For the order and decency of these assemblies required, that some one of the provincial bishops met in council, should be invested with a superior degree of power and authority; and hence the rights of Metropolitans derive [3-90] their origin. . . . The universal church had now the appearance of one vast republic formed by a combination of a great number of little states. This occasioned the creation of a new order of ecclesiastics, who were appointed, in different parts of the world, as heads of the church. . . . Such was the nature and office of the patriarchs, among whom, at length, ambition, being arrived at its most insolent period, formed a new dignity, investing the bishop of Rome, and his successors, with the title and authority of prince of Patriarchs.”

To complete the conception it needs only to add that, while there was going on this centralization of the higher offices, there was going on a minuter differentiation of the lower. Says Lingard, speaking of the Anglo-Saxon clergy—

“These ministers were at first confined to the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons: but in proportion as the number of proselytes increased, the services of additional but subordinate officers were required: and we soon meet, in the more celebrated churches, with subdeacons, lectors or cantors, exorcists, acolythists, and ostiarii or door-keepers. . . . All these were ordained, with appropriate forms, by the bishop.”

§ 620. Among leading traits in the development of ecclesiastical institutions, have to be added the rise and establishment of monasticism.

For the origin of ascetic practices, we must once more go back to the ghost-theory, and to certain resulting ideas and acts common among the uncivilized (§§ 103 and 140). There are the mutilations and blood-lettings at funerals; there are the fastings consequent on sacrifices of animals and food at the grave; and in some cases there are the deficiencies of clothing which follow the leaving of dresses (always of the best) for the departed. Pleasing the dead is therefore inevitably associated in thought with pain borne by the living. This connexion of ideas grows most marked where the ghost to be propitiated is that of some ruling man, notorious for his greediness, his love of bloodshed, and, in many cases, his appetite for human flesh. To such a ruling man, gaining power by conquest, and becoming a much-feared god after his decease, there arise propitiatory ceremonies which entail severe sufferings. Hence where, as in [3-91] ancient Mexico, we find cannibal deities to whom multitudes of human victims were sacrificed; we also find that there were, among priests and others, self-mutilations of serious kinds, frequent self-bleedings, self-whippings, prolonged fasts, etc. The incidental but conspicuous trait of such actions, usurped in men’s minds the place of the essential but less obtrusive trait. Sufferings having been the concomitants of sacrifices made to ghosts and gods, there grew up the notion that submission to these concomitant sufferings was itself pleasing to ghosts and gods; and eventually, that the bearing of gratuitous sufferings was pleasing. All over the world, ascetic practices have thus originated.

This, however, is not the sole origin of ascetic practices. They have been by all peoples adopted for the purpose of bringing on those abnormal mental states which are supposed to imply either possession by spirits, or communion with spirits. Savages fast that they may have dreams, and obtain the supernatural guidance which they think dreams give to them; and especially among medicine-men, and those in training to become such, there is abstinence and submission to various privations, with the view of producing the maniacal excitement which they, and those around, mistake for inspiration. Thus arises the belief that by persistent self-mortifications, there may be obtained an indwelling divine spirit; and the ascetic consequently comes to be regarded as a holy man. [*]

Led into his mode of life by the two-fold belief that voluntary submission to pain pleases God, and that mortifications of the flesh bring inspiration, the ascetic makes his appearance among the devotees of every religion which reaches any considerable development. Though there is little reference to permanent anchorites in ancient American societies, we are told of temporary religious retirements; [3-92] as in Guatemala, where the high-priest, who was in some cases the king, fasted “four, or even eight, months in seclusion;” and as in Peru, where the Yncas occasionally lived in solitude and fasted. Among the religions of the old world, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammetanism, have all furnished numerous examples. Biblical history shows that “in times anterior to the Gospel, prophets and martyrs ‘in sheepskins and goatskins,’ wandered over mountains and deserts, and dwelt in caves.” This discipline of separateness and abstinence, indicated as early as the days of Moses in the “vow of a Nazarite,” and shown by the Essenes to be still existing in later times, reappeared in the discipline of the Christian hermits, who were the first monks or solitaries: the two words being originally equivalent. These grew numerous during the persecutions of the third century, when their retreats became refuges.

“From that time to the reign of Constantine, monachism was confined to the hermits, or anchorets, living in private cells in the wilderness. But when Pachomius had erected monasteries in Egypt, other countries presently followed the example, and so the monastic life came to its full maturity in the church.”

Or, as Lingard describes the process:—

“Wherever there dwelt a monk [a recluse] of superior reputation for sanctity, the desire of profiting by his advice and example induced others to fix their habitations in his neighbourhood: he became their Abbas or spiritual father, they his voluntary subjects: and the group of separate cells which they formed around him was known to others by the name of his monastery.”

Thus, beginning as usual in a dispersed unorganized form, and progressing to small clusters such as those of the Cœnobites in Egypt, severally governed by a superior with a steward, monastic bodies, growing common, at the same time acquired definite organizations; and by-and-by, as in the case of the Benedictines, came to have a common rule or mode of government and life. Though in their early days monks were regarded as men more holy than the clergy, they did not exercise clerical functions; but in the fifth and sixth centuries they acquired some of these, and in [3-93] so doing became subject to bishops: the result being a long struggle to maintain independence on the one side and to enforce authority on the other, which ended in practical incorporation with the Church.

Of course there thus arose a further complication of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which it will be sufficient just to note without describing in detail.

§ 621. For present purposes, indeed, no further account of ecclesiastical hierarchies is needed. We are here concerned only with the general aspects of their evolution.

Examination discloses a relation between ecclesiastical and political governments in respect of degree. Where there is but little of the one there is but little of the other; and in societies which have developed a highly coercive secular rule there habitually exists a highly coercive religious rule.

It has been shown that growing from a common root, and having their structures slightly differentiated in early societies, the political and ecclesiastical organizations long continue to be distinguished very imperfectly.

This intimate relationship between the two forms of regulation, alike in their instrumentalities and in their extents, has a moral origin. Extreme submissiveness of nature fosters an extreme development of both the political and religious controls. Contrariwise the growth of the agencies effecting such controls, is kept in check by the sentiment of independence; which while it resists the despotism of living rulers is unfavourable to extreme self-abasement in propitiation of deities.

While the body which maintains the observances of a cult grows in mass, it also increases in structure; and whether the cult is an indigenous or an invading one, there hence results a hierarchy of sacerdotal functionaries analogous in its general principles of organization to the graduated system of political functionaries. In the one case as in the other the differentiation, setting out from a state in which [3-94] power is distributed with approximate uniformity, advances to a state in which, while the mass becomes entirely subordinate, the controlling agency displays within itself a subordination of the many to the few and to the one.





§ 622. Once more we must return to the religious idea and the religious sentiment in their rudimentary forms, to find an explanation of the part played by ecclesiastical systems in social development.

Though ancestor-worship has died out, there survive among us certain of the conceptions and feelings appropriate to it, and certain resulting observances, which enable us to understand its original effects, and the original effects of those cults immediately derived from it. I refer more especially to the behaviour of descendants after the death of a parent or grand-parent. Three traits, of which we shall presently see the significance, may be noted.

When a funeral takes place, natural affection and usage supporting it, prompt the assembling of the family or clan: of children especially, of other relations to a considerable extent, and in a measure of friends. All, by taking part in the ceremony, join in that expression of respect which constituted the original worship and still remains a qualified form of worship. The burial of a progenitor consequently becomes an occasion on which, more than on any other, there is a revival of the thoughts and feelings appropriate to relationship, and a strengthening of the bonds among kindred.

An incidental result which is still more significant, not unfrequently occurs. If antagonisms among members of the family exist, they are not allowed to show themselves. Being possessed by a common sentiment towards the dead, [3-96] and in so far made to sympathize, those who have been at enmity have their animosities to some extent mitigated; and not uncommonly reconciliations are effected. So that beyond a strengthening of the family-group by the gathering together of its members, there is a strengthening of it caused by the healing of breaches.

One more co-operative influence exists. The injunctions of the deceased are made known; and when these have reference to family-differences, obedience to them furthers harmony. Though it is true that directions concerning the distribution of property often initiate new quarrels, yet in respect of pre-existing quarrels, the known wish of the dying man that they should be ended, is influential in causing compromise or forgiveness; and if there has been a desire on his part that some particular course or policy should be pursued after his death, this desire, even orally expressed, tends very much to become a law to his descendants, and so to produce unity of action among them.

If in our days these influences still have considerable power, they must have had great power in days when there was a vivid conception of ancestral ghosts as liable to be made angry by disregard of their wishes, and able to punish the disobedient. Evidently the family-cult in primitive times, must have greatly tended to maintain the family bond: alike by causing periodic assemblings for sacrifice, by repressing dissensions, and by producing conformity to the same injunctions.

Rising as we do from the ordinary father to the patriarch heading numerous families, propitiation of whose ghost is imperative on all of them, and thence to some head of kindred clans who, leading them to conquest, becomes after death a local chief god, above all others feared and obeyed; we may expect to find in the cults everywhere derived from ancestor-worship, the same influence which ancestor-worship in its simple original form shows us. We shall not be disappointed. Even concerning peoples so rude as the Ostyaks, we find the remark that “the use of the same [3-97] consecrated spot, or the same priest, is also a bond of union;” and higher races yield still clearer evidence. Let us study it under the heads above indicated.

§ 623. The original tribes of the Egyptians, inhabiting areas which eventually became the nomes, were severally held together by special worships. The central point in each “was always, in the first place, a temple, about which a city became formed.” And since “some animals, sacred in one province, were held in abhorrence in another”—since, as we have seen, the animal-naming of ancestral chiefs, revered within the tribe but hated beyond it, naturally originated this; we have reason for concluding that each local bond of union was the worship of an original ancestor-god.

Early Greek civilization shows like influences at work; and records enable us to trace them to a higher stage. Grote writes—

“The sentiment of fraternity, between two tribes or villages, first manifested itself by sending a sacred legation or Theôria to offer sacrifice at each other’s festivals and to partake in the recreations which followed.” . . . “Sometimes this tendency to religious fraternity took a form called an Amphiktyony, different from the common festival. A certain number of towns entered into an exclusive religious partnership, for the celebration of sacrifices periodically to the god of a particular temple, which was supposed to be the common property and under the common protection of all.”

Then concerning the most important of these unions, we read in Curtius—

“All Greek collective national names attach themselves to particular sanctuaries: these are the centres of union, and the starting-points of history. . . . In this respect Apollo, as the god of the Thessalian Amphictyony, may be said to be the founder of the common nationality of the Hellenes, and the originator of Hellenic history.”

If with this we join the further significant fact that “the Dorians . . . even called Dorus, the ancestor of their race, and so of Apollo, and recognized in the spread of the worship of the latter their proper mission in history;” the filiation [3-98] of this religious development upon ancestor-worship becomes manifest. And since the periodic gatherings for sacrifice initiated the Amphictyonic council, the statutes of which “had their origin in the Apolline religion,” and were regarded with respect by the separate Grecian states “in all matters touching on rights common to all;” we have clear proof that the federal bond originated in a common worship.

The like happened in Italy. Concerning the Etruscans, Mommsen says—“Each of these leagues consisted of twelve communities, which recognized a metropolis, especially for purposes of worship, and a federal head or rather a high-priest.” It was thus with the Latins too. Alba was the chief place of the Latin league; and it was also the place at which the tribes forming the league assembled for their religious festivals: such union as existed among them was sanctified by a cult in which all joined. A kindred fact is alleged of ancient Rome. “The oldest constitution of Rome is religious throughout,” says Seeley. “Institutions suggested by naked utility come in later, and those which they practically supersede are not abolished, but formally retained on account of their religious character.”

Though generally in such cases the need for joint defence against external enemies is the chief prompter to federation; yet in each case the federation formed is determined by that community of sacred rites which from time to time brings the dispersed divisions of the same stock together, and keeps alive in them the idea of a common origin as well as the sentiment appropriate to it.

Though Christendom has not exemplified in any considerable degree a like consolidating effect—though its worship, being an adopted one has not supplied that bond which results where the worship is of some great founder of the tribe or traditional god of the race; yet it can hardly be questioned that unity of creed and ceremony has to some extent served as an integrating principle. Though Christian brotherhood has not been much displayed among Christian [3-99] peoples, still, it has not been absolutely a mere name. Indeed it is manifest that since similarity of thought and sympathy of feeling must further harmony by diminishing reasons for difference, agreement in religion necessarily favours union.

§ 624. Still more clearly shown is the parallelism between suspension of family animosities at funerals, and temporary cessation of hostilities between clans on occasions of common religious festivals.

Already in § 144 I have pointed out that among some of the uncivilized, burial places of chiefs become sacred, to the extent that fighting in them is forbidden: one of the results being the initiation of sanctuaries. Naturally an interdict against quarrels at burial-places, or sacred places where sacrifices are to be made, tends to become an interdict against quarrels with those who are going there to sacrifice. The Tahitians would not molest an enemy who came to make offerings to the national idol; and among the Chibchas pilgrims to Iraca (Sogamoso) were protected by the religious character of the country even in time of war. These cases at once recall cases from ancient European history. Of the tribes which originated the Roman civilization, we read—“There are, however, indications that during the Latin festival [sacrifices to Jupiter], just as was the case during the festivals of the Hellenic leagues, ‘a truce of God’ was observed throughout all Latium.” And the instance with which Mommsen here makes a comparison, being much more specific, is particularly instructive. First serving to regulate the worship of a deity common to all, and to maintain a temporary peace among worshippers, the Amphictyonic council served to guarantee “a safe and inviolate transit even through hostile Hellenic states” to the sacrifices and to the games which became associated with them. And here from the temporary suspensions of antagonisms came secondary effects further union.


“The festivals of the gods thus worshipped in common were national festivals. From the system of festivals it was only a step to a common calendar. A common purse was needed for the preservation of the buildings in which the worship was carried on, and for furnishing sacrifices; this made a common coinage necessary. The common purse and temple-treasures required administrators, for whose choice it was requisite to assemble, and whose administration of their office had to be watched by a representation of the federated tribes. In case of dispute between the Amphictyones, a judicial authority was wanted to preserve the common peace, or punish its violation in the name of the god. Thus the insignificant beginning of common annual festivals gradually came to transform the whole of public life; the constant carrying of arms was given up, intercourses was rendered safe, and the sanctity of temples and altars recognized. But the most important result of all was, that the members of the Amphictyony learnt to regard themselves as one united body against those standing outside it; out of a number of tribes arose a nation, which required a common name to distinguish it, and its political and religious system, from all other tribes.”

And that, little as it operated, acceptance of a common creed tended somewhat towards consolidation of European peoples, we see alike in the weekly suspensions of feudal fights under the influence of the Church, in the longer suspensions of larger quarrels under promise to the pope during the crusades, and in the consequent combined action of kings who at other times were enemies; as shown by the fighting of Philip Augustus and Richard I. under the same banners.

And then beyond these various influences indirectly aiding consolidation, come the direct influences of judgments supposed to come from God through an inspired person—Delphian oracle or Catholic high-priest. “As men of a privileged spiritual endowment” the priests of Delphi were “possessed of the capacity and mission of becoming in the name of their god the teachers and counsellors, in all matters, of the children of the land;” and obviously, in so far as their judgments concerning inter-tribal questions were respected, they served to prevent wars. In like manner belief in the pope as a medium through whom the divine [3-101] will was communicated, tended in those who held it to cause subordination to his decisions concerning international disputes, and in so far to diminish the dissolving effects of perpetual conflicts: instance the acceptance of his arbitration by Philip Augustus and Richard I. under threat of ecclesiastical punishment; instance the maintenance of peace between the kings of Castile and Portugal by Innocent III. under penalty of excommunication; instance Eleanor’s invocation—“has not God given you the power to govern nations;” instance the formal enunciation of the theory that the pope was supreme judge in disputes among princes.

§ 625. No less clearly do the facts justify the analogy above pointed out between the recognized duty of fulfilling a deceased parent’s wishes, and the imperative obligation of conforming to a divinely-ordained law.

Twice in six months within my own small circle of friends, I have seen exemplified the subordination of conduct to the imagined dictate of a deceased person: the first example being yielded by one who, after long hesitation, decided to alter a house built by his father, but only in such way as he thought his father would have approved; the second being yielded by one who, not himself objecting to play a game on Sunday, declined because he thought his late wife would not have liked it. If in such cases supposed wishes of the dead become transformed into rules of conduct, much more must expressed injunctions tend to do this. And since maintenance of family-union is an end which such expressed injunctions are always likely to have in view—since the commands of the dying patriarch, or the conquering chief, naturally aim at prosperity of the clan or tribe he governed; the rules or laws which ancestor-worship originates, will usually be of a kind which, while intrinsically furthering social cohesion, further it also by producing ideas of obligation common to all.

Already in §§ 529—30 I have pointed out that, among primitive men, the customs which stand in place of laws, [3-102] embody the ideas and feelings of past generations; and, religiously conformed to as they are, exhibit the rule of the dead over the living. From usages of the Veddahs, the Scandinavians, and the Hebrews, I there drew evidence that in some cases the ghosts of the dead are appealed to for guidance in special emergencies; and I gave proof that, more generally, apotheosized men or gods are asked for directions: instances being cited from accounts of Egyptians, Peruvians, Tahitians, Tongans, Samoans, Hebrews, and sundry Aryan peoples. Further, it was shown that from particular commands answering special invocations, there was a transition to general commands, passing into permanent laws: there being in the bodies of laws so derived, a mingling of regulations of all kinds—sacred, secular, public, domestic, personal. Here let me add evidence reinforcing that before given.

“Agriculture was inculcated as a sacred duty upon the follower of Zoroaster, and he was taught that it was incumbent upon all who worshipped Ahuramasda to lead a settled life. . . . Everything that the Nomad was enjoined to avoid was thus inculcated, as a religious duty, upon the followers of Zoroaster. . . . The principles of Zoroaster, and of similar teachers, led to the federation of settled tribes, out of which arose the mighty empires of antiquity.”

Evidently bodies of laws regarded as supernaturally given by the traditional god of the race, originating in the way shown, habitually tend to restrain the anti-social actions of individuals towards one another, and to enforce concerted action in the dealings of the society with other societies: in both ways conducing to social cohesion.

§ 626. The general influence of Ecclesiastical Institutions is conservative in a double sense. In several ways they maintain and strengthen social bonds, and so conserve the social aggregate; and they do this in large measure by conserving beliefs, sentiments, and usages which, evolved during earlier stages of the society, are shown by its survival to have had an approximate fitness to the requirements, and are likely still to have it in great measure. Elsewhere [3-103] (Study of Sociology, Chap. V) I have, for another purpose, exemplified the extreme resistance to change offered by Ecclesiastical Institutions, and this more especially in respect of all things pertaining to the ecclesiastical organization itself. Here let me add a further series of illustrations.

The ancient Mexicans had “flint knives used in the sacrifices.” In San Salvador, the sacrificer had “a knife of flint, with which he opened the breast of the victim.” Among the Chibchas, again, when a boy was sacrificed, “they killed him with a reed knife;” and at the present time among the Karens, the sacrificial hog offered to deified ancestors, “is not killed with a knife or spear; but a sharpened bamboo is forced into it.” In many other cases the implements used for sacred purposes are either surviving tools of the most archaic types, or else of relatively ancient types; as in pagan Rome where “down to the latest times copper alone might be used, e.g. for the sacred plough and the shear-knife of the priests,” and where also an ancient dress was used during religious ceremonies. Among the Nagas, the fire for roasting a sacrificed animal is “freshly kindled by means of rubbing together two dry pieces of wood;” and on like occasions among the Todas, “although fire may be readily procured from the Mand, a sacred fire is created by the rubbing of sticks.” The Damaras keep a sacred fire always burning; and should this be accidentally extinguished “the fire is re-lit in the primitive way—namely, by friction.” Even in Europe there long continued a like connexion of ideas and practices. Says Peschel, speaking of the fire-drill, “this mode of kindling fire was retained till quite recently in Germany, for popular superstition attributed miraculous power to a fire generated by this ancient method;” and in the Western Isles of Scotland at the end of the seventeenth century, they still obtained fire for sacrificial purposes by the friction of wood in cases of plague and murrain. So is it with the form of speech. Beyond such examples as the use of extinct tongues by Jews and by Roman Catholics for religious services, [3-104] and the retention of an ancient language as a sacred language by the Copts, and the like use by the Egyptian priests of an archaic type of writing, we have illustrations furnished by the uncivilized. Schoolcraft says of the Creeks that their old language (the Seminole) is “taught by women to the children as a kind of religious duty.” In Dahomey, too, the priest “pronounces an allocution in the unintelligible hierarchic tongue.” And the origin of Japanese Buddhism “is shown to this day in the repetition of prayers in an unknown language, and the retention of an Indian alphabet and writing—the Sanscrit or Devanagari—in all the religious works of Japan.” This same tendency was variously exemplified among the Hebrews; as we see in the prescription of unhewn stone for altars (Exod. xx, 25-6), the use of unleavened bread for offerings (Judges, vi, 19-21), and the interdict on building a temple in place of the primitive tent and tabernacle alleged to have been the divine habitation in earlier days (2 Sam. vii, 4-6). And a like persistence was shown in Greece. Religious institutions, says Grote, “often continued unaltered throughout all the political changes.”

Of course while thus resisting changes of usage, ecclesiastical functionaries have resisted with equal or greater strenuousness, changes of beliefs; since any revolution in the inherited body of beliefs, tends in some measure to shake all parts of it, by diminishing the general authority of ancestral teaching. This familiar aspect of ecclesiastical conservatism, congruous with the aspects above exemplified, it is needless to illustrate.

§ 627. Again, then, the ghost-theory yields us the needful clue. As, before, we found that all religious observances may be traced back to funeral observances; so here, we find these influences which ecclesiastical institutions exert, have their germs in the influences exerted by the feelings entertained towards the dead. The burial of a late parent is an occasion on which the members of the family gather together [3-105] and become bound by a renewed sense of kinship; on which any antagonism among them is temporarily or permanently extinguished; and on which they are further united by being subject in common to the deceased man’s wishes, and made, in so far, to act in concert. The sentiment of filial piety thus manifesting itself, enlarges in its sphere when the deceased man is the patriarch, or the founder of the tribe, or the hero of the race. But be it in worship of a god or funeral of a parent, we ever see the same three influences—strengthening of union, suspension of hostilities, reinforcement of transmitted commands. In both cases the process of integration is in several ways furthered.

Thus, looking at it generally, we may say that ecclesiasticism stands for the principle of social continuity. Above all other agencies it is that which conduces to cohesion; not only between the coexisting parts of a nation, but also between its present generation and its past generations. In both ways it helps to maintain the individuality of the society. Or, changing somewhat the point of view, we may say that ecclesiasticism, embodying in its primitive form the rule of the dead over the living, and sanctifying in its more advanced forms the authority of the past over the present, has for its function to preserve in force the organized product of earlier experiences versus the modifying effects of more recent experiences. Evidently this organized product of past experiences is not without credentials. The life of the society has, up to the time being, been maintained under it; and hence a perennial reason for resistance to deviation. If we consider that habitually the chief or ruler, propitiation of whose ghost originates a local cult, acquired his position through successes of one or other kind, we must infer that obedience to the commands emanating from him, and maintenance of the usages he initiated, is, on the average of cases, conducive to social prosperity so long as conditions remain the same; and that therefore this intense [3-106] conservatism of ecclesiastical institutions is not without a justification.

Even irrespective of the relative fitness of the inherited cult to the inherited social circumstances, there is an advantage in, if not indeed a necessity for, acceptance of traditional beliefs, and consequent conformity to the resulting customs and rules. For before an assemblage of men can become organized, the men must be held together, and kept ever in presence of the conditions to which they have to become adapted; and that they may be thus held, the coercive influence of their traditional beliefs must be strong. So great are the obstacles which the anti-social traits of the savage (§§ 33-38) offer to that social cohesion which is the first condition to social progress, that he can be kept within the needful bonds only by a sentiment prompting absolute submission—submission to secular rule reinforced by that sacred rule which is at first in unison with it. And hence, as I have before pointed out, the truth that in whatever place arising—Egypt, Assyria, Peru, Mexico, China—social evolution throughout all its earlier stages has been accompanied not only by extreme subordination to living kings, but also by elaborate worships of the deities originating from dead kings.





§ 628. Among the many errors which result from carrying back advanced ideas and sentiments to the interpretation of primitive institutions, few are greater than that of associating priestly functions with actions classed as high in kind, and dissociating them from brutal and savage actions. Did not men’s prepossessions render them impervious to evidence, even their Bible readings might raise doubts; and wider readings would prove that among mankind at large, priests have displayed and cultivated not the higher but rather the lower passions of humanity.

We at once see that this must be so, when we remember that instead of deities conceived as possessing all perfections, moral and intellectual, most peoples have had deities conceived as possessing ferocious natures, often in no way distinguished from the diabolical. Of the ancient Mexicans we read that their “Princes sent to one another to prepare for War, because their Gods demanded something to eat;” and that their armies “fought, only endeavouring to take Prisoners, that they might have Men to feed those Gods.” According to Jackson, the Fijian priests told those around “that bloodshed and war, and everything connected with them, were acceptable to their gods.” Though Pindar repudiates the ascription of cannibalism to the Greek gods, yet the narrative of Pausanias shows that even in his day, human victims were occasionally sacrificed to Zeus; and the [3-108] Iliad tacitly ascribes to the Greek gods natures lower than it ascribes to men: lying, treachery, blood-thirstiness, adultery, are without palliation attributed to them. The fact that they took part in the battles of the men with whom they respectively sided, reminds us of the Assyrians, among whom also direct divine aid in fighting was alleged. Says an inscription of Esarhaddon:—

“Ishtar queen of war and battle, who loves my piety, stood by my side. She broke their bows. Their line of battle in her rage she destroyed. To their army she spoke thus: ‘An unsparing deity am I.’ ”

And kindred traits are directly or tacitly ascribed to the primitive Hebrew god. I do not refer only to sacrifices of human victims, or to such phrases as “the Lord is a man of war,” and “God himself is with us for our captain” (2 Chron. xiii, 12); but I refer more particularly to the indiscriminate slaughter said to be ordered by God, and to the fact that a religious war is assumed to be naturally a bloody war: instance the statement in 1 Chron. v, 22—“there fell down many slain, because the war was of God.” All which divine traits, attributed by early historic peoples as well as by existing barbarians, are accounted for when we remember that mythologies, which habitually describe battles among the gods for supremacy, are but transfigured accounts of struggles among primitive rulers, in which the stronger, more blood-thirsty, and more unscrupulous, usually prevailed.

Fully to understand the original connexion between military deeds and religious duties, we must recollect that when gods are not supposed to be active participators in the battles commanded or countenanced by them, they are supposed to be present in representative idols, or in certain equivalents for idols. Everywhere we find parallels to the statement made by Cook, that the Sandwich Islanders carry their war-gods with them to battle. Among the ancient Mexicans when meeting a foe, “the priests with their idols marched in the front.” Certain of the Yucatanese had “idols, which they adored as gods of battles. . . . [3-109] They carried these when they went to fight the Chinamitas, their neighbours and mortal foes.” Of the Chibchas, Herrera, referring to private idols, says—“So great was their Devotion, that whithersoever they went, the Idol was carry’d, holding it with one Arm and fighting with the other in their Battles.” Nor has it been otherwise in the old world. The account in 2 Samuel, v, 21, shows that the Philistines carried their images of the gods with them when fighting; and the ark, regarded by the Hebrews as a residence of Jahveh, was taken out to war not unfrequently (2 Samuel, xi). Indeed in 1 Samuel, iv, we read that the Hebrews, having been defeated by the Philistines, sent for the ark that it might save them; “and when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. . . . And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp.” Moreover, on calling to mind the sacrifices habitually made before and after, and sometimes during, battles by uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples, we are further shown how close has been the connexion between killing enemies and pleasing deities.

Priests being the official propitiators of deities, the corollary is obvious. While often restrainers from wars with those of the same blood, they are originally stimulators to wars with those of other bloods worshipping other deities. Thus, concerning the Mexicans above referred to, who fought to provide victims for their gods, we read that “when the Priests thought fit, they went to the Kings, and told them, they must remember the Idols who were starving with Hunger.” The Assyrian priests had further motives. “They lived on the revenues of the temples . . . were directly interested in war, as a portion of the spoil was dedicated to the temples.” But without multiplying instances, it will suffice to recall the fact that even among the Hebrews, while king and people were in some cases inclined to show clemency, priests insisted upon cherem—merciless indiscriminate slaughter; and Samuel “cried unto the Lord [3-110] all night” because Saul, though he had “utterly destroyed” the Amalekites, had not killed their king and all their cattle: reminding us of the Fijian who, not having done his utmost in slaying, worked himself into a “religious frenzy,” calling out continually “the god is angry with me.”

This preliminary brief survey prepares us to find that in early stages of social evolution along with sacerdotal functions go military functions. Let us look at these under their leading aspects.

§ 629. The truth that in the normal order the chief, who is originally the greatest warrior, is also the primitive priest, implies union of military and sacerdotal functions in the same person. At first the head fighter is the head propitiator of the gods. The frescoes and inscriptions of Egypt and Assyria, presenting the king as at once leader in war and leader in worship, illustrate a connexion habitually found.

This connexion is even closer than at first appears; for among the most important sacrifices made by kings to gods, are those made on the eve of battle to gain divine favour, or after victory in token of thanks. That is to say, the king discharges his function of religious propitiator in the most conspicuous way, at the time when his military headship is exercised in the most conspicuous way.

With but small modification, this connexion of functions is occasionally shown where the leadership in war is not exercised by the ruling man or body, but by an appointed general; for in such cases generals assume priestly functions. The Mexicans furnished an instance. The office of high-priest “involved, almost always, the duties of Tlacochcalcatl, or commander-in-chief of the army.” So was it with the ancient civilized peoples of Europe. At Rome, “before setting out on an expedition, the army being assembled, the general repeated prayers and offered a sacrifice. The custom was the same at Athens and at Sparta.” To which we may add that, among the Romans, “the army in the field was the image of the city, and its religion followed it:” the [3-111] sacred hearth was perpetually burning, there were augurs and diviners, and king or commander sacrificed before and after battle. And, indeed, the priestly function of the Roman commander was such that in some cases he paid more attention to sacrificing than to fighting.

Nor does the community end here. Beyond this union of military functions with sacerdotal functions in leaders, there occur among the uncivilized, cases in which active parts in fighting are taken by priests. Concerning the Tahitians, whose “chiefs and priests were often among the most famous boxers and wrestlers,” Ellis says that “the priests were not exempted from the battle, they bore arms, and marched with the warriors to the combat.” Presently we shall have to note that parallels have been furnished where they might least be expected.

§ 630. After recognizing the fact that at the outset, active ecclesiastical headship is united with active military headship; and after recognizing the fact that throughout later stages these two headships remain nominally united with headship of the state; we may go on to observe that very soon, priests usually cease to be direct participators in war, and become indirect participators only.

During times when the characters of medicine-man and priest are vaguely represented in the person of one who is supposed to have power over, or influence with, supernatural beings, we see foreshadowed the advising and administrative functions of priests in war. The Dakotahs show this kind of action in its rudest form.

“The war chiefs often get some of the priests or jugglers to make war for them. In fact, any of the jugglers can make a war-party when they choose.”

Then among the Abipones the medicine-man—

“teaches them the place, time, and manner proper for attacking wild beasts or the enemy. On an approaching combat, he rides round the ranks, striking the air with a palm bough, and with a fierce countenance, threatening eyes, and affected gesticulations, imprecates evil on their enemies.”


And we are told that among the Khonds—

“The priest, who in no case bears arms, gives the signal to engage after the latter offering, by flourishing an axe in the air, and shouting encouragement to defiance.”

To raise the courage of the soldiers by hopes of help from the gods, was in like manner a function of the priest among Spartans.

“Every expedition and every council of war was preceded by a sacrifice. A priest, called the fire-bearer (πυρϕόρος), carried before the army a burning brand, which was kept always alight, taken from the altar in Sparta on which the king had offered sacrifices to Zeus Agetor.”

And the Hebrews similarly availed themselves of the agency of the priest in promising supernatural aid; as witness Deuteronomy, xx, 1—4.

“And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is he that goeth with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you.”

In some cases of which I have notes, the functions of the priests who accompanied the armies, are not specified. On the Gold Coast, where “war is never undertaken by kings or states without consulting the national deities,” the “fetish-men accompany the warriors to the field.” And Herrera describes the armies of the Yucatanese as having “two Wings and a Center, where the Lord and the High Priest were.” But the military functions of the priest during active war, are in other cases somewhat different. Among the primitive Germans—

“The maintenance of discipline in the field as in the council was left in great measure to the priests: they took the auguries and gave the signal for onset, they alone had power to visit with legal punishment, to bind or to beat.”

In yet other cases the functions discharged are more exclusively of the kind called religious. The Samoans took a priest “to battle to pray for his people and curse the enemy.” [3-113] In New Caledonia, “the priests go to battle, but sit in the distance, fasting and praying for victory.” Among the Comanches the supplicatory function was performed before going to war. “The priesthood,” says Schoolcraft, “appear to exercise no influence in their general government, but, on war being declared, they exert their influence with the Deity.” And in this conception of their office it seems that Christian priests agree with the priests of the Comanches; as witness the following prayer directed to be used by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the commencement of the late war in Egypt.

“O Almighty God, whose power no creature is able to resist, keep, we beseech Thee, our soldiers and sailors who have now gone forth to war, that they, being armed with Thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify Thee, who art the only giver of all victory, through the merits of Thy only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

A noteworthy difference, however, being that whereas the priest among pagans in general, seeks some sign of divine approval as a first step, the Christian priest assumes that he has this approval; even though the case be that of attacking a people who are trying to throw off an intolerable tyranny.

Besides being direct or indirect aiders in battle, priests are in other cases relied on for military management, or appealed to for guidance. In Africa among the Eggarahs, a priest “officiates as minister of war.” Of the ancient Mexicans we read—“The high-priests were the oracles whom the kings consulted in all the most important affairs of the state, and no war was ever undertaken without their approbation.” Prescott speaks of the Peruvian priests as giving advice in matters of war; and Torquemada says that in Guatemala the priests had decisive authority on war questions. In San Salvador, too, the high-priest and his subordinates, after seeking supernatural knowledge, “called together the cazique and war chief, and advised them of the approach of their enemies, and whether they should go to meet them.” And the like happened among the Hebrews. [3-114] I Kings, xxii, tells us of consultations with the prophets concerning the propriety of a war, and especially with one of them:—

“So he [Micaiah] came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.”

§ 631. Anyone simple enough to suppose that men’s professed creeds determine their courses of conduct, might infer that nations which adopted Christianity, if not deterred from war by their nominally-accepted beliefs, would at least limit the functions of their priests to those of a religious kind, or at any rate, a non-militant kind. He would be quite wrong however.

The fact is familiar that Christian Europe throughout many centuries, saw priests taking as active parts in war as do priests among some extant savages. In the seventh century in France, bishops went to battle; and “by the middle of the eighth century regular military service on the part of the clergy was already fully developed:” “under Charles Martel it was common to see bishops and clerks bearing arms.” Says Guizot concerning the state of the church at this period, the bishops “took part in the national warfare; nay more, they undertook, from time to time, expeditions of violence and rapine against their neighbours on their own account.” And in subsequent centuries Germany and France alike witnessed the union of military leadership with ecclesiastical leadership. In Germany the spiritual head “was now a feudal baron; he was the acknowledged leader of the military forces in his dioceses.” Writing of events in France, Orderic describes the priests as leading their parishioners to battle, and the abbots their vassals, in 1094, and again in 1108; while in 1119 the bishops summoned the priests with their parishioners. Even after the middle of the fifteenth century the Cardinal de Balue mustered troops in Paris; and “the bishop, the heads [3-115] of the university, the abbots, priors, and other churchmen,” “appeared there with a certain number of men.” Not until nearly the middle of the seventeenth century was there issued an edict which exempted the clergy from personal service in the armies. Even now, Christendom is not without an example of union between the man-slaying and soul-saving functions. It is remarked that the Montenegrins form “the only community now in Europe governed by a military bishop;” and the Rev. W. Denton says “the priests carry arms, and ‘are generally good heroes,’ the first at a gathering, the leaders of their flocks in war.”

To a direct participation in war exhibited by actual service in the army, must be added an indirect participation implied by administrative control of the fighting organizations. Cardinal Richelieu was director of both navy and army. Moreover, his policy “was the opening of a new era for France, an era of great and systematized warfare;” and he, “in his Testament politique, recalls with pride the discipline he established in the army of Italy and among the troops which besieged La Rochelle. ‘They obeyed like monks under arms.’ ”

Now-a-days people have become unaccustomed to these connexions, and forget that they ever existed. The military duties of priests among ourselves have dwindled down to the consecration of flags, the utterances by army-chaplains of injunctions of forgiveness to men who are going to execute vengeance, joined with occasional prayers to the God of love to bless aggressions, provoked or unprovoked.

§ 632. Thus, contemplation of facts supplied by all places and times, reverses that association of ideas which the facts immediately around us produce. Recognizing the truth that the gods of savages and partially-civilized peoples, were originally ferocious chiefs and kings whose ghosts were propitiated by carrying out their aggressive or revengeful projects; we see that their official propitiators, so far from being at first associated in doctrine and deed with the higher [3-116] traits of human nature, were in both associated with the lower. Hence the naturalness of that militancy which characterizes them in early stages.

Under a more concrete form this union of the sacerdotal and belligerent characters, is shown by the fact that in the normal order of social evolution, the political head is at the same time the leader in war and the leader in worship. Evidently the implication is that these two functions, at first united, can acquire separate agencies but gradually; and that these separate agencies must long continue to show some community of character: a truth indicated by that nominal headship of the church and the army which the head of the state in many cases retains when actual headship has ceased.

That other priests besides that head priest who is also head warrior, should take active parts in war, is therefore to be expected. We need feel no surprise on finding that in various barbarous societies they share in battle—sometimes as actual soldiers, at other times as inspiring prompters, at other times as advisers divinely enlightened; while occasionally they act as war ministers.

Moreover this original relation is, as we see, not easily obliterated. The history of mediæval Europe proves undeniably that conditions which cause a great recrudescence of militancy, re-establish the primitive union of soldier and priest, notwithstanding a cult which forbids bloodshed—re-establish it just as completely as though the cult were of the most sanguinary kind. Only as war becomes less chronic, and the civilizing influences of peace begin to predominate, does the priest lose his semi-warlike character.

Lastly, let us note that the differentiation of these two functions of fighting enemies and propitiating deities, which were originally joined with headship of the State, has gone furthest in those religious organizations which are separate from the State. Unlike the ministers of the established church, who ordinarily belong to families which furnish military and naval officers, and who, though not actively [3-117] militant, have their militant sympathies occasionally indicated by the votes of bishops in the House of Lords, dissenting ministers, derived from classes engaged in one or other form of industrial activity, are the least militant of religious functionaries.





§ 633. Of course where the head of the State, himself regarded as god-descended, plays the part of priest in propitiating the ancestral gods, and, unlimited in his authority, carries his rule into all spheres, the union of civil functions with sacerdotal functions is complete. A good example of this condition in an early stage of social development, is furnished by the Polynesians.

“This system of civil polity, disjointed and ill adapted as it was to answer any valuable purpose, was closely interwoven with their sanguinary system of idolatry, and sanctioned by the authority of the gods. The king was not only raised to the head of the government, but he was considered as a sort of vicegerent to those supernatural powers presiding over the invisible world. Human sacrifices were offered at his inauguration; and whenever any one, under the influence of the loss he had sustained by plunder, or other injury, spoke disrespectfully of his person and administration, not only was his life in danger, but human victims must be offered, to cleanse the land from the pollution it was supposed to have contracted.”

Various extinct societies presented kindred fusions of civil with sacerdotal headships. In Assyria, where the king “was either supposed to be invested with divine attributes, or was looked upon as a type of the Supreme Deity,” and where “all his acts, whether in war or peace, appear to have been connected with the national religion, and were believed to be under the special protection and superintendence of the deity;” he, while civil head of the State, is represented [3-119] in the sculptures as the chief sacrificer to the gods. The like connexion existed in ancient Egypt, in ancient Mexico, in ancient Peru; and in Japan, until recently, it continued to exist under a nominal form if not under a real form.

Obviously this is the normal connexion in those societies which have preserved that primitive structure in which, along with a general ancestor-worship there has arisen a special worship of the founder of the conquering tribe, whose descendant is at once head propitiator of him, and inheritor of his civil headship along with his military headship.

§ 634. This union, most conspicuous where the divine nature or divine descent of the king is an article of faith, continues also where he is believed to have divine sanction only. For habitually in such cases he is either nominal head or real head of the ecclesiastical organization; and while ordinarily occupied with civil functions, assumes on great occasions sacerdotal functions.

Where the religion is indigenous, this maintenance of the connexion is naturally to be expected; but we have proof that even where the religion is an invading one, which suppresses the indigenous one, there is apt to be a re-establishment of the connexion. This is shown by the growth of the ecclesiastical organization throughout Europe. At first diffused and local, it advanced towards a centralized union of religious with civil authority. According to Bedollierre, during the fourth and fifth centuries in France, senators, governors of provinces, great proprietors, imperial officers, were elected bishops; and Guizot writes that in the fifth century, “the bishops and the priests became the principal municipal magistrates.” In the codes of Theodosius and Justinian are numerous regulations which remit municipal affairs to the clergy and the bishops. The jurisdiction of a bishop in Germany, beginning with his own clergy only, came to be by usage “extended to laymen, in cases where the duties of religion, the rights or discipline of the church, were concerned; and the execution of his decrees was confided [3-120] to the care of the local courts.” When, in the tenth century, by the growth of the feudal system, bishops had become “temporal barons themselves, and were liable like the merest laymen, to military service, to the jurisdictio herilis, and the other obligations of the dignity;” they became ministers of justice like secular barons, with the exception only that they could not pronounce or execute sentences of death. Similarly in the twelfth century in England.

“The prelates and abbots . . . were completely feudal nobles. They swore fealty for their lands to the king or other superior, received the homage of their vassals, enjoyed the same immunities, exercised the same jurisdiction, maintained the same authority as the lay lords among whom they dwelt.”

To all which facts we must join the fact that with this acquisition of local civil authority by local ecclesiastics, there went the acquisition of a central civil authority, by the central ecclesiastic. The public and private actions of kings became in a measure subject to the control of the pope; so that in the thirteenth century there had taken place a “conversion of kingdoms into spiritual fiefs.”

§ 635. We pass by a step, in many cases only nominal, from the civil functions of the priest as central or local ruler, to the civil function of the priest as judge only—as judge coexisting with, but separate from, the political head.

That devolution of the judicial function upon the priesthood which often takes place in early stages of social development, results from the idea that subordination to the deceased ruler who has become a god, is a higher obligation than subordination to the living ruler; and that those who, as priests, are in communication with the ghost of the deceased ruler, are channels for his commands and decisions, and are therefore the proper judges. Hence various facts which uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples present. Of the Coast Negroes we read that “in Badagry the fetish-priests [3-121] are the sole judges of the people.” In ancient Yucatan “the priests of the gods were so much venerated that they were the lords who inflicted punishments and assigned rewards.” Already in § 525, when speaking of judicial systems, I have referred to the judicial functions of priests among the Gauls and Scandinavians. With more ancient peoples the like relation held for the like reason. Of the Egyptians we are told that—

“Besides their religious duties, the priests fulfilled the important offices of judges [Ælian, Hist. Var., lib. xiv, c. 34] and legislators, as well as counsellors of the monarch; and the laws as among many other nations of the East [the Jews, Moslems, and others], forming part of the sacred books, could only be administered by members of their order.”

Unlike as was originally the relation of the priest to the ruler throughout Christendom, yet when the Christian priest came eventually to be regarded, like the priests of indigenous religions, as divinely inspired, there arose a tendency to recognize his judicial authority. In the old English period the bishop had “to assist in the administration of justice between man and man, to guard against perjury, and to superintend the administration of the ordeals.” And this early participation with laymen in judicial functions afterwards became something like usurpation. Beginning as tribunals enforcing the discipline of superior priests over inferior priests, ecclesiastical courts, both here and abroad, extended their range of action to cases in which clerical and lay persons were simultaneously implicated, and eventually made the actions of laymen also, subject to their decisions. At first taking cognizance of offences distinguished as spiritual, these courts gradually extended the definition of such until in some places—

“All testamentary and matrimonial questions—all matters relating to bankers, usurers, Jews, Lombards—everything involving contracts and engagements upon oath—all cases arising out of the Crusades—the management of hospitals and other charitable institutions—all charges of sacrilege, perjury, incontinence,” &c., fell under the “arbitration of the Church.”


And at the same time there had been developed a body of canon law derived from papal judgments. These encroachments of ecclesiastical jurisdiction on the sphere of civil jurisdiction, led eventually to struggles for supremacy; until, in the thirteenth century, ecclesiastical jurisdiction began to be restricted, and has since become relatively small in range.

§ 636. Along with a large share in the administration of justice possessed by priests in countries where, or times when, they are supposed to be inspired with divine wisdom, or utterers of divine injunctions, priests also have in such places and times, a large share in the control of State-affairs as ministers or advisers.

In some cases the political ruler seeks their aid not because he believes they have supernatural wisdom but because they are useful controlling agents. Says Cruikshank, “many, also, among the higher and more intelligent ranks of the natives [of the Gold Coast], who have very little faith in the Fetish [or fetish-man], acknowledge its value as an engine of civil government.” The Fijian chiefs admitted “that they have little respect for the power of the priests, and use them merely to govern the people.” Or, as William says, “a good understanding exists between the chief and the priests, and the latter take care to make the gods’ utterances to agree with the wishes of the former.” Probably a kindred relation exists in Abyssinia, where the king of Shoa rules his people “principally through the church.”

In other and more numerous cases, however, the power of the priest (or the medicine-man, or the man uniting both characters,) as political counsellor, results from belief in his supernatural knowledge. Writing of the Marutse, Holub says that in King Sepopo’s employment were “two old wizen-looking magicians or doctors, . . . who exercised almost a supreme control over state affairs.” Similarly, Boyle writes of the Dyaks that “next door to the Tuah [3-123] [chief] lived the ‘manang’ or medicine man.” And this reminds us of Huc’s remark concerning the Tartar emperor, Mangou-khan, who “was given to a number of superstitious practices, and the principal soothsayer was lodged opposite his tent . . . having under his care the cars that bore the idols.” So has it been where the sacerdotal character has become decided. We have seen that in Mexico “the high-priests were the oracles whom the kings consulted in all the most important affairs of the State.” So was it among other ancient American peoples; as in primitive Michoacan, where the priests “had the greatest influence in secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs.” In ancient Egypt it was the same. “Next to the king, the priests held the first rank, and from them were chosen his confidential and responsible advisers.” And it is still so in Burmah, where, Sangermano says, “all is regulated by the opinions of the Brahmins, so that not even the king shall presume to take any step without their advice.”

That this advising function in civil affairs should be joined with the sacerdotal function, in societies having cults originating from worship of dead rulers, is to be expected. We see, however, that even the priests of a conquering religion acquire in this, as in other respects, the same essential positions as the priests of an indigenous religion. The history of mediæval Europe shows how prelates became agents of civil rule; alike as ministers, as diplomatic agents, and as members of councils dealing with political affairs.

§ 637. But as with the military functions of priests so with their civil functions, social development, ever accompanied by specialization, more and more restricts them.

At the one extreme we have, in the primitive king, a complete fusion of the two sets of functions; while in the governments of advanced societies we see approach to an extreme in which priests, instead of taking prominent parts in civil affairs, are almost excluded from them. Among ourselves, save in the occasional instances of clerical magistrates, [3-124] the judicial and executive powers once largely shared in by leading ecclesiastics, have lapsed out of their hands; while that remnant of legislative power still exercised by the bishops, appears not likely to be retained much longer. At the same time this differentiation has so established itself in the general mind, that it is commonly thought improper for clergymen to take active parts in politics.

Good reason exists for associating this change, or at any rate the completion of it, with development of the industrial type. Resistance to the irresponsible rule of priests, like resistance to other irresponsible rule, is ultimately traceable to that increasing assertion of personal freedom, with accompanying right of private judgment, which industrial life fosters by habituating each citizen to maintain his own claims while respecting the claims of others. But this connexion will be made more manifest as we proceed with the subject of the next chapter.





§ 638. In various ways it has been shown that originally Church and State are undistinguished. I do not refer only to the fact that in China and Japan the conceptions of this world and the other world have been so mingled that both worlds have had a living ruler in common. Nor am I recalling only the truth that the primitive ruler, vicegerent of his deceased ancestor, whom, as priest, he propitiates not only by sacrifices but by carrying out his dictates, thus becomes one in whose person are united government by the dead and government by the living. But I have in view the further fact that where the normal order has not been broken, the organizations for sacred rule and for secular rule remain practically blended, because the last remains in large measure the instrument of the first. Under a simple form this relation is well shown us in Mangaia, where—

“Kings were . . . ‘the mouth-pieces, or priests, of Rongo.’ As Rongo was the tutelar divinity and the source of all authority, they were invested with tremendous power—the temporal lord having to obey, like the multitude, through fear of Rongo’s anger.”

And this theocratic type of government has been fully developed in various places. Much more pronounced than among the Hebrews was it among some of the Egyptians.

“The influence of the priests at Meroë, through the belief that they spoke the commands of the Deity, is more fully shown by Strabo and Diodorus, who say it was their custom to send to the king, when it [3-126] pleased them, and order him to put an end to himself, in obedience to the will of the oracle imparted to them; and to such a degree had they contrived to enslave the understanding of those princes by superstitious fears, that they were obeyed without opposition.”

Other cases of the subjection of the temporal power to the spiritual power, if less extreme than this, are still sufficiently marked.

“The Government of Bhutan, as of Tibet, and of Japan, is a theocracy, assigning the first place to the spiritual chief. That chief being by profession a recluse, the active duties are discharged ordinarily by a deputy.”

But in these cases, or some of them, the supremacy of the spiritual head has practically given place to that of the temporal head: a differentiation of the two forms of rule which has arisen in Polynesia also, under kindred conditions.

Where Church and State are not so completely fused as by thus making the terrestrial ruler a mere deputy for the celestial ruler, there still continues a blending of the two where primitive beliefs survive in full strength, and where, consequently, the intercessors between gods and men continuing to be all-powerful merge civil rule in ecclesiastical rule. In Egypt for example—

“The priesthood took a prominent part in everything. . . . Nothing was beyond their jurisdiction: the king himself was subject to the laws established by them for his conduct, and even for his mode of living.”

Along with religious beliefs equally intense with those in Egypt, there went in the ancient American societies a like unity of Church and State. The Peruvians exhibited a complete identity of the ecclesiastical government with the political; in Yucatan the authority of priests rivalled that of kings; and in harmony with the tradition of the ancient Mexicans that the priests headed their immigration, there was such mingling of sacerdotal with civil rule as made the two in great measure one.

That this blending of Church and State is not limited to societies in which the gods are apotheosized rulers more or less ancient, but is found also in societies characterized by [3-127] cults which are not indigenous, and that it continues as long as religious beliefs are accepted without criticism, we are shown by the history of mediæval Europe.

But in this case as in all cases, various causes subsequently conspire to produce differentiation and increasing separation. Co-operating efficiently though they at first do as having interests in large measure the same, yet the agencies for carrying on celestial rule and terrestrial rule eventually begin to compete for supremacy; and the competition joins with the growing unlikenesses of functions and structures in making the two organizations distinct.

§ 639. That we may understand the struggle for supremacy which eventually arises, and tends to mark off more and more the ecclesiastical structure from the political structure, we must glance at the sources of sacerdotal power.

First comes the claim of the priest, as representing the deity, to give a sanction to the authority of the civil ruler. At the present time among some of the uncivilized, as the Zulus, we find this claim recognized.

“As to the custom of a chief of a primitive stock of kings among black men, he calls to him celebrated diviners to place him in the chieftainship, that he may be really a chief.”

In ancient Egypt the king, wholly in the hands of ecclesiastics, could be crowned only after having been made one of their body. Then among the Hebrews we have the familiar case of Saul who was anointed by Samuel in God’s name. Passing without further cases to the acquired power of the popes, which became such that kings, receiving their crowns from them, swore obedience; we are shown that the consecration of rulers, continuing in form down to our own day, was, when a reality, an element of priestly power.

Next may be named the supposed influence of the priest with supernatural beings. Wherever faith is unqualified, dread of the evils which his invocations may bring, or trust in his ability to obtain blessings, gives him immense advantages. Even where each man could offer sacrifices, yet [3-128] the professional priests profited by their supposed special knowledge. Instance the case of Rome, where their power was thus enhanced.

“Every suppliant and inquirer addressed himself directly to the divinity—the community of course by the king as its mouthpiece, just as the curia by the curio, and the equites by their colonels. . . . But . . . the god had his own way of speaking. . . . One who did rightly understand it knew not only how to ascertain, but also how to manage, the will of the god, and even in case of need to overreach or to constrain him. It was natural, therefore, that the worshipper of the god should regularly consult such men of skill and listen to their advice.”

Of course where propitiation of a deity could be made only by sacerdotal agency—where, as among the Chibchas, “no sacrifice or offering, public or private, could be made but by the hands of the priest”—the ecclesiastical organization gained great strength.

To the influence possessed by priests as intercessors, may be added some allied influences similarly rooted in the accepted superstitions. One is the assumed power to grant or refuse forgiveness of sins. Then there is the supposed need for a passport to the other world; as shown us by usages in ancient Mexico, in Japan, and in Russia. Once more there is the dreaded excommunication, which, under the Christian system, as under the system of the druids, was visited especially on those who disregarded ecclesiastical authority.

To powers which priests acquire from their supposed relations with the gods, must be added powers of other kinds. In early societies they form the cultured class. Even the medicine-man of the savage is usually one who has some information not possessed by those around; and the developed priesthoods of established nations, as of the Egyptians and the Chaldeans, show us how knowledge of surrounding phenomena, accumulated and transmitted, enabling them to predict astronomical occurrences and do other astonishing things, greatly exalts them in the eyes of the uninitiated. With the further influence thus gained must be joined that gained by acquaintance with the art of writing. Beyond [3-129] the wonder excited among the common people by the ability to convey ideas in hieroglyphics, ideographs, etc., there is the immense aid to co-operation throughout the ecclesiastical hierarchy which an exclusive means of communicating intelligence gives; and the history of mediæval Europe shows how power to read and write, possessed by priests but rarely by others, made their assistance indispensable in various civil transactions and secured great advantages to the Church. Nor must we forget the kindred enhancements of influence arising from the positions of prelates as the teachers of civil rulers. In mediæval Europe, bishops “were the usual preceptors of the princes;” and in Mandalay at the present time, the highest church dignitary, who stands next to the king in authority, “is generally made patriarch from having been the King’s instructor during youth.”

Lastly may be named the power resulting from accumulation of property. Beginning with payments to exorcisers and diviners among savages, progressing to fees in kind to sacrificing priests, and growing by-and-by into gifts made to temples and bribes to their officials, wealth everywhere tends to flow to the ecclesiastical organization. Speaking of ancient Mexico, Zurita says that “besides many towns, a great number of excellent estates were set apart for the maintenance of public worship.” Among the Peruvians the share of the annual produce reserved for religious services was “from a third to a fourth.” In ancient Egypt “the priests lived in abundance and luxury. The portion of the soil allotted to them, the largest in the threefold division, was [at one period] subject to no taxes.” So again in Rome.

“The public service of the gods became not only more tedious, but above all more and more costly. . . . The custom of instituting endowments, and generally of undertaking permanent pecuniary obligations, for religious objects prevailed among the Romans in a manner similar to its prevalence in Roman Catholic countries at the present day.”

And the analogy thus drawn introduces the familiar case of Europe during the middle ages; in which, besides offerings, [3-130] tithes, etc., the Church had at one time acquired a third of the landed property.

§ 640. Holding in its hands powers, natural and supernatural, thus great and varied, an ecclesiastical organization seems likely to be irresistible, and in sundry places and times has proved irresistible. Where the original blending of Church with State has given place to that vague distinction inevitably resulting from partial specialization of functions accompanying social evolution, there are certain to arise differences of aim between the two; and a consequent question whether the living ruler, with his organization of civil and military subordinates, shall or shall not yield to the organization of those who represent dead rulers and profess to utter their commands. And if, throughout the society, faith is unqualified and terror of the supernatural extreme, the temporal power becomes subject to the spiritual power.

We may trace back this struggle to early stages. Respecting weather-doctors among the Zulus, and the popular valuation of them as compared with chiefs, we read:—

“The hail then has its doctors in all places; and though there is a chief in a certain nation, the people do not say, ‘We have corn to eat through the power of the chief;’ but they say, ‘We have corn to eat through the son of So-and-so; for when the sky rolls cloud upon cloud, and we do not know that it will go back to another place, he can work diligently and do all that is necessary, and we have no more any fear.’ ”

To which it should be added that the chief among the Zulus, habitually jealous of the medicine-man, in some cases puts him to death. In another form, an example of the conflict comes to us from Samoa. At a council of war which the Samoans held to concert measures of vengeance on the Tongans, the high priest, “a bold, violent, unscrupulous man, who combined in his own person the threefold office of warrior, prophet, and priest,” urged that the Tongan prisoners should be put to immediate death. The king opposed this proposal, and hence originated a feud between the priest and the king, which resulted in a civil war, the overthrow [3-131] and exile of the king, and usurpation of his place by the priest. Though this contest between a merciful king and a merciless priest does not in all respects parallel that between Saul and Samuel, since Samuel, instead of usurping the kingship himself, merely anointed David; yet the two equally illustrate the struggle for authority which arises between the political head and the supposed mouthpiece of divine commands. Similarly among the Greeks. Curtius, speaking of the time when the Iliad took form, says:—

“The priests, especially the soothsayers, also oppose themselves to the royal power; themselves constituting another authority by the grace of God, which is proportionately more obstinate and dangerous.”

And we find traces of resistance to civil power among the Romans.

“The priests even in times of grave embarrassment claimed the right of exemption from public burdens, and only after very troublesome controversy submitted to make payment of the taxes in arrear.”

In various ways among various peoples this conflict is shown. Of the Japanese priests in the sixteenth century, Dickson writes:—

“By their wealth, and from among their vassals, they were able to keep up a respectable army; and not by their vassals alone—the priests themselves filled the ranks.”

Among the Nahuan nations of ancient America, the priests “possessed great power, secular as well as sacerdotal. Yopaa, one of their principal cities, was ruled absolutely by a pontiff, in whom the Zapotec monarchs had a powerful rival.” And the relation between spirtual and temporal rulers here indicated, recalling that between spiritual and temporal rulers in Christendom, reminds us of the long fights for supremacy which Europe witnessed between political heads wielding natural forces and the ecclesiastical head claiming supernatural origin and authority.

§ 641. There are reasons for thinking that the change from an original predominance of the spiritual power over the temporal power to ultimate subjugation of it, is mainly due to that cause which we have found in other cases chiefly [3-132] operative in determining the higher types of social organization—the development of industrialism.

Already in § 618 we have noted that while their extreme servility of nature made the peoples of ancient America yield unresistingly to an unqualified political despotism appropriate to the militant type of society, it also made them submit humbly to the enormously developed priesthoods of their bloody deities; and we have seen that kindred connexions of traits were shown by various races of the old world in past times. The contrast with other ancient peoples presented by the Greeks, who, as before pointed out, (§§ 484-5, 498) were enabled by favouring conditions to resist consolidation under a despot, at the same time that, especially in Athens, industrialism and its arrangements made considerable progress among them, must here be joined with the fact that there did not arise among the Greeks a priestly hierarchy. And the connexion thus exemplified in classic times between the relatively free institutions proper to industrialism, and a smaller development of the sacerdotal organization, is illustrated throughout European history, alike in place and in time.

The common cause for these simultaneous changes is, as above implied, the modification of nature caused by substitution of a life carried on under voluntary co-operation for a life carried on under compulsory co-operation—the transition from a social state in which obedience to authority is the supreme virtue, to a social state in which it is a virtue to resist authority when it transgresses prescribed limits. This modification of nature proceeds from that daily habit of insisting on self-claims while respecting the claims of others, which the system of contract involves. The attitude of mind fostered by this discipline does not favour unqualified submission, either to the political head and his laws or to the ecclesiastical head and his dogmas. While it tends ever to limit the coercive action of the civil ruler, it tends ever to challenge the authority of the priest; and the questioning habit having once commenced, sacerdotal inspiration comes [3-133] to be doubted, and the power flowing from belief in it begins to wane.

With this moral change has to be joined an intellectual change, also indirectly resulting from development of industrial life. That spreading knowledge of natural causation which conflicts with, and gradually weakens, belief in supernatural causation, is consequent on development of the industrial arts. This gives men wider experiences of uniformities of relation among phenomena; and makes possible the progress of science. Doubtless in early stages, that knowledge of Nature which is at variance with the teachings of priests, is accumulated exclusively by priests; but, as we see in the Chaldean astronomy, the natural order is not at first considered inconsistent with supernatural agency; and then, knowledge of the natural order, so long as it is exclusively possessed by priests, cannot be used to disprove their pretensions. Only as fast as knowledge of the natural order becomes so familiar and so generally diffused as insensibly to change men’s habits of thought, is sacerdotal authority and power diminished by it; and general diffusion of such knowledge is, as we see, a concomitant of industrialism.





§ 642. Nothing like that which we now call Nonconformity can be traced in societies of simple types. Devoid of the knowledge and the mental tendencies which lead to criticism and scepticism, the savage passively accepts whatever his seniors assert. Custom in the form of established belief, as well as in the form of established usage, is sacred with him: dissent from it is unheard of. And throughout long early stages of social evolution there continues, among results of this trait, the adhesion to inherited religions. It is true that during these stages numerous cults co-exist side by side; but, products as these are of the prevailing ancestor-worship, the resulting polytheism does not show us what we now understand as Nonconformity; since the devotees at the various shrines neither deny one another’s gods, nor call in question in pronounced ways the current ideas concerning them. Only in cases like that of Socrates, who enunciated a conception of supernatural agents diverging widely from the popular conception of them, do we see in early societies Nonconformity properly so-called.

What we have here to deal with under this name occurs chiefly in societies which are substantially, if not literally, monotheistic; and in which there exists nominally, if not really, a tolerably uniform creed administered by a consolidated hierarchy.

Even as thus restricted, Nonconformity comprehends phenomena widely unlike in their natures; and that we may understand it, we must exclude much that is allied with [3-135] it only by outward form and circumstance. Though in most cases a separating sect espouses some unauthorized version of the accepted creed; and though the nature of the espoused version is occasionally not without its significance; yet the thing specially to be noted is the attitude assumed towards ecclesiastical government. Though there is always some exercise of individual judgment; yet in early stages this is shown merely in the choice of one authority as superior to another. Only in late stages does there come an exercise of individual judgment which goes to the extent of denying ecclesiastical authority in general.

The growth of this later attitude we shall see on comparing some of the successive stages.

§ 643. Ancient forms of dissent habitually stand for the authority of the past over the present; and since tradition usually brings from more barbarous ages, accounts of more barbarous modes of propitiation, ancient forms of dissent are habitually revivals of practices more ascetic than those of the current religion. It was shown in § 620, that the primitive monachism originated in this way; and as Christianity, with the higher moral precepts on which it insisted, joined renunciation of ordinary life and its aims (said to be derived from the Essenes), there tended to be thereafter a continual re-genesis of dissenting sects characterized in common by austerities.

Kinds of dissent differing from these and differing from modern kinds of dissent, arose during those times in which the early church was spreading and becoming organized. For before ecclesiastical government had established itself and acquired sacredness, resistance to each new encroachment made by it, naturally led to divisions. Between the time when the authority dwelt in the Christian congregations themselves, and the time when the authority was centred in the pope, there necessarily went successive usurpations of authority, each of which gave occasion for protest. Hence such sects, arising in the third century and onward [3-136] to the seventh century, as the Noetians, Novatians, Meletians, Aerians, Donatists, Joannites, Haesitantes, Timotheans, and Athingani.

Passing over that period during which ecclesiastical power throughout Europe was rising to its climax, we come, in the twelfth century, to dissenters of more advanced types; who, with or without differences of doctrine, rebelled against the then-existing church government. Such sects as the Arnoldists in Italy, the Petrobrusians, Caputiati and Waldenses in France, and afterwards the Stedingers in Germany and the Apostolicals in Italy, are examples; severally characterized by assertion of individual freedom, alike in judgment and action. Ordinarily holding doctrines called heretical, the promulgation of which was itself a tacit denial of ecclesiastical authority (though a denial habitually based on submission to an alleged higher authority) sects of this kind went on increasing in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There were the Lollards in England; the Fraticelli in Italy; the Taborites, Bohemian Brethren, Moravians and Hussites, in Bohemia: all setting themselves against church-discipline. And then the rebellious movement of the reformation, as carried forward by the Lutherans in Germany, the Zwinglians and Calvinists in Switzerland, the Huguenots in France, the Anabaptists and Presbyterians in England, exhibited, along with repudiation of various established doctrines, ceremonies, and usages, a more pronounced anti-sacerdotalism. Characterized in common by opposition to Episcopacy, protestant or catholic, we see first of all in the government by presbyters, adopted by sundry of these dissenting bodies, a step towards freedom of judgment and practice in religious matters, accompanied by denial of priestly inspiration. And then in the subsequent rise of the Independents, taking for their distinctive principle the right of each congregation to govern itself, we see a further advance in that anti-sacerdotal movement which reached its extreme in the next century with the Quakers; who, going directly to the fountain head of the creed, and carrying out [3-137] more consistently than usual the professed right of private judgment, repudiated the entire paraphernalia of ecclesiasticism.

It is true that the histories of these various non-conforming bodies, not excluding even the Society of Friends, show us the re-growth of a coercive rule, allied to that against which there had been rebellion. Of religious revolutions as of political revolutions, it is true that in the absence of differences of character and culture greater than can be expected in the same society at the same time, they are followed by gradually established forms of rule only in some degree better than those diverged from. In his assumption of infallibility, and his measures for enforcing conformity, Calvin was a pope comparable with any who issued bulls from the Vatican. The discipline of the Scottish Presbyterians was as despotic, as rigorous, and as relentless, as any which Catholicism had enforced. The Puritans of New England were as positive in their dogmas, and as severe in their persecutions, as were the ecclesiastics of the church they left behind. Some of these dissenting bodies, indeed, as the Wesleyans, have developed organizations scarcely less priestly, and in some respects more coercive, than the organization of the church from which they diverged. Even among the Quakers, notwithstanding the pronounced individuality implied by their theory, there has grown up a definite creed and a body exercising control.

§ 644. Modern Nonconformity in England has much more decidedly exhibited the essential trait of anti-sacerdotalism. It has done this in various minor ways as well as in a major way.

There is the multiplication of sects, with which by foreign observers England is reproached, but which, philosophically considered, is one of her superior traits. For the rise of every new sect, implying a re-assertion of the right of private judgment, is a collateral result of the nature which makes free institutions possible.


Still more significant do we see this multiplication of sects to be if we consider the assigned causes of division. Take for instance the case of the Wesleyans. In 1797 the Methodist New Connexion organized itself on the principle of lay participation in church government. In 1810 the Primitive Methodists left the original body: the cause being a desire to have “lay representatives to the Conference.” Again, in 1834, prompted by opposition to priestly power, the Wesleyan Methodist Association was formed: its members claiming more influence for the laity, and resisting central interference with local government. And then in 1849, there was yet another secession from the Methodist body, similarly characterized by resistance to ministerial authority.

Of course in sects less coercively governed, there have been fewer occasions for rebellions against priestly control; but there are not wanting illustrations, some of them supplied even by the small and free bodies of the Unitarians, of this tendency to divide in pursuance of the right of private judgment. Moreover, in the absence of a dissidence sufficiently great to produce secession, there is everywhere a large amount of expressed disagreement on minor points, among those holding what is supposed to be the same body of beliefs. Perhaps the most curious instance of this is furnished by the established Church. I do not refer simply to its divisions into high, and low, and broad; all implying more or less of the nonconforming spirit within it. I refer more especially to the strange anomaly that the ritualists are men who, while asserting priestly authority, are themselves rebels against priestly authority—defy their ecclesiastical superiors in their determination to assert ecclesiastical supremacy.

But the universally admitted claim to religious freedom shown in these various ways, is shown still more by the growing movement for disestablishment of the Church. This movement which, besides tacitly denying all sacerdotal authority, denies the power of a government, even though elected by a majority of votes, to prescribe religious belief or [3-139] practice, is the logical outcome of the Protestant theory. Liberty of thought, long asserted and more and more displayed, is about to be carried to the extent that no man shall be constrained to support another man’s creed.

Evidently the arrival at this state completes that social differentiation which began when the primitive chief first deputed his priestly function.

§ 645. As implied in the last sentence, the changes above sketched out are concomitants of the changes sketched out in the last chapter. The prolonged conflict between Church and State accompanying their differentiation, and ending in the subordination of the Church, has been accompanied by these collateral minor conflicts between the Church and recalcitrant portions of its members, ending in separation of them.

There is a further implication. In common with the subjection of the Church to the State, the spread of Nonconformity is an indirect result of growing industrialism. The moral nature proper to a social organization based on contract instead of status—the moral nature fostered by a social life carried on under voluntary co-operation instead of compulsory co-operation, is one which works out religious independence as it works out political freedom. And this conclusion, manifest a priori, is verified a posteriori in sundry ways. We see that Nonconformity, increasing as industrialism has developed, now characterizes in the greatest degree those nations which are most characterized by development of the industrial type—America and England. And we also see that in England itself, the contrast between urban and rural populations, as well as the contrast between populations in different parts of the kingdom, show that where the industrial type of life and organization predominates, Nonconformity is the most pronounced.





§ 646. As was said when treating of “The Military Functions of Priests,” there exists in most minds an erroneous association between religious ministrations and moral teachings. Though priests habitually enforce conduct which in one way or other furthers preservation of the society; yet preservation of the society is so often furthered by conduct entirely unlike that which we now call moral, that priestly influence serves in many cases rather to degrade than to elevate.

Reading as we do of the Tahitian god Oro, that when war “proceeded in its bloodiest forms, it was supposed to afford him the highest satisfaction”—reading again of the Mexican king Montezuma, that he avoided subduing the neighbouring Tlascalans “that he might have Men to sacrifice” (thus making Tlascala a preserve of victims for the gods)—reading once more of the Chibchas that “the sacrifices which they believed to be most welcome to their gods were those of human blood;” we are reminded that priests who carry on propitiations of cannibal deities and deities otherwise atrocious (deities almost everywhere worshipped in early days) have done anything but foster high forms of conduct. Robbery as well as murder has had, and has still in some places, a religious sanctification. Says Burton of the Beloochis, “these pious thieves never rob, save in the name of Allah.” Of a robber-tribe among the Chibchas, Piedrahita writes, “they regard as the most acceptable sacrifice [3-141] that which they offer up out of the robbery to certain idols of gold, clay, and wood, whom they worship.” And at the present time in India, we have freebooters like the Domras, among whom “a successful theft is always celebrated by a sacrifice” to their chief god Gandak. Nor is it only by encouraging disregard for life and property, that various cults, and by implication their priests, have aided in demoralizing men rather than in moralizing them. On finding that “among the Friendly Islanders the chief priest was considered too holy to be married, but he had the right to take as many concubines as he pleased”—that among the Caribs, “the bride was obliged to pass the first night with the priest, as a form essentially necessary to constitute the legality of the marriage”—that among some Brazilian tribes “the Pajé [priest], like the feudal lord of former times in some parts of England, enjoys the jus primæ noctis;” or again on being reminded of the extent to which prostitution in temples was a religious observance among Eastern peoples; we are shown in yet another way that there is no necessary connexion between priestly guidance and right action: using the word right in the sense at present given to it.

But now carrying with us the implied qualifications, let us ask in what ways Ecclesiastical Institutions have affected men’s natures. We shall find that they have been instrumental in producing, or furthering, certain all-important modifications.

§ 647. When describing the action of “An Ecclesiastical System as a Social Bond,” it was pointed out that a common worship tends to unify the various groups which carry it on; and that, by implication, the priests of such worship usually act as pacificators. While often instigating wars with societies of other blood, worshipping other gods, they, on the average of cases, check hostilities between groups of the same blood worshipping the same gods. In this way they aid social co-operation and development.


This function, however, is but a collateral display of their fundamental function—the maintenance of subordination: primarily to the deified progenitor, or the adopted god, and secondarily to his living descendant or appointed vicegerent. It is scarcely possible to emphasize enough the truth that, from the earliest stages down to existing stages, the one uniform and essential action of priesthoods, irrespective of time, place, or creed, has been that of insisting on obedience. That primitive men may be moulded into fitness for social life, they must be held together; and that they may be held together, they must be made subject to authority. Only by restraints of the most powerful kinds can the unregulated explosive savage be made to co-operate permanently with his fellows; and of such restraints the strongest, and apparently the indispensable one, is fear of vengeance from the god of the tribe, if his commands, repeated by his successor, are disobeyed. How important is the agency of Ecclesiastical Institutions as thus re-inforcing Political Institutions, is well seen in the following description Ellis gives of the effects produced by undermining local religions in Polynesia.

“The sacrificing of human victims to the idols had been one of the most powerful engines in the hands of the government, the requisition for them being always made by the ruler, to whom the priests applied when the gods required them. The king, therefore, sent his herald to the petty chieftain, who selected the victims. An individual who had shewn any marked disaffection towards the government, or incurred the displeasure of the king and chiefs, was usually chosen. The people knew this, and therefore rendered the most unhesitating obedience. Since the subversion of idolatry, this motive has ceased to operate; and many, free from the restraint it had imposed, seemed to refuse all lawful obedience and rightful support.”

The result, as described by Ellis, being that social order was in a considerable degree disturbed.

This maintenance of subordination, to which an ecclesiastical system has been instrumental, has indirectly subserved other disciplines of an indispensable kind. No developed social life would have been possible in the absence of the [3-143] capacity for continuous labour; and out of the idle improvident savage there could not have been evolved the industrious citizen, without a long-continued and rigorous coercion. The religious sanction habitually given in early societies to rigid class-distinctions and the concomitant slavery, must be regarded as having conduced to a modification of nature which furthered civilization.

A discipline allied and yet different, to which superior as well as inferior classes have been subjected by Ecclesiastical Institutions, has been the discipline of asceticism. Considered in the abstract asceticism is indefensible. As already shown (§§ 140 and 620) it grew out of the desire to propitiate malicious ghosts and diabolical deities; and even as displayed among ourselves at present, we may trace in it the latent belief that God is pleased by voluntarily-borne mortifications and displeased by pursuit of gratifications. But if instead of regarding self-infliction of suffering, bodily or mental, from the stand-point of absolute ethics, we regard it from the stand-point of relative ethics, as an educational regimen, we shall see that it has had a use, and perhaps a great use. The common trait of all ascetic acts is submission to a pain to avoid some future greater pain, or relinquishment of a pleasure to obtain some greater pleasure hereafter. In either case there is sacrifice of the immediate to the remote. This is a sacrifice which the uncivilized man cannot make; which the inferior among the civilized can make only to a small extent; and which only the better among the civilized can make in due degree. Hence we may infer that the discipline which, beginning with the surrendering of food, clothing, etc., to the ancestral ghost, and growing into the voluntary bearing of hunger, cold, or pain, to propitiate deities, has greatly aided in developing the ability to postpone present to future. Possibly only a motive so powerful as that of terror of the supernatural, could have strengthened the habit of self-denial in the requisite degree—a habit which, we must remember, is an essential factor in right conduct towards others, [3-144] as well as in the proper regulation of conduct for self-benefit.

Irrespective, then, of the particular traits of their cults, Ecclesiastical Institutions have, in these ways, played an important part in moulding human nature into fitness for the social state.

§ 648. Among more special moral effects wrought by them, may be named one which, like those just specified, has been wrought incidentally rather than intentionally. I refer to the respect for rights of property, curiously fostered by certain forms of propitiation. Whether or not Mariner was right in saying that the word taboo, as used in the Tonga Islands, literally meant “sacred or consecrated to a god,” the fact is that things tabooed, there and elsewhere, were at first things thus consecrated: the result being that disregard of the taboo became robbery of the god. Hence such facts as that throughout Polynesia, “the prohibitions and requisitions of the tabu were strictly enforced, and every breach of them punished with death” (the delinquent being sacrificed to the god whose tabu he had broken); and that in New Zealand “violators of the tapu were punished by the gods and also by men. The former sent sickness and death; the latter inflicted death, loss of property, and expulsion from society. It was a dread of the gods, more than of men, which upheld the tapu.”

Obviously a sacredness thus given to anything bearing a sign that it belongs to a god, may easily be simulated. Though the mark on an animal or a fruit implies that an offering to a god will eventually be made of it; yet, since the time of sacrifice is unspecified, there results the possibility of indefinite postponement, and this gradually opens the door to pretended dedication of things which never are sacrificed—things which nevertheless, bearing the sign of dedication, no one dares meddle with. Thus we read that in the New Hebrides “the tapu is employed in all the islands to preserve persons and objects;” that in New Zealand, [3-145] tapu, from being originally a thing made sacred, has come to mean a thing forbidden. Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa furnish kindred facts: the last place being one in which the name of the tabu indicates the sort of curse which the owner of a tabued thing hopes may fall on the thief. In Timor, “a few palm leaves stuck outside a garden as a sign of the ‘pomali’ [tabu] will preserve its produce from thieves as effectually as the threatening notice of man-traps, spring guns, or a savage dog, would do with us.” Bastian tells us that the Congoese make use of the fetich to protect their houses from thieves; and he makes a like statement respecting the negroes of the Gaboon. Livingstone, too, describes the Balonda as having this usage; and evidence of kindred nature is furnished by the Malagasy and by the Santals.

As, originally, this dedication of anything to a god is made either by a priest or by a chief in his priestly capacity, we must class it as an Ecclesiastical Institution; and the fostering of respect for proprietary rights which grows out of it, must be counted among the beneficial disciplines which Ecclesiastical Institutions give.

§ 649. Respecting the relation which exists between alleged supernatural commands and the right ruling of conduct at large, it is difficult to generalize. Many facts given in foregoing chapters unite to show that everything depends on the supposed character of the supernatural being to be propitiated. Schoolcraft says of the Dakotahs—

“They stand in great awe of the spirits of the dead, because they think it is in the power of the departed spirits to injure them in any way they please; this superstition has, in some measure, a salutary effect. It operates on them just as strong as our laws of hanging for murder.”

But if, as happens in many cases, a dying man’s peremptory injunction to his son (like that of David to Solomon) is to wreak vengeance on those who have injured him, fear of his ghost becomes not a moralizing but a demoralizing influence; using these words in their modern acceptations. [3-146] When, concerning the deities of Mangaia, we read that “the cruel Kereteki, twice a fratricide, and his brother Utahea, were worshipped as gods in the next generation;” we are shown that divine example, if not precept, is in some cases a prompter to crime rather than otherwise. But on the average an opposite effect may be inferred. As the deified chief must be supposed to have had at heart the survival and spread of his tribe, sundry of his injunctions are likely to have had in view that maintenance of order conducing to tribal success. Hence rules traditionally derived from him are likely to be restraints on internal aggressions. Ferocious as were the Mexicans, and bloody as were their religious rites, they nevertheless had, as given by Zurita, a moral code which did not suffer by comparison with that of Christians: the one like the other claiming divine authority. Concerning the Peruvians, who like various of these semi-civilized American peoples had confessors, the account runs that—

“The sin of which they mostly accuse themselves was—to have killed somebody in time of peace, to have robbed, to have taken the wife of another, to have given herbs or charms to do harm. The most notable sin was neglect in the service of the huacas [gods] . . . abuse of, and disobedience towards, the Ynca.”

And in this case, as in many other cases, we see that after the first and greatest sin of insubordination to the deity, come sins constituted by breaches of those laws of conduct needful for social concord.

Evidently through long stages of individual and social evolution, belief in the alleged divine origin of such laws is beneficial. The expected supernatural punishments for breaches of them, usefully re-inforce the threats of natural punishments. And various cases might be given showing that the moral code required for each higher stage, gaining alleged divine authority through some intermediating priest or inspired man, thus becomes more effective for the time being than it would otherwise be: the cases of Moses and of the later Hebrew prophets serving as examples.


§ 650. Multitudinous anomalies occur, however—anomalies which seem unaccountable till we recognize the truth that in all cases the one thing which precedes in importance the special injunctions of a cult, is the preservation of the cult itself and the institutions embodying it. Hence the fact that everywhere the duty which stands higher than duties properly called moral, is the duty of obedience to an alleged divine will, whatever it may be. Hence the fact that to uphold the authority of a sacerdotal hierarchy, by which the divine will is supposed to be uttered, is regarded by its members and adherents as an end yielding in importance only to recognition of the divine will itself. And hence the fact that the histories of Ecclesiastical Institutions show us how small is the regard paid to moral precepts when they stand in the way of ecclesiastical supremacy.

Of course the atrocities perpetrated in inquisitions and the crimes committed by popes will come into all minds as illustrations. But there are more remarkable illustrations even than these. The bitterest animosity shown by established churches against dissenting sects, has been shown against those which were distinguished by endeavours to fulfil the precepts of Christianity completely. The Waldenses, who “adopted, as the model of their moral discipline, the Sermon of Christ on the Mount,” but who at the same time rebelled against ecclesiastical rule, suffered a bloody persecution for three centuries. The Quakers, who alone among protestants sought to obey the commands of the Christian creed not in some ways only but in all, were so persecuted that before the accession of James II. more than 1500 out of their comparatively small number were in prison. Evidently, then, the distinctive ethics of a creed, restrain but little its official administrators when their authority is called in question.

Not only in such cases, however, are we shown that the chief concern of a sacerdotal system is to maintain formal subordination to a deity, as well as to itself as his agency, and that the ordering of life according to the precepts of the [3-148] professed religion is quite a secondary matter; but we are shown that such a right ordering of life is little insisted on even where insistence does not conflict with ecclesiastical supremacy. Through all these centuries Christian priests have so little emphasized the virtue of forgiveness, that alike in wars and in duels, revenge has continued to be thought an imperative duty. The clergy were not the men who urged the abolition of slavery, nor the men who condemned regulations which raised the price of bread to maintain rents. Ministers of religion do not as a body denounce the unjust aggressions we continually commit on weak societies; nor do they make their voices loudly heard in reprobating such atrocities as those of the labour-traffic in the Pacific, recently disclosed by a Royal Commission (see Times, June 18th, 1885). Even where they are solely in charge, we see not a higher, but rather a lower, standard of justice and mercy than in the community at large. Under clerical management, public schools have in past times been the scenes of atrocities not tolerated in the world outside of them; and if we ask for a recent instance of juvenile savagery, we find it at King’s College School, where the death of a small boy was caused by the unprovoked blows given in sheer brutality by cowardly bigger boys: King’s College being an institution established by churchmen, and clerically governed, in opposition to University College, which is non-clerical in its government and secular in its teaching.

§ 651. Contemplating Ecclesiastical Institutions at large, apart from the particular cults associated with them, we have, then, to recognize the fact that their presence in all societies which have made considerable progress, and their immense predominance in those early societies which reached relatively high stages of civilization, verify inductively the deductive conclusion, that they have been indispensable components of social structures from the beginning down to the present time: groups in which they did not arise having failed to develop.


As furnishing a principle of cohesion by maintaining a common propitiation of a deceased ruler’s spirit, and by implication checking the tendencies to internal warfare, priesthoods have furthered social growth and development. They have simultaneously done this in sundry other ways: by fostering that spirit of conservatism which maintains continuity in social arrangements; by forming a supplementary regulative system which co-operates with the political one; by insisting on obedience, primarily to gods and secondarily to kings; by countenancing the coercion under which has been cultivated the power of application; and by strengthening the habit of self-restraint.

Whether the modifications of nature produced by this discipline, common to all creeds, are accompanied by modifications of higher kinds, depends partly on the traditional accounts of the gods worshipped, and partly on the social conditions. Religious obedience is the primary duty; and this, in early stages, often furthers increase of ferocity. With the change from a more militant to a more industrial state, comes a reformed ethical creed, which increases or decreases in its influence according as the social activities continue peaceful or again become warlike. Little as such reformed ethical creed (presently accepted as of divine origin) operates during periods when war fosters sentiments of enmity instead of sentiments of amity, advantage is gained by having it in reserve for enunciation whenever conditions favour.

But clerical enunciation of it habitually continues subject to the apparent needs of the time. To the last as at first, subordination, religious and civil, is uniformly insisted on—“fear God, honour the king;” and providing subordination is manifested with sufficient emphasis, moral shortcomings may be forgiven.





§ 652. Among social phenomena, those presented by Ecclesiastical Institutions illustrate very clearly the general law of evolution.

Subjection to the family-head during his life, continues to be shown after his death by offering to his double the things he liked, and doing the things he wished; and when the family multiplies into a tribe, presents to the chief, accompanied by compliments and petitions, are continued after his death in the shape of oblations, praises, and prayers to his ghost. That is to say, domestic, civil, and religious subordination have a common root; and are at first carried on in like ways by the same agencies.

Differentiation early begins, however. First some contrast arises between the private cult proper to each family, and the public cult proper to the chief’s family; and the chief, as propitiator of his dead ancestor on behalf of the tribe, as well as on his own behalf, unites the functions of civil head and spiritual head. Development of the tribe, bringing increased political and military functions, obliges the chief more and more to depute, usually to a relative, his priestly function; and thus, in course of time, this acquires a separate agency.

From integration of societies effected by conquest, there results the coexistence of different cults in different parts of [3-151] the same society; and there arise also deputed priests, carrying on the more important of these cults in the different localities. Hence polytheistic priesthoods; which are made heterogeneous by the greater increase of some than of others. And eventually, in some cases, one so immensely enlarges that it almost or quite excludes the rest.

While, with the union of simple societies into compound ones, and of these again into doubly compound ones, there go on the growths of priesthoods, each priesthood, differentiating from others, also differentiates within itself. It develops into an organized whole subordinate to an arch priest, and formed of members graduated in their ranks and specialized in their functions.

At the same time that an ecclesiastical hierarchy is becoming within itself more closely integrated and clearly differentiated, it is slowly losing that community of structure and function which it originally had with other parts of the body politic. For a long time after he is distinguishable as such, the priest takes an active part, direct or indirect, in war; but where social development becomes high, what military character he had is almost or quite lost. Similarly with his civil functions. Though during early stages he exercises power as ruler, minister, counsellor, judge, he loses this power by degrees; until at length there are but traces of it left.

This development of Ecclesiastical Institutions, which, while it makes the society at large more definitely heterogeneous, shows us increase of heterogeneity within the ecclesiastical organization itself, is further complicated by successive additions of sects. These, severally growing and organizing themselves, make more multiform the agencies for carrying on religious ministrations and exercising religious control.

Of course the perpetual conflicts among societies, ending now in unions and now in dislocations, here breaking up old institutions and there superposing new ones, has made the progress of Ecclesiastical Institutions irregular. But amid [3-152] all the perturbations, a course essentially of the kind above indicated may be traced.

§ 653. With structural differentiations must here be joined a functional differentiation of deep significance. Two sacerdotal duties which were at first parts of the same, have been slowly separating; and the one which was originally unobtrusive but is now conspicuous, has become in large measure independent. The original duty is the carrying on of worship; the derived duty is the insistence on rules of conduct.

Beginning as the entire series of phenomena does with propitiation of the dead parent or dead chief, and dependent as the propitiatory acts are on the desires of the ghost, which are supposed to be like those of the man when alive; worship in its primitive form, aiming to obtain the goodwill of beings in many cases atrocious, is often characterized by atrocious observances. Originally, there is no moral element in it; and hence the fact that extreme attention to religious rites characterizes the lower types, rather than the higher types, of men and of societies. Renouf remarks that “the Egyptians were among the most religious of the ancient nations. Religion in some form or other was dominant in every relation of their lives;” or, as M. Maury has it, “l’Égyptien ne vivait en réalité que pour pratiquer son culte.” This last statement reminds us of the ancient Peruvians. So onerous were their sacrifices to ancestors, and deities derived from ancestors, that it might truly be said of them that the living were the slaves of the dead. So, too, of the sanguinary Mexicans, whose civilization was, in a measure, founded on cannibalism, it is remarked that “of all nations which God has created, these people are the strictest observers of their religion.” Associated with their early stages and arrested stages, we find the same trait in Aryan peoples.

“The Vedas represent the ancient Indo-Aryans to have been eminently religious in all their actions. According to them, every act of [3-153] life had to be accompanied by one or more mantras, and no one could rise from his bed, or wash his face, or brush his teeth, or drink a glass of water, without going through a regular system of purifications, salutations and prayers.”

Similarly with the Romans. “Religion everywhere met the public life of the Roman by its festivals, and laid an equal yoke on his private life by its requisition of sacrifices, prayers, and auguries.” And speaking of the existing Hindu, the Rev. M. A. Sherring says—

“He is a religious being of wonderful earnestness and persistency. His love of worship is a passion, is a frenzy, is a consuming fire. It absorbs his thoughts; it influences and sways his mind on every subject.”

Everywhere we find kindred connexions; be it in the ancient Thracian who with great cruelty of character joined “ecstatic and maddening religious rites,” or in the existing Mahometan with his repeated daily prayers and ablutions. Even if we compare modern Europeans with Europeans in mediæval times, when fasts were habitual and penances common, when anchorites were numerous and self-torturings frequent, when men made pilgrimages, built shrines, and counted their numerous prayers by beads, we see that with social progress has gone a marked diminution of religious observances. Evidence furnished by many peoples and times thus shows us that the propitiatory element, which is the primary element, diminishes with the advance of civilization, and becomes qualified by the growing ethical element.

This ethical element, like all other elements in the religion, is propitiatory in origin and nature. It begins with fulfilment of the wishes or commands of the dead parent, or departed chief, or traditional god. There is at first included in the ethical element no other duty than that of obedience. Display of subordination is in this, as in all other religious acts, the primary thing; and the natures of the particular commands obeyed the secondary things: their obligations being regarded not as intrinsic, but as extrinsically derived from their alleged origin. But slowly, experience establishes ethical conceptions, round which there [3-154] gather private sentiments and public opinions, giving them some independent authority. More especially when a society becomes less occupied in warlike activities, and more occupied in quietly carrying on production and distribution, do there grow clear in the general consciousness those rules of conduct which must be observed to make industrial co-operation harmonious.

For these there is eventually obtained a supernatural authority through some alleged communication of them to an inspired man; and for long periods, conformity to them is insisted on for the reason that they are God’s commands. The emphasizing of moral precepts which are said to be thus derived, comes, however, to occupy a larger space in religious services. With offerings, praises, and prayers, forming the directly propitiatory part, come to be joined homilies and sermons, forming the indirectly propitiatory part: largely composed of ethical injunctions and exhortations. And the modified human nature produced by prolonged social discipline, evolves at length the conception of an independent ethics—an ethics so far independent that it comes to have a foundation of its own, apart from the previously-alleged theological foundation. Nay, more than this happens. The authority of the ethical consciousness becomes so high that theological dogmas are submitted to its judgments, and in many cases rejected because of its disapproval. Among the Greeks, Socrates exemplified the way in which a developed moral sentiment led to a denial of the accepted beliefs concerning the gods and their deeds; and in our own days we often see current religious doctrines brought to the bar of conscience, and condemned as untrue because they ascribe to a deity who claims worship, certain characters which are the reverse of worshipful. Moreover, while we see this—while we see, too, that in daily life, criticisms passed on conduct approve or condemn it as intrinsically good or bad, irrespective of alleged commands; we also see that modern preaching tends more and more to assume an ethical character. Dogmatic theology, with its promises of [3-155] rewards and threats of damnation, bears a diminishing ratio to the insistences on justice, honesty, kindness, sincerity, etc.

§ 654. Assuming, as we must, that evolution will continue along the same general lines, let us now, after this retrospect, ask—What is the prospect? Though Ecclesiastical Institutions hold less important places in higher societies than in lower societies, we must not infer that they will hereafter wholly disappear. If in times to come there remain functions to be fulfilled in any way analogous to their present functions, we must conclude that they will survive under some form or other. The first question is—Under what form?

That separation of Ecclesiastical Institutions from Political Institutions, foreshadowed in simple societies when the civil ruler begins to depute occasionally his priestly function, and which, in many ways with many modifications according to their types, societies have increasingly displayed as they have developed, may be expected to become complete. Now-a-days, indeed, apart from any such reasons as are above assigned, the completing of it, already effected in some cases, is recognized as but a question of time in other cases. All which it concerns us here to observe is that separation is the ending of a process of evolution, partially carried out in societies of the more militant type, characterized by the predominance of structures which maintain subordination, and carried out in greater degrees in societies that have become more industrial in their type, and less coercive in their regulative appliances.

The same emotional and intellectual modifications which, while causing the diminished power of State-churches, has caused the multiplication of churches independent of the State, may be expected to continue hereafter doing the like. We may look for increased numbers of religious bodies having their respective differences of belief and practice. Though along with intellectual advance there may probably go, in the majority of sects thus arising, approximation to a [3-156] unity of creed in essentials; yet analogy suggests that shades of difference, instead of disappearing, will become more numerous. Divergences of opinion like those which, within our generation, have been taking place in the established church, may be expected to arise in all existing religious bodies, and in others hereafter formed.

Simultaneously there will probably continue, in the same direction as heretofore, changes in church government. That fostering of individuality which accompanies development of the industrial type of society, must cause increase of local independence in all religious organizations. And along with the acquirement of complete autonomy by each religious body, there is likely to be a complete loss of the sacerdotal character by any one who plays the part of minister. That relinquishment of priestly authority which has already gone far among Dissenters, will become entire.

These conclusions, however, proceed on the assumption that development of the industrial type will advance as it has advanced during recent times; and it is quite possible, or even probable, that this condition will not be fulfilled during an epoch on which we are entering. The recrudescence of militancy, if it goes on as it has been lately going on, will bring back ideas, sentiments, and institutions appropriate to it; involving reversal of the changes above described. Or if, instead of further progress under that system of voluntary co-operation which constitutes Industrialism properly so called, there should be carried far the system of production and distribution under State-control, constituting a new form of compulsory co-operation, and ending in a new type of coercive government, the changes above indicated, determined as they are by individuality of character, will probably be arrested and opposite changes initiated.

§ 655. Leaving structures and turning to functions, it remains to ask—What are likely to be the surviving functions, supposing the evolution which has thus far gone on is [3-157] not reversed? Each of the two functions above described, may be expected to continue under a changed form.

Though with the transition from dogmatic theism to agnosticism, all observances implying the thought of propitiation may be expected to lapse; yet it does not follow that there will lapse all observances tending to keep alive a consciousness of the relation in which we stand to the Unknown Cause, and tending to give expression to the sentiment accompanying that consciousness. There will remain a need for qualifying that too prosaic and material form of life which tends to result from absorption in daily work, and there will ever be a sphere for those who are able to impress their hearers with a due sense of the Mystery in which the origin and meaning of the Universe are shrouded. It may be anticipated, too, that musical expression to the sentiment accompanying this sense will not only survive but undergo further development. Already protestant cathedral music, more impersonal than any other, serves not unfitly to express feelings suggested by the thought of a transitory life, alike of the individual and of the race—a life which is but an infinitesimal product of a Power without any bounds we can find or imagine; and hereafter such music may still better express these feelings.

At the same time, that insistence on duty which has formed an increasing element in religious ministration, may be expected to assume a marked predominance and a wider range. The conduct of life, parts of which are already the subject-matters of sermons, may hereafter probably be taken as subject-matter throughout its entire range. The ideas of right and wrong, now regarded as applying only to actions of certain kinds, will be regarded as having applications coextensive with actions of every kind. All matters concerning individual and social welfare will come to be dealt with; and a chief function of one who stands in the place of a minister, will be not so much that of emphasizing precepts already accepted, as that of developing men’s judgments and sentiments in relation to those more difficult [3-158] questions of conduct arising from the ever-increasing complexity of social life.

In brief, we may say that as there must ever continue our relations to the unseen and our relations to one another, it appears not improbable that there will survive certain representatives of those who in the past were occupied with observances and teachings concerning these two relations; however unlike their sacerdotal prototypes such representatives may become.





§ 656. As, before describing the origin and development of Ecclesiastical Institutions, it was needful to describe the origin and development of Religion; so the probable future of Ecclesiastical Institutions could not be forecast without indicating the probable future of Religion. Unavoidably therefore, the close of the last chapter has partially forestalled the contents of this. Here, after briefly recapitulating the leading traits of religious evolution, I propose to give reasons for the conclusions just indicated respecting the ultimate form of religion.

Unlike the ordinary consciousness, the religious consciousness is concerned with that which lies beyond the sphere of sense. A brute thinks only of things which can be touched, seen, heard, tasted, etc.; and the like is true of the young child, the untaught deaf-mute, and the lowest savage. But the developing man has thoughts about existences which he regards as usually intangible, inaudible, invisible; and yet which he regards as operative upon him. What suggests this notion of agencies transcending perception? How do these ideas concerning the supernatural evolve out of ideas concerning the natural? The transition cannot be sudden; and [3-160] an account of the genesis of religion must begin by describing the steps through which the transition takes place.

The ghost-theory exhibits these steps quite clearly. We are shown by it that the mental differentiation of invisible and intangible beings from visible and tangible beings progresses slowly and unobtrusively. In the fact that the other-self, supposed to wander in dreams, is believed to have actually done and seen whatever was dreamed—in the fact that the other-self when going away at death, but expected presently to return, is conceived as a double equally material with the original; we see that the supernatural agent in its primitive form, diverges very little from the natural agent—is simply the original man with some added powers of going about secretly and doing good or evil. And the fact that when the double of the dead man ceases to be dreamed about by those who knew him, his non-appearance in dreams is held to imply that he is finally dead, shows that these earliest supernatural agents are conceived as having but temporary existences: the first tendencies to a permanent consciousness of the supernatural, prove abortive.

In many cases no higher degree of differentiation is reached. The ghost-population, recruited by deaths on the one side but on the other side losing its members as they cease to be recollected and dreamed about, does not increase; and no individuals included in it come to be recognized through successive generations as established supernatural powers. Thus the Unkulunkulu, or old-old one, of the Zulus, the father of the race, is regarded as finally or completely dead; and there is propitiation only of ghosts of more recent date. But where circumstances favour the continuance of sacrifices at graves, witnessed by members of each new generation who are told about the dead and transmit the tradition, there eventually arises the conception of a permanently-existing ghost or spirit. A more marked contrast in thought between supernatural beings and natural beings is thus established. There simultaneously results an increase in the number of these supposed supernatural [3-161] beings, since the aggregate of them is now continually added to; and there is a strengthening tendency to think of them as everywhere around, and as causing all unusual occurrences.

Differences among the ascribed powers of ghosts soon arise. They naturally follow from observed differences among the powers of living individuals. Hence it results that while the propitiations of ordinary ghosts are made only by their descendants, it comes occasionally to be thought prudent to propitiate also the ghosts of the more dreaded individuals, even though they have no claims of blood. Quite early there thus begin those grades of supernatural beings which eventually become so strongly marked.

Habitual wars, which more than all other causes initiate these first differentiations, go on to initiate further and more decided ones. For with those compoundings of small societies into greater ones, and re-compounding of these into still greater, which war effects, there, of course, with the multiplying gradations of power among living men, arises the idea of multiplying gradations of power among their ghosts. Thus in course of time are formed the conceptions of the great ghosts or gods, the more numerous secondary ghosts or demi-gods, and so on downwards—a pantheon: there being still, however, no essential distinction of kind; as we see in the calling of ordinary ghosts manes-gods by the Romans and elohim by the Hebrews. Moreover, repeating as the other life in the other world does, the life in this world, in its needs, occupations, and social organization, there arises not only a differentiation of grades among supernatural beings in respect of their powers, but also in respect of their characters and kinds of activity. There come to be local gods, and gods reigning over this or that order of phenomena; there come to be good and evil spirits of various qualities; and where there has been by conquest a posing of one society upon another, each having its own system of ghost-derived beliefs, there results an involved combination of such beliefs, constituting a mythology.


Of course primitive ghosts being doubles like their originals in all things; and gods (when not the living members of a conquering race) being doubles of the more powerful men; it results that they are primarily conceived as no less human than other ghosts in their physical characters, their passions, and their intelligences. Like the doubles of the ordinary dead, they are supposed to consume the flesh, blood, bread, wine, given to them; at first literally, and later in a more spiritual way by consuming the essences of them. They not only appear as visible and tangible persons, but they enter into conflicts with men, are wounded, suffer pain: the sole distinction being that they have miraculous powers of healing and consequent immortality. Here, indeed, there needs a qualification; for not only do various peoples hold that gods die a first death (as naturally happens where they are members of a conquering race, called gods because of their superiority), but, as in the case of Pan, it is supposed, even among the cultured, that there is a second and final death of a god, like that second and final death of a man supposed among existing savages. With advancing civilization the divergence of the supernatural being from the natural being becomes more decided. There is nothing to check the gradual de-materialization of the ghost and of the god; and this de-materialization is insensibly furthered in the effort to reach consistent ideas of supernatural action: the god ceases to be tangible, and later he ceases to be visible or audible. Along with this differentiation of physical attributes from those of humanity, there goes on more slowly a differentiation of mental attributes. The god of the savage, represented as having intelligence scarcely if at all greater than that of the living man, is deluded with ease. Even the gods of the semi-civilized are deceived, make mistakes, repent of their plans; and only in course of time does there arise the conception of unlimited vision and universal knowledge. The emotional nature simultaneously undergoes a parallel transformation. The grosser passions, originally conspicuous and carefully [3-163] ministered to by devotees, gradually fade, leaving only the passions less related to corporeal satisfactions; and eventually these, too, become partially de-humanized.

Ascribed characters of deities are continually adapted and re-adapted to the needs of the social state. During the militant phase of activity, the chief god is conceived as holding insubordination the greatest crime, as implacable in anger, as merciless in punishment; and any alleged attributes of milder kinds occupy but small space in the social consciousness. But where militancy declines and the harsh despotic form of government appropriate to it is gradually qualified by the form appropriate to industrialism, the foreground of the religious consciousness is increasingly filled with those ascribed traits of the divine nature which are congruous with the ethics of peace: divine love, divine forgiveness, divine mercy, are now the characteristics enlarged upon.

To perceive clearly the effects of mental progress and changing social life, thus stated in the abstract, we must glance at them in the concrete. If, without foregone conclusions, we contemplate the traditions, records, and monuments, of the Egyptians, we see that out of their primitive ideas of gods, brute or human, there were evolved spiritualized ideas of gods, and finally of a god; until the priesthoods of later times, repudiating the earlier ideas, described them as corruptions: being swayed by the universal tendency to regard the first state as the highest—a tendency traceable down to the theories of existing theologians and mythologists. Again, if, putting aside speculations, and not asking what historical value the Iliad may have, we take it simply as indicating the early Greek notion of Zeus, and compare this with the notion contained in the Platonic dialogues; we see that Greek civilization had greatly modified (in the better minds, at least) the purely anthropomorphic conception of him: the lower human attributes being dropped and the higher ones transfigured. Similarly, if we contrast the Hebrew God described in early traditions, man-like in [3-164] appearance, appetites, and emotions, with the Hebrew God as characterized by the prophets, there is shown a widening range of power along with a nature increasingly remote from that of man. And on passing to the conceptions of him which are now entertained, we are made aware of an extreme transfiguration. By a convenient obliviousness, a deity who in early times is represented as hardening men’s hearts so that they may commit punishable acts, and as employing a lying spirit to deceive them, comes to be mostly thought of as an embodiment of virtues transcending the highest we can imagine.

Thus, recognizing the fact that in the primitive human mind there exists neither religious idea nor religious sentiment, we find that in the course of social evolution and the evolution of intelligence accompanying it, there are generated both the ideas and sentiments which we distinguish as religious; and that through a process of causation clearly traceable, they traverse those stages which have brought them, among civilized races, to their present forms.

§ 657. And now what may we infer will be the evolution of religious ideas and sentiments throughout the future? On the one hand, it is irrational to suppose that the changes which have brought the religious consciousness to its present form will suddenly cease. On the other hand, it is irrational to suppose that the religious consciousness, naturally generated as we have seen, will disappear and leave an unfilled gap. Manifestly it must undergo further changes; and however much changed it must continue to exist. What, then, are the transformations to be expected? If we reduce the process above delineated to its lowest terms, we shall see our way to an answer.

As pointed out in First Principles, § 96, Evolution is throughout its course habitually modified by that Dissolution which eventually undoes it: the changes which become manifest being usually but the differential results of opposing tendencies towards integration and disintegration. [3-165] Rightly to understand the genesis and decay of religious systems, and the probable future of those now existing, we must take this truth into account. During those earlier changes by which there is created a hierarchy of gods, demi-gods, manes-gods, and spirits of various kinds and ranks, Evolution goes on with but little qualification. The consolidated mythology produced, while growing in the mass of supernatural beings composing it, assumes increased heterogeneity along with increased definiteness in the arrangement of its parts and the attributes of its members. But the antagonist Dissolution eventually gains predominance. The spreading recognition of natural causation conflicts with this mythological evolution; and insensibly weakens those of its beliefs which are most at variance with advancing knowledge. Demons and the secondary divinities presiding over divisions of Nature, become less thought of as the phenomena ascribed to them are more commonly observed to follow a constant order; and hence these minor components of the mythology slowly dissolve away. At the same time, with growing supremacy of the great god heading the hierarchy, there goes increasing ascription to him of actions which were before distributed among numerous supernatural beings: there is integration of power. While in proportion as there arises the consequent conception of an omnipotent and omnipresent deity, there is a gradual fading of his alleged human attributes: dissolution begins to affect the supreme personality in respect of ascribed form and nature.

Already, as we have seen, this process has in the more advanced societies, and especially among their higher members, gone to the extent of merging all minor supernatural powers in one supernatural power; and already this one supernatural power has, by what Mr. Fiske aptly calls deanthropomorphization, lost the grosser attributes of humanity. If things hereafter are to follow the same general course as heretofore, we must infer that this dropping of human attributes will continue. Let us ask what positive changes are hence to be expected.


Two factors must unite in producing them. There is the development of those higher sentiments which no longer tolerate the ascription of inferior sentiments to a divinity; and there is the intellectual development which causes dissatisfaction with the crude interpretations previously accepted. Of course in pointing out the effects of these factors, I must name some which are familiar; but it is needful to glance at them along with others.

§ 658. The cruelty of a Fijian god who, represented as devouring the souls of the dead, may be supposed to inflict torture during the process, is small compared with the cruelty of a god who condemns men to tortures which are eternal; and the ascription of this cruelty, though habitual in ecclesiastical formulas, occasionally occurring in sermons, and still sometimes pictorially illustrated, is becoming so intolerable to the better-natured, that while some theologians distinctly deny it, others quietly drop it out of their teachings. Clearly, this change cannot cease until the beliefs in hell and damnation disappear. [*] Disappearance of them will be aided by an increasing repugnance to injustice. The visiting on Adam’s descendants through hundreds of generations, dreadful penalties for a small transgression which they did not commit; the damning of all men who do not avail themselves of an alleged mode of obtaining forgiveness, which most men have never heard of; and the effecting a reconciliation by sacrificing a son who was perfectly innocent, to satisfy the assumed necessity for a propitiatory victim; are modes of action which, ascribed to a human ruler, would call forth expressions of abhorrence; and the ascription of them to the Ultimate Cause of things, even now felt to be full of difficulties, must become impossible. So, too, must die out the belief that a Power present in innumerable worlds throughout infinite space, [3-167] and who during millions of years of the Earth’s earlier existence needed no honouring by its inhabitants, should be seized with a craving for praise; and having created mankind, should be angry with them if they do not perpetually tell him how great he is. As fast as men escape from that glamour of early impressions which prevents them from thinking, they will refuse to imply a trait of character which is the reverse of worshipful.

Similarly with the logical incongruities more and more conspicuous to growing intelligence. Passing over the familiar difficulties that sundry of the implied divine traits are in contradiction with the divine attributes otherwise ascribed—that a god who repents of what he has done must be lacking either in power or in foresight; that his anger presupposes an occurrence which has been contrary to intention, and so indicates defect of means; we come to the deeper difficulty that such emotions, in common with all emotions, can exist only in a consciousness which is limited. Every emotion has its antecedent ideas, and antecedent ideas are habitually supposed to occur in God: he is represented as seeing and hearing this or the other, and as being emotionally affected thereby. That is to say, the conception of a divinity possessing these traits of character, necessarily continues anthropomorphic; not only in the sense that the emotions ascribed are like those of human beings, but also in the sense that they form parts of a consciousness which, like the human consciousness, is formed of successive states. And such a conception of the divine consciousness is irreconcilable both with the unchangeableness otherwise alleged, and with the omniscience otherwise alleged. For a consciousness constituted of ideas and feelings caused by objects and occurrences, cannot be simultaneously occupied with all objects and all occurrences throughout the universe. To believe in a divine consciousness, men must refrain from thinking what is meant by consciousness—must stop short with verbal propositions; and propositions which they are debarred from rendering into thoughts will more and more [3-168] fail to satisfy them. Of course like difficulties present themselves when the will of God is spoken of. So long as we refrain from giving a definite meaning to the word will, we may say that it is possessed by the Cause of All Things, as readily as we may say that love of approbation is possessed by a circle; but when from the words we pass to the thoughts they stand for, we find that we can no more unite in consciousness the terms of the one proposition than we can those of the other. Whoever conceives any other will than his own, must do so in terms of his own will, which is the sole will directly known to him: all other wills being only inferred. But will, as each is conscious of it, presupposes a motive—a prompting desire of some kind. Absolute indifference excludes the conception of will. Moreover will, as implying a prompting desire, connotes some end contemplated as one to be achieved, and ceases with the achievement of it: some other will, referring to some other end, taking its place. That is to say, will, like emotion, necessarily supposes a series of states of consciousness. The conception of a divine will, derived from that of the human will, involves like it, localization in space and time. The willing of each end, excludes from consciousness for an interval the willing of other ends; and therefore is inconsistent with that omnipresent activity which simultaneously works out an infinity of ends. It is the same with the ascription of intelligence. Not to dwell on the seriality and limitation implied as before, we may note that intelligence, as alone conceivable by us, presupposes existences independent of it and objective to it. It is carried on in terms of changes primarily wrought by alien activities—the impressions generated by things beyond consciousness, and the ideas derived from such impressions. To speak of an intelligence which exists in the absence of all such alien activities, is to use a meaningless word. If to the corollary that the First Cause, considered as intelligent, must be continually affected by independent objective activities, it is replied that these have become such by act of creation, and [3-169] were previously included in the First Cause; then the reply is that in such case the First Cause could, before this creation, have had nothing to generate in it such changes as those constituting what we call intelligence, and must therefore have been unintelligent at the time when intelligence was most called for. Hence it is clear that the intelligence ascribed, answers in no respect to that which we know by the name. It is intelligence out of which all the characters constituting it have vanished.

These and other difficulties, some of which are often discussed but never disposed of, must force men hereafter to drop the higher anthropomorphic characters given to the First Cause, as they have long since dropped the lower. The conception which has been enlarging from the beginning must go on enlarging, until, by disappearance of its limits, it becomes a consciousness which transcends the forms of distinct thought, though it for ever remains a consciousness.

§ 659. “But how can such a final consciousness of the Unknowable, thus tacitly alleged to be true, be reached by successive modifications of a conception which was utterly untrue? The ghost-theory of the savage is baseless. The material double of a dead man in which he believes, never had any existence. And if by gradual de-materialization of this double was produced the conception of the supernatural agent in general—if the conception of a deity, formed by the dropping of some human attributes and transfiguration of others, resulted from continuance of this process; is not the developed and purified conception reached by pushing the process to its limit, a fiction also? Surely if the primitive belief was absolutely false, all derived beliefs must be absolutely false.”

This objection looks fatal; and it would be fatal were its premiss valid. Unexpected as it will be to most readers, the answer here to be made is that at the outset a germ of truth was contained in the primitive conception—the truth, namely, [3-170] that the power which manifests itself in consciousness is but a differently-conditioned form of the power which manifests itself beyond consciousness.

Every voluntary act yields to the primitive man, proof of a source of energy within him. Not that he thinks about his internal experiences; but in these experiences this notion lies latent. When producing motion in his limbs, and through them motion in other things, he is aware of the accompanying feeling of effort. And this sense of effort which is the perceived antecedent of changes produced by him, becomes the conceived antecedent of changes not produced by him—furnishes him with a term of thought by which to represent the genesis of these objective changes. At first this idea of muscular forces as anteceding unusual events around him, carries with it the whole assemblage of associated ideas. He thinks of the implied efforts as efforts exercised by beings like himself. In course of time these doubles of the dead, supposed to be workers of all but the most familiar changes, are modified in conception. Besides becoming less grossly material, some of them are developed into larger personalities presiding over classes of phenomena which, being comparatively regular in their order, suggest a belief in beings who, while far more powerful than men, are less variable in their modes of action. So that the idea of force as exercised by such beings, comes to be less associated with the idea of a human ghost. Further advances, by which minor supernatural agents are merged in one general agent, and by which the personality of this general agent is rendered vague while becoming widely extended, tend still further to dissociate the notion of objective force from the force known as such in consciousness; and the dissociation reaches its extreme in the thoughts of the man of science, who interprets in terms of force not only the visible changes of sensible bodies, but all physical changes whatever, even up to the undulations of the ethereal medium. Nevertheless, this force (be it force under that statical form by which matter resists, or under that dynamical form distinguished [3-171] as energy) is to the last thought of in terms of that internal energy which he is conscious of as muscular effort. He is compelled to symbolize objective force in terms of subjective force from lack of any other symbol.

See now the implications. That internal energy which in the experiences of the primitive man was always the immediate antecedent of changes wrought by him—that energy which, when interpreting external changes, he thought of along with those attributes of a human personality connected with it in himself; is the same energy which, freed from anthropomorphic accompaniments, is now figured as the cause of all external phenomena. The last stage reached is recognition of the truth that force as it exists beyond consciousness, cannot be like what we know as force within consciousness; and that yet, as either is capable of generating the other, they must be different modes of the same. Consequently, the final outcome of that speculation commenced by the primitive man, is that the Power manifested throughout the Universe distinguished as material, is the same Power which in ourselves wells up under the form of consciousness.

It is untrue, then, that the foregoing argument proposes to evolve a true belief from a belief which was wholly false. Contrariwise, the ultimate form of the religious consciousness, is the final development of a consciousness which at the outset contained a germ of truth obscured by multitudinous errors.

§ 660. Those who think that science is dissipating religious beliefs and sentiments, seem unaware that whatever of mystery is taken from the old interpretation is added to the new. Or rather, we may say that transference from the one to the other is accompanied by increase; since, for an explanation which has a seeming feasibility, science substitutes an explanation which, carrying us back only a certain distance, there leaves us in presence of the avowedly inexplicable.


Under one of its aspects scientific progress is a gradual transfiguration of Nature. Where ordinary perception saw perfect simplicity it reveals great complexity; where there seemed absolute inertness it discloses intense activity; and in what appears mere vacancy it finds a marvellous play of forces. Each generation of physicists discovers in so-called “brute matter,” powers which but a few years before, the most instructed physicists would have thought incredible; as instance the ability of a mere iron plate to take up the complicated aerial vibrations produced by articulate speech, which, translated into multitudinous and varied electric pulses, are re-translated a thousand miles off by another iron plate and again heard as articulate speech. When the explorer of Nature sees that quiescent as they appear, surrounding solid bodies are thus sensitive to forces which are infinitesimal in their amounts—when the spectroscope proves to him that molecules on the Earth pulsate in harmony with molecules in the stars—when there is forced on him the inference that every point in space thrills with an infinity of vibrations passing through it in all directions; the conception to which he tends is much less that of a Universe of dead matter than that of a Universe everywhere alive: alive if not in the restricted sense, still in a general sense.

This transfiguration which the inquiries of physicists continually increase, is aided by that other transfiguration resulting from metaphysical inquiries. Subjective analysis compels us to admit that our scientific interpretations of the phenomena which objects present, are expressed in terms of our own variously-combined sensations and ideas—are expressed, that is, in elements belonging to consciousness, which are but symbols of the something beyond consciousness. Though analysis afterwards reinstates our primitive beliefs, to the extent of showing that behind every group of phenomenal manifestations there is always a nexus, which is the reality that remains fixed amid appearances which are variable; yet we are shown that this nexus of reality is for [3-173] ever inaccessible to consciousness. And when, once more, we remember that the activities constituting consciousness, being rigorously bounded, cannot bring in among themselves the activities beyond the bounds, which therefore seem unconscious, though production of either by the other seems to imply that they are of the same essential nature; this necessity we are under to think of the external energy in terms of the internal energy, gives rather a spiritualistic than a materialistic aspect to the Universe: further thought, however, obliging us to recognize the truth that a conception given in phenomenal manifestations of this ultimate energy can in no wise show us what it is.

While the beliefs to which analytic science thus leads, are such as do not destroy the object-matter of religion, but simply transfigure it, science under its concrete forms enlarges the sphere for religious sentiment. From the very beginning the progress of knowledge has been accompanied by an increasing capacity for wonder. Among savages, the lowest are the least surprised when shown remarkable products of civilized art: astonishing the traveller by their indifference. And so little of the marvellous do they perceive in the grandest phenomena of Nature, that any inquiries concerning them they regard as childish trifling. This contrast in mental attitude between the lowest human beings and the higher human beings around us, is paralleled by contrasts among the grades of these higher human beings themselves. It is not the rustic, nor the artizan, nor the trader, who sees something more than a mere matter of course in the hatching of a chick; but it is the biologist, who, pushing to the uttermost his analysis of vital phenomena, reaches his greatest perplexity when a speck of protoplasm under the microscope shows him life in its simplest form, and makes him feel that however he formulates its processes the actual play of forces remain unimaginable. Neither in the ordinary tourist nor in the deer-stalker climbing the mountains above him, does a highland glen rouse ideas beyond those of sport or of the picturesque; but it [3-174] may, and often does, in the geologist. He, observing that the glacier-rounded rock he sits on has lost by weathering but half an inch of its surface since a time far more remote than the beginnings of human civilization, and then trying to conceive the slow denudation which has cut out the whole valley, has thoughts of time and of power to which they are strangers—thoughts which, already utterly inadequate to their objects, he feels to be still more futile on noting the contorted beds of gneiss around, which tell him of a time, immeasurably more remote, when far beneath the Earth’s surface they were in a half-melted state, and again tell him of a time, immensely exceeding this in remoteness, when their components were sand and mud on the shores of an ancient sea. Nor is it in the primitive peoples who supposed that the heavens rested on the mountain tops, any more than in the modern inheritors of their cosmogony who repeat that “the heavens declare the glory of God,” that we find the largest conceptions of the Universe or the greatest amount of wonder excited by contemplation of it. Rather, it is in the astronomer, who sees in the Sun a mass so vast that even into one of his spots our Earth might be plunged without touching its edges; and who by every finer telescope is shown an increased multitude of such suns, many of them far larger.

Hereafter as heretofore, higher faculty and deeper insight will raise rather than lower this sentiment. At present the most powerful and most instructed mind has neither the knowledge nor the capacity required for symbolizing in thought the totality of things. Occupied with one or other division of Nature, the man of science usually does not know enough of the other divisions even rudely to conceive the extent and complexity of their phenomena; and supposing him to have adequate knowledge of each, yet he is unable to think of them as a whole. Wider and stronger intellect may hereafter help him to form a vague consciousness of them in their totality. We may say that just as an undeveloped musical faculty, able only to appreciate [3-175] a simple melody, cannot grasp the variously-entangled passages and harmonies of a symphony, which in the minds of composer and conductor are unified into involved musical effects awakening far greater feeling than is possible to the musically uncultured; so, by future more evolved intelligences, the course of things now apprehensible only in parts may be apprehensible all together, with an accompanying feeling as much beyond that of the present cultured man, as his feeling is beyond that of the savage.

And this feeling is not likely to be decreased but to be increased by that analysis of knowledge which, while forcing him to agnosticism, yet continually prompts him to imagine some solution of the Great Enigma which he knows cannot be solved. Especially must this be so when he remembers that the very notions, origin, cause and purpose, are relative notions belonging to human thought, which are probably irrelevant to the Ultimate Reality transcending human thought; and when, though suspecting that explanation is a word without meaning when applied to this Ultimate Reality, he yet feels compelled to think there must be an explanation.

But one truth must grow ever clearer—the truth that there is an Inscrutable Existence everywhere manifested, to which he can neither find nor conceive either beginning or end. Amid the mysteries which become the more mysterious the more they are thought about, there will remain the one absolute certainty, that he is ever in presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy, from which all things proceed.






§ 661. What character professional institutions have in common, by which they are as a group distinguished from the other groups of institutions contained in a society, it is not very easy to say. But we shall be helped to frame an approximately true conception by contemplating in their ultimate natures the functions of the respective groups.

The lives of a society and of its members are in one way or other subserved by all of them: maintenance of the life of a society, which is an insentient organism, being a proper proximate end only as a means to the ultimate end—maintenance of the lives of its members, which are sentient organisms. The primary function, considered either in order of time or in order of importance, is defence of the tribal or national life—the preservation of the society from destruction by enemies. For the better achievement of this end there presently comes some regulation of life. Restraints on individual action are needful for the efficient carrying on of war, which implies subordination to a leader or chief; and when successful leadership ends in permanent chieftainship, it brings, in course of further development, such regulation of life within the society as conduces to efficiency for war purposes. Better defence against enemies, thus furthered, is followed by defence of citizens against one another; and the rules of conduct, originally imposed by the successful chief, come, after his decease, to be reinforced by the injunctions ascribed to his ghost. So [3-180] that, with the control of the living king and his agents, there is gradually joined the control of the dead king and his agents. Simultaneously with the rise of agencies for the defence of life and the regulation of life, there grow up agencies for the sustentation of life. Though at first food, clothing, and shelter are obtained by each for himself, yet exchange, beginning with barter of commodities, gradually initiates a set of appliances which greatly facilitate the bodily maintenance of all. But now the defence of life, the regulation of life, and the sustentation of life, having been achieved, what further general function is there? There is the augmentation of life; and this function it is which the professions in general subserve. It is obvious that the medical man who removes pains, sets broken bones, cures diseases, and wards off premature death, increases the amount of life. Musical composers and performers, as well as professors of music and dancing, are agents who exalt the emotions and so increase life. The poet, epic, lyric or dramatic, along with the actor, severally in their respective ways yield pleasurable feelings and so increase life. The historian and the man of letters, to some extent by the guidance they furnish, but to a larger extent by the interest which their facts and fictions create, raise men’s mental states and so increase life. Though we cannot say of the lawyer that he does the like in a direct way, yet by aiding the citizen to resist aggressions he furthers his sustentation and thereby increases life. The multitudinous processes and appliances which the man of science makes possible, as well as the innumerable intellectual interests he arouses and the general illumination he yields, increase life. The teacher, alike by information given and by discipline enforced, enables his pupils more effectually to carry on this or that occupation and obtain better subsistence than they would else do, at the same time that he opens the doors to various special gratifications: in both ways increasing life. Once more, those who carry on the plastic arts—the painter, [3-181] the sculptor, the architect—excite by their products pleasurable perceptions and emotions of the æsthetic class, and thus increase life.

§ 662. In what way do the professions arise? From what pre-existing social tissue are they differentiated—to put the question in evolutionary language? Recognizing the general truth, variously illustrated in the preceding parts of this work, that all social structures result from specializations of a relatively homogeneous mass, our first inquiry must be—in which part of such mass do professional institutions originate. [*]

Stated in a definite form the reply is that traces of the professional agencies, or some of them, arise in the primitive politico-ecclesiastical agency; and that as fast as this becomes divided into the political and the ecclesiastical, the ecclesiastical more especially carries with it the germs of the professional, and eventually develops them. Remembering that in the earliest social groups there is temporary [3-182] chieftainship in time of war, and that where war is frequent the chieftainship becomes permanent—remembering that efficient co-operation in war requires subordination to him, and that when his chieftainship becomes established such subordination, though mainly limited to war-times, shows itself at other times and favours social co-operation—remembering that when, under his leadership, his tribe subjugates other tribes, he begins to be propitiated by them, while he is more and more admired and obeyed by his own tribe—remembering that in virtue of the universal ghost-theory the power he is supposed to exercise after death is even greater than the power he displayed during life; we understand how it happens that ministrations to him after death, like in kind to those received by him during life, are maintained and often increased. Among primitive peoples, life in the other world is conceived as identical in nature with life in this world. Hence, as the living chief was supplied with food and drink, oblations are taken to his burial-place and libations poured out. As animals were killed for him while he lived, animals are sacrificed on his grave when he is dead. If he has been a great king with a large retinue, the frequent slaughter of many beasts to maintain his court is paralleled by the hecatombs of cattle and sheep slain for the support of his ghost and the ghosts of his attendants. If he was a cannibal, human victims are furnished to him when dead as when alive; and their blood is poured on the grave-heap, or on the altar which represents the grave-heap. Having had servants in this world he is supposed to need servants in the other, and frequently they are killed at his funeral or sent after him. When the women of his harem are not immolated at his burial-place, as they sometimes are, it is usual to reserve virgins for him in his temple. Visits of homage made to his residence become, in after times, pilgrimages made to his tomb or temple; and presents at the throne re-appear as presents at the shrine. Prostrations, genuflexions and other obeisances are made in his [3-183] presence, along with various uncoverings; and worship in his temple has the like accompaniments. Laudations are uttered before him while he is alive, and the like or greater laudations when he is dead. Dancing, at first a spontaneous expression of joy in his presence, becomes a ceremonial observance, and continues to be a ceremonial observance on occasions of worshiping his ghost. And of course it is the same with the accompanying music: instrumental or vocal, it is performed both before the natural ruler and the supernatural ruler.

Obviously, then, if any of these actions and agencies, common to political loyalty and divine worship, have characters akin to certain professional actions and agencies, these last must be considered as having double roots in the politico-ecclesiastical agency. It is also obvious that if, along with increasing differentiation of these twin agencies, the ecclesiastical develops more imposingly and widely, partly because the supposed superhuman being to which it ministers continually increases in ascribed power, and partly because worship of him, instead of being limited to one place, spreads to many places, these professional actions and agencies will develop more especially in connexion with it.

§ 663. Sundry of these actions and agencies included in both political and religious ministrations are of the kind indicated. While among propitiations of the visible king and the invisible deified king, some of course will have for their end the sustentation of life, others are certain to be for the increase of life by its exaltation: yielding to the propitiated being emotional gratifications by praises, by songs, and by various aids to æsthetic pleasures. And naturally the agencies of which laudatory orations, hymnal poetry, dramatized triumphs, as well as sculptured and painted representations in dedicated buildings, are products, will develop in connexion chiefly with those who permanently minister to the apotheosized rulers—the priests.


A further reason why the professions thus implied, and others not included among them, such as those of the lawyer and the teacher, have an ecclesiastical origin, is that the priest-class comes of necessity to be distinguished above other classes by knowledge and intellectual capacity. His cunning, skill, and acquaintance with the natures of things, give the primitive priest or medicine-man influence over his fellows; and these traits continue to be distinctive of him when, in later stages, his priestly character becomes distinct. His power as priest is augmented by those feats and products which exceed the ability of the people to achieve or understand; and he is therefore under a constant stimulus to acquire the superior culture and the mental powers needed for those activities which we class as professional.

Once more there is the often-recognized fact, that the priest-class, supplied by other classes with the means of living, becomes, by implication, a leisured class. Not called upon to work for subsistence, its members are able to devote time and energy to that intellectual labour and discipline which are required for professional occupations as distinguished from other occupations.

Carrying with us these general conceptions of the nature of professional institutions and of their origin, we are now prepared for recognizing the significance of those groups of facts which the historical development of the professions presents to us.





§ 664. Already, in Chapter II of the preceding part, have been given illustrations of the general truth that in rude tribes it is difficult to distinguish between the priest and the medicine-man. Their respective functions are commonly fulfilled by the same person. In addition to the instances there given, here are some others.

According to Humboldt, “the Caribbee marirris are at once priests, jugglers, and physicians.” Among the Tupis “the Payes, as they were called, were at once quacks, jugglers, and priests.” Passing from South America to North, we read that the “Carriers know little of medicinal herbs. Their priest or magician is also the doctor;” and, of the Dakotahs, Schoolcraft says—“The priest is both prophet and doctor.” In Asia we meet with a kindred connexion. In Southern India, the Kurumbas act as doctors to the Badagas, and it is said of them—“The Kurumbas also officiate as priests at their marriages and deaths.” So is it among peoples further north. “Native doctors swarm in Mongolia . . . They are mostly lamas. There are a few laymen who add medical practice to their other occupations, but the great majority of doctors are priests.” It is the same on the other great continent. Reade tells us that in Equatorial Africa the fetich-man is doctor, priest, and witch-finder; and concerning the Joloffs and Eggarahs, verifying statements are made by Mollien and by Allen and Thomson.


This evidence, reinforcing evidence given in the preceding part, and reinforced by much more evidence given in the first volume of this work, shows that union of the two functions is a normal trait in early societies.

§ 665. The origin of this union lies in the fact before named (§ 132) that the primitive priest and the primitive medicine-man both deal with supposed supernatural beings; and the confusion arises in part from the conceived characters of these ghosts and gods, some of which are regarded as always malicious, and others of which, though usually friendly, are regarded as liable to be made angry and then to inflict evils.

The medicine-man, dealing with malicious spirits, to which diseases among other evils are ascribed by savages, subjects his patients partly to natural agencies, but chiefly to one or other method of exorcism. Says Keating of the Chippewas, “their mode of treatment depends more upon the adoption of proper spells than the prescription of suitable remedies.” Among the Nootka Sound people,—

“Natural pains and maladies are invariably ascribed to the absence or other irregular conduct of the soul, or to the influence of evil spirits, and all treatment is directed to the recall of the former and to the appeasing of the latter.”

So, too, of the Okanagans we read:—

“But here as elsewhere, the sickness becoming at all serious or mysterious, medical treatment proper is altogether abandoned, and the patient committed to the magic powers of the medicine-man.”

Sequent upon such beliefs in the supernatural origin of diseases are various usages elsewhere. It is said of the Karens that “when a person is sick, these people [medicine-men], for a fee, will tell what spirit has produced the sickness, and the necessary offering to conciliate it.” Among the Araucanians, the medicine-man having brought on a state of trance, real or pretended, during which he is supposed to have been in communication with spirits, declares on his recovery—


“the nature and seat of the malady, and proceeds to dose the patient, whom he also manipulates about the part afflicted until he succeeds in extracting the cause of the sickness, which he exhibits in triumph. This is generally a spider, a toad, or some other reptile which he has had carefully concealed about his person.”

Speaking of the Tahitian doctors, who are “almost invariably priests or sorcerers,” Ellis says that in cases of sickness they received fees, parts of which were supposed to belong to the gods: the supposition being that the gods who had caused the diseases must be propitiated by presents. A more advanced people exhibit a kindred union of ideas. Says Gilmour—

“Mongols seldom separate medicine and prayers, and a clerical doctor has the advantage over a layman in that he can attend personally to both departments, administering drugs on the one hand and performing religious ceremonies on the other.”

Hence the medical function of the priest. When not caused by angry gods diseases are believed to be caused by indwelling demons, who have either to be driven out by making the body an intolerable residence, or have to be expelled by superior spirits who are invoked.

But there is often a simultaneous use of natural and supernatural means, apparently implying that the primitive medicine-man, in so far as he uses remedies acting physically or chemically, foreshadows the physician; yet the apparent relationship is illusive, for those which we distinguish as natural remedies are not so distinguished by him. In the first volume (§ 177-8) it was shown that powerful effects wrought on the body by plants, and the products of plants, are supposed to be due to spirits dwelling in the plants. Hence the medicine-man, or “mystery-man,” being concerned solely with supernatural causation of one or other kind, foreshadows the physician only to the extent of using some of the same means, and not as having the same ideas.

As we shall presently see, it is rather from the priest properly so called, who deals with ghosts not antagonistically but sympathetically, that the physician originates.


§ 666. While the medicine-man is distinctive of small and undeveloped societies, the priest proper arises along with social aggregation and the formation of established government. In the preceding division of this work, Chapters III, IV, and V, we saw that since originally propitiation of the ghosts of parents and other members of each family is carried on by relatives, implying that the priestly function is at first generally diffused; and since this priestly function presently devolves on the eldest male of the family; and since, when chieftainship becomes settled and inheritable, the living chief makes sacrifices to the ghost of the dead chief, and sometimes does this on behalf of the people; there so arises an official priest. And it results that with enlargement of societies by union with subjugated tribes and the spread of the chieftain’s power, now grown into royal power, over various subordinated groups, and the accompanying establishment of deputy rulers in these groups, who take with them the worship that arose in the conquering tribe, there is initiated a priesthood which, growing into a caste, becomes an agency for the dominant cult; and, from causes already pointed out, develops into a seat of culture in general.

From part of this culture, having its origin in preceding stages, comes greater knowledge of medicinal agents, which gradually cease to be conceived as acting supernaturally. Early civilizations show us the transition. Says Maspero of the ancient Egyptians:—

“The cure-workers are . . . divided into several categories. Some incline towards sorcery, and have faith in formulas and talismans only . . . Others extol the use of drugs; they study the qualities of plants and minerals . . . and settle the exact time when they must be procured and applied . . . The best doctors carefully avoid binding themselves exclusively to either method . . . their treatment is a mixture of remedies and exorcisms which vary from patient to patient. They are usually priests.”

Along with this progress, there had gone on a differentiation of functions. Among the lower classes of the priesthood [3-189] were the “pastophers, who . . . practised medicine.”

Respecting the state of things in Babylonia and Assyria, the evidence is not so clear. Says Lenormant of the Chaldæans:—

“Il est curieux de noter que les trois parties qui composaient ainsi le grand ouvrage magique dont Sir Henry Rawlinson a retrouvé les débris correspondent exactement aux trois classes de docteurs chaldéens que le livre de Daniel (i, 20; ii, 2 et 27; v, 11) énumère à côté des astrologues et des devins (kasdim et gazrim), c’est-à-dire les khartumin ou conjurateurs, les hakamin ou médecins, et les asaphim ou théosophes.”

With like implications Prof. Sayce tells us that—

“The doctor had long been an institution in Assyria and Babylonia. It is true that the great bulk of the people had recourse to religious charms and ceremonies when they were ill, and ascribed their sickness to possession by demons instead of to natural causes. But there was a continually increasing number of the educated who looked for aid in their maladies rather to the physician with his medicines than to the sorcerer or priest with his charms.”

But from these two statements taken together it may fairly be inferred that the doctors had arisen as one division of the priestly class.

Naturally it was with the Hebrews as with their more civilized neighbours. Says Gauthier—

“Chez les Juifs la médecine a été longtemps sacerdotale comme chez presque tous les anciens peuples; les lévites étaient les seuls médecins . . . Chez les plus anciens peuples de l’Asie, tels que les Indiens et les Perses, l’art de guérir était également exercé par les prêtres.”

In later days this connexion became less close, and there was a separation of the physician from the priest. Thus in Ecclesiasticus we read:—

“My son, in thy sickness be not negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole. Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness. Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour; and make a fat offering as not being. Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him; let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him.”

(xxxviii, 9—12.)


Facts of congruous kinds are thus remarked on by Draper:—

“In the Talmudic literature there are all the indications of a transitional state, so far as medicine is concerned; the supernatural seems to be passing into the physical, the ecclesiastical is mixed up with the exact; thus a rabbi may cure disease by the ecclesiastical operation of laying on of hands; but of febrile disturbances, an exact, though erroneous explanation is given, and paralysis of the hind legs of an animal is correctly referred to the pressure of a tumour on the spinal cord.”

Concerning the origin of the medical man among the Hindoos, whose history is so much complicated by successively superposed governments and religions, the evidence is confused. Accounts agree, however, in the assertion that medicine was of divine origin: evidently implying its descent through the priesthood. In the introduction to Charaka’s work, medical knowledge is said to have indirectly descended from Brahma to Indra, while “Bharadvaja learnt it from Indra, and imparted it to six Rishis, of whom Agnivasa was one.” The association of medical practice with priestly functions is also implied in the statement of Hunter that “the national astronomy and the national medicine of India alike derived their first impulses from the exigencies of the national worship.” The same connexion was shown during the ascendancy of Buddhism. “The science was studied in the chief centres of Buddhist civilization, such as the great monastic university of Nalanda, near Gaya.”

Similar was the genesis of the medical profession among the Greeks. “The science [of medicine] was regarded as of divine origin, and . . . the doctors continued, in a certain sense, to be accounted the descendants of Asclepios.” As we read in Grote—

“The many families or gentes called Asklêpiads, who devoted themselves to the study and practice of medicine, and who principally dwelt near the temples of Asklêpius, whither sick and suffering men came to obtain relief—all recognised the god [Asklêpius], not merely as the object of their common worship, but also as their actual progenitor.”


In later times we see the profession becoming secularized.

“The union between the priesthood and the profession was gradually becoming less and less close; and, as the latter thus separated itself, divisions or departments arose in it, both as regards subjects, such as pharmacy, surgery, etc., and also as respects the position of its cultivators.”

Miscellaneous evidence shows that during early Roman times, when there existed no medical class, diseases were held to be supernaturally inflicted, and the methods of treating them were methods of propitiation. Certain maladies, ascribed to, or prevented by, certain deities, prompted endeavours to propitiate those deities; and hence there were sacrifices to Febris, Carna, &c. An island in the Tiber, which already had a local healing god, became also the seat of the Æsculapius cult: that god having been appealed to on the occasion of an epidemic. Evidently, therefore, medical treatment at Rome, as elsewhere, was at first associated with priestly functions. Throughout subsequent stages the normal course of evolution was deranged by influences from other societies. Conquered peoples, characterized by actual or supposed medical skill, furnished the medical practitioners. For a long time these were dependents of patrician houses. Say Guhl and Koner—“Physicians and surgeons were mostly slaves or freedmen.” And the medical profession, when it began to develop, was of foreign origin. Mommsen writes:—

“In 535 the first Greek physician, the Peloponnesian Archagathus, settled in Rome and there acquired such repute by his surgical operations, that a residence was assigned to him on the part of the state and he received the freedom of the city; and thereafter his colleagues flocked in crowds to Rome . . . . the profession, one of the most lucrative which existed in Rome, continued a monopoly in the hands of the foreigners.”

§ 667. Opposed to paganism as Christianity was from the beginning, we might naturally suppose that the primitive association between the priestly and medical functions would cease when Christianity became dominant. But the [3-192] roots of human sentiments and beliefs lie deeper than the roots of particular creeds, and are certain to survive and bud out afresh when an old creed has been superficially replaced by a new one. Everywhere pagan usages and ideas are found to modify Christian forms and doctrines, and it is so here. The primitive theory that diseases are of supernatural origin still held its ground, and the agency of the priest consequently remained needful. Of various hospitals built by the early Christians we read:—

“It was commonly a Priest who had charge of them, as, at Alexandria, S. Isidore, under the Patriarch Theophilus; at Constantinople, St. Zoticus, and after him St. Samson.”

Concerning the substitution of Christian medical institutions for pagan ones, it is remarked:—

“The destruction of the Asclepions was not attended by any suitably extensive measures for insuring professional education . . . The consequences are seen in the gradually increasing credulity and imposture of succeeding ages, until, at length, there was an almost universal reliance on miraculous interventions.”

But a more correct statement would be that the pagan conceptions of disease and its treatment re-asserted themselves. Thus, according to Sprengel, after the 6th century the monks practised medicine almost exclusively. Their cures were performed by prayers, relics of martyrs, holy water, &c., often at the tombs of martyrs. The state of things during early mediæval times, of which we know so little, may be inferred from the fact that in the 12th and 13th centuries the practice of medicine by priests was found to interfere so much with their religious functions that orders were issued to prevent it; as by the Lateran Council in 1139, the Council of Reims in 1131, and again by the Lateran Council in 1215. But the usage survived for centuries later in France and probably elsewhere; and it seems that only when a papal bull permitted physicians to marry, did the clerical practice of medicine begin to decline. “The physicians of the University of Paris were not allowed to marry till the year 1452.”


In our own country a parallel relationship similarly survived. In 1456 “the practice of medicine was still, to some extent, in the hands of the clergy.” That ecclesiastics exercised authority over medical practice in the time of Henry VIII, is shown by a statute of his third year, which reads:—

“It is enacted, that no person within London, or seven miles thereof, shall practice as a physician or surgeon without examination and licence of the Bishop of London or of the Dean of Paul’s duly assisted by the faculty; or beyond these limits, without licence from the bishop of the diocese, or his vicar-general, similarly assisted.”

And even down to the year 1858 there remained with the Archbishop of Canterbury a power of granting medical diplomas: a power exercised in that year. So that the separation between “soul-curer and body-curer,” which goes on as savage peoples develop into civilized nations, has but very gradually completed itself even throughout Christian Europe.

§ 668. This continuity of belief and of usage is even still shown in the surviving interpretations of certain diseases by the Church and its adherents; and it is even still traceable in certain modes of medical treatment and certain popular convictions connected with them.

In the minds of multitudinous living people there exists the notion that epidemics are results of divine displeasure; and no less in the verdict “Died by the visitation of God,” than in the vague idea that recovery from, or fatal issue of, a disease, is in part supernaturally determined, do we see that the ancient theory lingers. Moreover, there is a pre-determination to preserve it. When, some years ago, it was proposed to divide hospital patients into two groups, for one of which prayers were to be offered and for the other not, the proposal was resented with indignation. There was a resolution to maintain the faith in the curative effect of prayer, whether it was or was not justified by the facts; to which end it was felt desirable not to bring it face to face with the facts.


Again, down to the present day epilepsy is regarded by many as due to possession by a devil; and Roman Catholics have a form of exorcism to be gone through by a priest to cure maladies thus supernaturally caused. Belief in the demoniacal origin of some diseases is indeed a belief necessarily accepted by consistent members of the Christian Church; since it is the belief taught to them in the New Testament—a belief, moreover, which survives the so-called highest culture. When, for example, we see a late Prime Minister, deeply imbued with the University spirit, publicly defending the story that certain expelled devils entered into swine, we are clearly shown that the theory of the demoniacal origin of some disorders is quite consistent with the current creed. And we are shown how, consequently, there yet remains a place for priestly action in medical treatment.

Let me add a more remarkable mode in which the primitive theory has persisted. The notion that the demon who was causing a disease must be driven out, continued, until recent times, to give a character to medical practice; and even now influences the conceptions which many people form of medicines. The primitive medicine-man, thinking to make the body an intolerable habitat for the demon, exposed his patient to this or that kind of alarming, painful or disgusting treatment. He made before him dreadful noises and fearful grimaces, or subjected him to an almost unbearable heat, or produced under his nose atrocious stenches, or made him swallow the most abominable substances he could think of. As we saw in the case cited in § 132, from Ecclesiasticus, the idea, even among the semi-civilized Hebrews, long remained of this nature. Now there is abundant proof that, not only during mediæval days but in far more recent days, the efficiency of medicines was associated in thought with their disgustingness: the more repulsive they were the more effectual. Hence Montaigne’s ridicule of the monstrous compounds used by doctors in his [3-195] day—“dung of elephants, the left foot of a tortoise, liver of a mole, powdered excrement of rats, &c.” Hence a receipt given in Vicary’s work on anatomy, The Englishman’s Treasure, &c. (1641)—“Five spoonfuls of knave child urine of an innocent.” Hence “the belief that epilepsy may be cured by drinking water out of the skull of a suicide, or by tasting the blood of a murderer;” that “moss growing on a human skull, if dried, powdered, and taken as snuff, will cure the Head-ach;” and that the halter and chips from the gibbet on which malefactors have been executed or exposed have medicinal properties. And there prevails in our own days among the uncultured and the young a similarly-derived notion. They betray an ingrained mental association between the nastiness of a medicine and its efficiency: so much so, indeed, that a medicine which is pleasant is with difficulty believed to be a medicine.

§ 669. As with evolution at large, as with organic evolution, and as with social evolution throughout its other divisions, secondary differentiations accompany the primary differentiation. While the medical agency separates from the ecclesiastical agency, there go on separations within the medical agency itself.

The most pronounced division is that between physicians and surgeons. The origin of this has been confused in various ways, and seems now the more obscure because there has been of late arising not a further distinction between the two but a fusion of them. All along they have had a common function in the treatment of ordinary disorders and in the uses of drugs; and the “general practitioner” has come to be one who avowedly fulfils the functions of both. Indeed, in our day, it is common to take degrees in both medicine and surgery, and thus practically to unite these sub-professions. Meanwhile the two jointly have become more clearly marked off from those who carry out their orders. Down to recent times it was usual not only for a [3-196] surgeon to compound his own medicines, but a physician, also, had a dispensary and sometimes a compounder: an arrangement which still survives in country districts. Nowadays, however, both medical and surgical practitioners in large places depute this part of their business to apothecaries.

But the apparent nonconformity to the evolutionary process disappears if we go back to the earlier stages. The distinction between doctor and surgeon is not one which has arisen by differentiation, but is one which asserted itself at the outset. For while both had to cure bodily evils, the one was concerned with evils supposed to be supernaturally inflicted, and the other with evils that were naturally inflicted—the one with diseases ascribed to possessing demons, the other with injuries caused by human beings, by beasts, and by inanimate bodies. Hence we find in the records of early civilizations more or less decided distinctions between the two.

“The Brahmin was the physician; but the important manual department of the profession could not be properly exercised by the pure Brahmin; and to meet this difficulty, at an early period, another caste was formed, from the offspring of a Brahmin with a daughter of a Vaishya.”

There is evidence implying that the division existed in Egypt before the Christian era; and it is alleged that the Arabians systematically divided physics, surgery, and pharmacy, into three distinct professions. Among the Greeks, however, the separation of functions did not exist: “the Greek physician was likewise a surgeon” and was likewise a compounder of his own medicines. Bearing in mind these scattered indications yielded by early societies, we must accept in a qualified way the statements respecting the distinctions between the two in mediæval times throughout Europe. When we remember that during the dark ages the religious houses and priestly orders were the centres of such culture and skill as existed, we may infer that priests [3-197] and monks acted in both capacities; and that hence, at the beginning of the fifth century, surgery “was not yet a distinct branch” of the practice of medicine. Still, it is concluded that clerics generally abstained from practising surgery, and simply superintended the serious operations performed by their assistants: the reason being perhaps, as alleged, that the shedding of blood by clerics being interdicted, they could not themselves use the operating knife. And this may have been a part cause for the rise of those secular medical practitioners who, having been educated in the monastic schools, were, as barber-surgeons, engaged by the larger towns in the public service. Probably this differentiation was furthered by the papal edicts forbidding ecclesiastics from practising medicine in general; for, as is argued, there may hence have arisen that compromise which allowed the clergy to prescribe medicines while they abandoned surgical practice into the hands of laymen.

Along with this leading differentiation, confused in the ways described, there have gone on, within each division, minor differentiations. Some of these arose and became marked in early stages. In Ancient India—

“A special branch of surgery was devoted to rhinoplasty, or operations for improving deformed ears and noses, and forming new ones.”

That the specialization thus illustrated was otherwise marked, is implied by the statement that “no less than 127 surgical instruments were described in” the works of the ancient surgeons; and by the statement that in the Sanskrit period—

“The number of medical works and authors is extraordinarily large. The former are either systems embracing the whole domain of the science, or highly special investigations of single topics.”

So was it, too, in ancient Egypt. Describing the results, Herodotus writes:—

“Medicine is practised among them [the Egyptians] on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more: thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking [3-198] to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines, and some those which are not local.”

Though among the Greeks there was for a long period no division even between physician and surgeon, yet in later days, “the science of healing became divided into separate branches, such as the arts of oculists, dentists, &c.”

Broken evidence only is furnished by intermediate times; but our own times furnish clear proofs of progress in the division of labour among medical men. We have physicians who devote themselves, if not exclusively, still mainly, to diseases of the lungs, others to heart-diseases, others to disorders of the nervous system, others to derangements of digestion, others to affections of the skin; and we have hospitals devoted some to this, and some to that, kind of malady. So, too, with surgeons. Besides such specialists as oculists and aurists, there exist men noted for skilful operations on the bladder, the rectum, the ovaria, as well as men whose particular aptitudes are in the treatment of breakages and dislocations; to say nothing of the quacks known as “bone-setters,” whose success, as has been confessed to me by a surgeon, is often greater than that of men belonging to his own authorized class.

669a. In conformity with the normal order of evolution, integration has accompanied these differentiations. From the beginning have been shown tendencies towards unions of those who practised the healing art. There have arisen institutions giving a certain common education to them; associations of those whose kinds of practice were similar; and, in later times, certain general, though less close, associations of all medical men. In Alexandria—

“The temple of Serapis was used for a hospital, the sick being received into it, and persons studying medicine admitted for the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the appearance of disease, precisely as in such institutions at the present time.”

In Rome, along with the imported worship of Æsculapius, there went the communication of knowledge in the places [3-199] devoted to him. During early mediæval times the monasteries, serving as centres of instruction, gave some embodiment to the medical profession, like that which our colleges give. In Italy there later arose institutions mainly for educating physicians, as the medical school of Salerno in the 9th century. In France before the end of the 13th century the surgeons had become incorporated into a distinct college, following, in this way, the incorporated medical faculty; and while thus integrating themselves they excluded from their class the barbers, who, forbidden to perform operations, were allowed only to dress wounds, &c. In our own country there have been successive consolidations.

The barber-surgeons of London were originally incorporated by Edward IV, and in 1518 the College of Physicians was founded, and received power to grant licences to practise medicine, a power which had previously been confined to the bishops. Progress in definiteness of integration was shown when, in Charles I’s time, persons were forbidden to exercise surgery in London and within seven miles, until they had been examined by the Company of Barbers and Surgeons; and also when, by the 18th of George II, excluding the barbers, the Royal College of Surgeons was formed. At the same time there have grown up medical schools in various places which prepare students for examination by these incorporated medical bodies: further integrations being thus implied. Hospitals, too, scattered throughout the kingdom, have become places of clinical instruction; some united to colleges and some not. Another species of integration has been achieved by medical journals, weekly and quarterly, which serve to bring into communication educational institutions, incorporated bodies, and the whole profession.

Two additional facts should be noted before closing the chapter. One is the recent differentiation by which certain professors of anatomy and physiology have been made into professors of biology. In them the study of human life has [3-200] developed into the study of life at large. And it is interesting to see how this specialization, seemingly irrelevant to medical practice, eventually becomes relevant; since the knowledge of animal life obtained presently extends the knowledge of human life, and so increases medical skill. The other fact is that along with incorporation of authorized medical men, there has arisen jealousy of the unincorporated. Like the religious priesthood, the priesthood of medicine persecutes heretics and those who are without diplomas. There has long been, and still continues, denunciation of unlicensed practitioners, as also of the “counter-practice” carried on by apothecaries. That is to say, there is a constant tendency to a more definite marking off of the integrated professional body.





§ 670. In an essay on “The Origin and Function of Music,” first published in 1857, I emphasized the psycho-physical law that muscular movements in general are originated by feelings in general. Be the movements slight or violent, be they those of the whole body or of special parts, and be the feelings pleasurable or painful, sensational or emotional, the first are always results of the last: at least, after excluding those movements which are reflex and involuntary. And it was there pointed out that as a consequence of this psycho-physical law, the violent muscular motions of the limbs which cause bounds and gesticulations, as well as those strong contractions of the pectoral and vocal muscles which produce shouting and laughter, become the natural language of great pleasure.

In the actions of lively children who on seeing in the distance some indulgent relative, run up to him, joining one another in screams of delight and breaking their run with leaps, there are shown the roots from which simultaneously arise those audible and visible manifestations of joy which culminate in singing and dancing. It needs no stretch of imagination to see that when, instead of an indulgent relative met by delighted children, we have a conquering chief or king met by groups of his people, there will almost certainly occur saltatory and vocal expressions of elated feeling; and that these must become, by implication, signs of [3-202] respect and loyalty—ascriptions of worth which, raised to a higher power, become worship. Nor does it need any stretch of imagination to perceive that these natural displays of joy, at first made spontaneously before one who approaches in triumph as a benefactor and glorifier of his people, come, in course of time, to be observances used on all public occasions as demonstrations of allegiance; while, simultaneously, the irregular jumpings and gesticulations with unrhythmical shouts and cries, at first arising without concert, gradually by repetition become regularized into the measured movements we know as dances and into the organized utterances constituting songs. Once more, it is easy to see that out of groups of subjects thus led into irregular ovations, and by and by into regular laudatory receptions, there will eventually arise some who, distinguished by their skill, are set apart as dancers and singers, and presently acquire the professional character.

Before passing to the positive evidence which supports this interpretation, it may be well to remark that negative evidence is furnished by those savages who have no permanent chiefs or rudimentary kings; for among them these incipient professional actions are scarcely to be traced. They do indeed show us certain rude dances with noisy accompaniments; but these are representations of war and the chase. Though the deeds of celebrated warriors may occasionally be simulated in ways implying praise of them, there do not commonly arise at this stage the laudations constituted by joyous gesticulations and triumphant songs in face of a conqueror. At later stages ceremonies of this primitive kind develop into organized exercises performed by masses of warriors. Thus among the Kaffirs war-dances constitute the most important part of training, and the men engage in them frequently; and it is said that the movements in the grand dances of the Zulus, resemble military evolutions. So, too, Thomson writes that the war-dance of the New Zealanders approximated in precision to the [3-203] movements of a regiment of modern soldiers. Clearly it is not from these exercises that professional dancing originates.

§ 671. That professional dancing, singing, and instrumental music originate in the way above indicated, is implied by a familiar passage in the Bible. We are told that when David, as general of the Israelites, “was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine”—

“The women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music; and the women answered one another as they played, and said ‘Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands.’ ”

(1 Sam., xviii, 6, 7.)

Here the primitive reception of a conquering chief by shouts and leaps, which, along with semi-civilization, had developed into partially definite and rhythmical form, vocal and saltatory, was accorded both to a reigning conqueror and to a conqueror subordinate to him. But while on this occasion the ceremony was entirely secular, it was, on another occasion, under different circumstances, predominantly sacred. When, led by Moses, the Israelites had passed the Red Sea, the song of Miriam, followed by the women “with timbrels and with dances” exhorting them “sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously,” shows us the same kind of observance towards a leader (a “man of war,” as the Hebrew god is called) who was no longer visible, but was supposed to guide his people and occasionally to give advice in battle. That is, we see religious dancing and singing and praise having the same form whether the object of them is or is not present to sight.

Usages which we find in existing semi-civilized societies, justify the conclusion that ovations to a returning conqueror, at first spontaneous expressions of applause and loyalty, gradually pass into ceremonial observances used for purposes of propitiation. It becomes the policy to please the ruler by repetitions of these songs describing his great [3-204] deeds, and of the dances expressive of joy at his presence. Describing the Marutse, Holub says:—

“All the musicians [of the royal band] were obliged to be singers as well, having to screech out the king’s praises between the intervals in the music, or to the muffled accompaniment of their instruments.”

So, Schweinfurth tells us that at the court of king Munza, the Monbutto ruler, there were professional musicians, ballad-singers, and dancers, whose leading function was to glorify and please the king. And in Dahomey, according to Burton, “the bards are of both sexes, and the women dwell in the palace . . . the King keeps a whole troop of these laureates.” Official praises of this kind are carried on by attendants not only of the king but of subordinate rulers. In processions in Ashantee, “each noble is attended by his flatterers, who proclaim, in boisterous songs, the ‘strong names’ of their master;” and on the Gold Coast, “every chief has a horn-blower and a special air of his own.” Similarly we learn from Park that among the Mandingos there are minstrels who “sing extempore songs, in honour of their chief men, or any other persons who are willing to give ‘solid pudding for empty praise’:” showing us an unobtrusive divergence from the original function. Winterbottom indicates a like divergence.

“Among the Foolas there is a set of people called singing men, who, like the ancient bards, travel about the country singing the praises of those who choose to purchase renown.”

Passing beyond Africa we read that in Madagascar “the sovereign has a large band of female singers, who attend in the court-yard, and who accompany their monarch whenever he takes an excursion.” Raffles, too, says that in Java there are three classes of dancing-girls, who perform in public:—1. “The concubines of the sovereign and of the hereditary prince.” These are the most skilful. 2. The concubines of the nobles. 3. “The common dancing girls of the country.” In these cases we are shown that while saltatory and vocal forms of glorification, at first occasional and spontaneous, [3-205] have become regular and ceremonial; and while those who perform them, no longer the people at large, have become a specialized class; two further changes have taken place. Instead of being both singers and dancers, as the primitive celebrants were, these permanent officials have become differentiated into the two classes, singers and dancers; and, if not of the singers yet of the dancers, we may remark that their performances, ceasing to be expressions of welcome and joy before the ruler, have grown into displays of agility and grace, and are gone through for the purpose of yielding æsthetic pleasures. Among the Hebrews this development had taken place in the time of Herod, when the daughter of Herodias delighted him by her dancing; and a like development is shown at the present day throughout India, where troops of bayaderes are appendages of courts.

§ 672. That laudatory dancing and singing before the visible ruler are associated with like observances before the invisible ruler, the Hebrews have shown us. To the case of the prophetess Miriam and her companions, may be added the case of David dancing before the ark. Hence we shall not be surprised to find such facts among other semi-civilized peoples. Markham, describing a Puharrie festival, and saying of a certain receptacle that “in it the Deity is supposed to dwell,” adds that “upon this occasion the deptha, or ark, is brought forth with much solemnity, and the people decked out with flowers and ears of corn dance around it.” In an account of the Bhils we read, concerning a class of men called Barwás who are votaries of the hill-gods, that—

“Their powers are, however, dormant, till they are excited by music; and for this reason, they have a class of musicians connected with them, who are proficient in numerous songs in praise of the hill deities. When the recitation of these songs has kindled the spark of spiritual fire, they begin to dance with frantic gestures.”

An analogous use of dancing occurs in Abyssinia. The duties of priests “consist in reading the prayers, chanting, [3-206] administering the sacraments, and dancing, the latter being indulged in during religious processions.” That the dancing is in this case imported into the quasi-Christian religion by adoption from some previous religion (a like adoption being common with Roman Catholic missionaries) is a conclusion supported by an instance from a remote region. Describing the usages of the Pueblos, Lummis says:—

“The cachinas or sacred dances which were in vogue before Columbus, still survive; but now they are applied to the festivals of the church, and are presumed to be as grateful to Tata Dios as to the Sun-Father and the Hero-Twins.”

But the way in which singing and dancing before the visible ruler differentiate into singing and dancing before the ruler no longer visible, is best seen in the early records of civilized races. To the above illustrations furnished by Hebrew history may be added various others. Thus I Samuel x, 5, tells of “a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them;” and, according to some translators, dancing and singing. Again in I Chronicles ix, 33, we read of certain Levites that “these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites.” And in Psalm cxlix, there is the exhortation:—“Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp:” worship which was joined with the execution of “vengeance upon the heathen.”

This association of dancing and singing as forms of worship, and by implication their more special association with the priesthood, is not so conspicuous in the accounts of Egypt; probably because the earlier stages of Egyptian civilization are unrecorded. According to Herodotus, however, in the processions during the festival of Bacchus, the piper went first and was followed by choristers who sang hymns in honour of that deity. Naming also cymbals and flutes and harps as used in religious ceremonies, Wilkinson says that “the sacred musicians were of the order of priests, [3-207] and appointed to the service, like the Levites, among the Jews.” Songs and clapping of hands are mentioned by him as parts of the worship. Moreover the wall-paintings yield proofs. “That they also danced at the temples in honour of the gods, is evident from the representations of several sacred processions.” Wilkinson is now somewhat out of date; but these assertions are not incongruous with those made by later writers. The association between the temple and the palace was in all ways intimate, and while, according to Brugsch, one steward of the king’s household “was over the singing and playing,” Duncker states that “in every temple there was . . . a minstrel.” So too, Tiele, speaking of Imhotep, son of Ptah, says—

“The texts designate him as the first of the Cher-hib, a class of priests who were at the same time choristers and physicians.”

But Rawlinson thinks that music had, in the days of historical Egypt, become largely secularized:—“Music was used, in the main, as a light entertainment . . . The religious ceremonies into which music entered were mostly of an equivocal character.”

Similar was the genesis which occurred in Greece. A brief indication of the fact is conveyed by the statement of Guhl and Koner that all the dances “were originally connected with religious worship.” The union of dancing and singing as components of the same ceremony, is implied by Moulton’s remark that—

“ ‘Chorus’ is one example amongst many of expressions that convey musical associations to us, but are terms originally of dancing. The chorus was the most elaborate of the lyric ballad-dances.”

And that the associated use of the two was religious is shown by the description of Grote, who writes:—

“The chorus, with song and dance combined, constituted an important part of divine service throughout all Greece. It was originally a public manifestation of the citizens generally. . . . But in process of time, the performance at the chief festival tended to become more elaborate and to fall into the hands of persons expressly and professionally trained.”


In like manner Donaldson tells us that apparently “music and dancing were the basis of the religious, political, and military organization of the Dorian states:” remarking also that—

“The preservation of military discipline and the establishment of a principle of subordination, not merely the encouragement of a taste for the fine arts, were the objects which these rude legislators had in view; and though there is no doubt that religious feeling entered largely into all their thoughts and actions, yet the god whom they worshipped was a god of war, of music, and of civil government.”

On which statement, however, let me remark that it contains a species of error very common in historical interpretations. It is erroneously assumed that these dances were introduced by legislators, instead of being continuations of observances which arose spontaneously. How in Greece there early began the secularization of music, is shown by the traditions concerning the religious festivals—the Pythian, Olympian, &c.—which presently furnished occasions for competitions in skill and strength. The Pythian games, which were the earliest, exhibited the smallest divergence from the primitive purpose; for only musical and poetical contests took place. But the establishment of prizes shows that out of the original miscellaneous chorus had arisen some who were marked by their more effective expressions of praise and finer vocal utterances. And on reading that out of those who played accompaniments to the sacred songs and dances, some became noted for their skill, and that there presently followed at the great Greek games prizes to the best performers on flutes, trumpets, and lyres, we see how there arose also that differentiation of instrumentalists from vocalists which presently became pronounced. Says Mahaffy concerning a performance about 250 bc

“This elaborate instrumental symphony was merely the development of the old competitions in playing instruments, which had existed at Delphi from very early days.”

Hence, after a time, a complete secularization of music. Besides musical performances in honour of the gods, there grew [3-209] up in later days performances which ministered solely to æsthetic enjoyments. Distinguishing the sacred from the secular, Mahaffy says the first “were quite separate from the singing and playing in private society, which were cultivated a good deal at Athens, though not at all at Sparta, where such performances were left to professional musicians.”

Parallel evidence is furnished by Roman history. We read in Mommsen that—

“In the most ancient religious usages dancing, and next to dancing instrumental music, were far more prominent than song. In the great procession, with which the Roman festival of victory was opened, the chief place, next to the images of the gods and the champions, was assigned to the dancers grave and merry . . . The ‘leapers’ (salii) were perhaps the most ancient and sacred of all the priesthoods.”

So, too, Guhl and Koner write:—

“Public games were, from the earliest times, connected with religious acts, the Roman custom tallying in this respect with the Greek. Such games were promised to the gods to gain their favour, and afterwards carried out as a sign of gratitude for their assistance.”

Congruous with this statement is that of Posnett, who, after quoting an early prayer to Mars, says—

“This primitive hymn clearly combined the sacred dance . . . with the responsive chant; and the prominence of the former suggests how readily the processional or stationary hymn might grow into a little drama symbolizing the supposed actions of the deity worshipped.”

Here we see a parallelism to the triumphal reception of David and Saul, and are shown that the worship of the hero-god is a repetition of the applause given to a conqueror when alive in celebration of his achievements: the priests and people doing in the last case that which the courtiers and people did in the first. Moreover in Rome, as in Greece, there eventually arose, out of the sacred performances of music, secular performances—a cultivation of music as a pleasure-giving art. Says Inge—

“In republican days a Roman would have been ashamed to own himself a skilled musician . . . Scipio Æmilianus delivered a scathing [3-210] invective in the senate against schools of music and dancing, at one of which he had even seen the son of a Roman magistrate!”

But in the days of the Cæsars musical culture had become part of a liberal education, and we have in illustration the familiar remembrance of Nero as a violinist. At the same time “trained choirs of slaves were employed to sing and play to the guests at dinner, or for the delectation of their master alone.”

§ 673. On tracing further the evolution of these originally twin professions, we come upon the fact that while, after their separation, the one became almost wholly secularized, the other long continued its ecclesiastical connexions and differentiated into its secular forms at a later date. Why dancing ceased to be a part of religious worship, while music did not, we may readily see. In the first place dancing, being inarticulate, is not capable of expressing those various ideas and feelings which music, joining with words, is able to do. As originally used it was expressive of joy, alike in presence of the living hero and in the supposed presence of his spirit. In the nature of things it implies that overplus of energy which goes along with elated feeling, and does not serve to express the awe, the submission, the penitence, which form large parts of religious worship in advanced times.

Naturally then, dancing, though it did not in the middle ages wholly disappear from religious worship, practically fell into disuse. One part only of the original observance survived—the procession. Alike in the triumphal reception of a returning conqueror and in the celebration of a god’s achievements, the saltatory actions were the joyous accompaniments in a moving stream of people. But while the saltatory actions have ceased the moving stream has continued. Moreover there have survived, even down to our own day, its two original forms. We have religious processions, now along the aisles of cathedrals and now [3-211] through the streets; and besides other secular processions more or less triumphal, we have those in which either the ruler or the representative of the ruler is escorted into the city he is approaching by troops of officials and by the populace: the going out to meet the judges, who are the king’s deputies, shows us that the old form, minus the dance, is still extant.

A further fact is to be noted. While dancing has become secularized it has in part assumed a professional character. Though, even in the earliest stages, it had other forms and purposes than those above described (as shown in the mimetic representations of success in the chase, and in primitive amatory dances), and though from these, secular dancing has been in part derived; yet if we bear in mind the transition from the dancing in triumphal processions before the king, to dancing before him as a court-observance by trained dancers, and from that to dancing on the stage, we may infer that even the forms of secular dancing now familiar are not without a trace of that origin we have been following out.

§ 674. Returning from this parenthesis and passing from the evidence furnished by ancient civilizations to that furnished by the pagan and semi-civilized peoples of Europe, we may first note the statement of Strabo concerning the Gauls.

“There are generally three divisions of men especially reverenced, the Bards, the Vates, and the Druids. The Bards composed and chanted hymns; the Vates occupied themselves with the sacrifices and the study of nature; while the Druids joined to the study of nature that of moral philosophy.”

And the assertion is that these bards recited the exploits of their chiefs to the accompaniment of the harp. The survival of pagan observances into Christian times probably gave origin to the class distinguished among the Scandinavians as “skalds” and among the Anglo-Saxons as harpers and gleemen. Thus we read:—


“The gleemen added mimicry . . . dancing and tumbling, with sleights of hand . . . It was therefore necessary for them to associate themselves into companies.”

“Soon after the Conquest, these musicians lost the ancient Saxon appellation of gleemen, and were called ministraulx, in English minstrels.”

Moreover in the old English period the ministrel “was sometimes a household retainer of the chief whom he served, as we see in the poem of Beowulf.” And since it was the function of the minstrel now to glorify his chief and now to glorify his chief’s ancestors, we see that in the one capacity he lauded the living potentate as a courtier, and in the other capacity he lauded the deceased potentate as a priest lauds a deity.

While, with the decay of the worship of the pagan gods, heroes, and ancestors, some music became secularized, other music began to develope in connexion with the substituted religion. Among the Anglo-Saxons, “music was also cultivated with ardour . . . Permanent schools of music were finally established at the monasteries, and a principal one at Canterbury.” So, too, was it under the Normans:—great attention was now paid to church music, and the clergy frequently composed pieces for the use of their choirs.” Then in the 15th century—

“Ecclesiastical music was studied by the youths at the Universities, with a view to the attainment of degrees as bachelors and doctors in that faculty or science, which generally secured preferment.”

But the best proof of the clerical origin of the musical professor during Christian times, is furnished by the biographical notices of early musicians throughout Europe. We begin in the 4th century with St. Ambrose, who set in order “the ecclesiastical mode of saying and singing divine service;” and then come to St. Gregory who in 590 arranged the musical scales. The 10th century yielded Hucbaldus, a monk who replaced the two-lined stave by one of more lines; and the 11th century the monk Guido d’Arezzo, who further developed the stave. A differentiation of sacred [3-213] into secular was commenced in the 12th century by the Minnesingers: “their melodies were founded on the Church scales.” Developed out of them, came the Meistersingers, who usually performed in churches, and “had generally a sacred subject, and their tone was religious.” “One of the first composers who wrote in regular form” was Canon Dufay, of the Cathedral of Cambrai, who died in 1474. The 16th century brought Lassus, who wrote 1300 musical compositions, but whose status is not named; and then, showing a pronounced secularization, we have, in the same century, Philippus de Monte, Canon of Cambrai, who wrote 30 books of madrigals. About that time Luther, too, “arranged the German mass.” In this century arose the distinguished composer Palestrina who, though originally a layman, was elected to priestly functions; and in the 17th century the priest, Allegri, a composer. At later dates lived Carissimi, chapel-master and composer; Scarlatti also maestro di capella. France presently produced Rameau, church-organist; and Germany two of its greatest composers—Handel first of all capellmeister in Hanover and then in England; and Bach, who was primarily an organist, and who, “deeply religious,” developed “the old Church modes” into modern forms. [*] Among other leading musicians of the 18th [3-214] century were Padre Martini, and Zingarelli, both chapel-masters; and there flourished during the same period the Abbe Vogler, and Cherubini, a chapel-master. To all which cases abroad should be added the cases at home. Beginning early in the 16th century with Tallis “the father of English Cathedral Music,” we find him called “gentleman (chorister) of the Chapel Royal.” In the same century comes Morley, chorister, “epistler,” and “gospeller,” who, thus semi-priestly, composed secular music; Byrd, a similar functionary similarly characterized; Farrant, also clerical in character; and a little later Gibbons, an organist but largely a writer of secular music. In the next century we have Lawes, “epistler” of the Chapel Royal, composer of sacred music; Child, chorister, organist, and sacred composer; and Blow, the same. Then come the four generations of Purcells, all connected with the Church as choristers and organists; Hilton, organist and parish clerk, and writer of secular as well as sacred music; and Croft, organist, chief chorister, and composer, secular and sacred. And so with later composers, Boyce, Cook, Webbe, Horsley, who, still in part Church-functionaries, are chiefly known by their songs, glees, and catches.

We must not, however, ignore the fact that though out of the cultivation of music for purposes of worship, music of the various developed kinds originated, there independently grew up simple popular music. From the earliest times emotions excited by the various incidents of life have prompted spontaneous vocal expression. But recognition of this truth consists with assertion of the larger truth that the higher developments of music arose out of elaborated religious worship, and were for a long time the productions of the priest-class; and that out of this class, or semi-secularized members of it, there were eventually differentiated the composers and professors of secular music.

One further differentiation, which has accompanied the last, has to be noted. The clerically-developed musician’s [3-215] art, influencing the simple secular music of the people, began to evolve out of this the higher forms of music we now know. Whether or not the popular dances in use during recent centuries had arisen de novo, or whether, as seems more probable, they had descended with modifications from the early dance-chants used in pagan worship, inquiry discloses the remarkable fact that out of them have grown the great orchestral works of modern days. The suites de pièces of Bach and Handel were originally sets of dances in different times; and these have developed into the successive movements of the symphony, which even now, in the occasional movement named “minuet,” yields a trace of its origin. And then, along with these developments of music, has taken place one further differentiation—that of composer from performer. Though some performers are also composers, yet in large measure the composer has become an independent artist who does not himself, unless as conductor, take part in public entertainments.

§ 675. In this case, as in other cases, the general process of evolution is exemplified by the integration which has accompanied differentiation. Evidence furnished by ancient civilizations must be postponed to the next chapter, as more closely appertaining to it. Here we may content ourselves with indicating the illustrative facts which modern days furnish.

Beyond the unorganized body of professed musical performers, and beyond the little-organized large body of professors and teachers of music, there is the assemblage of those who, having passed examinations and acquired degrees in music, are marked off more distinctly: we see the increased definiteness which accompanies integration. There are also the multitudinous local musical societies; the local musical festivals with their governing organizations; and the several incorporated colleges, with their students, professional staffs, and directors.


Then as serving to unite these variously-constituted groups of those who make the musical art a profession, and of those who give themselves to the practice of it as amateurs, we have a periodical literature—sundry musical journals devoted to reports and criticisms of concerts, operas, oratorios, and serving to aid musical culture while they maintain the interests of the teachers and performers.





§ 676. Things which during evolution become distinct were of course originally mingled: the doctrine of evolution implies this truism. Already we have seen that in the triumphal reception of the conqueror, originally spontaneous and rude but in progress of time giving rise to an established ceremonial elaborated into definite forms, there were germs of various arts and the professors of them. With the beginnings of dancing and music just described, were joined the beginnings of oratory, poetry, acting and the drama; here, for convenience, to be treated of separately. All of them manifestations of exalted emotion, at first miscellaneous and confused in their display, they only after many repetitions became regularized and parted out among different persons.

With the shouts of applause greeting David and Saul, came, from the mouths of some, proclamations of their great deeds; as, by Miriam, there had been proclamation of Yahveh’s victory over the Egyptians. Such proclamations, at first brief and simple, admit of development into long and laudatory speeches; and, with utterance of these, begins the orator. Then among orators occasionally arises one more fluent and emotional than ordinary, whose oration, abounding in picturesque phrases and figures of speech, grows from time to time rhythmical, and hence the poet. The laudations, comparatively simple in presence of the [3-218] living ruler, and afterwards elaborated in the supposed presence of the apotheosized ruler, are, in the last case, sometimes accompanied by mimetic representations of his achievements. Among children, everywhere much given to dramatizing the doings of adults, we may see that some one of a group, assuming the character of a personage heard about or read about, imitates his actions, especially of a destructive kind; and naturally therefore, in days when feelings were less restrained than now, adults fell into the same habit of giving form to the deeds of the hero they celebrated. The orator or poet joined with his speech or song the appropriate actions, or else these were simultaneously given by some other celebrant. And then, when further developments brought representations of more complex incidents, in which the victories of the hero and his companions over enemies were shown, the leading actor, having to direct the doings of subordinates, became a dramatist.

From this sketch of incipient stages based on established facts, but partly hypothetical, let us pass to the justifying evidence, supplied by uncivilized races and by early civilized races.

§ 677. If we take first the usages of peoples among whom the musical faculty is not much developed, we meet with the lauding official in his simplest form—the orator. Says Erskine of the Fijians, each tribe has its “orator, to make orations on occasions of ceremony, or to assist the priest and chief in exciting the courage of the people before going to battle:” the encouragement being doubtless, in large measure, eulogy of the chief’s past deeds and assertions of his coming prowess. So is it among the New Caledonians.

In Tanna “every village has its orators. In public harangues these men chant their speeches, and walk about in peripatetic fashion, from the circumference into the centre of the marum [forum], laying off their sentences at the same time with the flourish of a club:” [a dramatic accompaniment.]


And, according to Ellis, the Tahitians furnish like facts. Of their “orators of battle” he says—

“The principal object of these Rautis was, to animate the troops by recounting the deeds of their forefathers, the fame of their tribe or island.”

The Negro races have commonly large endowments of musical faculty. Among them, as we have seen, laudatory orations assume a musical form; and, in doing so, necessarily become measured. For while spoken utterances may be, and usually are, irregular, utterances which, being musical, include the element of time, are thereby in some degree regularized. On reading that among the Marutse, those who “screech out the king’s praises” do so “to a muffled accompaniment of their instruments,” we must infer that, as the sounds of their instruments must have some rhythmical order, so too must their words. Similarly the Monbutto ballad-singers, whose function it is to glorify the king, must fall into versified expression of their eulogies. The “troop of laureates or bards” kept at the Dahoman court, cannot utter their praises in chorus without having those praises rhythmically arranged. So, too, in Ashanti and among the Mandingos, the laudations shouted before their chief men, having assumed the form of songs, must have verged into speech more measured than usual. Other uncivilized peoples show us the official orator and poet giving to his applause a musical form which must, by implication, be rhythmical. Atkinson says—

The Sultan “ordered his poet to sing for us. The man obeyed, and chanted forth songs, describing the prowess and successful plundering expeditions of my host and his ancestors, which called forth thunders of applause from the tribe.”

Among these African peoples, however, and the nomadic people of Asia just named, eulogies of the living ruler, whether or not with rhythmical words and musical utterance, are but little, or not at all, accompanied by eulogies of the apotheosized ruler, having a kindred form but with [3-220] priests in place of courtiers. Why is this? There appear to be two reasons, of which perhaps one is primary and the other secondary. We have seen (§ 100) that among the Negro peoples in general, ideas about life after death, where they exist, are undeveloped. The notion is that the double of the dead man does not long remain extant: when there are no longer any dreams about him he is supposed to have perished finally. Consequently, propitiation of his ghost does not grow into a cult, as where there has arisen the notion that he is immortal. And then, possibly because of this, African kingdoms are but temporary. It is remarked that from time to time there arises some great chief who conquers and unites neighbouring tribes, and so forms a kingdom; but that after a generation or two this ordinarily dissolves again. We have seen how powerful an aid to consolidation and permanence is the supposed supernatural power of a deceased ruler; and hence it appears not improbable that the lack of this belief in an immortal god, and consequent lack of the established worship of one, is a chief cause of the transitory nature of the African monarchies.

§ 678. This supposition harmonizes with the facts presented to us by ancient civilized societies, in which, along with praises of the living ruler, there went more elaborate praises of the dead and deified ruler.

Egypt furnishes instances of poetic laudations of both. Preceding a eulogy of Seti I, it is written:—

“The priests, the great ones, and the most distinguished men of South and North Egypt have arrived to praise the divine benefactor on his return from the land of Ruthen.” Then follows a song “in praise of the king and in glorification of his fame.”

So, too, Ramses II is glorified in “the heroic poem of the priest Pentaur.” In the eighteenth dynasty we see the two functions united.

“An unknown poet, out of the number of the holy fathers, felt himself inspired to sing in measured words the glory of the king [Thutmes III], and the might and grandeur of the god Amon.”


And then we have the acts, wholly priestly, of—

“the nobleman who bore the dignity of ‘prophet of the Pyramid of Pharaoh.’ This officer’s duty was to praise the memory of the deceased king, and to devote the god-like image of the sovereign to enduring remembrance.”

Still better and more abundant evidence is furnished by accounts of the early Greeks. The incipient poet, as eulogizer of the god, is priestly in his character, and at first is an official priest. Concerning the Greeks of rude times Mure writes—“Hence, in their traditions, the character of poet is usually found to combine those of musician, priest, prophet, and sage;” and he adds that:

The mythical poet Olen “ranks as the earliest and most illustrious priest and poet of the Delian Apollo . . . Bœo, a celebrated priestess of that sanctuary [the Delphic], pronounces him . . . to be, not only the most antient of Apollo’s prophets, but of all poets.”

We are told by Mahaffy that “the poems attributed to these men [poets prior to Homer] . . . were all strictly religious.”

“The hexameter verse was consistently attributed to the Delphic priests, who were said to have invented and used it in oracles. In other words, it was first used in religious poetry . . . There is no doubt that the priests did compose such works [long poems] for the purpose of teaching the attributes and adventures of the gods . . . Thus epic poetry [was at first] purely religious . . . Homer and Hesiod represent . . . the close of a long epoch.”

And that their poetry arose by differentiation from sacred poetry, is implied in his further remark that in Homer’s time, “the wars and adventures, and passions of men, had become the centre of interest among the poets.” This partially secularized poetry at a later date became further secularized, while it became further differentiated from music. The hymn of the primitive priest-poet was uttered to the accompaniment of his four-stringed lyre, in a voice more sonorous than ordinary speech—not in song, as we understand it, but in recitative; and, as Dr. Monro argues, a vague recitative—a recitative akin to the intoning of the liturgy [3-222] by our own priests, and to the exalted utterance spontaneously fallen into under religious excitement. [*] But in course of time, this quasi-musical utterance of hexameters was dropped by a certain derived secular class, the Rhapsodists. These, who recited at courts “the books [of Homer] separately, some one, some the other, at the feasts or public solemnities of the Greek cities,” and who themselves sometimes composed “dedicatory prologues or epilogues in honour of the deities with whose festivals such public performances were connected,” and became in so far themselves poets, were distinguished from the early poets by their non-musical speech.

“While the latter sang, solely or chiefly, his own compositions to the accompaniment of his lyre, the rhapsodist, bearing a laurel branch or wand as his badge of office, rehearsed, without musical accompaniment, the poems of others:” [sometimes, as above said, joined with his own.]

Thus there simultaneously arose a class of secular poets and a divergence of poetry from song.

A parallel genesis occurred among the Romans. Though its sequences were broken, its beginning was the same. Says Grimm—

“Poetry borders so closely on divination, the Roman vates is alike songster and soothsayer, and soothsaying was certainly a priestly function.”

Congruous with this is the statement that—


“Roman religion was a ceremonial for the priests, not for the people; and its poetry was merely formulæ in verse, and soared no higher than the semi-barbarous ejaculations of the Salian priests or the Arvolian brotherhood.”

The more elaborated forms of religious ceremony appear to have been imported from subjugated countries—the sacred games from Etruria, and other observances from Greece. Hence, the Romans being the conquerors, it seems to have resulted that the arts, and among others the art of poetry, brought with them by the captives, were for a long period lightly thought of by their captors. Having no commission from the gods, the professors of it were treated with contempt and their function entirely secularized. So that as Mommsen writes:—

“The poet or, as he was at this time called, the ‘writer,’ the actor, and the composer not only belonged still, as formerly, to the class of workers for hire in itself little esteemed, but were still, as formerly, placed in the most marked way under the ban of public opinion, and subjected to police maltreatment.”

With like implications in a later chapter he adds:—

“Among those who in this age came before the public as poets none, as we have already said, can be shown to have been persons of rank, and not only so, but none can be shown to have been natives of Latium proper.”

More coherent evidence concerning the differentiation of the poet from the priest is hardly to be expected where, instead of a continuous evolution of one society, we have an agglomeration of societies, in which the conquering society from the beginning incorporated other ideas and usages with its own.

§ 679. When, from Southern Europe of early days, we turn to Northern Europe, we meet, in Scandinavia, with evidence of a connexion between the primitive poet and the medicine-man. Speaking of the “diviners, both male and female, honoured with the name of prophets,” who were believed to have power to force the ghosts of the “dead to tell them what would happen,” Mallet says that “poetry [3-224] was often employed for the like absurd purposes:” these same “Skalds or bards” were supposed to achieve this end “by force of certain songs which they knew how to compose.” At the same time that these poets and musicians of the ancient northern nations invoked the spirits of the departed in verses which most likely lauded them, they “were considered as necessary appendages to royalty, and even the inferior chieftains had their poets.” The Celts had kindred functionaries, whose actions were evidently similar to those of the Greek priest-poets. Says Pelloutier, basing his statement on Strabo, Lucan, and others:—

“Les Bardes, qui faisoient [des] Hymnes, etoient Poëtes et Musiciens; ils composoient les paroles et l’air sur lequel on les chantoit.”

The use of the word “hymnes” apparently implying that their songs had something of a sacred character. That the connexion between poet and priest survived, or was reestablished, after paganism had been replaced by Christianity, there is good evidence. In the words of Mills—

“Every page of early European history attests the sacred consideration of the minstrel;” his peculiar dress “was fashioned like a sacerdotal robe.”

And Fauriel asserts that—

“Almost all the most celebrated troubadours died in the cloister and under the monk’s habit.”

But it seems a probable inference that after Christianity had subjugated paganism, the priest-poet of the pagans, who originally lauded now the living chief and now the deified chief, gradually ceased to have the latter function and became eventually the ruler’s laureate. We read that—

“A Joculator, or Bard, was an officer belonging to the court of William the Conqueror.”

“A poet seems to have been a stated officer in the royal retinue when the king went to war.”

And among ourselves such official laureateship still survives, or is but just dying.

While the eulogizer of the visible ruler thus became a court-functionary, the eulogizers of the invisible ruler—no [3-225] longer an indigenous deity but one of foreign origin—came to be his priests; and in that capacity praised him, sometimes in poetical, sometimes in oratorical, form. Throughout Christendom from early times down to ours, religious services have emphasized in various proportions the different attributes of the Deity—now chiefly his anger and revenge, now chiefly his goodness, love, and mercy; but they have united in ceaseless exaltation of his power; and the varieties of oral admiration, of invocation, of devotion, have been partly in prose and partly in verse. All along the Church-service has had for its subject-matter this or that part of the sacred history, and all along it has embodied its ideas and feelings in a semi-rhythmical liturgy, in hymns, in the orations which we call sermons: each of them having in one way or other the laudatory character. So that the Christian priest has throughout stood in substantially the same relation to the Being worshiped, as did the pagan priest, and has perpetually used kindred vehicles of expression.

While the Christian priest has been officially one who repeated the laudations already elaborated and established, he has also been to a considerable extent an originator, alike of orations and poems. Limiting ourselves to our own country, and passing over the ancient bards, some of doubtful authenticity, whose verses were in praise of living and dead pagan heroes, and coming to the poets of the new religion, we see that the first of them Cædmon, a convert who became inmate of a monastery, rendered in metrical form the story of creation and sundry other sacred stories—a variously elaborated eulogy of the deity. The next poet named is Aldhelm, a monk. The clerical Bede again, known mainly by other achievements, was a poet, too; as was likewise abbot Cynewulf. For a long time after, the men mentioned as writers of verse were ecclesiastics; as was Henry of Huntingdon, an archdeacon; Giraldus Cambrensis, bishop-elect; Layamon, priest; and Nicholas of Guildford. Not until [3-226] Edward III’s reign do we find mention of a secular song-writer—Minot; and then we come to our first great poet, Chaucer, who, whether or not “of Cambridge, clerk,” as is suspected, became court-poet and occupied himself mainly with secular poetry. After this the differentiation of the secular verse-writer from the sacred verse-writer became more marked, as we see in the case of Gower; but still, while the subject-matter of the poems became secularized, as with Langland and as with Barbour, the ecclesiastical connexion remained dominant. Lydgate was priest, orator and poet; Occleve, poet and civil servant; Henryson, schoolmaster and poet; Skelton, priest and poet laureate; Dunbar, friar and court poet; Douglas, bishop and secular poet; Barclay, priest and poet; and so on. It should be added that one of the functions of the clergyman has been the writing of laudatory hymns—hymns composed now by ordained ecclesiastics, now by dissenting ministers. These facts, joined with facts of recent times, make it clear that as in pagan societies, so in Christian societies, the priest-poet, appointed eulogizer of the deity he serves, is the first poet; and that the poets we distinguish as secular have gradually arisen by differentiation from him.

Along with the divergence of secular poets from sacred poets there have arisen divergences within the assemblage of secular poets themselves. There have come the mainly epic, as Milton; the didactic, as Pope; the satiric, as Butler; the descriptive, as Wordsworth; the comic, as Hood.

§ 680. From those official praisers of the hero or god whose laudations take the form of speech, non-rhythmical or rhythmical, we pass to those whose laudations take the form of mimetic actions—who express the triumphs of the deified ruler by imitations of his deeds. United as the two originally were, they diverge and develop along their respective lines.

Existing savages yield illustrations of the primitive union [3-227] of vocal laudation and mimetic laudation. Concerning the Point-Barrow Eskimo we read:—

“The most important festivals are apparently semi-religious in character, and partake strongly of the nature of dramatic representations. . . . . All festivals are accompanied by singing, drumming, and dancing.”

More detailed evidence is supplied by an official account of the Navajo Indians, from which here are relevant passages.

“Hasjelti Dailjis, in the Navajo tongue, signifies the dance of Hasjelti, who is the chief, or rather the most important and conspicuous, of the gods. The word dance does not well designate the ceremonies, as they are in general more histrionic than saltatory . . . The personation of the various gods and their attendants, and the acted drama of their mythical adventures and displayed powers, exhibit features of peculiar interest. . . . Yet from what is known of isolated and fragmentary parts of the dramatised myths, it is to be inferred that every one of the strictly regulated and prescribed actions has, or has had, a special significance, and it is obvious that they are all maintained with strict religious scrupulosity.”

And it is added that each of these observances “clearly offers a bribe or proposes the terms of a bargain to the divinities.”

Noting next the evidence furnished by Ancient India, we are led to infer that there, as elsewhere, the triumphal reception of a conqueror was the observance from which sprang the dramatic art along with the arts we have thus far contemplated. Weber writes—

“Next to the epic, as the second phase in the development of Sanskrit poetry, comes the Drama. The name for it is Nátaka, and the player is styled Nata, literally ‘dancer.’ Etymology thus points to the fact that the drama has developed out of dancing, which was probably accompanied, at first, with music and song only, but in course of time also with pantomimic representations, processions, and dialogue.”

And though himself offering another interpretation, he quotes Lassen to the effect that—

“The Indian drama, after having acquitted itself brilliantly in the most varied fields—notably too as a drama of civil life—finally reverted in its closing phases to essentially the same class of subjects with which it had started—to representations from the story of the gods.”


Greek history yields various facts of like meaning. In Sparta—

“The singing chorus danced around it [“the sacrifice . . . burning on the altar”] in the customary ring; whilst others represented the subject of the song by mimic gesture.”

That the Greek drama had a religious origin is shown by the fact that it continued always to have a religious character. Says Moulton, “the performance of every drama was regarded by the ancients as an act of worship to Dionysus.” And to the like effect is the statement of Mahaffy that “the old Greek went to the theatre to honour and serve his god.” The dramatic element of religious ceremonies was at first mingled with the other elements, as is implied by Grote, who speaks of the importance of the united religious celebrants—

“in the ancient world, and especially in the earlier periods of its career—the bards and rhapsodes for the epic, the singers for the lyric, the actors and singers jointly with the dancers for the chorus and drama. The lyric and dramatic poets taught with their own lips the delivery of their compositions.”

The process of differentiation by which the drama arose is well shown by the following extracts from Moulton:—

“Only one of these Ballad-Dances was destined to develop into drama. This was the Dithyramb, the dance used in the festival worship of the god Dionysus.”

“The ‘mysteries’ of ancient religion were mystic dramas in which the divine story was conveyed.”

“The Chorus started from the altar in the centre of the orchestra, and their evolutions took them to the right. This would constitute a Strophe, whereupon (as the word ‘Strophe’ implies) they turned round and in the Antistrophe worked their way back to the altar again.”

In lyric tragedy “the Chorus appear as Satyrs in honour of Dionysus, to whose glory the legend is a tribute; they maintain throughout the combination of chant, music, and dance.”

“The work of Thespis was to introduce an ‘Actor,’ separate altogether from the chorus.”

That along with differentiation of the drama from other [3-229] social products there went differentiation of the dramatist and the actor from other persons and from one another, may fairly be inferred however little able we may be to trace the process. Already by the above extract from Grote we are shown that a leading actor gave oral directions to subordinate actors; and in doing this he assumed to some extent the character of dramatist. Before the rise of a written literature no greater distinction could be made; but after written literature arose the dramatist proper became possible. Still, it is to be observed that in the productions of the great dramatic writers of Greece, the original relations continued to be shown. As Moulton remarks:—

“Tragedy never ceased to be a solemn religious and national festival, celebrated in a building which was regarded as the temple of Dionysus, whose altar was the most prominent object in the orchestra.”

And the subject-matter continued in late days as in early days to be, in chief measure, the doings of the gods. An illustration is furnished by Mahaffy, who says:—

“We hear in the days of the Ptolemies, about 250 bc, of a regular symphony performed at a Delphic feast, in which the contest of Apollo and the Python was represented in five movements with the aid of flutes (or rather clarinettes, αὐλοί), harps, and fifes, without singing or libretto.”

Clearly this incident, while mainly showing the development of instrumental music, shows also the kind of theme chosen. But when we come to the comedies of Aristophanes we see a secularization much further advanced.

Partly because, as pointed out above in following the genesis of the poet, so much of Roman civilization was not indigenous but foreign; and partly because Roman life, entirely militant, led to a contempt for all non-militant occupations (as happens everywhere); the rise of the dramatist in Rome was indefinite. Still we find indications akin to the foregoing. Duruy, in agreement with Guhl and Koner, writes that—

In 364 bc, during a pestilence, the Romans applied to the Etruscans who “replied that the gods would be satisfied if they were honoured [3-230] by scenic games, and, that the Romans might be able to celebrate these games, they sent them at the same time actors, who executed religious dances to the sound of the flute . . . the pestilence then ended.”

And he goes on to say that—

“Young Romans learned the dances introduced from Etruria, and marked the rhythm of them by songs, often improvised, which ended by being accompanied with action. Roman comedy was discovered.”

In Rome, as in Greece, an idea of sacredness long attached to the drama. “ ‘Varro’ says St. Augustine, ‘ranks theatrical things with things divine.’ ” This conception of sacredness, however, was congruous with their conceptions of the gods, and widely different from sacredness as understood by us.

“The subjects of the pantomime were taken from the myths of gods and heroes, the actor having to represent male and female characters by turns, while a choir, accompanied by flute-players, sang the corresponding canticum.”

“Sometimes mythological scenes were performed in the arena with cruel accuracy. Condemned criminals had to mount the pyre like Hercules, or to give their hand to the flames like Mucius Scævola, or to be crucified like Laureolus the robber; others were torn by bears, in imitation of the fate of Orpheus.”

Having usually been an alien and possessing no odour of sanctity derived from his traditional religious function,—

the actor “was ranked with slaves and barbarians . . . he generally was a slave or freedman, or a native of some country where his profession was more esteemed, such as the Greek colonies and the East generally.”

§ 680a. Little as one might have expected it, we find that the pagan genesis of the drama was paralleled by the Christian re-genesis of it in mediæval Europe. It commenced, as in India, Greece, and Rome, with representations of sacred subjects by priestly actors. Incidents in sacred history were dramatically repeated in edifices devoted to divine worship.

“The circumstance that the ritual was carried on in Latin naturally led to its being supplemented on particular occasions with sacred scenes or lessons acted to the ignorant. Thus the raison d’être of the Mysteries [3-231] and Miracle plays was to act stories from Scripture or the lives of Saints, or embodying central doctrines such as the incarnation, for the benefit of a populace unable to read for themselves.”

But there are confused evidences and conflicting opinions respecting dramatic representations in early Christian days: secular and sacred origins appearing to be mingled. We read that “sometimes, when a sufficient number of clerical actors were not to be procured, the churchwardens . . . caused the plays to be acted by the secular players.” And in the same work we also read that “complaint [to Richard II] is made against the secular actors, because they took upon themselves to act plays composed from the scripture history, to the great prejudice of the clergy.” But in another passage the writer, Strutt, says that these acted mysteries “differed greatly from the secular plays and interludes which were acted by strolling companies, composed of minstrels, jugglers, tumblers, dancers, bourdours or jesters . . . these pastimes are of higher antiquity than the ecclesiastical plays.” Not improbably such companies may have survived from pagan times, in which their representations formed parts of the pagan worship: losing their original meanings, as did the songs of the minstrels. This view seems congruous with the opinion that the secular drama did not directly descend from the mystery-plays, but that, influenced by the familiarity of its writers both with mystery-plays and with the popular exhibitions, it took its definite form mainly by suggestion of the classic drama: a supposition favoured by the fact that in various Elizabethan plays a chorus is introduced. Be this as it may, however, the general implication remains the same. There arose in Christendom, as in Greece, a sacred drama performed by priests and representing incidents in the lives of Christ and of the saints; and if our secular drama did not directly descend from this Christian religious drama, then it indirectly descended from the original pagan religious drama.

Along with the rise of the secular drama have arisen [3-232] minor differentiations. The separation between actor and dramatist, though still not complete, has become greater: most dramatic authors are not actors. And then the dramatic authors are now distinguished into those known as producers chiefly of tragedy, comedy, melodrama, farce, burlesque.

§ 681. We meet here with no exception to the general law that segregation and consolidation are parts of the evolutionary process. Beginning with Greece we trace the tendency even among the poets. Curtius remarks that “poetry, like the other arts, was first cultivated in circles limited after the fashion of guilds.” And the religious character of these guilds is shown by the further statement that “schools of poets came to form themselves which were . . . intimately connected with the sanctuary.” Naturally the process readily took place with those occupied in combined representations; for they, as a matter of necessity, existed as companies. But there early arose more definite unions among them. Mahaffy says, concerning the Greeks, that—

“Inscriptions reveal to us the existence of guilds of professionals who went about Greece to these local feasts, and performed for very high pay.”

And he further states that—

The actors’ “corporation included a priest (of Dionysus) at the head, who still remained a performer; a treasurer; dramatic poets of new tragedies and comedies and odes; principal actors of both tragedy and comedy . . . and musicians and singers of various kinds.”

From Rome, for reasons already indicated, we do not get much evidence. Still there is some.

The authorities, out of regard for the Greek Andronikos, “conceded to the guild of poets and actors a place for their common worship in the temple of Minerva on the Aventine.”

Nor do modern days fail to furnish a few, though not many, illustrations of the integrating tendency. A slight organization is given by the Actors’ Benevolent Fund. The dramatic writers have an agency for collecting the amounts [3-233] due to them for the performance of their pieces, and are to that extent combined. And then we have a special newspaper, The Era, which forms a medium for communication, by advertisements, between all kinds of stage-performers and those who wish to engage them, as well as an organ for representing the interests of the stage and the semi-dramatic music-hall.

[After the above chapter was written my attention was drawn to a passage in the late Prof. Henry Morley’s work, A First Sketch of English Literature (p. 209), which in short space yields verification for several of the leading propositions contained in it and in the preceding chapter.

“Our English ballads are akin to those which also among the Scandinavians became a familiar social amusement of the people. They were recited by one of a company with animation and with varying expression, while the rest kept time, often with joined hands forming a circle, advancing, retiring, balancing, sometimes remaining still, and, by various movements and gestures, followed changes of emotion in the story. Not only in Spain did the people keep time by dance movement to the measure of the ballad, for even to this day one may see, in the Faroe Islands, how winter evenings of the North were cheered with ballad recitations, during which, according to the old northern fashion, gestures and movements of the listeners expressed emotions of the story as the people danced to their old ballads and songs.”

Here, then, as in the Hebrew triumphal reception of the living hero, and the Greek worship of the apotheosized hero, we see a union of music and the dance, and with them a union of rhythmical speech with some dramatic representation of the incidents described, and of the emotions caused by the description. We see that everywhere there has tended to bud out afresh the combined manifestations of exalted feeling from which these various arts originate. Another fact is forced upon our attention. We are shown that in all cases, while there arises some one of a group who becomes singer or reciter, the rest assume the character of chorus. This segregation, which characterized the religious [3-234] worship of the Greeks and characterized also their dramatic representations, is not only displayed in later times by the cathedral choir, which shares the service with the solo-singers, and by the operatic chorus which does the like on the stage, but is also displayed by the choral accompanists described in the above passage, and even now survives among us as the chorus which habitually winds up each verse of a convivial song in a public house.

The essential fact, however, which is lacking in the description above quoted from Prof. Morley, and which is not indeed implied by the observances he describes when taken by themselves, is that these ballad-recitations were originally religious laudations, and that the reciter of them was in primitive times the priest-poet. Comparison of this account given by him with accounts above given both of the still extant religious ceremonies performed by North American Indians and those recorded as having been performed among the Greeks, make it clear that the religious meaning has lapsed and that the prototype of the recited ballad was a hymn sung by a priest in praise of some apotheosized hero: the loss of the religious character being, as before suggested, probably a result of the conquest of Christianity over paganism.]





§ 682. How, in their rudimentary forms, the several arts which express feelings and thoughts by actions, sounds, and words, as well as the professors of such arts, originated together in a mingled state, we have seen in the last two chapters. Continuing the analysis, we have now to observe how there simultaneously arose, in the same undifferentiated germ, the rudiments of certain other products, and of those devoted to the production of them. The primitive orator, poet, and musician, was at the same time the primitive biographer, historian, and man of letters. The hero’s deeds constituted the common subject-matter; and, taking this or that form, the celebration of them became, now the oration, now the song, now the recited poem, now that personal history which constitutes a biography, now that larger history which associates the doings of one with the doings of many, and now that variously developed comment on men’s doings and the course of things which constitutes literature.

Before setting out to observe the facts which illustrate afresh this simultaneous genesis, let us note that in the nature of things there could not be any other root for these diverse growths; and that this root is deeply implanted in human nature. If we go back to a group of savages sitting round a camp-fire, and ask what of necessity are their ordinary subjects of conversation, we find that there is nothing for them to talk about save their own doings and the doings [3-236] of others in war and the chase. Though they have surrounding Nature and its changes, sometimes striking, to describe and comment upon, yet even these are usually of interest only as affecting men and influencing their lives. Human actions are the perennially interesting things; and obviously, among human actions, those certain to be most discussed are those which diverge most from the ordinary—the victories of the courageous man, the feats of the strong man, the manœuvres of the cunning man. Thus in the first stages, merely from lack of other exciting matter, there goes, after the narratives of individual successes in the day’s hunt or the day’s fight, a frequent return to the always-interesting account of the great chief’s exploits, his ordinary doings, his strong sayings. Gradually the description and laudation of his achievements grow into a more or less coherent narrative of his life’s incidents—an incipient biography. As a reason, too, why biography of this simple kind becomes an early mental product, let us note that it is the simplest—the easiest both to speaker and hearer. To tell of deeds and dangers and escapes requires the smallest intellectual power; and the things told are, fully or partially, comprehensible by the lowest intelligence. Every child proves this. The frequent request for a story shows at once the innate liking for accounts of adventures, and the small tax on the mind involved by conceptions of adventures. And it needs but to note how the village crone, mentally feeble as she may be, is nevertheless full of tales about the squire and his family, to see that mere narrative biography (I do not speak of analytical biography) requires no appreciable effort of thought, and for this second reason early takes shape.

Of course, as above said, biography of a coherent kind, arising among peoples who have evolved permanent chiefs and kings, grows gradually out of accounts of those special incidents in their lives which the priest-poets celebrate. Let us gather together a few facts illustrative of this development.


§ 683. Its earlier stages, occurring as they do before written records exist, cannot be definitely traced—can only be inferred from the fragmentary evidence furnished by those uncivilized men who have made some progress. The wild tribes of the Indian hills yield a few examples. Says Malcolm, “The Bhat is both the bard and chronicler of the Bhills.” He also states that according to native historians certain lands of the Bhils were taken by the Rajpoots, and that—

“Almost all the revered Bhats, or minstrels, of the tribe, still reside in Rajpootana, whence they make annual, biennial, and some only triennial visits to the Southern tribes, to register remarkable events in families, particularly those connected with their marriages, and to sing to the delighted Bheels the tale of their origin, and the fame of their forefathers.”

So, too, concerning another tribe we read, in Hislop:—

“The Pádál, also named Páthádi, Pardhán, and Desái, is a numerous class found in the same localities as the Ráj Gonds, to whom its members act as religious counsellors (Pradhána). They are, in fact, the bhats of the upper classes,—repeating their genealogies and the exploits of their ancestors.”

Here, then, the priest is the narrator and his narrative is biographico-historical. It consists of leading facts in the lives of persons, and these are so joined with accounts of tribal deeds as to form a rudimentary history.

In Africa where, for reasons before named, loyalty to the living ruler has not usually given origin to worship of the dead ruler, we meet with only the first stage in the development.

The king of the Zulus has “men who perform the part of heralds in the dances, and who now, at every convenient opportunity, recounted the various acts and deeds of their august monarch in a string of unbroken sentences.”

In Dahomey, too, the union is between the courtier and the historian. In that kingdom, where women play so dominant a part, there are, as we have seen, female laureates; and “these troubadours are the keepers of the records of the [3-238] kingdom of Dahomey, and the office, which is hereditary, is a lucrative one.”

From Abyssinia we get an illustration of the way in which the united germs of biography and history make their appearance during burials of notables.

“Professional singing women frequently attend the funeral meetings of great people . . . Each person in wailing takes it by turn to improvise some verses in praise of the deceased . . . The professional singers will give minute details of the history of his ancestry, his deeds, character, and even his property.”

When the deceased person is a conquering monarch, this funeral laudation by professionals, the first step in apotheosis, begins a worship in which there are united that account of his life which constitutes a biography and that account of his deeds which forms the nucleus of primitive history.

From the accounts of ancient American civilizations, facts of kindred meaning come to us. Here is a passage from Bancroft concerning the Aztecs:—

“The preparation and guardianship of records of the higher class, such as historical annals and ecclesiastical mysteries, were under the control of the highest ranks of the priesthood.”

Again we read:—

At this assembly the ‘Book of God’ was prepared. “In its pages were inscribed the Nahua annals from the time of the Deluge . . . religious rites, governmental system, laws and social customs; their knowledge respecting agriculture and all the arts and sciences.”

It is instructive to observe how in this sacred book, as in other sacred books, religion, history, and biography were mingled with secular customs and knowledge.

§ 684. Early civilized societies have bequeathed similar proofs. The biographico-historical nature of the Hebrew scriptures is conspicuous. As in other cases, incidents in the life of the national deity form its first subject-matter—how God created various things on successive days and rested on the seventh day. Accounts of his personal doings characterize the next books, and are combined with accounts [3-239] of the doings of Adam and the patriarchs—biographical accounts. In what we are told of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we see biography dominant and history unobtrusive. But with the transition from a nomadic to a settled life, and the growth of a nation, the historical element comes to the front. Doubtless for a long time the genealogies and the leading events were matters of common traditional knowledge; though we may fairly assume that the priest-class or cultured class were those who especially preserved such knowledge. Later times give some evidence of the connexion, as instance these sentences from Kuenen and Neubauer.

“In the eighth century bc the prophet of Jahveh has become a writer.”

“Upon their return from Babylon, Esdras, called ‘the skilled scribe,’ made disciples who were called sopherim, ‘scribes,’ and whose business it was to multiply the copies of the Pentateuch and to interpret it. ‘Scribe’ and ‘scholar’ in those days were synonymous.”

A few relevant facts are afforded by the ancient books of India. Describing some of their contents Weber says:—

History “can only fittingly be considered as a branch of poetry . . . not merely on account of its form . . . but on account of its subject-matter as well.”

Kalhana, who wrote a history of Kashmir, in 12th cent. ad was “more poet than historian.”

“In some princely houses, family records, kept by the domestic priests, appear to have been preserved.”

From ancient Egyptian inscriptions come various evidences of these relationships. How naturally the biographico-historical element of literature grows out of primitive worship we see in the fact—allied to a fact above named concerning the Abyssinians,—that in an Egyptian tomb there was given in the ante-room an account of the occupant’s life; and, naturally, that which was done on a small scale with the undistinguished man was done on a large scale with the distinguished man. We read in Brugsch that—

The royal gods of the Egyptians, who “are referred to as kings,” [3-240] “have their individual history, which the holy scribes wrote down in the books of the temples.”

Here are kindred passages from Bunsen and Duncker:—

Diodorus (i, 44) says “ ‘the priests had in their sacred books, transmitted from the olden time, and handed down by them to their successors in office, written descriptions of all their kings . . . In these an account is given of every king—of his physical powers and disposition, and of the exploits of each in the order of time.’ ”

A priest daily “read to the king the apothegms and achievements of distinguished men . . . out of the sacred books. We know that poems of considerable extent on historical subjects were in existence.”

Thus it is clear that in Egypt the priests were at once the biographers and historians.

Preceding chapters have indirectly shown the primitive connexions between religion, biography, and history among the Greeks. The laudation of a god’s deeds, now lyrical now epical, rhythmically uttered by his priests, involved with the sacred element both these secular elements. But a few more specific facts may be added.

“The history of the Greek families and states came to be systematically represented in a manner edifying according to the sense of the religion of Apollo, and dictated by theocratic interests.”

“In and near the sanctuaries the most ancient traditions were preserved.”

“A list was kept of the priestesses at Argos, and, on account of their priestly dignity, also of the kings of Sparta . . . and thus arose historical archives.”

And then, after the secularization of rhythmical speeches or songs, first uttered in honour of the gods, the biographico-historical character of their subject-matters is retained and developed. In hexameters, first employed by the Delphic priests, Homer, in the Iliad recites a story which, mainly historical, is in part biographical—the wrath of Achilles being its most pronounced motive. And then in the Odyssey, we have a narrative which is almost wholly biographical. But though mainly secularized, these epics have not wholly lost the primitive sacred character; since the gods are represented as playing active parts.


As before said, Roman society, so heterogeneous in its composition, had its lines of normal evolution broken by intruding influences. But still we trace some connexion between the priest and the historian. According to Duruy and others—

“The pontiffs were concerned in keeping up the memory of events as accurately as possible. Thus the Romans had the Annals of the Pontiffs, or Annales Maximi, the Fasti Magistratuum, the Fasti Triumphales, the rolls of the censors, etc.”

“Every year the chief pontiff inscribed on a white tablet, at the head of which were the names of the consuls and other magistrates, a daily record of all memorable events both at home and abroad. These commentaries or registers were afterwards collected into eighty books which were entitled by their authors Annales Maximi.

Further, by its associations, the body of fetiales was apparently shown to have had some sacerdotal character.

“By the side of these two oldest and most eminent corporations of men versed in spiritual lore [augures and pontifices] may be to some extent ranked the college of the twenty state-heralds (fetiales, of uncertain derivation), destined as a living repository to preserve traditionally the remembrance of the treaties concluded with neighbouring communities.”

If, as is alleged, Romulus was regarded by the Romans as one of their great gods, honoured by a temple and a sacrificing priest, it seems inferable that the story of his deeds which, mythical as it may have chiefly been, had probably some nucleus of fact, was from time to time repeated in the laudations of his priest; and that the speech or hymn uttered by his priest at festivals, had, like the kindred ones which Greek priests uttered, a biographico-historical character.

Though but indirectly relevant to the immediate issue, it is worth while adding that the earliest Roman historian, Ennius, was also an epic poet—“the Homer of Latium,” as he called himself. The versified character of early history exemplified in his writings, as also we shall presently see in later writings, is, of course, congruous with that still earlier union of the two, which was seen in the laudatory narratives of the primitive priest-poet.


§ 685. Of evidences furnished by Northern Europe, we meet first with those coming from the pre-Christian world. Though the stories of the Teutonic epic, The Nibelungen, were gathered together in Christian times, yet they manifestly belonged to pagan times; and we may fairly assume were originally recited, as among other European peoples, by attendants of the great—courtiers while these lived, priest-poets after they died. But for a long time after Christianity had been victorious, the Christian narrative alone, in which, as in other primitive narratives, biography and history are united, furnished the only subject-matter for literature, and priests were its vehicles.

“From the fourth to the eighth century, there is no longer any profane literature; sacred literature stands alone; priests only study or write; and they only study, they only write, save some rare exceptions, upon religious subjects.”

So, also, the 57 authors named by Guizot as belonging to the 9th and 10th centuries (of whom only four were laymen), were doubtless similarly occupied.

Nevertheless, while the ordinary biographico-historical matter which priests devoted themselves to was that which their creed presented or suggested, there appear to have been, after the 8th century, some cases in which such matter furnished by other than Christian traditions, occupied them; as in the Rolandslied and Alexanderslied, written in the 12th century by the priests Konrad and Lamprecht.

For the rest it will suffice if we take the case of our own country. Chronicles and histories “were mostly compiled in the monasteries.” Taking the illustrations in order, we come first to Bede, who was monk and historian; Cynewulf, abbot and writer of history; Gildas, monk and chronicler; Asser, bishop and biographer. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle was a year-book of events recorded by monks from the 9th to the 12th century. After the Conquest the chief authors were still ecclesiastics, and their works were usually chronicles or lives of saints. Among them were Marianus [3-243] Scotus, Florence of Worcester, Eadmer, Ordericus Vitalis, William of Malmsbury, Wace, Henry of Huntingdon, Fitzstephen, Thomas of Ely, and so on through subsequent reigns, in which the relationship continues for a long time to be marked, but during which the rise of secular competitors in the sphere of literature becomes gradually manifest.

Even without specification of such facts we might safely infer that since, during mediæval days, there was scarcely any culture save that of ecclesiastics, the writing of biography and history was, by the necessities of the case, limited to them.

§ 686. That fiction has developed out of biography scarcely needs proof. Unless a biographer is accurate, which even modern biographers rarely are and which ancient biographers certainly were not, it inevitably happens that there is more or less of fancy mingled with his fact. The same tendencies which in early times developed anecdotes of chiefs into mythological stories of them as gods, operated universally, and necessarily produced in narratives of men’s lives exaggerations which greatly distorted them. If we remember the disputes among the Greeks respecting the birthplaces of poets and philosophers we see how reckless were men’s statements and how largely the actual was perverted by the imaginary. So, too, on coming down to Christian times it needs but to name the miracles described in the lives of the saints to have abundant proof of such vitiations. As in our own days the repeater of an anecdote, or circulator of a scandal, is tempted to make his or her story interesting by making much of the striking points; so, still more in early days, when truth was less valued than now, were stories step by step perverted as they passed from mouth to mouth.

Of course the narrator who gave the most picturesque version of an adventure or achievement was preferred by listeners; and, of course, ever tempted to increase the imaginary [3-244] additions, passed insensibly into a maker of tales. Even children, at first anxious to know whether the stories told them are true, by and by become ready to accept untrue stories; and then some of them, thus taught by example, invent wonderful tales to interest their companions. With the uncivilized or semi-civilized a like genesis naturally occurs among adults. Hence the established class of storytellers in the East—authors of oral fictions. And how gradually by this process fiction is differentiated from biography, is shown by the fact that at first these stories which, as exaggerations of actual incidents, are partially believed in by the narrators, are wholly believed in by the listeners. In his Two Years Residence in a Levantine Family Mr. Bayle St. John tells us that when The Arabian Nights were being read aloud, and when he warned those around that they must not suppose the narratives to be true, they insisted on believing them: asking—Why should a man sit down to write lies? So that after fiction comes into existence it is still classed as biography—is not distinguished from it as among civilized nations.

The early history of these civilized nations shows that in the genesis of imaginary biography the priesthood at first took some part. In Stephen’s time Wace, a reading clerk, was also a romance writer. So, too, we have Archdeacon Walter Map, who wrote religious and secular romances; and there are subsequently named romances which probably had clerical authors though there is no proof. But the general aspect of the facts appears to show that after that time in England, the telling of tales of imagination became secularized.

Meanwhile derivative forms of literature were showing themselves, mostly, however, having a biographical element. After the Conquest Sæwulf, who, becoming a monk, wrote his travels, gives us a deviation into an autobiographical, as well as a geographical, form of literature. Then in Richard I’s reign we have Nigel Wireker, a monastic who wrote [3-245] a satire on the monks, as did also the Archdeacon Walter Map, in addition to his volume of anecdotes. Under Richard I there was Geoffrey de Vinsauf, an ecclesiastic who was also a critic of poetry, and under King John Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote topography. In the reign of Henry III came the monk Mathew Paris, who, in denouncing pope and king, wove biographical matter into a satire. In subsequent reigns Wiclif, John Trevisa, and others, added the function of translator to their literary functions; and some, as Bromyard and Lydgate, entered upon various subjects—law, morals, theology, rhetoric. Here it is needless to accumulate details. It is enough for us to recognize the ways in which in early days the priest took the lead as man of letters.

Of course along with the secularization of biography, history, and literature at large, men of letters have become more diversified in their kinds. History, at first predominantly biographical, has divided itself. There is the unphilosophical kind, such as that written by Carlyle, who thought the doings of great men the only subject-matter worth dealing with, and there is the philosophical kind, which more and more expands history into an account of national development: Green’s Short History being an example. Then biography, besides dividing into that kind which is written by the man himself and that kind which is written by another, has assumed unlike natures—the nature which is purely narrative, and that which is in large measure analytical or reflective. And besides the various classes of writers of fiction, laying their scenes among different ranks and dealing with them in different ways—now descriptive, now sentimental, now satirical—we have a variety of essayists—didactic, humorous, critical, &c.

§ 687. There is little to add respecting the special unions which have accompanied these general separations. Men of letters, taken as a whole, have only in recent times tended [3-246] to unite into corporate bodies. The reasons are not difficult to find.

Carried on chiefly in monasteries or by endowed ecclesiastics, the writing of books in early days had not become an occupation pursued for the purpose of gaining a livelihood. Even after the invention of printing there was for a long time no public large enough to make literature a bread-winning profession; and when, at length, books were written to get money, miserable lives resulted: such rewards as could be obtained being chiefly obtained through the patronage of the wealthy. Indeed, it is curious to see how the modern man of letters for a long time continued to stand in the same relative position as did the minstrel of old. He was a hanger-on either of the king or of the great noble, and had to compose, if not in verse then in prose, fulsome laudations of his patron. Only in recent days has he been emancipated, and only by the extension of the book-buying public has it been made possible for any considerable number of writers to make tolerable incomes. Hence, until lately, men of letters have not been sufficiently numerous to make professional union feasible.

Remembering that in France the Academy has long existed as a literary corporation, we may note that in England our generation has witnessed movements towards integration. Forty odd years ago an effort was made to establish a Guild of Literature and Art, which, however, did not succeed. But we have now a Society of Authors, as well as a special periodical giving voice to authors’ interests; and we have sundry literary journals which, at the same time that they are organs for criticism, bring the body of authors into relation with the general public.





§ 688. Clear as are the connexions between the priesthood and the several professions thus far treated of, the connexion between it and the professions which has enlightenment as their function is even clearer. Antagonistic as the offspring now are to the parent they were originally nurtured by it.

We saw that the medicine-man, ever striving to maintain and increase his influence over those around, is stimulated more than others to obtain such knowledge of natural phenomena as may aid him in his efforts.

Moreover, when seeking to propitiate the supernatural beings he believes in, he is led to think about their characters and their doings. He speculates as to the causes of the striking things he observes in the Heavens and on the Earth; and whether he regards these causes as personal or impersonal, the subject-matter of his thought is the subject-matter which, in later times, is distinguished as philosophical—the relations between that which we perceive and that which lies beyond perception.

As was said at the outset, a further reason why he becomes distinguished from men around by his wider information and deeper insight is that he is, as compared with them, a man of leisure. From the beginning he lives on the contributions of others; and therefore he is better able to devote himself to those observations and inquiries out of which science originates.


§ 689. Save some knowledge of medicinal herbs and special animal products, with perhaps a little information about minerals, often joined with such observations of weather-signs as enable them to foresee coming changes, and so, apparently, to bring rain or sunshine, there is little to be named as rudimentary science among the medicine-men, or quasi-priests, of savages. Only when there has arisen that settled life which yields facilities for investigation and for transmitting the knowledge gained, can we expect priests to display a character approaching to the scientific. Hence we may pass at once to early civilizations.

Evidence from the books of Ancient India may first be set down. Demonstration is yielded by it that science was originally a part of religion. Both astronomy and medicine, says Weber, “received their first impulse from the exigencies of religious worship.” More specific, as well as wider, is the following statement of Dr. Thibaut:—

“The want of some norm by which to fix the right time for the sacrifices, gave the first impulse to astronomical observations; urged by this want, the priests remained watching night after night the advance of the moon . . . and day after day the alternate progress of the sun towards the north and the south. The laws of phonetics were investigated, because the wrath of the gods followed the wrong pronunciation of a single letter of the sacrificial formulas; grammar and etymology had the task of securing the right understanding of the holy texts.”

Further, according to Dutt, “geometry was developed in India from the rules for the construction of altars.” A sentence from the same writer implies that there presently arose a differentiation of the learned class from the ceremonial class.

“Astronomy had now come to be regarded as a distinct science, and astronomers by profession were called Nakshatra Darsa and Ganaka . . . sacrificial rites were regulated by the position of the moon in reference to these lunar asterisms.”

So, too, we have proof that philosophy, originally forming a part of the indefinite body of knowledge possessed by the [3-249] priesthood, eventually developed independently. Hunter writes:—

“The Bráhmans, therefore, treated philosophy as a branch of religion . . . Bráhman philosophy exhausted the possible solutions . . . of most of the other great problems which have since perplexed Greek and Roman sage, mediæval schoolman, and modern man of science.”

And in this, as in other cases, the speculative and critical activity presently led to rationalism. There came “a time when philosophers and laymen were alike drifting towards agnostic and heterodox opinions.”

Concerning the relations of science to theology among the Babylonians and Assyrians, current statements almost suffice for the purposes of the argument. A few facts in illustration must, however, be given. All the astronomical knowledge of the Babylonians had as its ends the regulation of religious worship, the preparation of charms, the prediction of events. Here are extracts from Rawlinson, Layard, and Maury showing how religion and science were mingled.

“We are . . . perhaps, justified in concluding, from the careful emplacement of Urukh’s temples, that the science of astronomy was already cultivated in his reign, and was regarded as having a certain connexion with religion.”

“At a very early period the Assyrian priests were able to fix the date of events by celestial phenomena, and to connect the public records with them.”

The familiar fact that the cycle of lunar eclipses was discovered by the Chaldean priests, shows how exact and how long-continued were their observations.

“Comparative philology seems to have been largely studied, and the works upon it exhibit great care and diligence. Chronology is evidently much valued, and very exact records are kept whereby the lapse of time can even now be accurately measured. Geography and history have each an important place in Assyrian learning; while astronomy and mythology occupy at least as great a share of attention.”

The Chaldeans formed “une caste sacerdotale et savante qui se consacra à l’observation du ciel, en vue de pénétrer davantage dans la connaissance des dieux. . . . De la sorte, les temples devinrent de [3-250] véritables observatoires: telle était la célèbre tour de Babylone, monument consacré aux sept planètes.”

Of testimonies concerning science in Egypt, we may fitly begin with one from Maspero, which contrasts Egyptian views with the views of the Assyrians.

“In Egypt the majority of the books relating to science are sacred works composed and revealed by the gods themselves. The Assyrians do not attribute such a lofty origin to the works which teach them the courses and explain the influences of the stars: they believe them to have been written by learned men, who lived at different epochs, and who acquired their knowledge from direct observation of the heavens.”

Basing his account on the statements of various ancient writers, Sir G. C. Lewis says of the Egyptian priesthood that—

“they were relieved from toil, and had leisure for scientific study and meditation; and that from a remote period they habitually observed the stars, recording their observations, and cultivated scientific astronomy and geometry. The Egyptian priests are moreover related to have kept registers, in which they entered notices of remarkable natural phenomena.

(Strab. xvii, 1. § 5.)”

Similar is the description of the actions and achievements of the Egyptian priests given by Diodorus:—

They “are diligent observers of the course and motions of the stars; and preserve remarks of every one of them for an incredible number of years, being used to this study, and to endeavour to outvie one another therein, from the most ancient times. They have with great cost and care, observed the motions of the planets; their periodical motions, and their stated stops.”

How intimate was the connexion between their science and their religion is proved by the fact that “in every temple there was . . . an astronomer, who had to observe the heavens;” and how their science was an outgrowth of their religion is shown by the remark of Duncker, that their writings, at first containing traditional invocations of the gods and ceremonial rules, “grew into a liturgical canon and ecclesiastical codex of religious and moral law, and a comprehensive collection of all the wisdom known to the priests.” But, as is remarked by Bunsen, “the Egyptians [3-251] never arrived at a systematic dialectically conducted philosophy”—a fact of much significance; for I may remark in passing that among oriental peoples at large, and other peoples long habituated to despotic control, thinking and teaching are entirely dogmatic: absolute authority characterizes at once external government and internal government. It is only on passing to partially-free societies that we meet with appeals to individual judgments—a giving of reasons for beliefs.

Apparently because Greece was a congeries of independent states often at variance with one another, and because these states had their respective religious worships akin but not identical, there never arose in Greece a priestly hierarchy; and apparently the lack of one impeded some of the professional developments. Partly, perhaps, for this reason, but chiefly for the reason that scientific progress in Egypt and Assyria preceded Greek civilization, science in a slightly developed state was imported. Sir G. C. Lewis repeats the testimonies of sundry ancient authors to the effect that the Egyptian priests—

“regarded their astronomical science as an esoteric and mysterious doctrine, and that they disclosed it to curious strangers with reluctance (Strab., xvii, 1. § 29). . . . Similar statements are made with respect to Assyrian astronomy (Plat. Epinom. § 7, p. 987). This derivation does not rest merely on general declarations, but it is fortified by detailed accounts of visits of Greek philosophers to Egypt, to Assyria, and to other oriental countries, made for the purpose of profiting by the lessons of the native priests and sages.” Thus Thales, Pherecydes of Syros, Pythagoras, Democritus, Œnopides of Chios, Eudoxus, Solon, Anaxagoras, Plato are said to have visited Egypt, and to have received instruction from the priests.

And from his work may be added this further passage:—“Aristotle . . . says that mathematical science originated in Egypt, on account of the leisure which the priests enjoyed for contemplation.” Respecting which statement may be interposed the remark that whether the name “geometry” was a translation of the Egyptian equivalent word [3-252] or was independently originated, we equally see, in the first place, that this concrete half of mathematics germinated from the practical needs for measuring out the Earth’s surface, and we see, in the second place, that since temples (which served also as king’s palaces) were in early times the sole permanent and finished buildings (the rest being of wood or of sun-dried clay) it is inferable that this great division of science, first employed in the orientation and laying out of them, took its earliest steps in the service of religion. Returning now from this parenthesis to the subject of Greek science, we find that development of it can be but in very small measure ascribed to the priesthood. From Curtius we learn that “the localities of the oracles became places where knowledge of various kinds was collected, such as could not be met with elsewhere,” and that “the Greek calendar fell under the superintendence of Delphi,” and also that “the art of road-making and of building bridges . . . took its first origin from the national sanctuaries, especially from those of Apollo:” some culture of science being thus implied. But, practically, the scientific advances made by the Greeks were not of sacred but of secular origin. So, too, was it with their philosophy. Though Mahaffy thinks “we have no reason to doubt the fact that philosophers were called in professionally to minister in cases of grief,” and though in ministering they assumed a function characteristic of priests, yet we cannot assume that they acted in a religious capacity. Evidently in the main their speculations took their departure not from theological dogmas but from the facts which scientific observation had elsewhere established. Before there was time for an indigenous development of science and philosophy out of priestly culture, there was an intrusion of that science and philosophy which priestly culture had developed elsewhere.

The normal course of evolution having been in Rome, still more than in Greece, interrupted by intruding elements, an unbroken genealogy of science and philosophy is still [3-253] less to be looked for. But it seems as though the naturalness of the connexion between priestly culture and scientific knowledge led to a re-genesis of it. Mommsen, after stating that there were originally only two “colleges of sacred lore”—the augurs and the pontifices, says:—

“The six ‘bridge-builders’ (pontifices) derived their name from their function, as sacred as it was politically important, of conducting the building and demolition of the bridge over the Tiber. They were the Roman engineers, who understood the mystery of measures and numbers; whence there devolved upon them also the duty of managing the calendar of the state, of proclaiming to the people the time of new and full moon and the days of festivals, and of seeing that every religious and every judicial act took place on the right day . . . Thus they acquired . . . the general oversight of Roman worship and of whatever was connected with it—and what was there that was not so connected? . . . In fact the rudiments of spiritual and temporal jurisprudence as well as of historical recording proceeded from this college.”

A curious parallel, not unsuggestive, is thus displayed. As in Greece the art of bridge-building arose in connexion with the national sanctuaries, and as in Rome the building of bridges was the function of a priestly college, the implication appears to be that since in those days building a bridge was one of the most difficult of undertakings, it naturally fell into the hands of those who were reputed to have the greatest knowledge and skill—the priests. And, probably, the connexion between the priesthood and this piece of applied science was furthered by the apparent supernaturalness of the arch—a structure which must have seemed to the people incomprehensible. But alike in science and in philosophy, the Romans were the pupils of the Greeks; and hence possibly may have arisen the parallelism between a certain function of the philosopher in Greece and one he exercised in Rome.

The philosopher “was generally to be found in a large mansion, acting almost like a private chaplain, instructing in ethics those who wished to learn, and attending the death-beds of members of the family.”


Most likely, the ethics and the consolations here indicated were more or less tinged with ideas theologically derived; but even if not, the function described appears semi-priestly.

§ 690. During those dark days which followed the fall of the Roman Empire, nothing to be called science existed. But when, along with gradual reorganization, the re-genesis of science began, it began as in earlier instances among the cultured men—the priesthood. It was not, indeed, a re-genesis de novo, but one which took its departure from the knowledge, the ideas, and the methods, bequeathed by the older civilizations. From these, long buried, it was resuscitated, almost exclusively in the monasteries. In his Science and Literature in the Middle Ages Lacroix writes:—

“At the death of Charlemagne, the exact sciences, which had flourished for a brief space at his court, seemed to shrink into the seclusion of the monasteries. . . . The Order of St. Benedict had almost made a monopoly of the exact sciences, which were held in high honour at the Abbeys of Mount Cassini, in Italy; of St. Martin, at Tours (France); of St. Arnulph, at Metz; of St. Gall, in Switzerland; of Prum, in Bavaria; of Canterbury, in England, &c.”

A significant parallelism has here to be noted. We saw that in India, in Assyria, and in Egypt, the earliest steps in science were made in subservience to religious needs: their primary purpose was to regulate the times of religious sacrifices so as to avoid offence to the gods. And now, strange to say, mediæval records show that among Christian peoples science was first called in for fixing the date of Easter.

How on the Continent was illustrated the monopoly of science and philosophy by the priesthood in early days, scarcely needs pointing out. Such philosophical dogmas as were current during the ages of darkness were supplementary to the current theological dogmas and in subordination to them. When, in the time of Charlemagne, some intellectual life began, it was initiated by the establishment of schools in connexion with all abbeys throughout his dominions. These schools, carried on under priestly rule, [3-255] eventually became the centres at once of philosophy and science: the philosophy distinguished as scholasticism being of such kind as consisted with the authorized theology, and the science—geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music—being such as did not obviously conflict with it or could be conformed to it. That is to say, alike in their nature and in their agency, the philosophy and science of the time diverged in a relatively small degree from the theology—the differentiation was but incipient. And the long continued identification of the cultivators of philosophy and science with the cultivators of theology is seen in the familiar names of the leading scholastics—William of Champeaux, Abelard, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, &c. To which may be added the notable fact that such independence of theological dogma as was thought to be implied in the doctrine of the Nominalists, was condemned alike by the Pope and by secondary ecclesiastical authorities—the differentiation was slowly effected under resistance.

In England there was a no less clear identity of the priest with the philosopher and the man of science. In his account of the Saxon clergy Kemble writes:—

“They were honourably distinguished by the possession of arts and learning, which could be found in no other class. . . . To them England owed the more accurate calculations which enabled the divisions of times and seasons to be duly settled.”

The first illustration is furnished by Bede, a monk who, besides works of other kinds, wrote a work on The Nature of Things in which the scientific knowledge of his day was gathered up. Next may be named Dicuil, an Irish monk and writer on geography. And then comes Archbishop Dunstan:—

“He was very well skilled in most of the liberal arts, and among the rest in refining metals and forging them; which being qualifications much above the genius of the age he lived in, first gained him the name of a conjurer, and then of a saint.”

Though, soon after the Conquest, there lived two cultivators of science who seemed not to have been clerical—Gerland [3-256] and Athelard of Bath—yet it is to be remarked of the first that his science was devoted to a religious purpose—making a Computus or calculation of Easter—and of the other that his scientific knowledge was acquired during travels in the East, and cannot be regarded as an indigenous development. In Richard the First’s time flourished Abbot Neckham, who wrote a scientific treatise in Latin verse, and the Bishop-elect Giraldus Cambrensis, who was a topographer. Under John we have Bishop Grosseteste, a writer on physical science, and in the next reign comes the Franciscan monk Roger Bacon, whose scientific reputation is familiar. The 15th century yields us among clerical men of science John Lydgate, chiefly known for his poetry. When we turn back to see who were the first to occupy themselves with the science of the sciences—philosophy—we perceive this same connexion. In the old English period lived Scotus Erigena, a philosophical ecclesiastic whose philosophy was theological in its bearings. After a long interval, the next of this class was prior Henry of Huntingdon, who, as a moralist, brought other incentives than divine commands to bear on conduct. Presently came Bishop John of Salisbury, who, besides being classed as a writer on morality, was more distinctly to be classed as a writer on ancient philosophy. Grosseteste to his physical philosophy added mental philosophy, as also did Roger Bacon.

Joined with the fact that in mediæval days scarcely any laymen are named as devoted to studies of these kinds, the facts above given suffice to show that in Christian Europe, as in the pagan East, the man of science and the philosopher were of priestly origin. Inductive proof seems needless when we remember that during pre-feudal and feudal days, war and the chase were thought by the ruling classes the only honourable occupations. Themselves unable to read and write, they held that learning should be left to the children of mean people. And since learning was inaccessible to the masses, it becomes a necessary implication that the [3-257] clerical class was the one to which mental culture of all kinds, inclusive of the scientific and philosophical kinds, was limited.

§ 691. To trace the stages by which has been gradually effected the differentiation of the scientifico-philosophical class from the clerical class is not here requisite. It will suffice to note the leading characters of the change, and the state now reached.

The first broad fact to be observed is that the great body of doctrine distinguished by being based on reason instead of authority, has divided into a concrete part and an abstract part; with the result of generating two different classes of cultivators—the man of science and the philosopher. In the ancient East the distinction between the two was vague. Among the Greeks, from Thales onwards, the thinker was one who studied physical facts and drew his general conceptions from them. Even on coming to Aristotle we see in the same man the union of scientific inquiry and philosophical speculation. So all through the development of knowledge in Europe, down to the time of Newton, when the use of the term “natural philosophy” for physical science implies an indefinite distinction between the two. But now the distinction has become tolerably definite—quite definite in Germany and in large measure definite here. The philosopher does not enter upon scientific investigations and often knows little about scientific truths; while, conversely, the man of science, of whatever class, is little given to philosophical speculation, and is commonly uninformed about the philosophical conclusions held by this or that school. How distinct the two classes have become is implied by the contempt not unfrequently expressed by each for the other.

Simultaneously there has progressed a separation within the body of scientific men into those who respectively deal with the inorganic and the organic. Nowadays men who [3-258] occupy themselves with mathematical, physical, and chemical investigations are generally ignorant of biology; while men who spend their lives in studying the phenomena of life, under one or other of its aspects, are often without interest in the truths constituting the exact sciences. Between animate and inanimate things there is a marked contrast, and there has come to be a marked division between the students of the two groups.

Yet a further transformation of the same nature has been going on. Within each of these groups differentiations and sub-differentiations have been taking place. The biologists have divided themselves primarily into those who study plant-life and those who study animal-life—the phytologists (commonly called botanists) and the zoologists. In each of these great divisions there have been established large sub-divisions: in the one those who devote themselves to the classification of species, those who treat of plant-morphology, those who treat of plant-physiology; and in the other the classifiers, the comparative anatomists, the animal-physiologists. More restricted specializations have arisen. Among botanists there are some who study almost exclusively this or that order; among physiologists, some who commonly take one class of function for their province, and among zoologists there are first of all the divisions into those who are professed entomologists, ornithologists, ichthyologists, &c., and again within each of these are smaller groups, as among the entomologists, those who study more especially the coleoptera, the lepidoptera, the hymenoptera, &c.

Respecting these major and minor differentiations it has only further to be remarked that though the prosecution of science as a whole is not called a profession (the whole being too extensive and heterogenous), yet the prosecution of this or that part of it has come to be thus distinguished. We have “professors” of various divisions and sub-divisions of it; and this implies that the bread-winning pursuit of science, [3-259] irrespective of the particular kind, must be regarded as a profession.

§ 692. The combinations of like units which have accompanied these separations of unlike units, are equally conspicuous. Those occupied in science as a whole, as well as those occupied in particular divisions of science, have everywhere tended to segregate themselves and consolidate.

On the Continent each nation has a scientific academy or equivalent body, and in some cases several such. In our own country we have, similarly, a fixed general union among scientific men—the Royal Society; in addition to which we have a nomadic general union—the British Association.

Then beyond these largest corporations including all kinds of scientific men, we have various smaller corporations, each comprised of those devoted to a particular branch or sub-branch of science—a Mathematical Society, a Physical Society, a Chemical Society, an Astronomical Society, a Geological Society, a Physiological Society; and others occupied with sub-divisions of Biology—Botany, Zoology, Anthropology and Entomology: all of them being children of the Royal Society and in some measure aids to it. Nor let us forget that besides these metropolitan societies there are scattered throughout the kingdom local societies, devoted to science in general or to some division of science.

This is not all. Integration, general and special, of the scientific world is made closer, and the cooperation of all parts aided, by continuous publications; weekly and monthly and quarterly journals which are general in their scope, and others of like periodicities which are special in their scope. Thus minor aggregates held in connection as parts of a great aggregate have their activities furthered by literary inter-communication; and as elsewhere implied [3-260] (see Essays, vol. I., “The Genesis of Science”), the vast organism thus constituted has acquired a power of digesting and assimilating the various classes of phenomena which no one part of it alone could effectually deal with.





§ 693. In the preceding division of this work, and more particularly in § 529, it was shown that in early societies such regulation of conduct as is effected by custom, and afterwards by that hardened form of custom called law, originates in the expressed or implied wills of ancestors—primarily those of the undistinguished dead, and secondarily those of the distinguished dead. Regard for the wishes of deceased relatives greatly influences actions among ourselves, and it influences them far more among savage and semi-civilized peoples; because such peoples think that the spirits of the deceased are either constantly at hand or occasionally return, and in either case will, if made angry, punish the survivors by disease or misfortune. When, in the course of social development, there arise chiefs of unusual power, or conquering kings, the belief that their ghosts will wreak terrible vengeance on those who disregard their injunctions becomes a still more potent controlling agency; so that to regulation of conduct by customs inherited from ancestors at large, and ordinarily enforced by the living ruler, there comes to be added regulation by the transmitted commands of the dead ruler.

Hence originates that early conception of law which long continues with slowly increasing modification, and which, in our day, still survives in those who hold that Right means “that which is ordered”—firstly, by a revelation from God, [3-262] and secondly by god-appointed or god-approved kings. For the theological view implies that governments in general exist by divine permission, and that their dictates have consequently a divine sanction. In the absence of a utilitarian justification, which only gradually emerges in the minds of thinking men, there of course exists for law no other justification than that of being supernaturally derived—first of all directly and afterwards indirectly.

It follows, therefore, that primitive law, formed out of transmitted injunctions, partly of ancestry at large and partly of the distinguished ancestor or deceased ruler, comes usually to be enunciated by those who were in contact with the ruler—those who, first of all as attendants communicated his commands to his subjects, and who afterwards, ministering to his apotheosized ghost, became (some of them) his priests. Naturally these last, carrying on the worship of him in successive generations, grow into exponents of his will; both as depositaries of his original commands and as mouth-pieces through whom the commands of his spirit are communicated. By necessity, then, the primitive priests are distinguished as those who above all others know what the law is, and as those to whom, therefore, all questions about transgressions are referred—the judges.

§ 694. In small rude societies judicial systems have not arisen, and hence there is little evidence. Still we read that among the Guiana Indians the Pe-i-men are at once priests, sorcerers, doctors, and judges. Concerning the Kalmucks, who are more advanced, Pallas tells us that the highest judicial council consisted partly of priests and also that one of the high-priests of the community was head-judge.

Though among the semi-civilized Negro races of Africa, theological development has usually not gone far enough to establish the cult of a great god or gods, yet among them may be traced the belief that conduct is to be regulated by [3-263] the wills of supernatural beings, who are originally the ghosts of the distinguished dead; and in pursuance of this belief the ministrants of such ghosts come to be the oracles. Thus Lander tells us that “in Badagry the fetish-priests are the sole judges of the people.” Cameron describes a sitting of a Mganga, chief medicine man at Kowedi. After the chief’s wife had made presents and received replies to her inquiries others inquired.

Questions were “put by the public, some of which were quickly disposed of, while others evidently raised knotty points, resulting in much gesticulation and oratory. When the Waganga [apparently the plural of Mganga] pretended they could not find an answer the idols were consulted, and one of the fetish men who was a clever ventriloquist made the necessary reply, the poor dupes believing it to be spoken by the idol.”

§ 695. Of ancient historic evidence readers will at once recall that which the Hebrews yield.

There is in the Bible clear proof that the ideas of law and of divine will were equivalents. Their equivalence is shown alike in the bringing down of the tables from Sinai and in the elaborate code of regulations for life contained in Leviticus; where the rules even for diet, agricultural operations, and commercial transactions, are set down as prescribed by God. Still more specific evidence, elucidating both the general theory of law and the functions of the priestly class, is supplied by the following passages from Deuteronomy:

“If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment; and thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee.”

(xvii, 8-10.)

Moreover, beyond the often recurring injunction to “enquire of the Lord,” we have the example furnished by the [3-264] authority and actions of Samuel, who, dedicated to him from childhood, was a “prophet of the Lord,” who as a priest built an altar, and, as we see in the case of Agag, was the medium through whom God conveyed his commands, and who played the part of both judge and executioner.

Of course we may expect that Egypt with its long history furnishes good evidence, and we find it. Here are relative facts from three authorities—Bunsen, Brugsch, and Erman.

“That the oldest laws were ascribed to Hermes, implies however nothing more than that the first germ of the Civil law sprung from the Sacred Books, and that it was based in part upon the religious tenets which they contained.”

Mentu-hotep, a priest and official of the 12th dyn., on his tomb, “prides himself on having been ‘a man learned in the law, a legislator.’ ”

“The chief judge was always of highest degree; if he was not one of the king’s own sons, he was chief priest of one of the great gods, an hereditary prince.”

“All the judges of higher rank served Ma’at, the goddess of Truth as priests and the chief judge wore a small figure of this goddess as a badge round his neck.”

A court which held a sitting in the 46 of Ramses II, consisted of 9 priests (prophets and priests) and one lay member, the registrar. But in another case (Ramses IX) the lay element preponderated.

Which last statement implies a step towards differentiation of the secular from the sacred in legal administration.

To the circumstance that the Greek States did not become fully united has already been ascribed the fact that the Greek priesthood never became a hierarchy. Says Thirlwall—“The Greek priests never formed one organized body . . . even within the same state they were not incorporated.” Hence the normal development of sundry professions is less distinctly to be traced. Nevertheless the relation between the priestly and the judicial functions is visible in a rudimentary, if not in a developed, form. Among the Greeks, as among the Hebrews, it was the habit in cases of doubt to “enquire of the Lord”; and the oracular utterance embodying the will of a god was made by a priest or priestess. Moreover, the circumstance that Greek laws were [3-265] called themistes, or utterances of the goddess Themis as the mouthpiece of Zeus, shows that among the early Greeks, as among other peoples, a law and a divine fiat were the same thing. That systems of law were regarded as of supernatural origin, is also evidenced by the code of Lycurgus. According to Hase, the origin of his code was religious. “A declaration of the Delphic god contains the fundamental principles of the measures by which he reconciled the rival claims” of the Spartans. That the non-development of a legal class out of a priestly class followed from the lack of development of the priestly class itself, seems in some measure implied by the following extract from Thirlwall:—

“The priestly office in itself involved no civil exemptions or disabilities, and was not thought to unfit the person who filled it for discharging the duties of a senator, a judge, or a warrior . . . But the care of a temple often required the continual residence and presence of its ministers.”

Possibly the rise of priest-lawyers, impeded by this local fixity and by want of cooperative organization among priests, may have been also impeded by the independence of the Greek nature, which, unlike Oriental natures, did not readily submit to the extension of sacerdotal control over civil affairs.

How priestly and legal functions were mingled among the early Romans is shown by the two following extracts from Duruy:—

The patricians “held the priesthood and the auspices; they were priests, augurs and judges, and they carefully hid from the eyes of the people the mysterious formulæ of public worship and of jurisprudence.”

The “servile attachment to legal forms [which characterized the early Romans] came from the religious character of the law and from the belief imposed by the doctrine of augury, that the least inadvertence in the accomplishment of rites was sufficient to alienate the goodwill of the gods.”

It seems probable, indeed, that legal procedure consisted in part of ceremonies originally devotional, by which the god Numa was to be propitiated, and that the complex symbolic [3-266] actions used were superposed. For of the judges, who “sat only on days fixed by the secret calendar of the Pontiffs,” it is said that “they did not admit the litigants to set forth simply the matters in dispute; mysterious formulæ, gestures, and actions were necessary.” In further evidence of this priestly character of the judicial administration is the following statement of Professor W. A. Hunter:—

“Pomponius, in his brief account of the history of Roman Law, informs us that the custody of the XII Tables, the exclusive knowledge of the forms of procedure (legis actiones), and the right of interpreting the law, belonged to the College of Pontiffs.”

And Mommsen tells us in other words the same thing.

But while we here see, as we saw in the cases of other early peoples, that the priest, intimately acquainted with the injunctions of the god, and able to get further intimations of his will, consequently became the fountain of law, and therefore the judge respecting breaches of law, we do not find evidence that in ancient Rome, any more than in Greece, Egypt, or Palestine, the advocate was of priestly origin. Contrariwise we find evidence that among these early civilized peoples, as at the present time among some peoples who have become civilized enough to have legal procedures, the advocate is of lay origin. Marsden says that in Sumatra—

“the plaintiff and defendant usually plead their own cause, but if circumstances render them unequal to it, they are allowed to pinjam mulut (borrow a mouth). Their advocate may be a proattīn, or other person indifferently; nor is there any stated compensation for the assistance, though, if the cause be gained, a gratuity is generally given.”

So, too, from Parkyns we learn that the Abyssinians have a sort of lawyer—merely “an ordinary man, with an extraordinary gift of the gab. These men are sometimes employed by the disputants in serious cases, but not invariably.” Indeed it must everywhere have happened in early stages when litigants usually stated their respective cases, that sometimes one or other of them asked a friend to state his case for him; and a spokesman who became noted for [3-267] skill in doing this would be employed by others, and eventually a present to him would become a fee. It was thus among the Romans. After knowledge of the Twelve Tables had been diffused, and after the secrets of legal procedure had been disclosed by a secretary of Appius Claudius, there grew up a class of men, the jurisconsulti, learned in the law, who gave their advice; and also, later, advocates distinguished by their oratorical powers, who, as among ourselves, were furnished with materials and suggestions by lawyers of lower grade.

§ 696. The superposing of civilizations and of religions throughout Northern Europe after Roman days, complicated the relations between religion and law, and between those who administered them. Nevertheless, the evidence everywhere points to the conclusion we have already reached.

Beginning with heathen times there may be put first the facts which Sir George Dasent gives us respecting the ancient Norse. He writes:—

The priest “was the only civil, just as he was the only religious authority—minister and magistrate in one.”

“In trials . . . it fell on him [the priest] to name the judges, and to superintend the proceedings.”

But it seems that even in those rude days there had come into existence non-clerical advocates.

“There were the lawmen or lawyers (lögmenn), a class which we shall find still flourishing in the time of which our Saga tells. They were private persons, invested with no official character.” “They seem to have been simply law-skilled men, ‘counsel,’ to whom men in need of advice betook themselves.”

In harmony with these statements are those made by an authority respecting Old-English institutions, Mr. Gomme. He says—

“We learn from the historians of Saxony that the ‘Frey Feldgericht’ of Corbey was, in pagan times, under the supremacy of the priests of the Eresburgh.”


“There can be little doubt that the church or temple of primitive society was the self-same spot as the assembly-place of the people and the court of justice.”

In support of this last conclusion it may be remarked that as in early times gatherings for worship afforded occasions for trading, so they also afforded occasions for legal settlements of disputes; and further that the use of the sacred edifice for this purpose (as among the Babylonians) was congruous with the conception, everywhere anciently entertained, that legal proceedings tacitly or avowedly invoked divine interposition—tacitly in the taking of an oath and avowedly in trial by judicial combat.

The conquest of northern heathenism by Christianity gradually led to subjugation of the heathen system of law by the system of law the Church imposed—partly its own, the canon law, and partly that inherited from Roman civilization, the civil law. The rules of conduct which, transmitted from the heathen priesthood, had become the common law, were in large measure overriden by the rules of conduct which the Christian priesthood either enacted or adopted. In early English days lay and clerical magnates cooperated in the local courts: laws derived from the old religion and from the new religion were jointly enforced.

“The clergy, in particular, as they then engrossed almost every other branch of learning, so (like their predecessors, the British Druids), they were peculiarly remarkable for their proficiency in the study of the law. . . . The judges therefore were usually created out of the sacred order, as was likewise the case among the Normans; and all the inferior offices were supplied by the lower clergy, which has occasioned their successors to be denominated clerks to this day.

But with the growth of papal power a change began. As writes the author just quoted, Stephen—

“It soon became an established maxim in the papal system of policy, that all ecclesiastical persons, and all ecclesiastical causes, should be solely and entirely subject to ecclesiastical jurisdiction only.”

After the conquest, when shoals of foreign clergy came over, and when they and the pre-existing monastic clergy [3-269] were bribed by endowments to support the Conqueror, the papal policy prevailed so far as to separate the ecclesiastical court from the civil court; after which “the Saxon laws were soon overborne by the Norman justiciaries.” In subsequent reigns, according to Hallam—

“the clergy combined its study [i. e., the Roman law] with that of their own canons; it was a maxim that every canonist must be a civilian, and that no one could be a good civilian unless he were also a canonist.”

Along with acceptance of the doctrine that the Christian high priest, the pope, was an oracle through whom God spoke, there was established in Christendom a theory of law like that held by ancient peoples: laws were divine dicta and priests divinely authorized interpreters of them. Under these circumstances the ecclesiastical courts extended their jurisdiction to secular causes; until, gradually, the secular courts were almost deprived of power: the removal of criminal clerics from secular jurisdiction and the penalty of excommunication on those who in any serious way opposed the clerical power, being of course efficient weapons. The condition of things then existing is well shown by the following statement of Prof. Maitland:—

“If we look back to Richard I.’s reign we may see, as the highest temporal court of the realm, a court chiefly composed of ecclesiastics, presided over by an archbishop, who is also Chief Justiciar; he will have at his side two or three bishops, two or three archdeacons, and but two or three laymen. The greatest judges even of Henry III.’s reign are ecclesiastics, though by this time it has become scandalous for a bishop to do much secular justice.”

Not only were priests the judges and the interpreters of law, but they at one time discharged subordinate legal functions. In Germany, according to Stolzel, the notarial profession had long been in the hands of ecclesiastics. France, during the 13th century, furnished like evidence. Clerics played the parts of procureurs or attorneys, according to Fournier, who says:—


“les ecclésiastiques ne pouvait, en principe, accepter ces fonctions que pour représenter les pauvres, les églises, ou dans les causes spirituelles.”

So, too, was it with the function of advocate. Sainte Palaye writes—

“Loisel . . . remarks that in the time of Philip [the Fair] and since, the best of them were ‘ecclesiastical persons instructed in the Canon and Civil Law, learning practice chiefly by the decretals.’ ”

However according to Fournier, this function was limited to certain cases—

“le prêtre ne peut exercer les fonctions d’avocat si ce n’est au profit de son Église et des pauvres, et sans recevoir de salaire.”

But in England, when ecclesiastics had been forbidden by the pope to make their appearance in secular courts, it appears that they evaded the prohibition by disguising themselves.

“Sir H. Spelman conjectures (Glossar. 335), that coifs were introduced to hide the tonsure of such renegade clerks, as were still tempted to remain in the secular courts in the quality of advocates or judges, notwithstanding their prohibition by canon.”

From which it would seem that the “renegade clerks” became barristers who personally received the profits of their advocacy.

§ 697. By what steps the complete secularization of the legal class was effected in England, it does not here concern us to ascertain. It suffices to observe the state of things now arrived at.

So long have our judges ceased to display any clerical attributes, that now, to the ordinary citizen, the statement that they were once priests is surprising. If there remains any trace of the original condition of things, it is only in such a fact as that the Archbishop of Canterbury retains the power of conferring the degree of Doctor of Civil Law; which degree, however, is one covering only a restricted sphere of practice. But while, save perhaps in observance of certain ceremonies and seasons, separation of judicial [3-271] functionaries from clerical functionaries has long been complete, separation of certain areas of jurisdiction has taken place quite recently. Until some five and thirty years ago ecclesiastical courts still had jurisdiction over some secular matters—testamentary and matrimonial; but they were then deprived of this jurisdiction, and retained none save over affairs within the Church itself.

In conformity with the usual course of things, while the legal profession has been differentiating from the ecclesiastical, there have been going on differentiations within the legal profession itself. Originally, beyond the judge and the two suitors, there occasionally existed only the advocate—a functionary who, becoming established, presently rendered his services to defendants as well as to plaintiffs. Gradually these ancillary agencies have become complicated; until now there are various classes and sub-classes of those who conduct legal proceedings.

The original body of them has separated itself primarily into two great divisions—those directly concerned in carrying on causes in law-courts and those indirectly concerned, who prepare the cases, collect evidence, summon witnesses, &c. Within the first of these classes has arisen a partial distinction between those whose business is mainly in courts and those whose business is mainly in chambers; and there are further segregations determined by the different courts in which the pleadings are carried on. To which add the cross-division of this class into Queen’s Counsel or leaders, and ordinary barristers or juniors. Then in the accessory class—lawyers commonly so-called—we have the distinction, once well recognized, between attorneys and solicitors, arising from the separate divisions of jurisprudence with which they were concerned, but which has now lapsed. And we have various miscellaneous subdivisions partially established, as of those mainly concerned with litigious matter and those mainly concerned with non-litigious matter; of those who transact business directly and of those who act [3-272] for others; those who are parliamentary agents; and so on.

§ 698. In their general character, if not in their details, the facts now to be named will be anticipated by the reader. He will look for illustrations of the integrating tendency, and he will not be mistaken in so doing.

Very soon after the divergence of the legal class from the clerical class had commenced, there arose some union among members of the legal class. Thus we read that in France—

“En 1274, le concile de Lyon, dans quelques dispositions relatives aux procureurs, les met à peu près sur le même pied que les avocats. C’est que dès lors les procureurs forment une corporation qui se gouverne sous l’autorité des juges d’Église.”

In England also it appears that the two processes began almost simultaneously. When the deputies of the king in his judicial capacity ceased to be wholly nomadic, and fixed courts of justice were established at Westminster, the advocates, who were before dispersed about the kingdom, began to aggregate in London, where, as Stephen says, they “naturally fell into a kind of collegiate order.” Hence resulted the Inns of Court, in which lectures were read and eventually degrees given: the keeping of terms being for a long time the only requirement, and the passing of an examination having but recently become a needful qualification for a call to the bar. Within this aggregate, constituting the collegiate body, we have minor divisions—the benchers, who are its governors, the barristers, and the students. This process of incorporation began before the reign of Edward I; and while certain of the inns, devoted to that kind of law which has now ceased to be marked off, have dwindled away, the others still form the centres of integration for the higher members of the legal profession.

Then we come to the lower members, who in early days became incorporated.


“It was ordained by stat. 4 Henry IV. c. 18, that all attornies should be examined by the justices, and by their discretions their names should be put in a roll: they were to be good and virtuous, and of good fame.

Other groupings of more modern and less coherent kinds have to be named. There is the Bar Committee, serving as an organ for the practising barristers; and there are the relatively vague unions of barristers who go the same circuits. For solicitors there is in London a central Law Society, along with which may be named Law Societies in leading provincial districts; and there are also various benevolent associations formed within these larger bodies.

Nor let us omit to notice how in this case, as in all cases, the process of integration has been accompanied by progress in definiteness. Early in its history the body of barristers separated itself by its regulations from the trading community; and then, more recently, it has increased its distinctness of demarcation by excluding those not adequately instructed. So, too, with the body of solicitors. This has fenced itself round by certain regulations respecting admission, conduct, and practice, in such wise that by striking off the rolls those who have not conformed to the rules complete precision is given to the limits of the body.

And then, as serving to hold together these larger and smaller definitely consolidated aggregates, we have various periodicals—several weekly law-journals, and now also a law-quarterly.





§ 699. Teaching implies knowledge of things to be taught; and as, for various reasons, the priest comes to be distinguished by his possession of knowledge, from him more especially is it to be obtained. Moreover, being released from life-sustaining activities, he has more time than others for giving information and enforcing discipline.

A deeper reason for this primitive identity of priest and teacher may be recognized. Though during early years each youth gathers, in miscellaneous ways, much which is properly to be called knowledge, and which serves him for guidance in ordinary life, yet there is a kind of knowledge, or supposed knowledge, particularly precious, which does not come to him through the irregular channels of daily experience. Equally in savage tribes and among early civilized peoples, ghosts and gods are believed to be everywhere and always influencing men’s lives for good or evil; and hence of chief importance is information concerning the ways in which conduct may be so regulated as to obtain their favours and avoid their vengeance. Evidently the man who knows most about these supernatural beings, the priest, is the man from whom this information of highest value is to be obtained. It results that the primitive conception of the teacher is the conception of one who gives instruction in sacred matters.

Of course the knowledge thus communicated is first of all [3-275] communicated by the elder priests to the younger, or rather by the actual priests to those who are to become priests. In many cases, and for a long time, this is the sole teaching. Only in the course of evolution, along with the rise of a secular cultured class, does the teacher as we now conceive him come into existence.

§ 700. Necessarily in early stages of all evolving aggregates the lines of organization are indefinite. In groups of the uncivilized we cannot expect the function of educator to have become distinctly marked off. Still we soon detect that inculcation of secret and sacred things which, as above indicated, constitutes the earliest kind of teaching: the “mystery men” being the instructors. Says Bernau concerning the Arawaks:—

“The son of a conjuror, as soon as he enters his twentieth year, or even sooner, is made acquainted by his father with the art of conjuration, and enjoined the greatest secrecy concerning it.”

And whether the neophyte be a descendant or not, there is always this injunction of silence respecting the communicated information, which invariably has reference to dealings with supernatural beings; so that, from the very first, there is shown the rise of an esoteric cult such as the priesthoods of early historic peoples show us.

But in groups of savages we may trace an extension of this sacred teaching, or rather part of it, to all young men on their arrival at the fit age. The Australians, for example, have everywhere an initiation ceremony during which the youth, circumcised after a fashion, or in other cases having a tooth knocked out, is thereby dedicated to a supernatural being supposed to be present, as in the case of Daramulun, who is doubtless the hero of the tribe: the dedications being obviously akin in spirit to those of more civilized peoples. On these occasions the medicine-men are the operators and instructors.

The more advanced of the uncivilized, whose medicine-men [3-276] have gained in some measure the character of priests, furnish better evidence. We have the case of the New Zealanders, among whom, according to Thomson, one of the duties of the priests is to instruct children “in the songs and traditions of the people”—to instruct them, that is, in the sacred lore of the tribe. Then in Africa, where the social organization is more developed, we meet with a more definite form of priestly tuition. Bastian tells us that in Congo the fetich-priest yearly collects the boys who have arrived at puberty, and leads them into the forest, where they remain six months, forming a sort of colony under the control of the priest. During this time they undergo circumcision. Then in Abyssinia and in Madagascar we find the teaching function of the priest shared in by a non-priestly class—a step in differentiation.

§ 701. Peoples, past and present, in sundry parts of the world, who have reached higher stages of civilization, yield fragments of evidence which I string together in as orderly a way as is practicable. Writing of the Mexicans, Torquemada says that the whole education was in connexion with the temples. Very many boys were sent there to be educated from the fourth year of their age until their marriage. Clavigero tells us the same thing. Of the priests of Yucatan we read in Landa:—

“They instructed the sons of other priests, and also the younger sons of the lords, who were given to them from childhood when they appeared to be inclined to that office. The sciences which they taught were the computation of years, months and days, festivals and ceremonies, the administration of their sacraments, &c., &c.”

Of existing peoples the Japanese may be first named as supplying us with a relevant fact.

“The secular teacher’s vocation can scarcely be said to have existed prior to the days of the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty. . . . The bonzes [priests] of Japan are to be credited with being mainly instrumental in spreading a knowledge of the rudiments of education throughout the length and breadth of the Empire.”


In his Embassy to Ava Symes writes:—

“All kioums or monasteries . . . are seminaries . . . in which boys of a certain age are taught their letters, and instructed in moral and religious duties.”

To like effect, from a work entitled The Burman by Shway Yeo, we learn that—

“When a boy has reached the age of eight or nine years he goes as a matter of course to the Pohngyee Kyoung [Monastic School]. It is open to all alike—to the poor fisherman’s son as well as to the scion of princely blood.”

And the Catholic missionary Sangermano testifies similarly: implying, also, that this education given by the priests is nominally in preparation for the priesthood, since the students all put on “the habit of a Talapoin” during the period of their education. The Mahometans, too, yield evidence. At the present time in Cairo the university is in a mosque.

§ 702. Illustrative facts taken from the accounts of extinct and decayed civilizations in the Old World, may be next grouped together—some of them mere hints and others sufficiently full.

Concerning Ancient India, Dutt states that education consisted of learning the Vedas, and that in the later as in the earlier periods it was under the priests. He also says:—

“There were Parishads or Brâhmanic settlements for the cultivation of learning . . . and young men went to these Parishads to acquire learning.”

To this there must be added the significant fact that in the Epic Period (ca. bc 1400 to 1000)—

“Besides these Parishads, individual teachers established what would be called private schools in Europe, and often collected round themselves students from various parts of the country. . . . Learned Brâhmans who had retired to forests in their old age often collected such students round them, and much of the boldest speculations in the Epic Period has proceeded from these sylvan and retired seats of sanctity and learning.”

Taken in conjunction with the preceding statements this [3-278] last statement shows us how teaching was in the beginning exclusively concerned with religious doctrines and rites, and how there eventually began to arise a teaching which, in some measure detached from the religious institutions, at the same time entered upon other subjects than the religious.

A kindred, if less elaborated, system existed in ancient Persia.

“It is pretty clear that the special training of boys for future callings went hand in hand with their religious education, and that it was chiefly regulated according to the profession of the father. . . . It was evidently also no uncommon practice to commit children to the care of a priest for training and instruction in the same manner as the Indian Brahmins were wont to do.”

Respecting Babylonia and Assyria Professor Sayce, describing the social life there, says:—

“The libraries were established in the temples, and the schools in which the work of education was carried on were doubtless attached to them.”

“The ‘house of the males,’ into which the young men were introduced, seems to have been a sort of monastic establishment attached to the great temples of Babylonia.”

Of educational arrangements in Egypt the like is said by various authorities—Brugsch, Erman, and Duncker.

“Schools were established in the principal towns of the country; and human and divine wisdom was taught in the assemblages of the holy servants of the gods.”

“The high priest of Amon, Bekenchons, tells us that from his fifth to his seventeenth year he was ‘chief of the royal stable of instruction,’ and thence entered the temple of Amon as an under-priest.”

“The colleges of these temples [Thebes, Memphis, and Heliopolis] were the most important centres of priestly life and doctrine.”

That absence of a priestly hierarchy in Greece which, as before pointed out, interfered with the normal developments of other professions, interfered also with the normal development of the tutorial profession. The temples and their surroundings were, indeed, places for special culture of one or other kind, mostly having some relation to religious observances. [3-279] But this form of priestly teaching did not grow into any general system taking in the lay members of the community. Referring, by contrast, to education in the gymnasia, Mahaffy writes:—

“The older fashion had been to bring up boys very much as we bring up girls, keeping them constantly under the eye of a special attendant or teacher . . . teaching them the received religion and a little of the standard literature, inculcating obedience to the gods and to parents.”

As happened in Persia during its phase of militant activity, physical culture and culture of the mental powers useful in war, took precedence of other culture.

“The old system of advanced education, which ordained that from the age of eighteen to twenty Athenian youths . . . should remain under state supervision, and do the duty of patrols round the outlying parts and frontier forts of Attica, receiving at the same time drill in military exercises, as well as some gymnastic and literary training,” became in time modified to one in which “most of the gymnastics and military training was left out.”

But intellectual culture as it increased fell into the hands not of the priests but of secular teachers. “Those philosophers who did not, like the Stoics, despise teaching youths, . . . set up their schools close beside these gymnasia.”

Still more in Rome, where the course of evolution was so much modified by the intrusion of foreign elements and influences, was the normal genesis of the teacher interfered with. Always when militancy is extremely predominant, mental acquisition, regarded with no respect, is not provided for: instance the fact that in Japan, “during many centuries previous to Iyeyasu’s time, the very numerous warrior-class, like the knights of mediæval Europe, despised a knowledge of letters as beneath the dignity of a soldier, and worthy only of the bard and priest.” And it was thus in Rome.

“The economic arrangements of the Romans placed the work of elementary instruction in the mother-tongue—like every other work held in little estimation and performed for hire—chiefly in the hands [3-280] of slaves, freedmen, or foreigners, or in other words chiefly in the hands of Greeks or half-Greeks.”

This condition of things will be comprehended when we remember firstly that the normal genesis of teachers from priests is due to the fact that in early stages priests are distinguished by their superior knowledge; secondly that the priests in Rome were not thus distinguished, since the subjugated Greeks were more learned than they; and thirdly that all attributes of conquered men are liable to fall into contempt.

§ 703. On passing northwards to the peoples of pre-Christian days and to those of early Christian days, we are again shown the primitive identity of priest and teacher and the eventual separation of the two. Elsewhere saying of the Celts that their training, wholly military, aimed to produce endurance, agility, and other bodily capacities, Pelloutier writes:—

“Pour entretenir les peuples dans la dépendance, et pour être toujours consultes comme des Oracles, les Ecclésiastiques vouloient être les seuls sçavans; de l’autre, les Celtes, qui regardoient tout travail, tant du corps que de l’esprit (Procop. Gotth. L. I. cap. 2, p. 311), comme une chose servile, abandonnoient de bon cœur toutes les Sciences à leurs Druides; ils les considéroient non-seulement comme des sçavans, mais encore comme de véritables Magiciens. Les études des Nations Celtiques se réduisoient uniquement à apprendre par cœur certains Hymnes qui renfermoient leurs Loix, leur Religion, leur Histoire, et en général tout ce qu’on vouloit bien que le peuple sçût.”

And congruous with this is the statement of Cæsar concerning the Druids:—“A great number of youths come together to them to receive training.” “They discuss much . . . concerning the attributes and powers of the immortal gods, and impart their tenets to the young.”

Almost extinguished during early centuries of our era, such culture as survived was to be found only in ecclesiastical institutions, and out of them grew up afresh. As Hallam says:—


“The praise of having originally established schools belongs to some bishops and abbots of the sixth century. They came in place of the imperial schools overthrown by the barbarians. . . . The cathedral and conventual schools, created or restored by Charlemagne, became the means of preserving that small portion of learning which continued to exist.”

Mosheim, describing the Church of the sixth century, further tells us that in the cathedral schools the clerical teacher “instructed the youth in the seven liberal arts, as a preparation for the study of the sacred books;” and that in the monasteries “the abbot or some one of the monks gave literary instruction to the children and youth that were devoted to a monastic life.” These facts verify the statement that primarily instruction, whether given to lay or clerical youth, concerned itself directly or indirectly with religious propitiation: the avowed purpose, as expressed by the Council of Vaison, being to make the young “attach themselves to holy books and to know the law of God.”

Subsequent centuries of wars and social derangements witnessed a decay of these ecclesiastical teaching institutions, notwithstanding efforts from time to time made by popes and bishops to re-invigorate them. But, as was to be expected, when there began to arise lay teachers, there arose clerical resistance. Then, as always, the priestly class disliked to see the instruction of the young falling into other hands. In France, for example, the Chancellor of Ste, Genevieve, who granted licences to teach at the Paris University, used his power sometimes to exclude able men, sometimes to extort money, and had repeatedly to be restrained by papal injunctions. So, too, was it in Germany.

“All the professional posts in the Universities were in the hands of the clergy, until the end of the 15th, and even into the 16th, century.”

At Heidelberg, in 1482, “a layman was for the first time, after a severe struggle, allowed to become a professor of medicine.”

“The general admission of lay professors to clerical offices did not take place until 1553.”


§ 704. Our own country presents like evidences. In old English days “parish churches were often used as schools,” says Pearson. And, according to Sharon Turner,—

“The clergy were the preceptors of those who sought to learn . . . to them the moral and intellectual education of the age was entrusted. . . . Thus the Irish monk Maildulf, who settled at Malmesbury . . . took scholars to earn subsistence.”

So was it, too, in subsequent days. We read in the same two authors that after the Conquest—

“The numerous clergy scattered up and down through England had a direct interest in promoting education. They eked out their scanty stipends as tutors and schoolmasters.”

“One of the first fruits of this revival of literature in England, was the universal establishment of schools. To every cathedral, and almost to every monastery, a school was appended. . . . Few persons of any note appear to us among the clergy, during the century after the conquest, who did not during some part of their lives occupy themselves in instructing others.”

In exemplification may be named, as distinguished teachers belonging to the priesthood during the Anglo-Saxon period, Bede, Alcuin, Scotus Erigena, and Dunstan. And after the Conquest, as teachers sufficiently conspicuous to be specified, come Athelard of Bath, John of Salisbury, Alexander Neckam, Roger of Hoveden, Duns Scotus.

But here as elsewhere the secularization of teaching slowly went on in sundry ways. Early in the 15th century laymen here and there left money for the founding of schools. Warton, writing of the early part of the 16th century, says:—“The practice of educating our youth in the monasteries growing into disuse, near twenty new grammar schools were established within this period.” At the same time there was initiated a slow change in the character of our universities. Beginning as clusters of theological students gathered round clerical teachers of wide reputation, they, while growing, long continued to be places for clerical education only, and afterwards simulated it. Almost down to the present day acceptance of the legally-established [3-283] creed has been in them a condition to the reception of students and the conferring of distinctions; and they have all along preserved a teaching and discipline conspicuously priestly. We have residence in colleges under a régime suggestive of the monastic; we have daily attendance at prayers, also monastic in its associations; and we have the wearing of a semi-priestly dress. But gradually the clerical character of the education has been modified by the introduction of more and more non-religious subjects of instruction, and by the relaxation of tests which a dominant ecclesiasticism once imposed. So that now the greater part of those who “go to college,” do so without any intention of entering the Church: university teaching has been in a large measure secularised.

Meanwhile the multiplied minor teaching institutions of all grades, though they have in the majority of cases passed into the hands of laymen, still, in considerable measure, and especially throughout their higher grades, retain a clerical character. The public schools in general are governed by ecclesiastics; and most of the masters are, if not in orders, preparing to take orders. Moreover, a large proportion of the private schools throughout the kingdom to which the wealthier classes send their sons, are carried on by clergymen; and clergymen in multitudinous cases take private pupils. Thus the differentiation of the teaching class from the priestly class is even now incomplete.

As significantly bearing on the evolution of the teacher, let us further note that at the present moment there is going on a struggle to re-acquire that clerical control which a secularized system of public education had in chief measure thrown off. Even when established a quarter of a century ago, this public education was not completely secularized, since certain biblical lessons were given; and now a strenuous endeavour is being made to add to these biblical lessons certain dogmas of the Christian creed established by law, and so to make the teachers of Board Schools to a [3-284] certain extent clerical teachers. Nor is this all. Clerics have striven, and are still striving, to make the public help them to teach Church dogmas in Church Schools. At the present time (June, 1895), the Archbishop and Clergy at large are fathering an Act which shall give them State-funds without State-control. With an arrogance common to Priesthoods in all times and places, no matter what the creed, they say to the State—“We will say what shall be taught and you shall pay for it.”

§ 705. No more here than elsewhere do we meet with an exception to the segregation and consolidation which accompany differentiation; though, partly because of the more recent separation of the teaching class from the clerical class, this change has not been so conspicuous.

The tendency towards integration of the teaching class, and marking off of them from other classes, was first shown among theological teachers. At the University of Paris—

“half-learned persons, who had scarcely any knowledge of the elements of theology, took upon themselves the office of public teachers. The consequence was, that the theological teachers of better reputation united themselves, and formed a regular society; and they had sufficient influence to establish the rule, that no one should be allowed to teach without their approbation and permission. This of course led to an examination of the candidates, and to a public trial of their ability, and to a formal ceremony for their admission to the dignity of teachers or doctors.

In our own universities the like has happened. Knowledge, first of established Christian doctrine, and then of other things held proper for teachers of Christian doctrine to know, and then examinations testing acquisition of such kinds of knowledge, have served to create a mass of those qualified, and to exclude those not qualified: so forming a coherent and limited aggregate. Though dissenting sects have insisted less on qualifications, yet among them, too, have arisen institutions facilitating the needful culture and giving the needful clerical authorizations.


Only of late have secular teachers tended to unite. Beyond the various training colleges which instruct and examine and authorize, there are now sundry professional associations. Of a general kind come the Teachers’ Guild and the Scottish Educational Institute. Then of more special kinds come the Head Masters [of Public Schools] Conference; the Association of Head Masters of Intermediate Secondary Schools; the Association of Head Mistresses; the College of Preceptors; the Association of Assistant Masters; the National Union of Teachers.

So, too, with the appliances for maintaining a general organization of all concerned in education—schoolmasters, assistants, colleges, and the various unions above named. This professorial class, like other professorial classes, has journals weekly and monthly, some general and some special, representing its interests, serving for communication among its members, and helping to consolidate it.





§ 706. Building of the kind dignified by the name architecture, cannot exist during early stages of social development. Before the production of such building there must be an advance in mechanical arts greater than savages of low type have made—greater than we find among the slightly civilized.

It is true that constructions of unhewn stones arranged upon the surface in some order, as well as rude underground stone chambers, have been left by prehistoric peoples, and that incipient architecture is exhibited in them. If we extend the conception to take in these, however, we may remark as significant, that the art was first used either for preservation of the dead or as ancillary to ceremonies in honour of the apotheosized dead. In either case the implication is that architecture in these simple beginnings fulfilled the ideas of the primitive medicine-men or priests. Some director there must have been; and we can scarcely help concluding that he was at once the specially skilful man and the man who was supposed to be in communication with the departed spirits to be honoured.

But now, saying nothing more of this vague evidence, let us pass to evidence furnished by those semi-civilized and civilized peoples who have left remains and records.

§ 707. We are at once met by the broad fact, parallel to the fact implied above, that the earliest architecture bequeathed [3-287] by ancient nations was an outcome of ancestor-worship. Its first phases were exhibited in either tombs or temples, which, as we have long ago seen, are the less developed and more developed forms of the same thing. Hence, as being both appliances for worship, now simple and now elaborate, both came under the control of the priesthood; and the inference to be drawn is that the first architects were priests.

An illustration which may be put first is yielded by Ancient India. Says Manning:—“Architecture was treated as a sacred science by learned Hindus.” Again we read in Hunter—

“Indian architecture, although also ranked as an upa-veda or supplementary part of inspired learning, derived its development from Buddhist rather than from Bráhmanical impulses.”

In Tennent’s Ceylon there are passages variously exhibiting the relations between architecture and religion and its ministers. By many peoples the cave was made the primitive tomb-temple; and in the East it became in some cases largely developed. A stage of the development in Ceylon is described as follows:—

“In the Rajavali Devenipiatissa is said to have ‘caused caverns to be cut in the solid rock at the sacred place of Mihintala’; and these are the earliest residences for the higher orders of the priesthood in Ceylon, of which a record has been preserved.”

“The temples of Buddha were at first as unpretending as the residences of the priesthood. No mention is made of them during the infancy of Buddhism in Ceylon, and at which period caves and natural grottoes were the only places of devotion.”

Referring to later stages, during which there arose “stupendous ecclesiastical structures,” Tennent adds:—

“The historical annals of the island record with pious gratitude the series of dagobas, wiharas, and temples erected by” Devenipiatissa “and his successors.”

A dagoba “is a monument raised to preserve one of the relics of Gotama . . . and it is candidly admitted in the Mahawanso that the intention of erecting them was to provide ‘objects to which offerings could be made.’ ”


Here though we do not get evidence that the architects were the priests, yet other passages show that Buddhist temples were the works of converted kings acting under direction of the priests. Moreover, the original development of architecture for religious purposes, and the consequent sacredness of it, are curiously implied by the fact that the priesthood “forbade the people to construct their dwellings of any other material than sun-baked earth.”

This last extract recalls the general contrast which existed in ancient historic kingdoms between the dwellings of the people and the buildings devoted to gods and kings. The vast mounds from which Layard exhumed the remains of Babylonian and Assyrian temples are composed of the débris of sun-dried bricks, mingled, doubtless, with some decomposed wood otherwise used for constructing ordinary houses. Layers upon layers of this débris were accumulated until the temples were buried, as some temples are even now being buried in Egypt. Whether it was because of the costliness of stone, or because of the interdict on use of stone for other than sacred purposes, or whether these causes cooperated, the general implication is the same—architecture began in subservience to religion (comprehending under this name ancestor-worship, simple and developed), and was, by implication, under the control of the priesthood. Such further evidence as Ancient Babylonia yields, though indirect, is tolerably strong. Saying of the temple, which was also a palace, that “solemn rites inaugurated its construction and recommended its welfare to the gods,” and implying that its plan was governed by established tradition (of which the priests were by implication the depositaries), Perrot and Chipiez write:—

“Whether they belonged to the sacerdotal cast, we do not know. We are inclined to the latter supposition in some degree by the profoundly religious character of the ceremonies that accompanied the inception of a building, and by the accounts left by the ancients of those priests whom they call the Chaldæans.


And since “when it [architecture] is carried so far as it was in Chaldæa it demands a certain amount of science,” the priests, who alone possessed this science, must have been the architects.

Sufficient proofs of the alleged relation among the Egyptians are supplied by their ancient records. Rawlinson says:—

“Although their early architecture is almost entirely of a sepulchral character, yet we have a certain amount of evidence that, even from the first, the Temple had a place in the regards of the Egyptians, though a place very much inferior to that occupied by the Tomb.”

Summing up the general evidence Duncker writes:—

“In the achievement won by Egyptian art the priests took a leading part. The buildings of the temples and the tombs of the kings could only be erected after their designs; for in these essentially sacred things, sacred measures and numbers, were concerned.”

Some special illustrative facts may be added. Of Mentuhotep it is recorded that—

“As chief architect of the king he promoted the worship of the gods, and instructed the inhabitants of the country according to the best of his knowledge, ‘as God orders to be done.’ ”

Here are passages relating to the 19th and 21st dynasties respectively. Bekenkhonsu, on his statue is made to say:—

“ ‘I was a great architect in the town of Amon.’ ‘I was a holy father of Amon for twelve years.’ ‘The skilled in art, and the first prophet in Amon.’ ”

And Hirhor, first of a succession of priest-kings, calls himself, when represented by the side of the king:—“Chief architect of the king, chief general of the army.” And that the priest, if he did not always design, always directed, may be safely inferred; for as Rawlinson says, “it is . . . tolerably certain that there existed in ancient Egypt a religious censorship of Art.”

Of evidence furnished by Greek literature, the first comes to us from the Iliad. The priest Chryses, crying for vengeance, and invoking Apollo’s aid, says:—

“O Smintheus! If ever I built a temple gracious in thine eyes, or [3-290] if ever I burnt to thee fat flesh of thighs of bulls or goats, fulfil thou this my desire; let the Danaans pay by thine arrows for my tears.”

By which we see that the priestly function of sacrificer is joined with the function of architect, also, by implication, priestly. Later indications are suggestive if not conclusive. Here is a sentence from Curtius:—

“But the immediate connexion between the system of sacred architecture and the Apolline religion is clear from Apollo being himself designated as the divine architect in the legends concerning the foundation of his sanctuaries.”

And further on he writes—

Thus “schools of poets came to form themselves, which were no less intimately connected with the sanctuary than were the art of sacred architecture and hieratic sculpture.”

But, as we have before seen, the lack of a priestly organization in Greece obscured the development of the professions in general, and that of architects among others.

That much of the Roman cult was not indigenous, and that importation of knowledge and skill from abroad confused the development of the professions, we have seen in other cases. The influence of the Etruscans was marked, and it appears that of the religious appliances derived from them, architecture was one. Duruy writes:—

“Etruria also furnished the architects who built the Roma quadrata of the palatine, and constructed the first temples; she provided even the flute-players necessary for the performance of certain rites.”

But the identity eventually established between the chief priest and the chief architect, in the person of the Pontifex maximus, while it illustrates the alleged connexion, also reminds us of one of the original causes for the priestly origin of the professions—the possession of learning and ability by priests. Among primitive peoples, special skill is associated with the idea of supernatural power. Even the blacksmith is, in some African tribes, regarded as a magician. Naturally, therefore, the Roman who either first devised the arch, or who first conspicuously displayed skill in constructing an arch, was supposed to be inspired by the gods. [3-291] For though the arch is now so familiar that it does not excite wonder, it must, when first used, have appeared an incomprehensible achievement. Hence a not unlikely cause, or at any rate an ancillary cause, for the union of priest and bridge-builder.

§ 708. After the fall of the Roman Empire the social disorganization which arrested mental activities and their products, arrested architecture among them. Its re-commencement, when it took place, was seen in the raising of ecclesiastical edifices of one or other kind under the superintendence of the priestly class. Referring to certain Benedictine monasteries after the time of Charlemagne, Lacroix writes:—

“It was there that were formed the able architects and ecclesiastical engineers who erected so many magnificent edifices throughout Europe, and most of whom, dedicating their lives to a work of faith and pious devotion, have, through humility, condemned their names to oblivion.”

Speaking of France, and saying that up to the tenth century the names of but few architects are recorded, the same author says:—

“Among them, however, are Tutilon, a monk of St. Gall, . . . Hugues, Abbot of Montier-en-Der; Austée, Abbot of St. Arnulph, . . . Morard, who, with the co-operation of King Robert, rebuilt, towards the end of the tenth century, the old church of St. Germain-des-Prés, at Paris; lastly, Guillaume, Abbot of St. Benignus, at Dijon, who . . . became chief of a school of art.”

And he further says:—

“In the diocese of Metz Gontran and Adélard, celebrated Abbots of St. Trudon, covered Hasbaye with new buildings. ‘Adélard,’ says a chronicler, ‘superintended the construction of fourteen churches.’ ”

This association of functions continued long after. According to Viollet-le-Duc, the religious houses, and especially the abbey of Cluny, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, furnished most of the architects of Western Europe, who executed not only religious but also civil and perhaps military buildings.


The differentiation of the architect from the priest is implied in the following further quotation from Lacroix:—

“It was, moreover, at this period [of transition from Norman to Gothic] that architecture, like all the other arts, left the monasteries to pass into the hands of lay architects organised into confraternities.”

Similar is the statement of Viollet-le-Duc, who, observing that in the 13th century the architect appears as an individual, and as a layman, says that about the beginning of it “we see a bishop of Amiens . . . charging a lay architect, Robert le Luzarches, with the building of a great cathedral.” A curious evidence of the transition may be added.

“Raphael, in one of his letters, states that the Pope (Leo X.) had appointed an aged friar to assist him in conducting the building of St. Peter’s; and intimates that he expected to learn some ‘secrets’ in architecture from his experienced colleague.”

Passing to our own country we find Kemble, in The Saxons in England, remarking of the monks that—

“painting, sculpture and architecture were made familiar through their efforts, and the best examples of these civilizing arts were furnished by their churches and monasteries.”

In harmony with this statement is that of Eccleston.

“To Wilfrid of York and Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth in the 7th century, the introduction of an improved style of architecture is due; and under their direction several churches and monasteries were built with unusual splendour.”

And afterwards, speaking of the buildings of the Normans and of their designers, he says of the latter—

“Amongst the foremost appeared the bishops and other ecclesiastics, whose architectural skill was generally not less effective than their well bestowed riches.”

How the transition from the clerical to the lay architect took place is not shown; but it is probable that, eventually, the clerical architect limited himself to the general character of the edifice, leaving the constructive part to the master-builder, from whom has descended the professional architect.


§ 709. Chiefly for form’s sake reference must be made to the gathering together and consolidation which, in our times, has been set up in the architect’s profession. There is little to remark further than that, the members of it having been but few during earlier periods, when the amount of architectural building was relatively small, segregation and association of them could scarcely occur. Recently, however, there has been formed an Institute of Architects, and the body of men devoted to the art is tending more and more to make itself definite by imposing tests of qualification.

At the same time cultivation of the art and maintenance of the interests of those pursuing it are achieved by sundry special periodicals.





§ 710. The association between architecture, sculpture, and painting is so close that the description of their origins, considered as distinct from one another, is not easy; and those who judge only from the relations under which they are found in the remains of early civilizations are apt to be misled. Thus Rawlinson remarks that—

“Sculpture in Egypt was almost entirely ‘architectonic,’ and was intended simply, or at any rate mainly, for architectural embellishment. . . . The statues of the gods had their proper place in shrines prepared for them. . . . Even the private statues of individuals were intended for ornaments of tombs.”

Here the implication appears to be that as, in historic Egypt, sculpture existed in subordination to architecture, it thus existed from the beginning. This is a mistake. There is abundant reason to conclude that everywhere sculpture, under the form of carving in wood, preceded architecture, and that the tomb and the temple were subsequent to the image.

In the first volume of this work (§ § 154—158) evidence of various kinds, supplied by various peoples, was given proving that in its initial form an idol is a representation of a dead man, conceived as constantly or occasionally inhabited by his ghost, to whom are made offerings, prayers for aid, and propitiatory ceremonies. Confusion arising in the uncritical mind of the savage between the qualities of [3-295] the original and the like qualities supposed to accompany a likeness of the original, long survived. Its survival was shown among the Egyptians by their seemingly strange practice of placing, in a compartment of the tomb, a wooden figure (or more than one) intended as an alternative body for the spirit of the departed on his return, in case his mummied body should have been destroyed. Still more strange is the fact referred to in the sections named above, that among ourselves and other Europeans but a few centuries ago, the effigies of kings and princes, gorgeously apparelled, were duly presented with meals for some time after death: such effigies being, some of them, still preserved in Westminster Abbey. Merely recognizing this long persistence of the primitive idea, it here concerns us only to note that the making of a carved or modelled figure of a dead man, begins in low stages of culture, along with other elements of primitive religion; and that thus sculpture has its root in ghost-worship, while the sculptor, in his primitive form, is one of the agents of this worship.

The tomb and the temple are, as is shown in § 137, developed out of the shelter for the grave—rude and transitory at first, but eventually becoming refined and permanent; while the statue, which is the nucleus of the temple, is an elaborated and finished form of the original effigy placed on the grave. The implication is that, as with the temple so with the statue, the priest, when not himself the executant, as he is among savages, remains always the director of the executant—the man whose injunctions the sculptor carries out.

§ 711. Of evidence to be set down in support of this general proposition we may begin with that, relatively small in amount, which is furnished by existing uncivilized races.

Concerning the Gold Coast Negroes, Bosman tells us that they “generally build a small cottage or hut . . . on the grave,” and also that in some parts “they place several [3-296] earthen images on the graves.” Bastian, writing of the Coast Negroes, says clay figures of departed chiefs with their families are placed in groups under the village tree. Nothing is added about the makers of these clay images; but in another case we find evidence of priestly origin. According to Tuckey, a certain fetich-rock on the Congo “is considered as the peculiar residence of Seembi, the spirit which presides over the river;” that on some of the rocks “are a number of raised figures,” made of some composition which appears “like stone sculptured in low relief”—rude representations of men, beasts, ships, &c.: “they were said to be the work of a learned priest of Nokki, who taught the art to all those who chose to pay him.”

The Polynesian races yield some evidence: relevant facts are narrated of the Sandwich Islanders by Cook and Ellis. The one describes the burying places as containing many wooden images representing their deities, some in huts, others not; and the other tells us that “each celebrated tii [spirit] was honoured with an image.” That these celebrated spirits were originally the ghosts of deceased chiefs, is implied by the account given of an allied Polynesian race, the New Zealanders. Among these, according to Thomson, the bodies of chiefs, in some cases “interred within the houses where they died,” where they were bewailed by relatives for weeks [a rude temple and a rude worship], had “rude human images, 20 or 40 feet high,” erected as monuments to them. Though in neither of these cases are we told by whom such images of deceased men were made, yet since of New Zealand artists the best are found among the priests, as asserted by Thomson, while Angas tells us that the priest is generally the operator in the ceremony of tattooing (he being supposed to excel in all sorts of carving), the implication is that he is the maker of these effigies—in the cases of chiefs, if not in other cases. For while it is alleged that the house-posts, rudely representing deceased members of an ordinary family, are made by members of the family, we [3-297] have, in the special characters of the effigies made of chiefs, evidence that priests have been the executants. Dr. Ferdinand von Hochstetter says:—

“The carved Maori-figures, which are met with on the road, are the memorials of chiefs, who, while journeying to the restorative baths of Rotorua, succumbed to their ills on the road. Some of the figures are decked out with pieces of clothing or kerchiefs; and the most remarkable feature in them is the close imitation of the tattooing of the deceased, by which the Maoris are able to recognize for whom the monument has been erected. Certain lines are peculiar to the tribe, others to the family, and again others to the individual.”

As the priests are the professional tattooers, probably being also the authorities concerning tribal and family marks, it is a fair inference that they are the makers of these images of chiefs, in which the tribal, family, and individual marks are represented.

Certain usages have been found among the Australians which, if not directly relevant, are indirectly relevant. At an initiation ceremony in the Murring tribe, according to Howitt—

“A similar rude outline of a man in the attitude of the magic dance, being also Daramūlŭn, is cut by the old men (wizards) at the ceremonies, upon the bark of a tree at the spot where one of them knocks out the tooth of the novice. . . .

“At a subsequent stage of the proceedings a similar figure is moulded on the ground in clay, and is surrounded by the native weapons which Daramūlŭn is said to have invented.”

Here the obvious implication is that the traditional hero, Daramulun, is represented by the figures which the wizards (medicine-men or priests) make; while the initiation ceremony is the dedication of the novice to him, considered as present in the figure: to which figure, indeed, a road is marked out on the tree, down which Daramulun is supposed to descend to the image.

By the above-named house-posts which, among the New Zealanders, are erected as memorials of members of the family, we are introduced to the further set of illustrations [3-298] furnished by household gods. These the accounts of various races in various parts of the world make familiar.

Concerning the Kalmucks and Mongols, who have such domestic idols, Pallas tells us that the priests are the painters, as well as the makers, of images of copper and clay.

According to Ellis the idol-worship of the Malagasy “appears to have sprung up in comparatively modern times, and long subsequently to the prevalence of the worship of household gods.” But who were the makers of either does not appear.

§ 712. How it would naturally happen that while, in the first stages, the priest was the actual carver of images, he became, in later stages, the director of those who carved them, will be easily understood on remembering that a kindred relation between the artist and his subordinate exists now among ourselves. The modern sculptor does not undertake the entire labour of executing his work, but gives the rough idea to a skilled assistant who, from time to time instructed in the needful alterations, produces a clay-model to which his master gives the finished form: the reproduction of the model in marble by another subordinate being similarly dealt with by the sculptor. Evidently it was in something like this sense that priests throughout the East were sculptors in early days, as some are in our own days. Writing of the Singhalese, Tennent says:—

“Like the priesthood of Egypt, those of Ceylon regulated the mode of delineating the effigies of their divine teacher, by a rigid formulary, with which they combined corresponding directions for the drawing of the human figure in connection with sacred subjects.”

From Egypt, here referred to, may be brought not only evidence that the sculptured forms of those to be worshiped were prescribed by the priests in conformity with the traditions they preserved, but also evidence that in some cases they were the actual executants. Mentu-hotep, a priest of the 12th dynasty, yields an example.


“Very skilled in artistic work, with his own hand he carried out his designs as they ought to be carried out.” He “besides was invested with religious functions” and “was the alter ego of the king.” His inscription says:—“ ‘I it was who arranged the work for the building of the temple.’ ”

An inscription of the 18th dynasty refers to one Bek, architect of Amenhotep IV, who, being described as “the follower of the divine benefactor” was apparently a priest, and who was both an executant and a supervisor of others’ work. He is referred to as—

“overseer of the works at the red mountain, an artist and teacher of the king himself, an overseer of the sculptors from life at the grand monuments of the king for the temple of the sun’s disk.”

A further fact is given. Bek, says of himself “My lord promoted me to be chief architect. I immortalized the name of the king . . . [I caused] to be made two portrait-statues of noble hard stone in this his great building. It is like heaven. . . . Thus I executed these works of art, his statues.”

What evidence Greek records yield, though not extensive, is to the point. Curtius, who, referring to actions of the singers and composers of hymns as well as to those of the plastic artists, says that “the service of the temple comprehends the whole variety of these efforts,” also says that “the earliest sculptors were persons of a sacerdotal character.” On another page he adds, concerning sculpture—

“In this domain of artistic activity, all things were bound by the decrees of the priests and by close relations with religion. . . . They [the artists] were regarded as persons in the service of the divine religion.”

The extent to which sculpture subserved religious purposes may be judged from the statement of Mahaffy that—

“The greatest sculptors, painters, and architects had lavished labour and design upon the buildings [of the oracle at Delphi]. Though Nero had carried off 500 bronze statues, the traveller estimated the remaining works of art at 3000, and yet these seem to have been almost all statues.”


As showing the course of professional development it may be remarked that though, in archaic Greek sculpture, the modes of representing the various deities were, as in Egypt and India, so completely fixed in respect of attitudes, clothing, and appurtenances that change was sacrilege, the art of the sculptor, thus prevented from growing while his semi-priestly function was under priestly control, simultaneously began to acquire freedom and to lose its sacred character when, in such places as the pediments of temples, figures other than divine, and subjects other than those of worship, came to be represented. Apparently through transitions of this kind it was that sculpture became secularized. Men engaged in chiselling out statues and reliefs in fulfilment of priestly dictates were regarded simply as a superior class of artisans, and did not receive credit as artists. But when, no longer thus entirely controlled, they executed works independently, they gained applause by their artistic skill and “became prominent celebrities, whose studios were frequented by kings.”

To the reasons, already more than once suggested, why in Rome the normal development of the professions was broken or obscured, may be added, in respect of the profession of sculptor, a special reason. Says Mommsen:—

“The original Roman worship had no images of the gods or houses set apart for them; and although the god was at an early period worshipped in Latium, probably in imitation of the Greeks, by means of an image, and had a little chapel (aedicula) built for him, such a figurative representation was reckoned contrary to the laws of Numa.”

The appended remark that the representation of the gods was “generally regarded as an impure and foreign innovation” appears to be in harmony with the statement of Duruy.

“Even after the Tarquins, the images of the gods, the work of Etruscan artists, were still made only in wood or clay, like that of Jupiter in the Capitol, and like the quadriga placed on the top of the temple.”


The contempt felt by the Romans for every other occupation than the military, and the consequent contempt for art and artists imported from conquered peoples, resulted in the fact that in the time of the Cæsars sculptors and painters “were generally either slaves or freedmen.” Probably the only concern the priests had with sculpture was when prescribing the mode in which this or that god should be represented.

§ 713. Such records as have come down to us from early Christian times illustrate the general law of evolution in the respect that they show how little the arts of design were at first specialized. It has been often remarked that in days comparatively modern separation of the various kinds of mental activity was much less marked than it has since become: instance the fact that Leonardo da Vinci was man of science as well as artist; instance the fact that Michael Angelo was at once poet, architect, sculptor and painter. This union of functions in the plastic arts seems to have been still more the rule in preceding ages. Evidence about the sculptors’ art is mingled with evidence about kindred arts. Says Emeric-David—“The same masters were goldsmiths, architects, painters, sculptors, and sometimes poets, as well as being abbots or even bishops.” Of the Gallo-Francs we are told by Challamel and others that the chief industrial art was gold-working, the great schools of which were certain monasteries; that the great artists in it were monks, and their products ecclesiastical plate, vestments and decorations, funeral monuments, &c. And in the last part of which statement we see the implication that the sculpturing of figures on monuments was a priestly occupation. This is also implied by the statement of Émeric-David that in the 10th century Hugues, monk of Monstier-en-Der, was painter and statuary. Further proof that miscellaneous art-works were carried on by the clerical class is given by Lacroix and Sere, who say that early in the 11th century a [3-302] monk, named Odoram, executed shrines and crucifixes in gold and silver and precious stones. In the middle of the 12th century another monk, Theophilus, was at once painter of manuscripts, glass-stainer, and enamelling goldsmith.

Concerning these relationships in England during early days, I find no evidence. The first relevant statements refer to times in which the plastic arts, which no doubt were all along shared in by those lay-assistants who did the rough work under clerical direction—such as chiselling out monuments in the rough according to order—had lapsed entirely into the hands of these lay-assistants. They having been in the preceding times nothing but skilful artisans, their work, when it came to be monopolized by them, was for a long time regarded as artisan-work. Hence the statement that—

“Previously to the reign of Charles I the sculptor seems hardly to have been considered an artist.” “Nicholas Stone was the sculptor most in vogue. He was master-mason to the king.”

I may add that in early days, monks—St. Dunstan being an example—occupied themselves in executing the details of ecclesiastical buildings—the foliations of windows, screens, and the like. It is said that when sculpturing the heads used for gargoyles, they sometimes amused themselves by caricaturing one another.

§ 714. Recent stages in the development of sculpture are not easy to trace. But there seems to have occurred in modern times a process parallel to that which we saw occurred in Greece. During the first stages in the secularization of his business the carver of marble carried with him the character previously established—he was a superior artisan. Only in course of time, as his skill was employed for other than sacred purposes, did he become independent and begin to gain reputation as an artist. And his position has risen along with the devotion of his efforts more and more to subjects unconnected with religion.

Let it be observed, however, that even still sculpture [3-303] retains in considerable measure its primitive character as an ancillary to ancestor-worship. A carved marble effigy in a Christian church differs but little in meaning from a carved wooden figure of a dead man placed on his grave in savage and semi-civilized societies. In either case the having an image made, and the subsequent conduct in presence of it, imply the same prompting sentiment: there is always more or less of awe or respect. Moreover, sculpture continues to be largely employed for the expression of this sentiment, not in churches only, but in houses. The preservation of a bust by descendants commonly implies recognition of worth in the original, and is thus in a faint way an act of worthship.

Hence only that kind of sculpture which is not devoted to the representation of deceased persons, either in public or private edifices, or in open places, can be considered as absolutely secularized. One who takes his subjects from ancient myth, or history, or from the life around, may be considered as alone the sculptor who has lost all trace of the original priestly character.

With recognition of the completed process of differentiation there is nothing here to join respecting the process of integration. Sculptors have not yet become sufficiently numerous to form entirely independent unions. Such combination as has arisen among them we shall have to recognize in the next chapter, in association with the combinations of painters.





§ 715. Pictorial representation in its rudest forms not only precedes civilization but may be traced back to prehistoric man. The delineations of animals by incised lines on bones, discovered in the Dordogne and elsewhere, prove this. And certain wall-paintings found in caves variously distributed, show, in extant savage races or ancestors of them, some ability to represent things by lines and colours.

But if we pass over these stray facts, which lie out of relation to the development of pictorial art during civilization, and if we start with those beginnings of pictorial art which the uncivilized transmitted to the early civilized, we see that sculpture and painting were coeval. For, excluding as not pictorial that painting of the body by which savages try to make themselves feared or admired, we find painting first employed in completing the image of the dead man to be placed on his grave—a painting of the carved image such as served to make it a rude simulacrum. This was the first step in the evolution of painted figures of apotheosized chiefs and kings—painted statues of heroes and gods.

We shall the better appreciate this truth on remembering that the complete differentiation of sculpture from painting which now exists did not exist among early peoples. In ancient times all statues were coloured: the aim being to produce something as like as possible to the being commemorated.


§ 716. The already named images of dead New Zealand chiefs tattooed in imitation of their originals, illustrate primitive attempts to finish the representations of departed persons by surface-markings and colours; and the idols preserved in our museums—not painted only but with imitation eyes and teeth inserted—make clear this original union of the two arts.

Of evidence that the priests painted as well as carved these effigies, little is furnished by travellers. Bourke writes of the Apaches:—“All charms, idols, talismans, medicine hats, and other sacred regalia should be made, or at least blessed, by the medicine-men.” But while the agency of the primitive priest in idol-painting must remain but partially proved, we get clear proof of priestly agency in the production of other coloured representations of religious kinds. Describing certain pictographs in sand, Mr. Cushing says:—

“When, during my first sojourn with the Zuñi, I found this art practice in vogue among the tribal priest-magicians and members of cult societies, I named it dry or powder painting.” The pictures produced “are supposed to be spiritually shadowed, so to say, or breathed upon by the gods or god-animals they represent, during the appealing incantations or calls of the rites. . . . Further light is thrown on this practice of the Zuñi in making use of these suppositively vivified paintings by their kindred practice of painting not only fetiches of stone, etc., and sometimes of larger idols, then of washing the paint off for use as above described, but also of powder painting in relief; that is, of modeling effigies in sand, sometimes huge in size, of hero or animal gods, sacramental mountains, etc., powder painting them in common with the rest of the pictures, and afterwards removing the paint for medicinal or further ceremonial use.”

But the clearest evidence is yielded by the Navajo Indians. Dr. Washington Matthews in a contribution on “The Mountain Chant, a Navajo ceremony,” says—

“The men who do the greater part of the actual work of painting, under the guidance of the chanter, have been initiated [four times], but need not be skilled medicine men or even aspirants to the craft of the shaman. . . . The pictures are drawn according to an exact system. The shaman is frequently seen correcting the workmen and making [3-306] them erase and revise their work. In certain well defined instances the artist is allowed to indulge his individual fancy. This is the case with the gaudy embroidered pouches which the gods carry at the waist. Within reasonable bounds the artist may give his god just as handsome a pouch as he wishes. Some parts of the figures, on the other hand, are measured by palms and spans, and not a line of the sacred design can be varied.” [*]

Unquestionably then pictorial art in its first stages was occupied with sacred subjects, and the priest, when not himself the executant, was the director of the executants.

§ 717. The remains and records of early historic peoples yield facts having like implications.

As shown already there existed in America curious transitions between worshiping the actual dead man and worshiping an effigy of him—cases in which a figure was formed of portions of his body joined with artificial portions. The Nile Valley furnished other transitions. Concerning the Macrobrian Ethiopians, Herodotus tells the strange story that—

“When they have dried the body, either as the Egyptians do, or in some other way, they plaster it all over with gypsum, and paint it, [3-307] making it as much as possible resemble real life; they then put round it a hollow column made of crystal.”

And to this plastered, painted, and enclosed mummy they made offerings. The Egyptian usage diverged from this simply in the casing of the mummy and in the painting: the one being opaque and the other consequently external. For the carved and painted representation of a human figure on the outer mummy-case, was doubtless a conventionally-stereotyped representation of the occupant. And since, in all such cases, the ancestor-worship, now of private persons, now of major and minor potentates, was a religion, painting as thus employed was a religious art.

The leading subjects of Egyptian wall-paintings are worshiping and killing: the last being, indeed, but a form of the first; since pictures of victorious fights are either glorifications of the commemorated commanders or of the gods by whose aids they conquered, or both. In early societies sacrifice of enemies is religious sacrifice, as shown among the Hebrews by the behaviour of Samuel to Agag. Hence the painting in these Egyptian frescoes is used for sacred purposes.

That in Ancient Egypt the priest was the primitive sculptor we have already seen; and the association of painting with sculpture was so close as to imply that he was also the primitive painter—either immediately or by proxy. For, seeing that, as Brugsch remarks, Egyptian art “is bound by fetters which the artist dared not loosen for fear of clashing with traditional directions and ancient usage,” it results that the priests, being depositaries of the traditions, guided the hands of those who made painted representations when they did not themselves make them. But there is direct proof. Erman says:—“Under the Old Empire the high priest of Memphis was regarded as their chief, in fact he bore the title of ‘chief leader of the artists,’ and really exercised this office.” In another passage describing the administration of the great temple of Amon he tells us that [3-308] the Theban god had his own painters and his own sculptors; both being under the supervision of the second prophet. It may be that, as in the case of the Indians above named, these working painters had passed through some religious initiation and were semi-priestly.

In connexion with this use of painting for sacred purposes in Egypt, I may add evidence furnished by an existing religion. Says Tennent concerning the Buddhists of Ceylon:—

“The labours of the sculptor and painter were combined in producing these images of Buddha, which are always coloured in imitation of life, each tint of his complexion and hair being in religious conformity with divine authority, and the ceremony of ‘painting of the eyes,’ is always observed by the devout Buddhists as a solemn festival.”

It is interesting to remark that in its mural representations, Egypt shows us transitions from sculpture to painting, or, more strictly, from painted sculpture to painting proper. In the most sculpturesque kind the painted figures stood out from the general field and formed a bas-relief. In the intermediate kind, relief-en-creux, the surfaces of the painted figures did not rise above the general field, but their outlines were incised and their surfaces rendered convex. And then, finally, the incising and rounding being omitted, they became paintings.

By the Greeks also, painting was employed in making finished representations of the greater or smaller personages worshiped—now the statues in temples and now the figures on stelæ used to commemorate deceased relatives, which, cut out in relief, were, we may fairly infer, coloured in common with other sculptured figures, just as were those on Etruscan sarcophagi. Of this inference there has recently been furnished a justification by the discovery of certain remains which, while they show the use of colour in these memorials, show also the transition from raised coloured figures to coloured figures not raised. Explorations [3-309] carried on in Cyprus by Mr. Arthur Smith, of the British Museum, have disclosed—

“a series of limestone stelæ or tombstones, on which is painted the figure of the person commemorated. The surface of the limestone is prepared with a white ground, on which the figure is painted in colours and in a manner which strongly recalls the frescoes of Pompeii.”

The painting being here used in aid of ancestor-worship, is in that sense, religious. Very little evidence seems forthcoming concerning other early uses of painting among the Greeks. We read that before the Persian war, the application of painting “was almost limited to the decoration of sacred edifices, and a few other religious purposes, as colouring or imitating bas-reliefs, and in representations of religious rites on vases or otherwise.” In harmony with this statement is the following from Winckelmann:—

“The reason of the slower growth of painting lies partly in the art itself, and partly in its use and application. Sculpture promoted the worship of the gods, and was in its turn promoted by it. But painting had no such advantage. It was, indeed, consecrated to the gods and temples; and some few of the latter, as that of Juno at Samos, were Pinacothecæ, or picture galleries; at Rome, likewise, paintings by the best masters were hung up in the temple of Peace, that is, in the upper rooms or arches. But paintings do not appear to have been, among the Greeks, an object of holy, undoubting reverence and adoration.”

This relatively slow development of painting was due to its original subordination to sculpture. Independent development of it had scope only when by such steps as those above indicated it became separate; and, employed at first in temple-decoration, it gained this scope as sculpture did, in the ancillary and less sacred parts.

Partly because the Greek nature, and the relatively incoherent structure of the Greek nation, prevented the growth of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, with the normal developments arising from it, and partly—perhaps chiefly—because Greek civilization was in so large a measure influenced by the earlier civilizations adjacent to it, the further course of evolution in the art and practice of painting is broken. We [3-310] can only say that the secularization became marked in the later stages of Grecian life. Though before the time of Zeuxis various painters had occupied themselves with such semi-secular subjects as battles and with other subjects completely secular, yet, generally executed as these were for the ancillary parts of temples, and being tinctured by that sentiment implied in the representation of great deeds achieved by ancestors, they still preserved traces of religious origin. This is, indeed, implied by the remark which Mr. Poynter quotes from Lucian, that Zeuxis cared not “to repeat the representations of gods, heroes, and battles, which were already hackneyed and familiar.”

§ 718. The first stages in the history of painting, and of those who practised it, after the rise of Christianity, are confused by the influences of the pagan art at that time existing. It was only after this earliest Italian art, religious like other early art in nearly all its subjects, had been practically extinguished by barbarian invaders, that characteristic Christian art was initiated by introduction of the methods and usages which had been preserved and developed in Constantinople; and the art thus recommenced, entirely devoted to sacred purposes, was entirely priestly in its executants. “From the monasteries of Constantinople, Thessalonica, and Mount Athos,” says Mr. Poynter, “Greek artists and teachers passed into all the provinces of Southern Europe;” and thereafter, for a long period, the formal Byzantine style prevailed everywhere.

Of the scanty facts illustrating the subsequent relations between priest and painter in early Christian Europe, one is furnished by the ninth century.

Bogoris, the first christian king of the Bulgarians, solicited the emperor Michael “for the services of a painter competent to decorate his palace,” and the “emperor despatched [the monk] Methodius to the Bulgarian Court.”

The continuance of this connexion is shown by the following passage from Eastlake’s History:—


“In the practice of the arts of design, as in the few refined pursuits which were cultivated or allowed during the darker ages, the monks were long independent of secular assistance. Not only the pictures, but the stained glass, the gold and silver chalices, the reliquaries, all that belonged to the decoration and service of the church, were designed, and sometimes entirely executed by them; and it was not till the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the knowledge of the monastery began to be shared by the world at large, that painting in some degree emerged from this fostering though rigid tuition.”

Along with the practice of painting went knowledge of the ancillary art, the preparation of colours. In a later passage Eastlake says:—

“Cennini, speaking of the mode of preparing a certain colour, says that the receipt could easily be obtained, ‘especially from the friars.’ ”

In another passage there is implied an early step in secularization.

“Colours and other materials, when not furnished by monks who retained the ancient habits of the cloister, were provided by the apothecary.”

And further steps in the divergence of lay painters from clerical painters are implied by the statement of Laborde, quoted by Levasseur, to the effect that the illuminators of the thirteenth century had for the most part been monks, but that in the fourteenth and fifteenth laymen competed with them. Various painters in miniature and oil are mentioned. Painters continued to be illuminators as well; they also painted portraits and treated some sacred subjects.

Throughout early Christian art, devoted exclusively to sacred subjects, there was rigid adherence to authorized modes of representation, as in ancient pagan art—Egyptian or Greek. Over ecclesiastical paintings this control continued into the last century; as in Spain, where, under the title of Pictor Christianus, there was promulgated a sacro-pictorial law prescribing the composition of pictures in detail. Nay, such regulation continues still. M. Didron, who visited the churches and monasteries of Greece in 1839 says:—


“Ni le temps ni le lieu ne font rien à l’art grec; au XVIIIe siècle, le peintre moréote continue et calque le peintre vénitien du Xe, le peintre athonite du Ve ou du VIe. Le costume des personnages est partout et en tout temps le même, non-seulement pour la forme, mais pour la couleur, mais pour le dessin, mais jusque pour le nombre et l’épaisseur des plis. . . . On ne saurait pousser plus loin l’exactitude traditionnelle, l’esclavage du passé.”

And Sir Emerson Tennent, à propos of the parallelism between the rigid code conformed to by the monkish artists of the East and the code, equally rigid, conformed to by the Buddhists of Ceylon, quotes an illustrative incident concerning these priest-painters of Mount Athos, who manufacture pictures to pattern with “almost the rapidity of machinery.” M. Didron wished to have a copy of the code of instructions “drawn up under ecclesiastical authority,” but “the artist, when solicited by M. Didron to sell ‘cette bible de son art,’ naively refused, on the simple ground that . . . ‘en perdant son Guide, il perdait son art; il perdait ses yeux et ses mains.’ ”

§ 719. Concerning later stages in the rise of the lay painter, it must suffice to say that from the time of Cimabue, who began to depart from the rigidly formal style of the priestly Byzantine artists, the lay element predominated. Amid a number of apparently non-clerical painters, only a few clerics are named; as Don Lorenzo, Fra Giovanni, Fra Filippo Lippi, Fra Bartolommeo. But meanwhile it is to be observed that these secular painters, probably at first, like the secular sculptors, assistants to the priests in their work, were occupied mainly and often exclusively with sacred subjects.

Along with this differentiation of the lay painter from the clerical painter there began a differentiation of lay painters from one another; and the facts show us a gradual beginning where imagination would have suggested only an abrupt beginning. As I learn from an academician, the first form of portrait (omitting some painted under a surviving [3-313] classic influence, in those earliest days before art was extinguished by the barbarians) was that of the donor of a sacred picture to a church or other ecclesiastical edifice, who was allowed to have himself represented in a corner of the picture on his knees with hands joined in supplication.

Something similar happened with another form of art. Landscapes made their first appearance as small and modest backgrounds to representations of sacred personages and incidents—backgrounds the composition of which displays an artificiality congruous with that of the figure-composition. In course of time this background assumed a greater importance, but still it long remained quite subordinate. After it had ceased to be a mere accompaniment, landscape-painting in its secularized form was but partially emancipated from figure-painting. When it grew into a recognized branch of art, the title “Landscape with figures,” was still generally applicable; and down to our own day it has been thought needful to put in some living creatures. Only of late has landscape pure and simple, absolutely divorced from human life, become common.

Of course various classes and sub-classes of artists, broadly if not definitely marked off, are implied by these and other specialized kinds of paintings: some determined by the natures of the subjects treated and others by the natures of the materials used.

§ 720. For form’s sake it is requisite to say that here as always those units of a society who make themselves distinct by performing functions of a certain kind, presently, along with separation from the rest, begin to unite with one another. The specialized individuals form a specialized aggregate.

When in the Middle Ages the artists employed as assistants to priests for ecclesiastical decoration became a class, they grew into something like guilds. Levasseur, quoting Laborde, says they were hardly distinguished from artisans: [3-314] like them they formed corporations under the name of paintres, tailleurs d’ymaiges et voirriers. In Italy during the fourteenth century a Brotherhood of Painters arose, which, taking for its patron St. Luke the Evangelist, had for its purpose, partly mutual instruction and partly mutual assistance and protection.

That in modern times the tendency to integration has been illustrated all know. It needs only further to remark that the growth of the chief art-corporations has been followed by the growth of minor art-corporations, some of them specialized by the kinds of art practised; and also that embodiment of the profession is now aided by art-periodicals, and especially by one, The Artist, devoted to professional culture and interests.





§ 721. The saying that we cannot put old heads on young shoulders, figuratively expresses, among other truths, the truth that the beliefs which in youth result from small information joined with undisciplined thought and feeling, cannot, until after long years, be replaced by the beliefs which wider knowledge and better balanced mental powers produce. And while it is usually impracticable to ante-date the results of mental development and culture, it is also usually impracticable to arouse, during early stages, any such distrust of convictions then formed, as should be caused by the perception that there is much more to be learnt.

This general remark, trite in substance though it is, I am prompted to make à propos of the profound change which study of many peoples in many places and times, causes in those ideas of social organization which are current—ideas entertained not only by the young but also by the majority of the old, who, relatively to the subject-matter to be investigated, are also young. For patient inquiry and calm thought make it manifest that sundry institutions regarded with strong prejudices have been essential institutions; and that the development of society has everywhere been determined by agencies—especially political and ecclesiastical—of characters condemned by the higher sentiments and incongruous with an advanced social ideal.

One in whom aversion to autocratic rule is strong, does [3-316] not willingly recognize the truth that without autocratic rule the evolution of society could not have commenced; and one to whom the thought of priestly control is repugnant, cannot, without difficulty, bring himself to see that during early stages priestly control was necessary. But contemplation of the evidence, while proving these general facts, also makes it manifest that in the nature of things groups of men out of which organized societies germinate, must, in passing from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, have first assumed the form in which one individual predominates—a nucleus of the group serving as a centre of initiation for all subsequent steps in development. Though, as fast as society advances, and especially as fast as the militant type yields place to the industrial type, a centralized and coercive control, political and ecclesiastical, becomes less needful, and plays a continually decreasing part in social evolution; yet the evidence compels us to admit that at first it was indispensable.

This generalization, which we saw variously illustrated by political institutions and ecclesiastical institutions, we now see again illustrated by professional institutions. As the foregoing chapters have shown, all the professions originate by differentiation from the agency which, beginning as political, becomes, with the apotheosis of the dead ruler, politico-ecclesiastical, and thereafter develops the professions chiefly from its ecclesiastical element. Egypt which, by its records and remains, exhibits so well the early phases of social progress, shows us how at first various governmental functions, including the professional, were mingled in the king and in the cluster of those who surrounded the king. Says Tiele:—

“A conflict between the authority of priest and king was hardly possible in earlier times, for then the kings themselves, their sons, and their principal officers of state were the chief priests, and the priestly dignities were not dissevered from nor held to be inconsistent with other and civil functions.”


And again—

“The priestly offices were state functions . . . which did not differ at all in kind from that of commander of the troops, governor of a district, architect, and chamberlain. In fact, both kinds of office were, for the most part, filled by the same persons.”

And since, as Brugsch tells us, “Pharaoh’s architects (the Mur-ket) . . . were often of the number of the king’s sons and grandsons,” we see that in the governing group the political, ecclesiastical, and professional functions were united.

§ 722. No group of institutions illustrates with greater clearness the process of social evolution; and none shows more undeniably how social evolution conforms to the law of evolution at large. The germs out of which the professional agencies arise, forming at first a part of the regulative agency, differentiate from it at the same time that they differentiate from one another; and, while severally being rendered more multiform by the rise of subdivisions, severally become more coherent within themselves and more definitely marked off. The process parallels completely that by which the parts of an individual organism pass from their initial state of simplicity to their ultimate state of complexity.

Originally one who was believed by himself and others to have power over demons—the mystery-man or medicine-man—using coercive methods to expel disease-producing spirits, stood in the place of doctor; and when his appliances, at first supposed to act supernaturally, came to be understood as acting naturally, his office eventually lost its priestly character altogether: the resulting physician class, originally uniform, eventually dividing into distinguishable subclasses while acquiring a definite embodiment.

Less early, because implying more developed groups, arose those who as exhibitors of joy, now in the presence of the living ruler and now in the supposed presence of the deceased [3-318] ruler, were at first simultaneously singers and dancers, and, becoming specialized from the people at large, presently became distinct from one another: whence, in course of time, two groups of professionals, whose official laudations, political or religious, extended in their range and multiplied in their kinds. And then by like steps were separated from one another vocal and instrumental musicians, and eventually composers; within which classes also there arose subdivisions.

Ovations, now to the living king and now to the dead king, while taking saltatory and musical forms, took also verbal forms, originally spontaneous and irregular, but presently studied and measured: whence, first, the unrhythmical speech of the orator, which under higher emotional excitement grew into the rhythmical speech of the priest-poet, chanting verses—verses that finally became established hymns of praise. Meanwhile from accompanying rude imitations of the hero’s acts, performed now by one and now by several, grew dramatic representations, which little by little elaborated, fell under the regulation of a chief actor, who prefigured the playwright. And out of these germs, all pertaining to worship, came eventually the various professions of poets, actors, dramatists, and the subdivisions of these.

The great deeds of the hero-god, recited, chanted or sung, and mimetically rendered, naturally came to be supplemented by details, so growing into accounts of his life; and thus the priest-poet gave origin to the biographer, whose narratives, being extended to less sacred personages, became secularized. Stories of the apotheosized chief or king, joined with stories of his companions and amplified by narratives of accompanying transactions, formed the first histories. And from these accounts of the doings of particular men and groups of men, partly true but passing by exaggeration into the mythical, came the wholly mythical, or fiction; which then and always preserved the biographico-historical character. Add to which that out of the criticisms and reflections [3-319] scattered through this personal literature an impersonal literature slowly emerged: the whole group of these products having as their deepest root the eulogies of the priest-poet.

Prompted as were the medicine-men of savages and the priests of early civilized peoples to increase their influence, they were ever stimulated to acquire knowledge of natural actions and the properties of things; and, being in alleged communication with supernatural beings, they were supposed to acquire such knowledge from them. Hence, by implication, the priest became the primitive man of science; and, led by his special experiences to speculate about the causes of things, thus entered the sphere of philosophy: both his science and his philosophy being pursued in the service of his religion.

Not only his higher culture but his alleged intercourse with the gods, whose mouthpiece he was, made him the authority in cases of dispute; and being also, as historian, the authority concerning past transactions and traditional usages, or laws, he acquired in both capacities the character of judge. Moreover, when the growth of legal administration brought the advocate, he, though usually of lay origin, was sometimes clerical.

Distinguished in early stages as the learned man of the tribe or society, and especially distinguished as the possessor of that knowledge which was thought of most value—knowledge of unseen things—the priest of necessity became the first teacher. Transmitting traditional statements concerning ghosts and gods, at first to neophytes of his class only but afterwards to the cultured classes, he presently, beyond instruction in supernatural things, gave instruction in natural things; and having been the first secular teacher has retained a large share in secular teaching even down to our own days.

As making a sacrifice was the original priestly act, and as the building of an altar for the sacrifice was by implication a priestly act, it results that the making of a shelter [3-320] over the altar, which in its developed form became the temple, was also a priestly act. When the priest, ceasing to be himself the executant, directed the artificers, he continued to be the designer; and when he ceased to be the actual designer, the master-builder or architect thereafter continued to fulfil his general directions. And then the temple and the palace in sundry early societies, being at once the residence of the apotheosized ruler and the living ruler (even now a palace usually contains a small temple) and being the first kinds of developed architecture, eventually gave origin to secular architecture.

A rude carved or modelled image of a man placed on his grave, gave origin to the sculptured representation of a god inclosed in his temple. A product of priestly skill at the outset, it continued in some cases to be such among early civilized peoples; and always thereafter, when executed by an artisan, conformed to priestly direction. Extending presently to the representation of other than divine and semi-divine personages, it eventually thus passed into its secularized form.

So was it with painting. At first used to complete the carved representation of the revered or worshiped personage, and being otherwise in some tribes used by the priest and his aids for exhibiting the tribal hero’s deeds, it long remained subservient to religion, either for the colouring of statues (as it does still in Roman Catholic images of saints, &c.), or for the decoration of temples, or for the portraiture of deceased persons on sarcophagi and stelæ; and when it gained independence it was long employed almost wholly for the rendering of sacred scenes: its eventual secularization being accompanied by its subdivision into a variety of kinds and of the executant artists into correlative groups.

Thus the process of professional evolution betrays throughout the same traits. In stages like that described by Huc as still existing among the Tibetans, where “the Lama is not merely a priest; he is the painter, poet, sculptor, [3-321] architect, physician,” there are joined in the same individual, or group of individuals, the potentialities out of which gradually arise the specialized groups we know as professions. While out of the one primitive class there come by progressive divergences many classes, each of these classes itself undergoes a kindred change: there are formed in it subdivisions and even sub-subdivisions, which become gradually more marked; so that, throughout, the advance is from an indefinite homogeneity to a definite heterogeneity.

§ 723. In presence of the fact that the immense majority of mankind adhere pertinaciously to the creeds, political and religious, in which they were brought up; and in presence of the further fact that on behalf of their creeds, however acquired, there are soon enlisted prejudices which practically shut out adverse evidence; it is not to be expected that the foregoing illustrations, even joined with kindred illustrations previously given, will make them see that society is a growth and not a manufacture, and has its laws of evolution.

From prime ministers down to plough-boys there is either ignorance or disregard of the truth that nations acquire their vital structures by natural processes and not by artificial devices. If the belief is not that social arrangements have been divinely ordered thus or thus, then it is that they have been made thus or thus by kings, or if not by kings then by parliaments. That they have come about by small accumulated changes not contemplated by rulers, is an open secret which only of late has been recognized by a few and is still unperceived by the many—educated as well as uneducated. Though the turning of the land into a food-producing surface, cleared, fenced, drained, and covered with farming appliances, has been achieved by men working for individual profit not by legislative direction—though villages, towns, cities, have insensibly grown up under the desires of men to satisfy their wants—though by spontaneous co-operation [3-322] of citizens have been formed canals, railways, telegraphs, and other means of communication and distribution; the natural forces which have done all this are ignored as of no account in political thinking. Our immense manufacturing system with its multitudinous inventions, supplying both home and foreign consumers, and the immense mercantile marine by which its products are taken all over the globe and other products brought back, have naturally and not artificially originated. That transformation by which, in thousands of years, men’s occupations have been so specialized that each, aiding to satisfy some small division of his fellow citizen’s needs has his own needs satisfied by the work of hundreds of others, has taken place without design and unobserved. Knowledge developing into science, which has become so vast in mass that no one can grasp a tithe of it, and which now guides productive activities at large, has resulted from the workings of individuals prompted not by the ruling agency but by their own inclinations. So, too, has been created the still vaster mass distinguished as literature, yielding the gratifications filling so large a space in our lives. Nor is it otherwise with the literature of the hour. That ubiquitous journalism which provides satisfactions for men’s more urgent mental wants, has resulted from the activities of citizens severally pursuing private benefits. And supplementing these come the innumerable companies, associations, unions, societies, clubs, subserving enterprise, philanthropy, culture, art, amusement; as well as the multitudinous institutions annually receiving millions by endowments and subscriptions: all of them arising from the unforced co-operations of citizens. And yet so hypnotized are nearly all by fixedly contemplating the doings of ministers and parliaments, that they have no eyes for this marvellous organization which has been growing for thousands of years without governmental help—nay, indeed, in spite of governmental hindrances. For in agriculture, manufactures, commerce, [3-323] banking, journalism, immense injuries have been done by laws—injuries afterwards healed by social forces which have thereupon set up afresh the normal courses of growth. So unconscious are men of the life of the social organism that though the spontaneous actions of its units, each seeking livelihood, generate streams of food which touch at their doors every hour—though the water for the morning bath, the lights for their rooms, the fires in their grates, the bus or tram which takes them to the City, the business they carry on (made possible by the distributing system they share in), the evening “Special” they glance at, the theatre or concert to which they presently go, and the cab home, all result from the unprompted workings of this organized humanity, they remain blind. Though by its vital activities capital is drafted to places where it is most wanted, supplies of commodities balanced in every locality and prices universally adjusted—all without official supervision; yet, being oblivious of the truth that these processes are socially originated without design of any one, they cannot believe that society will be bettered by natural agencies. And hence when they see an evil to be cured or a good to be achieved, they ask for legal coercion as the only possible means.

More than this is true. If, as every parliamentary debate and every political meeting shows, the demands for legislation pay no attention to that beneficent social development which has done so much and may be expected to increase in efficiency, still more do they ignore the laws of that development—still less do they recognize a natural order in the changes by which society passes from its lower to its higher stages. Though, as we have seen, the process of evolution exemplified in the genesis of the professions is similar in character to the process exemplified in the genesis of political and ecclesiastical institutions and everywhere else; and though the first inquiry rationally to be made respecting any proposed measure should be whether or not it falls within the lines of this evolution, and what must be the [3-324] effects of running counter to the normal course of things; yet not only is no such question ever entertained, but one who raised it would be laughed down in any popular assemblage and smiled at as a dreamer in the House of Commons: the only course thought wise in either the cultured or the uncultured gathering being that of trying to estimate immediate benefits and evils.

Nor will any argument or any accumulation of evidence suffice to change this attitude until there has arisen a different type of mind and a different quality of culture. The politician will still spend his energies in rectifying some evils and making more—in forming, reforming, and again reforming—in passing acts to amend acts that were before amended; while social schemers will continue to think that they have only to cut up society and re-arrange it after their ideal pattern and its parts will join together again and work as intended!






§ 723. The often-used illustration of rapid growth furnished by a rolling snowball, exemplifies what may be named compound accumulation. The snowball does not gain in size by like increments but by increments of larger and larger amounts. At every roll over, its augmented weight gives it additional power of licking up the snow; and, further, at every roll over, the increase of its bulk increases the surface for the adhesion of more snow. So that the increments stand in what may be roughly called triplicate ratios. In the spread of a great fire we see a kindred instance. Observe the stages:—A spark falling on drying linen, a slow smouldering combustion, a small flame, a large flame from adjacent light fabrics that take fire, a volume of flame greatly augmented by the setting alight of furniture, a roaring flame from the burning framework of the partitions and the floor-joists. There results a conflagration of the house, then perhaps of adjacent houses, and then possibly of a whole quarter of the town: successive additions to the fire enabling it to spread not only by contact but by radiant heat, which inflames objects at a distance.

While serving to suggest the course of human progress, and more especially industrial progress, under one of its aspects, these instances serve but incompletely; for not only does industrial progress exhibit a compound acceleration resulting from increase of the operative forces, but it exhibits a further acceleration resulting from decrease of resistances. While the power of the evolving influences augments in a [3-328] duplicate ratio, the power of the opposing influences diminishes in a duplicate ratio; and hence the fact that at the outset it took a thousand years to achieve a degree of improvement which is now achieved in one year.

As aids to teeth and hands, the primitive man had nothing beyond such natural products as lay around him—boulders, shells collected on the beach, bones, horns and teeth from the animals he had killed or found dead, branches torn from trees by storms. Roughly speaking, sticks and stones were his tools, and the sticks were necessarily unshapen; for he had nothing wherewith to cut their ends or smooth their surfaces. As alleged by General Pitt-Rivers, and shown by his collection, the stick was the parent of a group of implements—diggers, clubs, spears, boomerangs, throwing-sticks, shields, paddles; and only in courses of ages did the unimaginative savage produce these derived forms. Little by little he discovered how a stick or club, accidentally diverging in one or other direction from the average shape, served better for a special purpose; and he thereafter chose such sticks or clubs for such purposes: eventually falling into the habit of shaping fit pieces of wood into the fit forms.

Even this small advance was rendered possible only by the aid of rude tools, first for scraping and by and by for cutting; and the production of such tools took place almost insensibly during long periods. How many thousands of years back the Stone Age extends we do not know; but the roughly chipped flints found in geological deposits and in caves containing remains of extinct animals, imply great antiquity. Collisions of stones, now and then leaving edges fit for scraping with, and sometimes fit for cutting with, doubtless gave the first hints; and out of the breaking of many flints to get good pieces, grew, in the hands of the more skilful, the art of splitting off flakes with sharp edges, sometimes leaving a large sharp-edged core, also useful as a rough tool. From these forms, slowly differentiating from one another like the wooden implements, came definitely formed scrapers, notched [3-329] pieces for saws, leaf-shaped blades, and what were apparently lance-heads. During the subsequent neolithic period the development of tools, beginning with some that were almost equally archaic, was carried, doubtless by a higher type of man, to a higher stage. Hatchets with ground edges, and then others ground all over, were made; and presently came implements through which holes were bored to facilitate attachment to handles. Inspection of one of the finished arrow-heads show that a considerable step had been made—the use of tools to produce tools. This progress, having simultaneously given the ability to shape pieces of wood effectually, made possible such large cutting implements as adzes. It needs but to consider the acts required for hollowing out a canoe from the trunk of a tree, to see what advances must have been made before even this simple appliance for traversing the water could be produced.

From contemplation of such archeological evidence may be gained an idea of the immense difficulties which, throughout a vast period, impeded advance in the arts; and even in these early stages we may see how much the progress was aided by that which we shall find to be its chief factor—the cooperation of appliances.

§ 724. By what steps the hunting stage advanced into the pastoral stage we are not likely ever to know. Domestication of herbivorous animals must have been a long process. Only when the numbers reared yielded their owners a subsistence better than that obtained by catching wild creatures and gathering wild fruits, could there arise that form of social aggregation which has so widely prevailed in Asia, and which has been so influential in initiating the structures and habits of most civilized societies.

Beyond difficulties which the pastoral type encountered at the outset, difficulties ever continued to beset it. To find food for herds was a problem daily presented afresh, and necessitating perpetual migrations. Droughts, entailing [3-330] losses of stock, doubtless often prompted abandonment of the pastoral life and return to the hunting life. Discouragements must have frequently resulted from inability to find adequate supplies of water for flocks and herds. Unceasing care in shepherding was a heavy tax. Predacious beasts, sometimes stealthily approaching by day and having always to be guarded against at night, caused serious losses notwithstanding constant labour. And beyond enemies of large kinds there were small enemies to be contended with—the various parasites, internal and external, and the swarms of flies, from which at certain seasons it was needful to escape, as in our own times the Kalmucks escape with their cattle to the mountains.

In addition to the brute enemies there were the human enemies. Between men who took to a pastoral life and the hunting tribes they had left, chronic enmity must have grown up, and inroads upon herds must have been frequent. Then there presently arose conflicts between the pastoral tribes themselves. The strife between the dependents of Abraham and those of Lot, growing out of rival claims to pasturage, illustrates this evil. Not only must there have been fights about feeding grounds but also about thefts of cattle; as there are now among South African tribes, and as indeed there were among ourselves on the Scottish border not many generations ago.

Beyond general resistances to progress thus entailed, there have been in some cases special resistances akin to them. The adoption of a higher form of social life by one people engenders enmity in adjacent peoples who adhere to the old. The story of Cain and Abel, described as “tiller of the ground” and “keeper of sheep” (but who cannot be regarded as actual persons, since Adam was not in a condition for suddenly establishing his sons in arable farming and stockkeeping), evidently refers to leaders of tribes between which there arose a feud, because men of the one turned to agricultural purposes lands which men of the other claimed [3-331] the right to feed their flocks over. This we can scarcely doubt after learning from the ancient books of the East that this cause initiated chronic wars.

Evidently, then, the resistances to be encountered in the transition from the hunting life to higher forms of life were many and great, and doubtless caused innumerable failures. Nature shows us that many seeds are produced that a few may germinate, and that of those which germinate only some survive to maturity. With types of society the like has happened. We may safely conclude that those types out of which civilized societies came, established themselves only after countless abortive attempts.

§ 725. Like other kinds of progress, social progress is not linear but divergent and re-divergent. Each differentiated product gives origin to a new set of differentiated products. While spreading over the Earth mankind have found environments of various characters, and in each case the social life fallen into, partly determined by the social life previously led, has been partly determined by the influences of the new environment; so that the multiplying groups have tended ever to acquire differences, now major and now minor: there have arisen genera and species of societies.

Such low peoples as the Fuegians, Tasmanians, Australians, and Andaman Islanders, subsist exclusively on wild food, gathered or caught; and among the Fuegians and the Eskimo, no other food can be procured. Elsewhere, as in Australia, sustenance on tame animals and their products, is negatived by the absence of kinds fit for domestication. And these inferior varieties of hunters show us no rudiments of agriculture. It is otherwise with the superior hunting tribes of North America. While some live exclusively on game, roots, and fruits, others have partially passed from the hunting life into the agricultural life. The Dakotas in general are hunters only; but one division of them, the Mdewakantonwans, began, nearly a century since (apparently [3-332] in imitation of the whites), to grow corn, beans, and pumpkins. The Mandans, too, did not live exclusively on wild food, but raised “corn and some pumpkins and squashes.” Above all the Iroquois, the most civilized in their political organization as in their habits of life, had a considerably developed agriculture, for which, judging by their traditions, they were not indebted to Europeans. Morgan, describing a village enclosure, says:—

“Around it was the village field, consisting, oftentimes, of several hundred acres of cultivated land, which was subdivided into planting lots; those belonging to different families being bounded by uncultivated ridges.”

He tells us in another place that:—

“Corn [maize] has ever been the staple article of consumption among the Iroquois. They cultivated this plant, and also the bean and the squash, before the formation of the League.”

South America supplies like contrasts. Apibones and Patagonians maintain themselves on wild food only; but artificial products are used by the Guiana tribes, the Brazilian tribes, and others: different degrees of progress being shown by them. Of the Tupis we read:—

“The native mode of cultivating it [the soil] was rude and summary; they cut down the trees, let them lie till they were dry enough to burn, and then planted the mandioc between the stumps.”

The like is said of the Guiana Indians; while of the Mundrucus it is said by Bates that—“They make very large plantations of mandioca, and sell the surplus produce.” So, too, Wallace writes concerning the Uaupés:—

“They are an agricultural people, having a permanent abode, and cultivating mandiocca, sugar-cane, sweet potatoes, carrá, or yam, pupunha palms, cocura (a fruit like grapes), pine-apples, maize, urucú or arnotto, plantains and banánas, abios, cashews, ingás, peppers, tobacco, and plants for dyes and cordage.”

Thus, keeping of animals has not everywhere preceded agriculture. In the West considerable civilizations arose which gave no sign of having had a pastoral origin. Ancient Mexicans and Central Americans carried on crop-raising [3-333] without the aid of animals of draught; and lacking horses, cattle, and sheep as they did, there was no stock-farming to cooperate with arable farming by furnishing manure as well as traction. Of course a like industrial history is to be recognized among the South Sea Islanders.

Here, however, we are concerned not so much to note this independent origin of agriculture (which in the stages indicated is a kind of developed gardening) as to note the immense obstacles to cultivation in early stages. Some idea of these may be formed from the description given by Mr. James Rodway, F. L. S., of “Man’s conflict with Nature” in South America, where clearings are soon re-conquered by the invading vegetal life around. Speaking of an “ordinary squatter’s clearing,” he says:—

“Immediately behind is the forest, reaching out its hands, as it were, to embrace the little half-clearing. Whiplike extensions of scrambling vines stretch over the fruit trees and bring one after another under their canopy. . . . The man at last begins to see how the jungle is advancing, and looks on helplessly. . . . At last the house is surrounded and the creepers run over the thatch. Probably the uprights have already been attacked by wood ants and threaten to give way. A new house must be built, and this can be done better on a fresh clearing; so the place is abandoned, and Nature again triumphs. A few months later and the landing is choked, the house fallen, and the jungle impenetrable.”

Various hill-tribes in India yield illustrations of rude agriculture and its difficulties. Concerning the Lepchas, who “rarely remain longer than three years in one place,” we read that the process of clearing consists “in cutting down the smaller trees, lopping off the branches of the large ones, which are burnt, and scratching the soil with the ‘bân,’ after which, on the falling of a shower of rain, the seed is thrown into the ground.” Of the Bobo and Dhimáls it is said:—“The characteristic work is the clearing of fresh land, which is done every second year . . . Firing is the last effectual process.” “The Kookies,” says Butler, “raise only one crop, and then relinquish the land and cut down [3-334] new forests of bamboo for the cultivation of the succeeding year.” Concerning men of another tribe, Masters writes:—

“After the Naga has cultivated a piece of ground two years, and often one year only, he finds it so full of weeds . . . that it is not worth his while to sow it again, and he clears fresh jungle accordingly.”

And Mason says of the Karens:—

“Most of the Karen tribes change their fields annually . . . They clear a few acres of land, burn them over near the close of the dry season, the ashes serving as manure; and when the first showers fall, they plant their paddy.”

How laborious is their husbandry is proved by photographs illustrative of Karen life, kindly sent to me from Maulmain, Burma, by Mr. Max Ferrars. In them is shown the clearing of a patch of forest, which, after one crop of rice, must be left fallow for 10 to 20 years; there is the stage made on a steep hill-side for threshing; and there are the huts for watching: some of them of special construction to meet danger from tigers. Similarly among the Gonds. Notwithstanding that he has already made a fence round his clearing, “sometimes the owner of a dhya will watch at night on a platform in the middle of the field and endeavour to save it from wild animals.”

When we remember that such rude agriculture as these hill-tribes carry on, is made possible by an implement for which they are indebted to more advanced peoples—the axe—we may form some idea of the almost insurmountable obstacles which had to be overcome at the outset, when there were no implements but pointed sticks and hoes made of the blade-bones of animals, and when there was no knowledge of plant-culture. Indeed, it is surprising that agriculture ever arose at all: the reward was so uncertain and the labour required so great. And here is observable an instance of that increasing rapidity of progress referred to at the outset as arising from decrease of resistance. While rude cultivation was limited to little scattered spots amid vast tracts covered with forest, wild Nature continually overwhelmed [3-335] the husbandman’s artificial Nature. But the antagonism of wild Nature became gradually less effective as fast as the cleared areas became larger and the uncleared smaller. Even still, however, weeding while the crops are growing forms a considerable element in the cost of farming; and clearing the ground and burning the weeds after harvest forms a further element of cost: to which add that large parts of crops are often destroyed by injurious insects. Thought of these facts will still more impress us with the immense natural opposition to the cultivation of the soil in its early stages.

§ 726. To that developed system now named agriculture, in which the rearing of animals and plants is carried on simultaneously in such manner that each aids the other, more obstacles still were at the outset opposed. The supporting of animals on wild pastures widely scattered was excluded when cultivation of the ground began. Only such habitats were available as furnished grass or roots within a moderate area. A constant supply of water, too, became needful, since the daily driving of cattle and sheep to remote drinking places was impracticable. Further, it was needful that at no great distance there should be wood for fuel, implements, and the building of habitations. Hence the fit localities were comparatively few. There was requisite, too, some progress in the arts. Before the advantages yielded by animals of draught could be made available, a rude implement for turning up the soil had to be invented; and cutting tools of such kinds as admitted of considerable force being used had to be fashioned. No considerable area could be properly cultivated until some appliance for diminishing the labour of carrying in crops and carrying out manure, had been devised: probably at first a sledge. Then, too, the protection of domestic animals from robbers, brute and human, required a fold; where, also, manure could be collected.


In our own time Africa furnishes sundry transitional forms. The Hottentots and Damaras are pastoral and nomadic only. The Bechuanas “lead their herds to pasture, and construct enclosures for them;” and, besides their gardens, “their fields are commonly fenced round.” Thompson says of them:—

The Bechuanas “are agriculturists to a certain extent; but not sufficiently so as to derive from the soil more than a precarious and insufficient addition to their subsistence as herdsmen and hunters.”

Of the Kaffirs we read that they secure a continuous supply of green grass by burning the old grass; that they dig with little spades of hard wood; that they have fences round villages and sometimes round cornfields; and that they have subterranean granaries like the Iroquois. The Coast-negroes “have neither plough nor beasts of burden to assist in the operations of the field:” their agriculture “consists in throwing the rice upon the ground, and slightly scratching it into the earth with a kind of hoe;” and they “never raise two successive crops from the same plantation.” In Congo the land is manured only with the ashes obtained by burning the long reedy grass: they have no draught animals and therefore no ploughs. Agriculture among the Ashantis has not progressed beyond clearing and burning followed by a rude breaking up and scattering of seed. The Inland negroes, who cultivate many plants, are more advanced in their modes of operation, as well as in the variety of their animals: camel, horse, ass, ox, pig, goat, sheep, turkeys, ducks, geese, and fowls. A people near the Gambia visited by Mungo Park “collect the dung of their cattle for the purpose of manuring their land.” A race of higher type, the Fulahs, who have horses as well as cattle, “raise successive crops from the same ground . . . they collect the weeds, &c. . . . and burn them . . . hoe into the ground the ashes, after having mixed them with the dung of cattle.” Still more developed is agriculture among the most powerful of the African peoples, the Dahomans; who have cattle, sheep, [3-337] goats, and poultry. “Some, more industrious, dispose over their crofts the huge heaps of kitchen-midden that have grown about their houses.” In some cases two crops are obtained from the same ground annually. And then the Abyssinians have made a further step. Harris says:—

In Shoa “the plough is in use to the exclusion of the African hoe, and considerable industry is evinced in collecting and distributing the waters for artificial irrigation . . . Two crops are every year garnered in.” Cattle are used in ploughing, and muzzled oxen for treading out the grain. “Forty-three species of grain and other useful products are already cultivated in Abyssinia.”

This use of a soil-turning implement and this use of manure coming from animals, are steps in civilization of extreme importance; chiefly because they make possible a large population in a fixed habitat. Egyptian wall-paintings show that a plough, drawn by oxen, was early in use. When escaping from their captivity the Hebrews carried with them the agricultural knowledge gained; and while some of the tribes returned to their primitive shepherd-life, others, settling, fell into an advanced agricultural system and consequent development of city-life. The account of their doings during the periods of the Judges and Kings, implies ploughing, manuring, sowing, reaping, binding in sheaves, treading out corn, threshing, irrigation, terracing of hill sides; and at the same time the growth of vines, olives, and various fruits. The like happened with the Aryan races. Originally pastoral, they spread through Europe and, subjugating the indigenous races, fell into a mode of life in which there was a like union of these two leading processes—rearing herds and growing crops,—with similar effects: a settled life and an urban civilization.

But though the highest results have been thus reached, we must remember that, as shown by the ancient American peoples, great advances may be otherwise made.

§ 727. The foregoing rude outline will serve its purpose if it yields a general impression of early industrial progress [3-338] as having been met by many and great obstacles, and as having increased its rate when it surmounted one after another of these: the power of dealing with Nature having step by step increased while the resistances offered by Nature have step by step decreased.

But nothing like a complete conception of the impediments which it has taken many thousands of years to overcome, can be formed until we have observed those arising from human nature itself. The original traits of this were in various ways adverse to improvement. Chronic war which characterizes hunting tribes (originally prompted by increase of numbers and consequent lack of food) hinders the settled industrial life. It does this by drafting off men from peaceful pursuits; by generating a contempt for all occupations but that of fighting and a pride in robbing; and by entailing frequent destructions of settlements and losses of produce. Thus Barrow states that the Kaffirs were sometimes compelled, on account of war, to suspend agricultural operations for several years. The primitive Greeks, who took their arms with them to the fields, must have been much discouraged from farming by the raids which the tribes made on one another. Of the legendary period Grote writes—

“The celebrity of Autolykus, the maternal grandfather of Odysseus, in the career of wholesale robbery and perjury, and the wealth which it enabled him to acquire, are described [in the Homeric poems] with the same unaffected admiration as the wisdom of Nestôr or the strength of Ajax . . . Abduction of cattle, and expeditions for unprovoked ravage as well as for retaliation, between neighbouring tribes, appear ordinary phenomena.”

Clearly, while the predatory instincts are predominant, they stand in the way of those habits which initiate a higher social state.

The mental and bodily constitution fitted to a wild life, can be re-moulded to fit a settled life only by slow steps. Desires which find satisfaction in the chase, in adventures, in wandering, not dead even in ourselves, are so strong in the [3-339] savage as to make quietude intolerable; and the change which not only denies him activities appropriate to his powers and feelings, but forces on him monotonous labour, is both negatively and positively repugnant. Sudden transition from uncivilized to civilized life is, indeed, fatal; as was shown when, by the Jesuits in Paraguay, the natives were drilled into regular industry. They became infertile, and the numbers of the colony diminished.

Provident habits have to be acquired. The lowest types of men, revelling in abundance when accident brings it to them, thereafter remain idle until hunger compels activity. Though the higher hunting races display this trait less markedly, yet in them too there lacks that constant foresight, and subordination of the present to the future, which are required for the agricultural life.

Once more, there has to be profoundly modified that early type of nature over which custom is so tyrannical. The tribal practices, cruel though they may be, are submitted to by the young savage at his initiation without a murmur; and the sacredness attaching to usages of this kind, attaches to usages in general. Even by the lower civilized races the methods sanctified by tradition are adhered to spite of proof that other methods are much better. The thought of improvement, now so dominant with us, does not exist at first; and when by some accident better ways are suggested they are obstinately opposed.

In various ways, then, industrial progress, in common with progress at large, originally insensible in its rate, has become appreciable only in the course of ages, and only in modern times has become rapid. While the forces conducive to it have been continually increasing, resisting forces, both external and internal, have been continually decreasing; until at length the speed has become such that the improvements which science and enterprise have achieved during this century, are greater in amount than those achieved during all past centuries put together.





§ 728. These titles are in one sense equivalents and in another sense not. As used most comprehensively, the expression division of labour refers to all parts of that aggregate of actions by which the life of a society is carried on—the governmental, the militant, the ecclesiastical, the professional, as well as the industrial. But though the expression might fitly be used as equivalent in meaning to specialization of functions, the common acceptation of the word labour—effort expended in production—has narrowed its application. It has come to mean only that specialization of functions which directly or indirectly concerns the fulfilment of material wants, and the making of material aids to mental wants.

The last clause of this definition covers numerous processes not connected in any way with sustentation, or the satisfaction of the lower desires. The maker of a musical instrument, the compositor who helps to manufacture a book, the photographer and the seller of chromo-lithographs, the florist and the street flower-girl, are all of them engaged in producing or distributing material things; but these things have nothing to do with the maintenance of life. There are many classes whose labours minister to instruction and æsthetic gratification; and while the division of labour with which we are here concerned does not contemplate those who by their mental efforts yield the instruction and gratification, it contemplates among others those who subserve [3-341] the instruction and gratification by furnishing the needful appliances.

Another explanation must be added. Mental and bodily activities are mingled throughout all occupations. When we have excluded the activities of the political, religious, and administrative agencies as well as the activities of the professions, which are all essentially mental, there still remain among mental activities those by which the processes of production and distribution are regulated. The manufacturer with his superior employées, the merchant with his heads of departments and their clerks, are men whose exertions, though not commonly called labours, have to be here included; since they are among the functions of the organization by which production, distribution, and exchange are carried on.

§ 729. Wherever individuals join their actions for a common end that is not absolutely simple, some division of labour spontaneously arises. We see this even in such a transitory incident as a picnic. Immediately a spot for the repast has been decided on, some begin to unpack the hampers, others to collect fern for sitting upon, and presently, while the ladies lay the cloth and arrange the knives and forks, one of the gentlemen fetches water from a spring and another takes down the wine to be cooled in the neighbouring stream. Every one feels that confusion would result if all did the same thing, and without direction they promptly undertake different things.

The necessity of dividing any total work into parts, is, indeed, illustrated in the actions of a single person. Suppose a clerk is set to wrap up, and address, many copies of a pamphlet. If, pursuing an unmethodic course, he first cuts out one piece of wrapping paper, then lays down the knife, takes a pamphlet and folds it up, then seizes the paste-brush and fastens the wrapper, then puts back the brush and, looking at the address-book, dips his pen and writes, it is clear [3-342] that before he has finished he will have wasted much time and energy in these changes of occupation and changes of implements. If he is business-like he will first cut all the wrappers required, next he will address them all, then arranging a score or more one over another so as to expose the edge of each, he will wet with paste the whole number at once. In succession he will place each pamphlet so as to bring the ready-pasted edge of a wrapper into a fit position, and will turn the pamphlet over and fix it. Finally he will put on the stamps and tie up into parcels. From this individual division of labour to social division of labour the transition is obvious. For if, instead of being performed one after another by a single person, each of these processes is performed by a different person, we have a division of labour as ordinarily understood.

But beyond the immediate advantage gained when an individual divides his work into separate parts, or when a number of individuals divide the separate parts among them, there is, in this last case, a remoter advantage gained of great importance. When each of the cooperating individuals has his powers devoted to one process, he acquires by practice such skill that he executes his portion of the total work far more rapidly and effectually than it can be executed by one who undertakes all the portions.

Carrying with us these illustrations we are now prepared to study the division of labour as naturally arising in a society. There are several determining factors which we will consider in succession.

§ 730. The natural selection of occupations has for its primary cause certain original differences between individuals, partly physical, partly psychical. Let us for brevity’s sake call this the physio-psychological cause.

The most familiar and most marked example is that which accompanies difference of sex. Certain apportionments of occupations, fit respectively for men and women, we find all [3-343] the world over, up from the earliest stages. Though by no means uniform, and presenting remarkable exceptions, yet they have usually a common character, determined partly by the relative capacities and incapacities of the sexes, and in rude societies determined partly by the ability of the males to force on the females the least desirable occupations. Without implying that savage men are morally inferior to savage women (the last show just as much cruelty as the first where opportunity allows) it is clear that among people who are selfish in extreme degrees the stronger will ill-treat the weaker; and that besides other forms of ill-treatment will be that of imposing on them all the disagreeable tasks they are able to perform. As typical of the division of labour among the lowest races, may be taken that among the Fuegians. While the men fight, hunt, and procure the larger kinds of food,—

“The women nurse their children, attend the fire, . . . make baskets and water-buckets, fishing lines and necklaces, go out to catch small fish in their canoes, gather shell-fish, dive for sea-eggs, take care of the canoes, upon ordinary occasions paddle their masters about while they sit idle.”

And a similar general contrast holds among the Andaman Islanders, Tasmanians, Australians.

Hunting tribes of higher types show us kindred apportionments of work: instance the Dakotas, Chippewayans, Comanches, Chippewas. While the men fight, hunt, fish, and undertake such occasional labour as requires strength and skill—building houses and making canoes—to the women is deputed all drudgery not beyond their strength; and where, as among the Iroquois, a life partly agricultural is led, women do all the farm-work. One striking contrast, dependent on the modes of life, must be re-named. As pointed out in § 326, where, as among Chinooks, the occupations are such that sustentation is equally within the powers of both sexes, women have a quite different status, and are treated with due consideration.


The uncivilized peoples of South America present facts of a generally similar kind, made slightly different only by the greater extent to which an agricultural life has been adopted. Of Brazilian and Guiana tribes, Caribs, Uaupés, we read that the men when not at war, or catching animals, take for their labour only the clearing of the ground from trees, &c., leaving women to do the cultivation. A like general relation is found among African peoples. The males of Hottentots and Damaras, in addition to hunting and fighting, tend the cattle, but depute everything else to the females: even the building of huts. It is much the same with the Bechuanas and Kaffirs. On passing to the northern negro societies—the East Africans, Congo people, Coast negroes, Inland negroes—who have become in large measure agricultural, we find a greater share of labour taken by the men. They build, join in plantation work, doing the heavier part; and, having developed various special trades—carpenter, smith, leather-worker, weaver—are many of them devoted to these. In Ashanti and Dahomey, this assumption by men of special businesses and entailed labours is still more marked. The Fulahs, who are of a higher type, and in whose lives hunting occupies but a small space, show us a much nearer approach to the civilized division of labour between the sexes. Women’s work in addition to domestic duties includes little else than trading, while men attend to cattle and farming. Among the Abyssinians the state of things is somewhat similar.

Anomalies here and there occur which were exemplified in § 326, but passing over these aberrant customs, we have to notice only one further general fact which, though before named and exemplified, I recall because it is specially instructive.

Peoples unallied in race and living in regions remote from one another, show us that where exceptional conditions have made possible a perfectly peaceful life, and where the men are no longer occupied in war and the chase, the division of [3-345] labour between the sexes becomes humane in its character: the men do the heavy, outdoor work, and the women the light, indoor work. When treating of Domestic Institutions this contrast was indicated (§§ 327-9). In the Bodo and Dhimáls tribes, while the men clear the fields, till the ground, make the houses—

“The women, aided by the girls, are fully employed within doors in spinning, weaving and dyeing the clothing of the family, in brewing, and in cooking.”

Similarly of another hill-tribe, the peaceful Santals, we read—

“The male children plough, herd the cattle, reap the harvest, build and repair the family houses, make the carts and ploughs; distil the spirit Páchúï from rice, and perform all outdoor work; whilst the female children husk the junerá and rice; express oil from the mustard seed, cook the household food, attend the markets when near one, look after the poultry, pigs, goats, and pigeons; and when the parents are old and infirm the children become their support.”

Of the Todas, too, equally unwarlike, the same is said by Shortt. The wives “are left at home to perform what European wives consider their legitimate share of duty, and do not even step out of doors to fetch water or wood.” So is it too with a remote people, the Pueblos of North America, who “wall out black barbarism” by the structure of their compound village-dwellings, and who lead purely agricultural lives. Says Morgan:—“It is now the rule among the Village-Indians for the men to assume the heavy work, which was doubtless the case when this pueblo was constructed.”

These striking contrasts exhibited by the uncivilized, remind us that kindred contrasts exist among the civilized. Where, as in Germany and France, the militant organization is highly developed, the outdoor labor which falls upon women is heavy and constant, while in England and America, less militant in their types of organization, it is small in amount and light in kind.

Manifestly these contrasts arise inevitably. While the [3-346] energies of men are mainly directed to killing enemies and game, labours of other kinds must mainly devolve on women; and, conversely, where men are not thus drafted off for fighting and hunting, pressure of population by and by forces them to become producers and assume the heavier work.

§ 731. Psycho-physical differences other than those of sex have, especially in early and in late times, appreciable effects in apportioning functions.

Even of the Fuegians, low as they are, Fitzroy tells us:—

“It is rather curious that usually each of these natives is trained to a particular pursuit: thus, one becomes an adept with the spear; another with the sling; another with a bow and arrows; but this excellence in one line does not hinder their attaining a considerable proficiency in all the others.”

So, too, of the Hudson’s Bay Indians we read:—“Many persons have not the skill needed to construct a canoe, and they employ those who have had experience and are known to build an excellent boat.” And similarly of the adjacent Eskimo, the same writer says “some women excel in boot-making, and at some seasons do nothing but make boots, while the others in return prepare the other garments.” Of the Malagasy Ellis writes that, while all remained in a measure agricultural and pastoral, yet numbers devoted themselves “to one particular employment, in which they excelled.”

That among the fully-civilized there are in like manner specializations of function caused by natural aptitudes, needs no showing: professions and crafts are often thus determined. During intermediate stages, in which men’s occupations are regulated by castes and gilds, individuals are restrained from following their natural bents. Nevertheless the special businesses carried on by organized groups, generation after generation, probably began with ancestors having special aptitudes; and in some measure by inheritance, but in greater measure by culture, there was established some psycho-physical adaptation. Concerning the Hindus, [3-347] Dutt furnishes an illustrative fact:—“The Aryan Vaisyas followed different trades and professions in Ancient India, without forming separate castes; they were scribes and physicians, goldsmiths and blacksmiths, &c.:” all these occupations of relatively skilled kinds having fallen into the hands of the most intelligent.

Beyond assumptions of certain industries by individuals having natural aptitudes for them, there are sometimes kindred assumptions by entire sections of a society. Garcilasso, writing about Peru, says that—

“The fine cloth was made in the provinces, where the natives were most expert and handy in its manufacture, and the coarse kind was wove in districts where the natives had less skill.”

And Cieza tells us, concerning a division of the same people, that the Canches are “always skilful in working, especially gold and silver.” Local specializations of industry, similarly caused, exist in the Fiji Islands. Some of them “are famous for such things as wooden trenchers, paddles, canoes, &c., others for tapa, sinnet, mats, baskets, &c.; and others for pots, fishing nets, turmeric, and ‘loa’ (lamp-black).”

There may be added, as of like nature, those larger specializations of function which arise between nations. These are exemplified by the aptitude of the English people for a maritime life.

Next to be noted among the divisions of labour due to psycho-physical characters, comes the relegation of inferior occupations to servile classes. This sometimes begins apart from coercion. Concerning certain of the Japanese, who kill and flay horses, Adams writes:—

“There were also two sets of people even below these [farmers, &c.] in the social scale, the eta and the hinin. The eta were a class of outcasts, living in separate villages or settlements apart from the general population, with whom they were not allowed to intermarry. Their means of livelihood consisted in working skins, and converting them into leather. Working in prepared leather was not considered a pollution, but it was the handling of the raw hides which was deemed to be such.”


That incapacity for higher work led to this specialization, is a belief we shall readily accept on remembering that among ourselves the class of “night-men,” still extant I suppose in some places, must have been formed of the inferior; since only those who could not otherwise maintain themselves would adopt so disgusting a business. Of course, the servile classes have been formed mainly of captives and their descendants; and since, in the average of cases, conquered peoples have been in some way or other inferior to their conquerors, we may consider the division of labour between the slave-classes and the ruling classes as having a psycho-physical origin. It was probably thus with the helots of Sparta, and it has certainly been thus with the heathen Negro peoples who have been, during so many generations, kidnapped by their Christian masters. But this is not a universal relation; for the superior are sometimes conquered by the more numerous or more savage inferior. Something of the kind happened in Mexico, where the civilized Toltecs were overrun by the barbarous Chechemecas and Aztecs, who, becoming the rulers, doubtless forced the better men to perform the worse functions. But the clearest cases are furnished by Greece and Rome. Victories in their wars depended on other causes than mental or physical superiorities. Says Grote of the Greeks—“Slavery was a calamity, which in that period of insecurity might befall anyone.” How little, among the Romans, slavery implied a lower nature, is proved by various facts cited in the last division of this work, dealing with the professions; and is again proved by the following passage from Mommsen.

“Business . . . was uniformly carried on by means of slaves. The money-lenders and bankers instituted . . . additional counting-houses and branch banks under the direction of their slaves and freedmen. The company which had leased the customs-duties from the state appointed chiefly their slaves and freedmen to levy them at each custom-house. Every one who took contracts for buildings bought architect-slaves; everyone who undertook to provide spectacles or gladiatorial games . . . purchased or trained a company of slaves . . . [3-349] The merchant imported his wares in vessels of his own under the charge of slaves or freedmen, and disposed of them by the same means in wholesale or retail. We need hardly add that the working of mines and manufactories was conducted entirely by slaves.”

Hence, concerning the psycho-physical factor in the division of labour, we must say that when allowed free scope it produces beneficial specializations, but that its effects are so traversed by the effects of other factors that little which is definite can be said about its share in organizing industry.

§ 732. Much more definite results may be rightly ascribed to the character of the environment. These we will contemplate under the head of the topical division of labour.

In quite rude societies differentiations caused by surrounding circumstances begin. There are “two branches of the Ostiaks, the hunters and the fishers:” the last living on the banks of the Obi, and the others elsewhere. Manifestly sea-fishing is determined even in undeveloped communities by proximity, and originates settled industries. Thus “many of the [Society] islanders are fishermen by profession.” Other such natural necessities influence the slightly civilized as well as the civilized. Among the Chibchas “the Poyras [or Yapotoges, on the banks of the Neyba] were great miners, as in their country there were many veins of gold.” In Mexico—

“An extensive commerce is carried on in this salt (saltpetre, gathered on the surface of the ground) by the Mexicans of Yxtapaluca and Yxtapalapa, which means the places where salt or yxtatl is gathered; and at this day the people of Yxtapalapa are thus occupied.”

So, too, in Peru—

“The shoes were made in the provinces where aloes were most abundant, for they were made of the leaves of a tree called maguey. The arms also were supplied by the provinces where the materials for making them were most abundant.”

Of ancient peoples, the Phœnicians may be named as furnishing an example.


“Ship-building was concentrated in the towns of northern Phœnicia, the inhabitants of which were led to it by their mountainous country being less fertile and the forests of Lebanon belonging to their territories.”

To this case may be added that of Venice, where good water communication, joined with inaccessibility to enemies unacquainted with the channels of approach, gave an advantage for mercantile development.

Already in the second part of this work, illustrations of kindred character furnished by our own country have been given. A few others reinforcing them may here be added. Domesday Book shows that—

“Salt-works were very numerous in some counties, particularly in those lying on the coast. In Sussex, at the time of the Conquest, there were of these no less than three hundred and eighty-five.”

The making of woollen fabrics began in “the counties which produced the best wool, and, in the imperfect state of the means of communication, the manufacture naturally became located within reach of the raw material.” But when roads improved, the greater facilities which Yorkshire afforded caused migration, and that became the chief cloth-district.

“The silk-weaving of England sprung up in the cheap end of its metropolis, because it had to seek customers for its expensive ornamental fabrics among the luxurious population of the court; and there it continued for a century . . . till it has found in the self-acting power machinery of the cotton-factory districts, an attractive influence injurious to the monopoly of Spitalfields.”

Cheapness of power, here obtained from coal and there from water, has, indeed, been a potent cause of this topical division of labour. After 1769—

“The great establishments of the Messrs. Arkwright and Strutt, at Belper, Cromford, and Milford, places previously of the most trifling importance, were planted there in consequence of the facilities afforded by those situations for obtaining water-power in abundance; and in many other instances the same reason led to the establishment of cotton factories on sites so secluded as to render it necessary to procure working hands from a distance.”


The environing influences which thus initiate differentiations among the parts of the social organism, are often irresistible. It needs but to ask what would result from the attempt to grow wheat on Scotch mountain sides, where sheep-farming is carried on, or to transfer the getting of tin from Cornwall to Lincolnshire, to see how necessarily some topical divisions of labour arise.

§ 733. To use for the next division of the subject the title local division of labour seems absurd, since a topical division is a local division. The word “local,” however, as here to be employed, refers to the division of labour within the same locality; whereas “topical” refers to division of labour between different localities. There seems no fit word available for marking this distinction, and I feel obliged to use the word local in the sense named.

Already, when enumerating the separate duties undertaken by men and women in various places, there has been an indication of the truth that local division of labour originates among the members of each household. As Bogle says of the people of Bhutan, “every family is acquainted with most of the useful arts, and contains within itself almost all the necessaries of life.” And this state generally characterizes early stages.

The transition to a more differentiated state is first shown by the rise of some who practise one or other art with greater skill than usual. Writing about Negroes, Duff Macdonald says that near Blantyre “the worker-in-wood has hardly a distinct trade. Nearly every man does his own wood-work.” But partial division of labour is shown among these people in other ways. The same writer tells us that—

“The chief method of obtaining a livelihood is by cultivating the soil. Near a lake abounding with fishes, the cultivation of the soil, though not abandoned, may take a secondary place.”

And he also says that the blacksmith “does not live so exclusively by his trade that he can neglect his farm.” [3-352] Somewhat more advanced is the specialization implied in the case of Tahiti.

“Most of the natives can hollow out a buhoe, but it is only those who have been regularly trained to the work, that can build a large canoe, and in this there is a considerable division of labour.”

Such first steps are obviously inevitable. Always there will be some having special aptitudes for particular arts; always it will happen that the amount of work given them as pursuers of such arts will at the outset not suffice to yield them livelihoods without carrying on as well the ordinary occupation; and always it will happen that in proportion as population grows and the demands on them increase, it will become possible and advantageous to devote themselves exclusively to such arts.

Other things equal, the extent to which local division of labour is carried is determined by the degree of isolation of the group—isolation caused now by distance from other groups, now by enmity with other groups, and now by both. Economic independence was well illustrated in mediæval days by the monasteries. Says Dr. Jessopp:—

“Everything that was eaten or drunk or worn, almost everything that was made or used in a monastery, was produced upon the spot. The grain grew on their own land; the corn was ground in their own mill; their clothes were made from the wool of their own sheep; they had their own tailors and shoemakers, and carpenters and blacksmiths, almost within call; they kept their own bees; they grew their own garden-stuff and their own fruit; I suspect they knew more of fish-culture than, until very lately, we moderns could boast of knowing; nay, they had their own vineyards and made their own wine.”

Industrial autonomy was similarly exemplified in those times by feudal territories and residences. In France at the end of the ninth century, as a result of nascent feudalism and isolation of the seigneuries, distribution of commodities was arrested: “every one made for himself, or had made for him by his people, clothes . . . and arms.” And during the early feudal period up to 1190—


“On rural estates the most diverse trades were often exercised simultaneously: the same man was at once butcher, baker, shepherd, weaver, &c. . . . In the Middle Ages the castles made almost all the articles used in them, particularly cloths, which were spun, woven, and prepared by women even of the highest rank.”

In those days of universal antagonism, it was requisite for each group to be self-sufficing. The danger of being “dependent on the foreigner,” so continually urged during our Free-trade agitation, was a danger which in feudal days existed within each nation, and made it needful for every division to be a complete society.

On local groups of other kinds relative isolation had in early days the same effect. Speaking of the 12th century, Prof. Cunningham says:—

“There seems to have been a larger proportion of craftsmen in each village than we should find among the rural population now; each household, or at any rate each little group, had the requisite skill for supplying the main articles of clothing and domestic use, so that the villages were not so purely agricultural as they are to-day.”

At the same time towns were comparatively independent of villages. As says Prof. Cunningham in continuation:—

“The townsmen had not entirely severed themselves from rural pursuits; differentiation between town and country was incomplete, indeed it would be more true to say that it had hardly begun.”

Obviously, indeed, as towns were at first only larger villages, this relation necessarily held. Within each there existed more differentiation because they had not been rendered mutually dependent by differentiation from one another.

The extent to which local division of labour goes is in large part determined by the size of the group. Where there are but twenty persons there cannot be thirty trades. Another pre-requisite is that the number in the group shall be such that the demand falling upon each kind of worker will duly cultivate his skill and pay for the appliances which give him a superiority: other members of the group will else find no advantage in employing him. In the third place the amount of his business must be such as to yield him a [3-354] livelihood; and in a small group this negatives various kinds of occupations. So that there is a three-fold cause for the limited division of labour when the group contains but few, and for multiplication of occupations along with increase in its number: the group becomes more heterogeneous as it becomes larger. This truth we see illustrated throughout all stages of social evolution. As compared with occupations in small tribes the occupations in populous Negro societies of Africa are numerous; and a like multiplicity of trades exists among the Fijians, Sandwich Islanders, Tahitians, Tongans and Samoans. Ancient societies furnish abundant evidence. The fertility of the Nile Valley having made possible a large population, businesses had become numerous.

“Of tradesmen, the Greco-egyptian documents which have come down to us mention the fisher, the harvest-man, the baker, the manufacturer of honey, of oil, of cici, the pastry cook, the milk-seller, the water-carrier, the clothier, the wool manufacturer, the rope-maker, the linen manufacturer, the manufacturer of coloured stuffs, the fuller of cloths, the purple merchant, the manufacturers of carpets, and of mattresses, the shoe-maker (?), the principal workers in mining affairs, the copper smith, the copper chaser, the iron smith, the orichalcum smith, the sword maker, the goldsmith, the ivory worker, the potter, the stone-cutter, the stone worker, the quarry man, the alabaster worker, the engraver of hieroglyphics, the sculptor, the architect, the mason, the ship builder, the decorative painter, the calefactor, the cleaner, the geometer, the boatman, the pilot, the flute player, the lyre player, the dancer, the pugilist, the leader of caravans; the physician, the barber, the perfumer, the embalmer and undertaker, the Choachyte, Taricheute, Paraschiste.”

The like happened in Greece; and a resulting contrast in the division of labour in small and large places, was recognized by Xenophon.

“In small towns, the same man makes a couch, a door, a plough, and a table; and frequently the same person is a builder too, and is very well content if he can thus find customers enough to maintain him; and it is impossible for a man who works at many things to do them all well; but, in great cities, because there are numbers that want [3-355] each particular thing, one art alone suffices for the maintenance of each individual; and frequently indeed, not an entire art, but one man makes shoes for men, and another for women; sometimes it happens, that one gets a maintenance merely by stitching shoes, another by cutting them out, another by cutting out upper-leathers (χιτῶνας) only, and another by doing none of these things, but simply putting together the pieces. He, therefore, that is employed in a work of the smallest compass, must, of necessity, do it best.”

From ancient Rome comes proof of a kindred difference between the industrial arrangements of early and late times. Says Mommsen:—

“Eight guilds of craftsmen were numbered among the institutions of king Numa, that is, among the institutions that had existed in Rome from time immemorial. These were the flute-blowers, the goldsmiths, the coppersmiths, the carpenters, the fullers, the dyers, the potters, and the shoemakers.”

But in late times instead of eight specialized trades there are enumerated sixty, mostly carried on by Greeks. Coming down to modern nations it will suffice to name France, where in the early feudal period (11th and 12th centuries) 76 occupations were enumerated, whereas at the end of the 16th century the number had risen to 170.

The local division of labour subserves the topical division of labour. Any large section of the community favourably circumstanced for carrying on a particular industry, can devote itself to that industry only on condition that there shall be joined with it a cluster of workers and traders who satisfy the wants of those devoted to this particular industry. If Sheffield fashions knives, Lancashire weaves cottons, Yorkshire manufactures woollens, there requires in each case a local development of the various trades and professions which minister to the artisans, &c., who make hardware, calicoes, or woollens.

And here let us observe an instructive parallel between the sociological division of labour and the physiological division of labour. Already in Part II, “The Inductions of Sociology” (§§ 216-19), various parallels have been named, [3-356] and here is another. For in the individual body as in the body politic, the condition under which alone any organ can devote itself to its special function, is that it shall be permeated by systems of sustaining, depurating, and stimulating appliances. Be it a muscle or nerve-centre, be it the lungs or intestines, be it the liver, the kidneys, or the pancreas, there ramifies throughout it a set of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, a set of smaller and larger veins, a set of absorbents, a set of nerve-fibres, and a general framework of connective tissue keeping its components in place. That the groups of nerve-cells or bile-cells or kidney-cells should perform their parts in the topical division of labour, they must all have, ramifying through them, the various agencies for carrying on nutrition, for supplying material to be operated on, for carrying away products, and for stimulation.

§ 734. We have contemplated the topical division of labour and the local division of labour. There remains the detailed division of labour—that which arises within each producing or distributing establishment. This it is which we commonly think of when the phrase is used.

Specializations thus distinguished make their appearance in comparatively early stages. Says Burton in his Abeokuta:

“Africans, like Asiatics, are great at division of labour,” in building a house, for instance. “Some hoed a deep hole . . . Another gang was working the clay . . . ; whilst a third party was engaged in preparing grass thatch and palm leaves for the roof. When the actual building begins there will be one gang to carry clay balls to the scene of action, a second of labourers who fling the same balls into wall shape and pat them down, a third, boys and girls, who hand other balls from the ground or the scaffolding to the masons above, a trimmer to plumb and set things square with his wooden shovel, and finally thatchers to finish off.”

The growth of that division of labour which ends in producing a commodity, our own early history sufficiently illustrates. In the middle of the 16th century—


“Several distinct classes of workmen were employed in the making of cloth. There were weavers, walkers, fullers, fulling-mill men, shearmen, dyers, forcers of wool, carders, and sorters of wool, and spinners, carders and spullars of yarn.”

And how these subdivisions gradually multiply is shown in the fact that even fifty years ago the classes of operatives engaged in the woollen manufacture had increased from the twelve above named to double that number.

But no adequate conception of this detailed division of labour can be formed so long as we contemplate only the manual labourers, and leave out of sight the mental labourers who direct them. In an undeveloped industry the maker of a commodity is at once brain-worker and hand-worker; but in a developed industry brain-work and hand-work have separated, and while hand-work has become greatly sub-divided, brain-work also has become greatly sub-divided. Here, as given to me by a friend who is partner in a manufacturing establishment at Birmingham, is a sketch of its organization. In the regulative division the first class includes only the heads of the firm, of whom one is chief. In the next class stand the engineering superior, works manager, head of estimate department, head of cash department, head of finished warehouse. Then comes the third class of brain-workers, who are women—invoice clerk, storekeeper, and assistant in cash department. Next are two intermediaries between head and hands—foreman of casting department and foreman-fitter or engineering mechanic, who both have subordinates aiding in their functions. From these regulative classes we descend to the operative classes; and of these there are eleven kinds in the first grade, nine kinds in the second grade, and seven kinds in the third grade. Thus there are eight kinds of brain-workers, four kinds of half-brain and half hand-workers, and twenty-seven kinds of hand-workers.

Limiting our further attention to the operative parts of industrial establishments, we may fitly distinguish between [3-358] two leading forms of the division of labour exhibited in them—the simultaneous and the successive. There are cases in which the different parts of some ultimate product are being at the same time formed by different groups of artisans, to be afterwards joined together by yet other artisans; and there are cases in which the ultimate product passes from hand to hand through a series of operatives, each of whom works upon it his or her particular modification. Let us look at an example of each kind.

The superintendent of the Midland Railway works at Derby, has furnished me with an account of the different classes of men engaged in producing the component parts of locomotive engines. It is needless to give their names and special functions. The fact which here concerns us is that the classes number nearly forty, and, if the different kinds of fitting be counted, about fifty: all their various products being finally put together by the erector and his aids.

Of the serial division of labour a good instance comes from a large establishment for the manufacture of biscuits. To begin with there is a department for the reception and storage of raw materials. Weighing out the proportions of ingredients for any particular kind of biscuit, is the first process. Next comes the mixing mill, into which attendants pour these ingredients. From this emerges the prepared dough, which, passing into the rolling-presses, comes out in sheets of the proper thickness. Out of these the stamping machines cut out biscuits of the desired sizes and shapes, and deliver them on to trays. These trays, placed in the mouths of vast ovens and slowly carried through them on horizontal revolving bands, are delivered at the other side duly baked. Carried then by a mechanical apparatus to the sorting-room the classed biscuits are thence transferred to those who pack. Finally comes labeling and stamping the boxes.

Again we are shown how close are the analogies between the sociological division of labour and the physiological division [3-359] of labour. Beyond the fact that, as in the social organism so in the individual organism, there are regulative parts and operative parts—the nervous organs and the various other organs—we have the fact that among these organs there is both a simultaneous and a serial division of labour. While we see bones, muscles, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, &c., carrying on their respective functions at the same time, we see the parts of the alimentary canal performing their functions one after another. There come in succession mastication, insalivation, deglutition, trituration, chymification, chylification, and eventually absorption by the lacteals.

And here indeed it is curious to remark a unique case in which two sets of sociological divisions of labour of the serial kind, are joined to this physiological series of divisions of labour. We have first the ploughing, harrowing, sowing, reaping, carting, threshing, hauling to market, transfer to corn-factor’s stores, removal thence to be ground, and final carriage of the flour to the bakers; where, also, certain serial processes are gone through in making loaves, or, if we follow that part of the flour from which biscuits are made, we see that there are linked together the processes above described. Finally, in one who eats of the loaves or the biscuits, there occurs the physiological series of divisions of labour. So that from the ploughing to the absorption of nutriment, three series of divisions of labour become, in a sense, parts of a united series.

§ 735. One more section must be added. Conformity to the general law of evolution has been noted in several places. Here, going behind that redistribution of matter and motion which universally constitutes Evolution, let us observe how, in the industrial world, there is everywhere exemplified the law that motion is along the line of least resistance or the line of greatest traction or the resultant of the two.

The growth of a society as a whole takes place most over regions where the obstacles to be overcome are least. Along [3-360] one frontier hostile tribes exist, while in another direction there are no enemies; hence population spreads there. On this side lies a fertile tract while on that a barren tract lies; and the resistances to living being in these directions relatively great or relatively small, the social mass increases where it is relatively small. Again, one part of the habitat is malarious while another is salubrious, and the lower rate of mortality in the last determines multiplication of the inhabitants there.

The topical division of labour presents us with kindred causes and results. Sea-side people, close to a store of food, find it easier to subsist by getting this out of the water than by going inland to compete with those who plough; and if fish are plentiful and the inland demand great, the fishing population grows. So with wheat-growing and sheep-farming: the nature of each district renders it easier for its inhabitants to subsist by one of these than by the other, and their efforts follow the lines of least resistance. When, in any region, there has taken place that adaptation of nature which the appropriate occupation produces, there is resistance to alteration of function; as, for example, there would be if the body of Lancashire weavers had to become coal-miners. Even a change in the topical division of labour, such as migration of most of the woollen manufacture from Gloucestershire to Yorkshire, illustrates the same influence; since, by the proximity to a wool-importing place, and by the presence of abundant coal, serving as a better source of power than water, the resistance to the production of cloth as measured in cost of freight, labour, and fuel (severally representing so much human effort) is less than it was in the original seat of the industry.

In the local division of labour, analogous causes operate and work analogous effects. As political economists have pointed out, each choice of a business is determined by the totality of incentives and deterrents, and the business chosen is that which offers the least resistance to the gratification [3-361] of the totality of desires. So, too, is it on passing from producer to consumer. If in a village the labourer’s wife buys bread from a baker, it is because the difficulties to be overcome in the home-production of bread, render the resistance to that course greater that those resistances to the course chosen which are represented by extra cost; and if the farmer, ceasing to make his own beer, buys of a local brewer, it is again because in the average of cases the expenditure of effort has by modern conditions been rendered smaller in the last way than in the first.

Nor is it only in such elaborations of the division of labour, and developments of correlative social structures, that we see movement along lines of least resistance. We see it also in the activities of these structures. The law of supply and demand, implying streams of commodities from places where they are abundant to places where they are deficient, and a consequent balancing, is a corollary of this same law. For since money everywhere represents labour, buying in the cheapest market is satisfying a want with the least expenditure of labour; and selling in the dearest market and so getting the largest amount of this representative of labour, diminishes the labour afterwards required.





§ 736. Neither of these words suffices alone to cover the phenomena to be here treated of. From those early stages in which men subsist on the wild products their habitat yields, they progress to the stages in which the things they need, though produced by their habitat, are so produced only with the aid of labour; and it is this inclusion of labour as a chief factor which constitutes production, in contrast with simple acquisition.

The most conspicuous illustration is furnished by mining. Coal, ironstone, or copper ore, lies ready, and strictly speaking getting it comes under the head of acquisition; but because the required labour is great, we class coal-mining under the head of production. Again, fishermen simply appropriate what Nature furnishes in the adjacent seas; but as the catching fish by nets or otherwise is a laborious occupation, we regard fish as products of an industry.

Under one of its most general aspects, human progress is measured by the degree in which simple acquisition is replaced by production; achieved first by manual power, then by animal-power, and finally by machine-power.

§ 737. The transition is slow because among other requirements human nature has to be re-moulded, and the re-moulding cannot be done quickly. To the evidence [3-363] yielded by the Paraguay Indians already named, may be joined some given by Mr. Brough Smyth in his characterization of the Australian. He “is not one to bear burdens, to dig laboriously, or to suffer restraint;” and he has no “such hands as are seen amongst the working classes in Europe. An English ploughman might perhaps insert two of his fingers in the hole of an Australian’s shield, but he could do no more.” The implied adaptation of hands to the daily use of tools among the civilized, must have been very gradual; and the disinclination to use relatively feeble hands in work, must have been a continual restraint upon production.

Again, there is the defect of emotional nature, shown, as before remarked, by inability to sacrifice present to future. Says Mr. Brough Smyth of the Australian—“He likes to exert himself when exertion is pleasurable, but not for ulterior purposes will he slave as the white man slaves, nor would he work as the Negro works, under the lash.”

Besides deficiency of the needful feeling, there is deficiency of that intellectual process whence foresight arises: there is no adequate recognition and balancing of means and ends and values. Of the North American Indian Mr. Dodge remarks:—

“He has not yet arrived at that stage of progress when a ‘day’s work’ has a definite value. When considering the value of any article his first thought is, ‘Can I make it myself?’ and if so, the number of days it will take him to do it is a matter of no consequence.”

Yet a further hindrance arises from his readiness to bear privations, and accept the rudest satisfactions. A savage who can tolerate the falling of snow on his naked body, is less prompted than a higher man would be to exert himself in getting clothing. When Humboldt tells us that the Guahibos “would rather feed on stale fish, scolopendras, and worms, than cultivate a little spot of ground;” or when we read of the Hudson’s Bay Eskimos that “the blood of the deer is often mixed with the half-digested mass of food in the stomach of the animal, and the stomach, with its contents, [3-364] with the addition of the blood, eaten raw or boiled,” we see that transition from acquisition to production is, in the lower races, hindered by the absence of feelings which in the higher races have become pronounced.

§ 738. As a means of satisfying the desires, production increases as the desires multiply and become stronger; and the order in which the different kinds of production develop, is determined by the relative strengths of the desires.

The first of these truths, sufficiently obvious, is illustrated by a statement of Rowney respecting the Gonds. After saying that “the Gond is excessively indolent and averse to labour,” he presently remarks that the Brinjáris (traders) “have succeeded in creating new wants and tastes among them,” and that payments for the satisfaction of these “have forced them to be more industrious in utilizing the produce of their forests.” So that growth of their desires, prompting surplus production, has at the same time initiated exchange.

The other truth, exemplified in certain self-evident results, is also exemplified in results that are not self-evident. Of course the primary needs for food and warmth have first to be in some degree met; and of course, the first kinds of production are those subserving these primary needs. But long before bodily wants are fully satisfied certain mental wants prompt other kinds of production. These are the desires which beget war, and the desire for admiration—the one leading to the making of weapons and the other to the making of decorations. Alien as these desires appear to be, they are yet fundamentally related; since in both is shown the ambition to be recognized as superior and to gain applause. Hence, on the production of weapons, partly for the chase but largely for war, great patience and skill are bestowed by the savage, while a pointed stick is used for digging up roots or even as an agricultural implement; and hence, during early stages of civilization, the art shown in [3-365] weapons and armour is far in advance of that shown in appliances for ordinary life. In Old Japan “the occupation of a swordsmith is an honourable profession, the members of which are men of gentle blood.” The arms used by the Romans had become well shaped and finished at a time when, as we learn from Mommsen, the Roman plough still retained its primitive rude structure. Concerning a later stage we read that there were eight factories of arms in Gaul during days in which no other industrial establishments were mentioned. Then in Mediæval Europe there was the contrast between the well-made armour and weapons and the rough domestic appliances. So among ourselves. In the old English period there were “two classes of smiths, those who forged arms and weapons for military purposes, and others who were employed in fabricating . . . implements of agriculture.” After the Conquest—

“The art of refining and working in metals was perhaps . . . carried to greater perfection than any of the useful arts; and a superior class of men was engaged in this department of industry.”

And then we are told that at the beginning of the 15th century “the crafts which were occupied in working in metals were numerous. The armourers were as much distinguished as the goldsmiths for their skill and taste.” Meanwhile, as we see in museums, implements for daily use—tools, locks, latches, and so forth—were very rudely finished.

Countless anecdotes about savages who barter valuable produce for beads, gaudy fabrics, and other things used for display, show how strong among them is the wish to distinguish themselves by wearing things that are beautiful or costly. The histories of civilized peoples exhibit the same wish. “The trade of goldsmith,” says Mommsen, “existed in Rome from time immemorial.” References to gold ornaments and precious stones meet us everywhere in the records of early historic peoples; and everywhere we see that these things, significant of large possessions, were marks of class [3-366] superiority, and helped to subordinate inferiors. From our own history here is a fact showing the consequent demand:—

“In 1423 it appears that the work in gold and silver done by the goldsmiths of Newcastle, York, Lincoln, Norwich, Coventry, Salisbury, and Bristol, in addition to those of London, was so extensive as to render an assay-office necessary in each of these places.”

Most marked, however, is the effect where the two motives combine; as illustrated in ancient times by the carved and chased shields of distinguished warriors, and as illustrated in feudal times by the elaborately inlaid swords and armour used by kings and wealthy nobles.

How greatly, even now, production subserves desires of this class, we see in our own households, where every glance around proves that the thought of usefulness is dominated by the thought of appearance.

§ 739. The antagonism between the militant and industrial kinds of activity and types of society, here meets us again. For though militant activity fosters those industries which appliances for attack and defence imply, and conduces to development of certain arts, so that for the making of hundred-ton guns and armour-plates fifteen inches thick, there have been invented methods which have beneficially influenced various peaceful businesses; yet in most respects the destroying activities have been antagonistic to the productive activities. Chronic wars in early European days repeatedly broke up the industrial organization. Between the 5th and 10th centuries in France, the greater number of trades ceased to flourish, or even disappeared altogether. In the 16th century “the highways were so overrun with briars and thorns that it was difficult to discover the tracks.” The Thirty Years’ War in Germany produced a social chaos: men went fully armed to their fields to resist marauders. Not only in this direct way is the antagonism manifested but even more in indirect ways. Many examples have shown us that in savage and semi-civilized societies all over the [3-367] world, the men, hunting when not fighting, leave to the women whatever production is carried on. The immediate effect is that production is greatly restricted in amount. The remote effect is that population is checked and the strength of the society kept down, not only by deficiency of produce but also by infertility; for the power of women to produce children is diminished if they are overburdened by labours.

A more distant evil arises. Improvements in production are impeded. During early stages opposition to change is extreme: the very thought of improvement does not exist. And if barbarian men are conservative, barbarian women are still more conservative. Down even to our own day this contrast between the sexes is manifested. Hence the abstraction of men from the body of producers not only directly diminishes the quantity of products but also, by non-adoption of better methods, arrests increase of quantity while stopping the bettering of quality.

Nor is improvement retarded in this way alone. In proportion as the militancy of a society is pronounced, the contempt felt for all occupations other than war is great. Production is left to the lowest intelligences, and the higher intelligences cannot help them save under penalty of disgrace. Even the acquisition and diffusion of such knowledge as serves for the better guidance of industry, is continually checked by the scorn which the fighters pour upon the thinkers and teachers.

Looking at the facts in the broad, and dividing the social organism into the sustaining part and the expending part, of which last the fighting body is the chief component, we may say that this last, living on the first, continually restrains its growth, and occasionally, by the excessive demands it makes, causes dwindling and decay.

§ 740. The progress of industrial activity is thus in several ways dependent on the decline of militant activity. [3-368] While war increases the mortality of men, it decreases by overwork the fertility of women and so checks population; it here abstracts and there destroys the surplus produce or capital which industry has accumulated; and it breeds contempt for peaceful occupations and hence leaves them without good guidance.

Peace, conducing to pressure of population and consequent difficulty in satisfying wants, prompts continuous application, prompts economy, prompts better methods. Stress of needs leads men severally to adopt occupations for which they are best adapted and by which they can make the most; and it becomes possible for the number of special occupations to increase as the increase of population affords men for each business. Once more the greater specialization of industries not only develops skill in each and consequently better products, but each kind of better product serves more or less to facilitate production in general.

Thus in all ways increase of population by its actions and reactions develops a social organism which becomes more heterogeneous as it grows larger; while the immediate cause for the improvement in quantity and quality of productions is competition.





§ 741. As thus far considered production has been conceived as comprehending the making of those things only which, in themselves, satisfy certain of the desires. But a large part of the things men produce are not included among these, and come under the head of auxiliary productions—productions which have no values in themselves but have values only as aiding men to make things that yield immediate satisfactions.

Production and auxiliary production take their rise simultaneously. Flint-scrapers, valueless in themselves, were useful only for shaping wood or cleaning skins; and pointed sticks employed for digging up roots were of worth only as aids to sustentation. Hence, as here understood, the making of flint-scrapers or pointed sticks was a process of auxiliary production. And so with the bows and arrows, the bone fish-hooks, &c., which each savage made for himself.

But the auxiliary production now to be contemplated does not exist so long as the producer and the auxiliary producer are one. It originates only when a separate kind of worker, no longer a producer in the primary sense, becomes a producer in the secondary sense, by occupying himself in making one or other aid to production.

§ 742. The rise of the auxiliary producer is obviously in part coincident with the rise of the division of labour; and [3-370] the implied kind of division of labour begins very early. Schoolcraft writes:—

“There was, according to Chippewa tradition, a particular class of men among our northern tribes, before the introduction of fire-arms, who were called makers of arrow-heads. They selected proper stones, and devoted themselves to this art, and took in exchange from the warriors for their flint-heads, the skins, and flesh of animals.”

So was it, he argues, with earthenware utensils.

“That pottery was a fixed art, and the business of a particular class of society, amongst the ancient Floridian and other American tribes, is thought to be evident from the preceding facts.”

And Kolben tells us that among the Hottentots, the rich, being too lazy to make armour for themselves, a poor man will make a set, which he will dispose of for cattle. But the clearest illustration is that furnished by blacksmiths as existing in slightly civilized societies, like those of Africa and parts of Asia. For evidently most of the blacksmith’s products, or at least all those used for industrial purposes, do not yield direct satisfactions; but are merely aids in producing things which do so: he is an auxiliary producer.

§ 743. Early civilized life supplies, here and there, evidence of such differentiations. Writing of the Carolingian period, Levasseur says:—

“The goldsmith . . . cast and alloyed the metals; laminated them; made the substance of the article; chiselled or graved the ornaments; applied the enamel; set the stones; and polished or burnished them with his own hands . . . He had also to know how to make all his own implements.”

Evidently in those days the number of tools required for goldsmiths’ work, and kindred work, was not sufficient to develop the making of them into a separate business. It became a separate business only when the demand for such tools became great. The goldsmith remaining a producer, the maker of his tools and other such tools became an auxiliary producer.

Like steps have been made during the growth of every [3-371] considerable manufacture. In England, early in the 16th century, the clothing districts witnessed such a development.

“Employment was given to considerable numbers of artificers and workmen in making the instruments and implements which were necessary in the various processes of converting wool into cloth.”

So has it been with carpenters and cabinet-makers. They are dependent for their saws, planes, chisels, gouges, gimlets, &c., on various auxiliary producers. As with tools so with materials. Furnished by auxiliary producers, the bricks, slates, sawn timbers, lime, and the many things put together to form a house, down even to the hasps and locks and latches, none of them directly yield satisfactions; but they yield satisfactions when combined by the builder.

How large a part auxiliary production now plays, we are shown by the numerous implements used by the farmer. In addition to the plough, harrow, scythe, rake, fork, and flail; he employs the steam-plough, scuffler, mechanical drill, horse-hoe, mowing machine, reaping and binding machine, elevator, threshing machine, as well as sundry new dairy appliances. Whole towns are now devoted to auxiliary production; as Sheffield, where multiplied kinds of cutting instruments, &c., are manufactured; or as Birmingham, whence come, among other kinds of hardware, the screws and nails needed for carpentry and furniture, or the buttons and the hooks-and-eyes which hold clothes together.

§ 744. But the most striking development remains. The making of appliances to facilitate production has been followed by the making of appliances for the making of appliances.

A lathe, as ordinarily employed for turning articles of domestic use, is the most familiar example. A lathe employed for shaping parts of other lathes, and parts of other machines, is an example much more striking. And a planing machine which, turning out perfectly straight bars and [3-372] perfectly flat beds for various purposes, serves also for producing true lathe-beds, is an appliance one step further back behind appliances. A steam-hammer still better illustrates these relations. It is useless for the immediate satisfaction of any human want. It is useless for the direct production of things that immediately help to satisfy human wants. But the vast masses of iron which it pounds into approximately fit shapes, will presently be made into parts of machines. And even these machines will subserve human wants only in an indirect way, when helping to make things which help to subserve human wants.

Any one who takes up a trades’ directory, or such a periodical as The Ironmonger, and in this last glances through the illustrated advertisements, will be astonished at the extent to which production is now dependent upon auxiliary production of one, two, or three stages of remoteness from the ultimate products wanted.





§ 745. Distribution is a necessary concomitant of division of labour. The condition under which alone men can devote themselves to different occupations, is that there shall be transference from one to another of their respective products.

This transference, which originally takes place directly between producer and consumer, assumes from the outset two forms. The consumer applies to the producer for some of his surplus; or the producer brings his surplus to the notice of the consumer, in the hope of parting with it and receiving some equivalent. These alternative courses are variously illustrated at home and abroad. Says O’Donovan, describing the people of Merv:—

“In a European mart one would expect the sellers to cry out their wares, but at Merv it is the contrary. A man goes along the row of booths [in the bazaar] shouting, ‘I want six eggs,’ or ‘I want two fowls.’ . . . No dealer ever takes the trouble to put his goods en évidence.

Though to us this proceeding seems strange, yet as our own purchases in shops begin by asking for this or that article, the two usages differ only in the respect that the want is in the one case expressed out-of-doors and in the other in-doors.

The converse process daily goes on around. Street-traders, from the costermonger to the newsboy, exemplify that form of distribution in which the seller offers while the buyer responds; and in various parts of London on Saturday [3-374] nights shopkeepers, standing outside their doors, show us the same inverted process.

I name this contrast because, as we shall see, it exists in the earliest stages, and gives origin to two strongly distinguished modes of distribution.

§ 746. Though, being unobtrusive, the kind of distribution exemplified among the Hottentots, when the maker of some defensive appliance gives it in return for cattle, is not often described by travellers; yet, beyond question, this is the primitive kind of distribution. Until an individual has become reputed for skill in making a particular thing, there cannot arise such demand upon him as prompts special devotion to the making of it; and there cannot result a commencement of distribution by passing it on in exchange for something else. But when once the individual or the tribe has, because of great skill or local advantages, become distinguished for some article or class of articles, offers are made by producers to consumers, and journeys taken for the purpose of making such offers. Here are some illustrative facts.

In Guiana “each tribe has some manufacture peculiar to itself; and its members constantly visit the other tribes, often hostile, for the purpose of exchanging the products of their own labour for such as are produced only by the other tribes. These trading Indians are allowed to pass unmolested through the enemy’s country.”

Of the Mosquitos, Bancroft writes:—“Aboriginal wars were continually waged in Honduras. . . . Neighbouring tribes, however, agreed to a truce at certain times, to allow the interchange of goods.” And a good instance is furnished by some of the Papuans of New Guinea—the people of Port Moresby. These make annual canoe-voyages to another district to exchange the pottery made by their women during the year for various articles which they need.

Whether the transaction be or be not of that earliest kind in which the consumer applies to the producer to make [3-375] something for him, or of that derived kind in which the producer, now become more distinctly differentiated, carries his product to the consumer, we are alike shown distribution in its primitive form—a direct transfer from the one who makes to the one who uses.

§ 747. In the course of evolution the wholesale trader of any kind has to be evolved from the retail trader; and, as we see, the retail trader in his primitive form is one who sells a thing he himself produces, whether he be maker of goods or tiller of the soil. Of the Greeks we read:—

“The countryman who carried his produce to the city, the artisan who sold his work, and the woman who offered for sale her tæniæ and chaplets, all belonged to the class of αὐτοπώλαι.”

Our own early history variously illustrates this undeveloped form of distribution:—

“We may picture the medieval artisan to ourselves—in so far as a money economy had come in—as a man who had to spend much time in trying to dispose of his wares. Hereward visited William’s camp as a potter, and many craftsmen must have been, to some extent, pedlars or have visited fairs, in order that they might dispose of their goods.”

Moreover, besides distribution of articles by the artizan who sometimes sold them at home and sometimes went about selling them, there was a distribution of special skill by migratory workmen. In continuance of the above description, Cunningham and McArthur remark that “in other cases we may think of them as men who had to wander about in search of custom, as travelling tailors did in the early part of the present century,” or as do sempstresses, who are often employed in households at the present time. And referring to this system in early days, Rogers tells us that besides a superior class of migratory carpenters there were migratory tilers, slaters, and masons. Even now in Scotland travelling bands of masons are employed in the remoter parts. Hugh Miller belonged to one of them.

Indeed this simple kind of distribution, alike of articles [3-376] and of skill, both under its stationary and its nomadic forms, is still common among us. Everywhere are to be found shoe makers who are at once producers and distributors; and in our streets we occasionally hear the knife-grinder and the chair-mender.

§ 748. This early phase of industrial organization during which producer and distributor were united, was, however, more especially distinguished by periodic assemblings—fairs.

Gatherings of this kind are found everywhere. Monteiro describes them as occurring among the Congo people. Mommsen says of Rome that “fairs (mercatus), which must be distinguished from the usual weekly markets (nundinæ), were of great antiquity in Latium.” And of our own country the like was true.

“In these times [of about 1300] there were few or no shops; private families therefore, as well as the religious [bodies], constantly attended the great annual fairs, where the necessaries of life not produced within their own domains were purchased.”

Though in our days fairs have greatly changed in character, part of the trade carried on in them is still by direct transfer from producer to consumer; as, for example, in cheese-fairs held in some places, where the farmer sells the whole or half of a cheese to a retail buyer, or as again in the Nottingham goose-fair, where commoners and others bring the birds they have reared to be bought not by poulterers but chiefly by those who will eat them.

With the growth of population fairs are presently supplemented by markets, which in course of time usurp their functions. Even in Africa this has happened. Livingstone tells us that the market “is a great institution in Manyuema.” Burton says that in Dahome there are “four large and many smaller markets;” and that in Egba, villages had, “as usual in Africa, a bazaar or market, where women squatted before baskets under a tree.” In Central Africa—


“Market places, called ‘Tokos,’ are numerous all along Lualaba . . . when the men of the districts are at war, the women take their goods to market as if at peace and are never molested.”

And a similar state of things existed in early Rome, according to Mommsen.

“Four times a month, and therefore on an average every eighth day (nonæ), the farmer went to town to buy and sell and transact his other business.”

Though among ourselves the weekly market in every provincial town has come to be largely a place for wholesale transactions, yet dealings in various perishable commodities, such as eggs, butter, poultry, fruit, usually maintain the primitive form.

But in these days of commercial activity the original direct relations between producer and consumer are mostly replaced by indirect relations.





§ 749. The greater part of the process commonly called “distribution,” is that which we here distinguish as auxiliary distribution. In our developed industrial system, intermediate agencies bring producers and consumers into relation; and these agencies, at first very simple, become gradually complex.

As the producer, properly so called, came into existence when, instead of making a thing for himself only, a man was led to make it for himself and some others, and by and by to make it exclusively for others, in that way creating a special occupation; so the distributor insensibly arose when, instead of selling only things he himself produced, a man began to sell in addition some things which others had produced, and, eventually increasing the number and quantity of these, was occupied solely in selling them. The first stages in this process, naturally unrecorded, may be inferred from parallel stages frequently visible among ourselves. To obtain good and cheap butter, eggs, and poultry, residents in towns sometimes arrange with a farmer to send periodical supplies of them. The success of this plan is made known, and the farmer is written to by others for like supplies. Presently demands on him so increase that his own productions prove insufficient to meet them; and then, anxious to retain the business, he buys from neighbours the additional quantities required. If the quality of the commodities continues to be [3-379] good (which it generally does not), he may extend this process so greatly that he becomes mainly a distributor of others’ produce. Whence the step to one wholly occupied in distribution is easy.

§ 750. A clue to the rise of shopkeeping in an analogous way, is furnished by some facts from Africa. Negro peoples are in high degrees mercantile, and in sundry cases their assemblings for buying and selling have passed from the periodic stage into the continuous stage. A daily market is held in Loango, which begins at 10 o’clock; and in Timbuctoo “there are no particular market days; the public market for provisions is an open place fifty feet square, and is surrounded by shops.” This last fact implies a ready transition from daily attending market to keeping a permanent store. For the basket which a Negress brings from a neighbouring village, or the stall which a larger dealer sets up for the day’s transactions, differs from the adjacent shop only in the fact that it is removed daily: the shop is a permanent stall, which in early stages is but half inclosed, as butchers’ shops are still. Moreover we may see how the shopkeeper becomes differentiated into one who, not selling exclusively his own products, sells the products of others. Among ourselves dealers in perishable articles are often obliged at the close of the day to sell at a sacrifice. Fishmongers, for example, offer remnants to their poorer customers in the evening at low rates. Obviously, then, women who have brought produce to market will at a late hour reduce their prices rather than carry it home and have it spoilt. What occasionally happens? Here around them are persons permanently stationed of whom some deal in the same articles; and there must arise the thought that it will be best to part with their surplus at a low rate to one of these stationary dealers. If the bargain is made the dealer becomes a distributor of another’s goods. Such an example is sure to be followed, and the process once commenced [3-380] goes on until the shopkeeper, daily supplied by people from the country, becomes wholly a distributor of things he has not himself produced.

In a kindred manner arises at an early stage the itinerant dealer—one who seeks buyers instead of letting buyers come to him. Incidents frequently occurring suggest how this function originated. We hear one lady say to another—“You are going to London, I wish you would buy so and so for me.” Requests of like kind, as well as converse requests, must have often been made in the days of sparse population, when the relatively few fairs were held at relatively remote places, the journeys to which were dangerous, wearisome and costly. “My harvest work will prevent me from going to the fair;” “I cannot walk to the fair, and I have no horse;” “It is not worth while going to the fair to sell this small quantity.” Here, then, are some among various reasons for saying to a neighbour who is going—“If you will dispose of these for me I will give you such or such a share of the price.” Transactions of this kind, economical of effort and less risky, are certain to become common. Not only to sell certain things at the trade-gathering is a prevailing wish, but to buy certain other things; and the man who does the one is naturally employed to do the other. As the habit grows some one person in a village, and by and by in a cluster of villages, who by each transaction gets some benefit, either as a gift or a share of the returns, is led to make such agency a business. Thus in time result chapmen, hawkers, pedlars, packmen—classes of primitive traders still represented among us.

§ 751. Among both fixed and locomotive distributors some, more skilful in business than others, enlarge their transactions until from retail they pass into wholesale.

Incentives like those which originally led to the rise of the shop, led by and by to the rise of the warehouse to which the shopkeeper could go for supplies. The small retailer in [3-381] his original form, dependent on scattered producers for keeping up his various stocks, was sure to be often deficient of one or other thing asked for. In places where population had become great enough, he naturally then had recourse to a larger retailer who was pretty certain to have a supply (as retailers even now buy of one another to satisfy customers); and in proportion as the larger retailer thus had his stocks continually drawn upon, he gradually became one who laid in stocks for the supply of other retailers; until, finding he made good profits on these transactions, he devoted himself wholly to the supplying of retailers: he became a wholesale trader. As fast as he assumed this character he benefited by taking journeys to buy economically the larger stocks he needed—he grew into a travelling merchant, or else a merchant who got his orders executed at a distance, either in his own country or abroad. At the present day the genesis of such is observable. To a cheesemonger who has a large business, it occurs that instead of waiting for farmers to bring their cheeses to market, he may gain by going round among them, inspecting their cheese-rooms, and offering them prices somewhat below those they might otherwise get—prices which they accept because, while saving the cost of carriage to market, they avoid the risk of a glut which might force them to take still lower prices. Hence results the cheese-factor, to whom retail sellers of cheese go for their supplies. Similarly with corn, men like the brothers Sturge in the last generation, ride about to the local markets, ten, twenty, thirty miles off, and buy from the farmers at somewhat reduced prices, in consideration of the large quantities taken and the certainty of payment. Then from their large granaries millers and others fulfil their needs.

Traders of the converse kind have similarly developed. Out of wandering pedlars with their small quantities, there grew up those who conveyed large quantities to the great centres of trade. Even in the doings of the uncivilized, [3-382] where they come in contact with the civilized, we see this occasional growth of wholesale transactions. Says Turner concerning the Hudson’s Bay Esquimos:—

“Three, four, or five sledges are annually sent to the trading post for the purpose of conveying the furs and other more valuable commodities to be bartered for ammunition, guns, knives, files, and other kinds of hardware, and tobacco. Certain persons are selected from the various camps who have personally made the trip and know the trail. These are commissioned to barter the furs of each individual for special articles.”

There is evidence that the East, from early times downwards, has had kindred systems of distribution. Movers tells us that “the great festivals . . . of Lower Egypt . . . were connected with the arrival of caravans from Phœnicia twice a year;” and doubtless the Assyrians had assemblages of travellers carrying their commodities on trains of camels through desert regions, partially protected by their numbers from robbers. As we may infer from Chaucer’s account of the Canterbury pilgrims, there similarly resulted among ourselves in early days, associations of merchants whose strings of pack-horses bore their goods. This form of distribution, while it generates merchants, also generates carriers. Lansdell, while at Maimatchin on the Mongolian frontier, was introduced to a lama. He says:—

“The Mongolian lamas do not confine themselves to spiritual functions; for this man was a contractor for the carriage of goods across the desert to and from China.”

To be mentioned under this head is the rise of commission-agents—men who, instead of being themselves wholesale dealers, undertake to buy for wholesale dealers in places with which they are in communication. A merchant who himself, or by proxy, goes to a remote part of the kingdom or abroad will, by request, make a large purchase or a large sale, for a merchant in his own locality; and, having done this once, may thereafter be commissioned, first by a few and then by many, to buy or sell for them at a distance. At the present time English publishers who have set up [3-383] branches in New York, have become agents for other English publishers; and, according to circumstances, the agency part of their business may or may not outgrow the original part. In some cases it does this, and there then arises an establishment which buys and sells wholesale, not on its own account but on account of various large traders.

§ 752. While the entire distributing system thus becomes organized, each of its larger components also becomes organized. In addition to its staff of clerks, porters, messengers, &c., a great trading concern contains functionaries of classes peculiar to itself. While his business was small, the wholesale dealer was himself the buyer of the things he supplied to retail dealers, but when his business grew large it became needful to depute this function. From such developments there resulted a class of men known as buyers, who, visiting from time to time producers in various localities, make, on behalf of their respective houses, wholesale purchases of goods which they inspect and approve. With a converse process came another class of deputies—the travellers, who, on behalf of the establishments employing them, visit retailers, exhibit samples, and obtain orders. Yet one more class of proxies distinguishes large establishments for retail distribution. To different parts of the business different heads are appointed; and in some cases each of these has a certain capital placed at his disposal to trade with, and to make as good a profit upon as he can: the retention of his place being determined by his success.

Thus, even in their details, the distributing processes develop structures parallel to those which the producing processes develop.

§ 753. Development of the animate appliances for distribution has been accompanied by development of the inanimate appliances—the means for conveying people, goods, and intelligence. The two have all along acted and reacted: [3-384] increased distribution having resulted from better channels, and better channels having caused further increase of distribution.

To people living on its banks a river serves as a ready-made highway, and even in early stages much traffic has sometimes been developed by it. With the Sea-Dyaks in Borneo this has happened, and it has happened among Africans. On the Niger, “the intercourse and trade between the towns on the banks is very great.” Between Jenni and Timbuctoo “little flotillas of sixty or eighty boats are frequently seen all richly laden with various kinds of produce.” But where Nature has not provided them, channels of communication are at first nothing but paths formed by continual passing. Speaking of Eastern Africa, Burton says:—

“The most frequented routes are foot-tracks like goat-walks, one to two spans broad, trodden down during the travelling season by man and beast. . . . In open and desert places four or five lines often run parallel for short distances.”

Of such paths on the Gold Coast, Bosman writes:—“A road which need not be above two miles in length, frequently becomes three by its crookedness and unevenness.” So, too, is it in many parts of the Sandwich Islands. “The paths from one village to another were not more than a foot wide, and very crooked.” In these cases, as in the case of our own footpaths, we see how traffic makes the road, and the road, in proportion as it is more used, facilitates traffic.

Among some slightly civilized peoples, as the Dyaks, definite paths are made by laying single trees end to end, and sometimes two trees side by side. In New Guinea, similar artificial paths are required to prevent sinking into the mud. By various peoples who have reached this stage—Negroes, Dyaks, New Zealanders—streams are crossed on trunks of trees (probably at first trees that had accidentally fallen), having even in some cases hand-rails. When we read in Raffles that on account of the difficulty of transport, the price of rice in Java varies greatly in the different districts; [3-385] and when Brooke tells us that while rice would be selling among the Dyaks at one place at 4½ cents a pasu, half a day further down the river it would be eagerly bought at 25 cents a pasu; we are shown how defective distribution is accompanied by abundance in one place and scarcity in another, and how such differences stimulate distribution. We are reminded, too, that these changes are furthered by increase of population, which at once augments the aggregate of desires for needful commodities, and makes the process of distribution a more profitable business. Once more, when transference of goods from place to place becomes active, improvement in the channels of communication is suggested to the more speculative by the prospect of profit. Even in the more advanced African communities this cause has operated. Burton writes of Dahome:—

“The turnpike is universal throughout these lands. A rope is stretched by the collector across the road, and is not let down till all have paid their cowries.”

Like causes worked here. The investment of money in making good roads with a view to payments from travellers, long ago transformed our channels for transit. Of course the reader’s thought running in advance will recognize such causes and consequences as strikingly operative in our days. The need for easier distribution where quantities were great, as of cotton between Liverpool and Manchester, prompted the system of transmission by railway; and the system having been initiated there and elsewhere, went on to increase the quantities of things to be transmitted. Nor let us omit to note that along with the formation of good roads, of good vehicles, and then of good railways, another change has taken place. Originally the distributor was his own carrier; but with the growth of traffic carrying became a separate business.

Of course distribution has been increasingly aided by easy transmission of intelligence. In the days when only kings and nobles could employ messengers, merchants had to do [3-386] business by journeys. But the growth of an efficient postal service made distribution both more rapid and cheaper, while bringing supplies and demands everywhere towards a balance; and now that telegraphs and telephones subserve this purpose still better, the function of distribution is performed with something like perfection.





§ 754. Distribution and Exchange necessarily originate together; being, in their simplest forms, parts of the same process. Hence we must go back to the point from which the last chapter but one set out, and trace up a correlative series of phenomena.

As with organic phenomena so with super-organic phenomena, study from the evolution point of view introduces us to stages earlier and simpler than any we had conceived. A striking illustration is yielded by the first stages of exchange.

Among incidents of human intercourse few seem simpler than barter; and the underlying conception is one which even the stupidest among savages are supposed to understand. It is not so, however. In Part IV of this work, treating of Ceremonial Institutions, reasons were given for suspecting that barter arose from the giving of presents and the receipt of presents in return. Beyond the evidence there assigned there is sufficient further evidence to justify this conclusion. In the narrative of an early voyager, whose name I do not remember, occurs the statement that barter was not understood by the Australian savages: a statement which I recollect thinking scarcely credible. Verifying testimonies have, however, since come to hand. Concerning the New Guinea people we read:—

“One of the most curious features noticed by Dr. Miklucho Maclay was the apparent absence of trade or barter among the people of [3-388] Astrolabe Bay. They exchange presents, however, when different tribes visit each other, somewhat as among the New Zealanders, each party giving the other what they have to spare; but no one article seems ever to be exchanged for another of supposed equivalent value.”

Confirmation is yielded by the account D’Albertis gives of certain natives from the interior of New Guinea. Concerning one who came on board he says:—

“I asked him for the belt he wore round his waist, in exchange for some glass beads, but he did not seem to understand the proposal, which I had to make in pantomime instead of vocal language. He spoke a few words with his people, and then he took off his belt, and received in exchange the beads and a looking-glass, in which he seemed afraid to look at himself. When, however, he was on the point of returning to shore, he wanted to have his belt back, and it was impossible to make him understand that he had sold it, and that if he did not wish to part with it he must return the articles he had received in exchange.”

Another instance, somewhat different in its aspect, comes to us from Samoa. Turner says that at a burial “everyone brought a present, and the day after the funeral these presents were all so distributed again as that everyone went away with something in return for what he brought.” Of a remote people, the tribes of Nootka Sound, we read as follows in Bancroft:—

“They manifest much shrewdness in their exchanges; even their system of presents is a species of trade, the full value of each gift being confidently expected in a return present on the next festive occasion.”

A different phase of the process occurs in Africa. Describing the Bihénos, Capello and Ivens tell us:—

“Following the vicious system in operation throughout Africa of not selling anything to the European, but making him a present of it, they extort from him in turn all his goods and effects, bit by bit, until the unhappy man finds himself under the necessity of refusing all presents.”

Thus the very idea of exchange, without which there cannot begin commercial intercourse and industrial organization, has itself to grow out of certain ceremonial actions originated by the desire to propitiate.


§ 755. In the absence of measures of quantity and value, the idea of equivalence must remain vague. Only where the things offered in barter are extremely unlike in their amounts or qualities or characters, does lack of equivalence become manifest. How rude trading transactions are at first, is well shown by the following extract concerning an Indian people, the Chalikatas. Dalton says:—

“It was very interesting to watch the barter that took place there between these suspicious, excitable savages and the cool, wily traders of the plains. The former took salt chiefly in exchange for the commodities they brought down, and they would not submit to its being measured or weighed to them by any known process. Seated in front of the trader’s stall, they cautiously take from a well-guarded basket one of the articles they wish to exchange. Of this they still retain a hold with their toe or their knee as they plunge two dirty paws into the bright white salt. They make an attempt to transfer all they can grasp to their own basket, but the trader, with a sweep of his hand, knocks off half the quantity, and then there is a fiery altercation, which is generally terminated by a concession on the part of the trader of a few additional pinches.”

In the absence of a medium of exchange other inconveniences arise. One is the difficulty of bringing into relation those whose needs are reciprocal. The experiences of Dr. Barth in Africa clearly exemplify this evil.

“A small farmer who brings his corn to the Monday market . . . in Kúkawa, will on no account take his payment in shells, and will rarely accept of a dollar: the person, therefore, who wishes to buy corn, if he has only dollars, must first exchange a dollar for shells, or rather buy shells; then with the shells he must buy a ‘kúlgu,’ or shirt; and after a good deal of bartering he may thus succeed in buying the corn . . . The fatigue to be undergone in the market is such that I have very often seen my servants return in a state of the utmost exhaustion.”

In this place, better than elsewhere, may be named an obstacle to a developed system of exchange which results from the misapprehensions of the uninitiated. Of the Chitralis Captain Younghusband tells us that they supposed rupees to be ornaments only, and could not understand receiving them [3-390] in payment for work. Pim and Seemann say of the Bayano Indians that—

“They do not seem to understand exactly the value of money, and think that the true drift of making a bargain consists in offering a sum different to that demanded. I happened to be in a shop when four of them came in to buy a comb, for which half-a-crown was asked, but the Indians said that unless the shopkeeper would take three shillings they could not think of having it.”

Here “the higgling of the market” is exhibited under its general form—the expression of a difference between the estimates of buyer and seller; and, showing that lack of discrimination characterizing low intelligences, there is a confusion between the two ways of asserting the difference.

§ 756. It will be instructive to note in this, as in other cases, survivals of such primitive modes of action.

One of the earliest kinds of exchange, while yet the barter of commodities has scarcely taken form, is the barter of assistances. Holub says of the Marutse that in building houses the natives are “so ready to assist one another, that the want [of building material] is soon supplied:” the requirement being that the aids given are at some future day received in return. We have already seen that such exchanges of services are common among uncivilized peoples; and as the efforts, alike in kind, are measurable by the amounts of time occupied, they initiate the idea of equivalence. Transactions of kindred nature survive among ourselves. Reciprocity of help is occasionally seen among farmers in getting in crops; especially where the supply of labour is deficient. Among villagers, too, there are exchanges of garden-produce—a gift of fruit in return for which there is afterwards looked for another kind of gift: repetition of the gift being in some cases dependent on fulfilment of this expectation.

Even in the drinking of men in a public-house, there are usages curiously simulating primitive usages. The pots of [3-391] beer presented by one to another are by and by to be balanced by equivalent pots; for treating proceeds upon this tacit expectation. We have here, indeed, a curious case, in which no material convenience is gained, but in which there is a reversion to a form of propitiation from which the idea of exchange is nominally, but not actually, excluded.

Moreover there still survives among the least-developed members of the community, namely, boys, the original practice under the name of “swopping”—a practice occasionally followed by adults, though adults of the lower classes.





§ 757. How great is the labour and loss of time entailed by lack of a circulating medium, is well shown by Cameron in his Across Africa. He desired to hire a canoe at Kawélé. The agent “wished to be paid in ivory.” Of this, says Cameron,—

“I had none; but I found that Mohammed ibn Salib had ivory, and wanted cloth. Still, as I had no cloth, this did not assist me greatly until I heard that Mohammed ibn Gharib had cloth and wanted wire. This I fortunately possessed. So I gave Mohammed ibn Gharib the requisite amount in wire, upon which he handed over cloth to Mohammed ibn Salib, who in his turn gave Syde ibn Habib’s agent the wished-for ivory. Then he allowed me to have the boat.”

Evidently, pressure of inconveniences like these must prompt the use of some one commodity generally desired and generally possessed, which serves at once as a medium of exchange and measure of value. This commodity varies with place and circumstance; but, whatever its kind, it is such as ministers to one of the chief needs—sustentation, defence, and decoration.

Food, living or dead, existing in measurable quantities or easily reduced to measurable quantities, is early employed as a currency. Among the pastoral peoples of South Africa, herds form men’s chief possessions; and the prices of women and slaves are given in terms of cattle. That ancient pastoral peoples had animal-money is a familar truth; as even [3-393] our language curiously indicates by the word “impecunious,” which, now meaning one who has no money in his pocket, means literally one who is without cattle. And that among the Romans cattle formed the first currency is implied by the remark of Mommsen that “copper (aes) very early made its appearance alongside of cattle as a second medium of exchange.” Among the Old English, too, oxen formed the currency; and they long continued to do so among the Celts of Wales.

Instead of these large living masses serving only for large transactions, there are elsewhere used kinds of food that serve for smaller transactions. Dried fish in some cases become a currency, and there are people who use grain as money. At Zanzibar “in former times mtama, a species of millet, was employed as small change.” If under the head of food we include nerve-stimulants, we may here add tea—brick-tea, as it is called in Mongolia, which, according to Erman, is “a mixture of the spoiled leaves and stalks of the tea-plant, with the leaves of some wild plants and bullock’s blood, dried in the oven, and divided into pieces of from 3 to 3½ pounds weight, of the shape of bricks.” Referring to this same currency, Prejevalsky says “anyone, therefore, desirous of making purchases in the market, must lug about with him a sackful or cartload of heavy tea-bricks.” A like use is made of tobacco in the Sulu Islands. Says Burbidge:—“The inferior Chinese tobacco is preferred by the Sulus to their own produce, and is a regular kind of currency in which almost all small payments may be made.” In some places condiments serve the same purpose, as in parts of Africa.

“There is a deposit of rock-salt in the Quissama country . . . the most curious thing connected with this salt is that they cut it into little bars with five or six sides or facets, about eight or nine inches long and about an inch thick, tapering slightly to the ends, and closely encased in canework. These pass as money, not only on the river, but in the interior, where they are at last perhaps consumed.”


And Monteiro mentions the same use as occurring in Abyssinia.

Thus the primary requirement for a currency in its initial stage, is that its components shall be of a kind subserving desires common to all—things which all want; and its secondary, though not essential, requirement is that it shall be divisible into approximately equal units.

§ 758. As means to sustentation there come, after things used for food, things used for warmth. Among the Thlinkeet sea-otter skins form their principal wealth, and circulate in place of money; and where skins of other kinds are worn they similarly serve as media of exchange.

By more advanced peoples textile fabrics, and the materials for them, are employed as currency. After describing the extent to which, in the markets of the Garos, commodities of all kinds are bought and sold, Dalton says:—

“All of which articles, and thousands of maunds of cotton brought in by the Garos, change owners in a primitive way without any employment of the current coin of the realm.”

To which he adds that the Garos have “bundles of cotton weighing two pounds, the small change with which they provide their wants.” So that out of the most generally sold commodity a unit of value has arisen. How this unit has been formed is suggested by a statement concerning another of the Indian hill-tribes. Among the Kookies cotton is mostly bartered to the Bengali bepáris for fowls: “each fowl being considered equivalent to its weight of cotton.” In Africa the cotton employed as money has become a woven fabric. Says Wilson in his Uganda—“Unbleached calico . . . constitutes the principal article of barter in the interior of Africa.” Elsewhere he adds that this cloth which forms the principal article of barter—

“is generally measured by the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger; . . . and I have known natives when selling cattle and other things to bring some ‘big brother’ with an abnormally long arm to measure their cloth for them.”


So that an arm’s length of cloth serves as a measure of value. The complete transformation of calico into money is shown by the statement of Duff MacDonald concerning Blantyre.

“No one in this district knows about gold or silver. A piece of calico is more valued than all the coins of the Bank of England would be.”

Elsewhere textile fabrics woven into definite shapes, and having ornamental characters, come into use. Turner says that in Samoa “fine mats are considered their most valuable property, and form a sort of currency which they give and receive in exchange.” And in Asia “among the Khalkas the [silk] scarves serve as currency, but are rarely used for presents,” as in Southern Mongolia and Tibet: an instructive instance, since it seems to imply presents passing into barter and barter into a currency.

§ 759. From the ways in which things that satisfy physical needs come into use as money, we now pass to the ways in which things subserving self-preservation, as weapons and implements, come into use for the same purpose. The raw material out of which such things are made, first being an object of barter, occasionally serves as a medium of exchange. In parts of Africa a fixed quantity of iron or copper has become a measure of value. Burton tells us that—

“The Uquak, or iron-bar, was here [old Calabar], as in Bonny and other places, the standard of value; it is now supplanted by the copper, of which four makes the old bar.”

In other places there is a like use of iron, or rather steel, fashioned into weapons. This happens in North East Assam, where, says Rowney, “the arms of the men [the Khámptis] are the dáo for all offensive purposes.” “The currency of the country is the dáo, and also unwrought iron.” That weapons are not more generally thus used may be due to the fact that nearly every man possesses one, and neither wants another himself nor, if he took it in exchange, could pass it on.


In one case, if not more, implements have been similarly employed. Down to the 4th century bc in China, unwrought metal, bartered by weight, was still a medium of exchange; but before that time there had arisen a currency of implements. Between the 7th and the 4th century bc there was spade-money: the spades being actually serviceable as tools. As far back as the 7th century bc bronze knives, of something like uniform weights and rudely inscribed, served at once for cutting and for making payments. “Hoes and goods,” “hoes and cloth” were equivalent terms for wealth. Gradually these implements used for currency lost their original forms: the cutting part becoming less in proportion to the rest.

But the Chinese media of exchange were extremely miscellaneous. As far back as the 11th century bc gold passed current in cubes, having definite weights. Then there was “ring-money,” consisting of definite weights of bronze shaped into rings for convenience of stringing together. This coinage appears to have been the ancestor of the modern “cash” of the Chinese.

§ 760. Of things which subserve the three dominant desires above named, those which fulfil the third are those best fitted for the purposes of a currency—things which minister to the love of admiration. By painting the body, by tattooing, and by the wearing of trinkets in nose or ears or on the wrists and ankles, savages show us that, after the bodily needs have been satisfied or partially satisfied, the most dominant wish has been that of subordinating others by outdoing them in decoration. Ornaments and materials for ornaments have therefore been things which everybody wanted; and while thus fulfilling the primary requirement for a circulating medium, they have fulfilled the secondary requirement of great portability. We read that iron and beads are so much desired by the Thlinkeets that they will even exchange their children for them; and accounts of adjacent [3-397] peoples, the Kutchins and Eskimos, show the double purpose to which the beads are put.

“They are great traders; beads are their wealth, used in the place of money, and the rich among them literally load themselves with necklaces and strings of various patterns. The nose and ears are adorned with shells.”

In his description of the Californians, Bancroft, while enumerating as partly constituting money some rare things and others costing much labour, names shell-money as its chief component.

“The shell which is the regular circulating medium is white, hollow, about a quarter of an inch through, and from one to two inches in length. On its length depends its value.”

So is it in Polynesia. Says Powell—“The native money in New Britain consists of small cowrie shells strung on strips of cane.” And among the Solomon Islanders, according to Coote—

“The general currency, consisting of strings of shell beads about the size of a shirt button, very well made, and strung in fathom lengths, is of two kinds, known as red money and white money. Above this in the scale of value come dog’s teeth, which are the gold of this coinage . . . A hole is drilled in each tooth, and when a man has a sufficient number, he sets them on a band of suitable width and wears them as a collar.”

It was thus in the earliest days of China, and is thus now throughout Africa. Waitz remarks that cowries, used by the Negroes as money, are, by other African races—Kaffirs, Hottentots, Hassanieh-Arabs—used as ornaments. The transformation into currency is clearly shown by this extract from Cameron.

“A curious currency is in vogue here [Kawélé, Central Africa], everything being priced in beads called sofi, something in appearance like small pieces of broken pipe-stem.

“At the commencement of the market, men with wallets full of these beads deal them out in exchange for others with people desirous of making purchases; and when the mart is closed they receive them again from the market people and make a profit on both transactions, after the manner usual amongst money-changers.”


A chief element in the conception of value, acquired by ornaments as they pass into a currency, is the consciousness of labour expended either in making them or in finding them. We are specially shown this by a case in which an object not ornamental is made valuable by the trouble bestowed on it. Describing what is called the money-house in the New Hebrides, Coote says—

“From the roof of the hut were suspended eight or ten mats . . . and under them a small wood fire was kept ever burning. In course of time the mats become coated with a shining black incrustation . . . The fire, it will be seen, requires very constant looking after . . . A man has, therefore, always to be kept watching these curious moneys, and it is the time thus spent upon them that makes them of value.”

This instance makes it easier to understand that the precious metals derive their values in but small measure from their beauty, but derive it mainly from the difficulty of getting them. It needs but to remember that in appearance aluminium bronze differs scarcely at all from gold, but is worthless in comparison; or again it needs but to remember that only experts distinguish between the glittering but valueless glass called “paste,” and the glittering but immensely valuable diamond; to see that the measure of value is the amount of labour spent in finding and separating.

§ 761. Before the precious metals, first prized as materials for ornaments, could be used for a metallic currency, fit modes of measurement had to be established. We have seen that even while ornaments serve as money, their worth is estimated by measurement: the strings of shells employed are valued by their lengths as equal to one or other bodily dimension. This method being inapplicable to metals, there arose in its place a valuation by weight; which, of course, became possible only after scales had been invented. But units of weight having first been furnished by organic bodies and multiples of them (as shown in the East by the use of the carat, an Indian bean, and among ourselves by use of [3-399] the grain of wheat as the basis of our system) definitely weighed portions of gold and silver became units of value. For a long time such portions of metal were habitually tested by the scales, and in some countries always continued to be so.

The Egyptians “never relieved themselves from the inconvenience of weighing every ring of gold or silver spent in purchases at the market, and never hit on the expedient of coinage.”

Hebrew traditions show us incipient transitions from ornaments to currency and the estimation of value by weight—a practice doubtless derived from the Accadians. We see this when Abraham presented to Rebekah “a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets . . . of ten shekels weight of gold;” and again, when buying the cave of Machpelah, he “weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named . . . 400 shekels of silver, current with the merchant.” In later days, the shekel (equivalent to the weight of twenty grains or beans) acquired an authorized character: there were shekels “after the king’s weight”—an Assyrian expression. This implies a step towards coining, subsequently reached; since we must assume that one of these authorized shekels bore some mark by which its character was known.

Passing now to later times, and making allowance for the extent to which, in mediæval Europe, Roman usages influenced men, we may recognize essentially the same facts. In ancient Frankish days there arose again these same relationships between the ornament, the weight, and the current metallic unit of measure. In the Merovingian period—

“The collar and the armlet, the Celtic torque, the Teutonic beag were at one time familiar, in a certain sense, as a ‘currency’ throughout the North. The beag was originally the ornament of the Gordr, or member of the sacred race, whenever he officiated at a sacrifice.”

It would appear that the beag had “a fixed legal value,” and was “as much a recognized type of value in its way as the ore or pound.” At the same time, uncoined bullion was also [3-400] used for purposes of payment. As with the Hebrews the shekel was at once a unit of weight and a unit of worth, so in France the livre was a name for a weight and for a piece of money. A like relation arose among ourselves. However much it eventually deviated, the “silver-pound” was no doubt at one time an actual pound.

As units of value were determined by weighings between individuals, at a time when weights were themselves relatively indefinite, there resulted indefiniteness in the units of value. Moreover, these independent origins led to the issue of stamped units of value by different individuals or groups of individuals, causing a variety of coins nominally of the same worths, but actually of more or less different worths. How these relatively indefinite weights were rendered more definite, is implied by that distinction made by the Hebrews, between the ordinary shekel and the shekel “after the king’s weight.” Evidently the substitution of a coinage issued from one source, furthered the process of exchange by making the values of the units uniform; and though, in subsequent times, the debasing of coinage by kings produced a great evil, yet there remained the benefit of uniformity.

But that which it chiefly concerns us to note, is, that by making exchange more facile, a trustworthy currency enormously extended and eased the process of distribution. The means of making most purchases could now be carried about on the person. Definite estimations of values of the things bought and sold, could be made—prices arose. The amounts payable for labour of various kinds could be currently known. And, above all, the obstacles to distribution which had resulted from inability to find those who personally needed the goods to be disposed of, entirely disappeared. Moreover, with the establishment of prices and current knowledge of them, transactions between buyer and seller lost, in large measure, the arbitrary character they previously had. Lastly, as a concomitant effect, arose the possibility of competition. Prices could be compared, and the most advantageous purchases [3-401] made; whence, along with advantage to the buyer, came checks and stimuli to the producer or the distributor.

§ 762. With like unobtrusiveness crept in a further development of the media of exchange. Though coins were far less cumbrous than things previously used, still they were so cumbrous as to impede extensive transactions; as they still do in China, where copper or bronze coins strung through holes in their centres, are extremely inconvenient for large payments. Moreover, even after private mints had been abolished, there was, besides the debasing of coinage by kings, the clipping and sweating of coins; making the units of value partially indeterminate, and so entailing weighings and disputes. More serious still was a further defect. Immediate payment was implied: a requirement which in many cases negatived transactions that might else have been effected. Often one who wanted to buy, and had property enabling him to buy, had not the requisite cash immediately available. To meet these and converse cases, there began a system of uncompleted purchases, to be completed either at named or unnamed dates—there was initiated a simple form of credit-paper. There passed some document which, while it acknowledged the money or the goods received, promised to hand over the specified equivalent either some time or at a specified time. Transactions of this kind, arising spontaneously in the making of bargains, gradually generated a system of payment by memoranda of claims; so initiating a paper-currency. For all paper-currency consists of memoranda of claims in one or other form—“promises to pay.”

Beyond this need, and beyond the need for portability which in ancient China led to the use of notes representing the iron money then current, two other needs were met. In Italy, at a time when coins were so miscellaneous that much time had to be spent in weighing and testing, there began the practice of depositing a quantity of them with a custodian, after once for all estimating their value and receiving in [3-402] return a memorandum of it—a memorandum of a claim against the custodian, which served for making payments. In England, where the Tower was used as a place of safe deposit by merchants until, having been robbed of £200,000 by Charles the First they had to find safer places, there grew up the practice of putting valuables in the vaults of goldsmiths, and receiving “goldsmith’s notes.” These were presently used for making payments; until, from the need for having amounts divisible into convenient portions, the goldsmith’s notes became promises to pay the sums named in them, without reference to the particular properties of A, B, or C which had been deposited: they became bank-notes.

Of further developments it is requisite to name the system of cheques, long in use among ourselves but only recently adopted abroad. Save when made “not negotiable,” these, especially in country places, pass from hand to hand as local notes do. Lastly, to movable memoranda of claims have to be added the fixed memoranda, made in merchants and tradesmen’s books. For these serve in place of immediate exchanges of coin for goods, and form one variety of those partially completed transactions, or postponed payments, above named, from which a credit-currency originates. Obviously these diminish the labour of exchange, especially in small places where tradesmen are customers to one another, and half-yearly, after balancing accounts, give and receive the differences: these, too, being generally in the form of cheques or memoranda of claims.

By this credit-currency all large transactions and a great mass of small ones are in our days effected. A trader’s banking account is simply a record of claims against him and his claims against others, which are continually discharged by one another and the debits and credits balanced. And now that this system has been developed so far that by the Clearing House the claims of bankers on one another are three times a day compared and memoranda of the differences exchanged—now that this system, once limited to London [3-403] bankers, is extended to provincial bankers; it results that every few hours the claims which masses of men have on one another throughout the kingdom, are compared and settled by transfers of small amounts, which themselves take the form of paper-orders that are presently registered as credits.

Among examples of evolution which societies furnish, perhaps none is more striking than this gradual advance from the giving and receiving of presents by savages, to the daily balancing of a nation’s myriads of business transactions by a few clerks in Lombard Street.





§ 763. In the six preceding chapters a good deal has been implied respecting the industrial integration which has accompanied industrial differentiation. Before proceeding to specially illustrate and emphasize this trait of social evolution, it will be well to indicate the results thus indirectly brought to light.

Iron-works make possible the pick and shovel, and the steel-tipped bar with which blast holes are punched out. On these, joined with the blasting-powder and dynamite elsewhere made, depends the carrying on of mining. To the various metals and the coal obtained by mining, we owe the tools and the explosives. So that these several kinds of production develop by mutual aid; and it is so with multitudinous kinds of production. The processes of distribution are in like manner mutually dependent. For any locality to have an extensive system of retail trading, there must co-exist a system of wholesale trading; since, unless large quantities of commodities are brought, the retailers cannot carry on their functions. Meanwhile the growth of wholesale distribution is made possible only by the growth of retail distribution; since the bringing of goods in large quantities is useless unless there are retailers of them. Again, these divisions of the distributing organization both evolve pari passu, with the producing organization, while they enable it also to evolve. Evidently extensive distribution [3-405] implies roads, vehicles, canals, boats and ships, which can come into existence only as fast as the various kinds of production develop; and evidently these can develop only as fast as the different articles produced in different localities are interchanged by distributors. Once more, both these developments depend on the development of an instrumentality which substitutes purchase for barter. With a good monetary system the resistance to exchange disappears; relative values of things can be measured; current prices can be recognized; and there arises competition with all the cheapenings, stimulations, and improvements resulting from it. And that production and distribution may be thus facilitated the medium of exchange has to be differentiated and developed within itself; since, until to a metallic currency there is added a currency of paper promises-to-pay, various in their kinds, all the larger and remoter commercial transactions are greatly impeded.

See, then, how great has become the interdependence. Different kinds of production aid one another. Distribution, while depending for its roads and vehicles on various kinds of production, makes production more abundant and varied. While a developed and differentiated currency furthers production and raises the rate of distribution. Thus, by their mutual influences, the structures carrying on these processes become more and more integrated.

§ 764. But no adequate idea of this integration can be formed without contemplating other manifestations of it more special in their kinds.

First among these may be set down the cooperation of separate processes and appliances in wider and more varied ways. Some man, observing how a housemaid trundling a mop dispersed the water, saw that by the aid of centrifugal force various things might be dried and others separated. Among results of his thought here are some. Masses of wet sugar placed in a rotating drum with a perforated periphery, [3-406] are thus freed from the adherent syrup and left dry. Wet clothes put into such a drum are made by its rotation to part with nearly all their water, and come out merely damp. And now, by the same method, the more liquid part of milk is separated from the less liquid part—the cream.

In such cases the new process, which facilitates processes previously used, is separate from them; but in other cases the new process is so integrated with preceding processes as to form a continuous process. Here, for instance, is an appliance for raising to a high temperature a great body of air passing through it. At one end is a steam-engine working a force-pump which sends in this air, and at the other end is a twyre or blower, which conducts the powerful stream of hot air into a blast furnace: thus raising the intensity of the smelting action above that produced by cold air, and increasing the out-put of molten iron. And now there has come a further stage. Instead of a separate and subsequent process of puddling (changing cast-iron into wrought-iron), there has been made an arrangement such that the molten iron flows from the blast-furnace direct into a puddling-furnace, or a furnace which effects the like change; and so there is saved all the coal previously expended in re-heating pig-iron. Here then three sets of appliances are united into one set.

But advance in the cooperation of appliances is best seen in the development of mechanism. At first “the mechanical powers,” as they are called—lever, inclined plane, wedge, screw, wheel-and-axle, pulley—were used only separately; but in course of time there arose, by combinations of them, what we distinguish as machines. For a machine—say a water-mill, a loom, a steam-engine, a printing press—combines these various mechanical powers in special ways for special purposes. Comparison of early machines with late machines shows that, by increases in complexity, they have been adjusted to increasingly complex acts of production.

A further stage, characteristic of modern days, is to be [3-407] noted. Beyond the cooperation of many appliances integrated in the same machine, we have now the cooperation of several machines. Newspaper-printing supplies an instance. Instead of the primitive process of dipping a porous tray into a mass of pulp, taking it out, putting it aside to drain, detaching the moist layer, then pressing and trimming the single sheet of paper produced, we have, in the first place, the paper-machine worked by a steam-engine, in which pulp, delivered on to an endless revolving web, loses during a short journey most of its water, passes between rollers to squeeze out the remainder, then round heated cylinders to dry it, and comes out at the other end of the machine either cut into sheets or wound into a long roll. If wanted for a newspaper, such a roll, containing a mile or two of paper, is fixed to a printing machine. This, worked by a steam-engine (which with its attached appliances is made self-stoking as well as self-governing), draws into its interior this continuous sheet, and, printing now one of its sides and now the other, brings it out at the far end, where it is cut into separate newspapers by an attached machine, and afterwards, in some cases, delivered from it into a folding machine. Because paper-making requires a good supply of fit water and much space, it is not the practice to make the paper at the place where the printing is done; but in the absence of impediments the arrangement would be such that at one end of the united machines there was supplied a stream of wet pulp, while at the other end there were delivered the printed and folded newspapers.

This example of the cooperation of appliances—this integration of machines—may be usefully contemplated here as being symbolic of the wider and less manifest integrations which we must now observe as displayed throughout the whole industrial organization.

§ 765. Until analysis enlightens us we regard any object of use or luxury as wholly produced by the ostensible maker [3-408] of it. We forget that he is in almost every case a man who combines the productions of various other men who have supplied him with the prepared materials. Take the example which, speaking literally, comes first to hand—this book. It is a product to the completion of which many different kinds of workers, scattered about in different localities, have contributed. We need not dwell on its main component, the paper, made in one place, the printing ink, made in another place, and the printing machine, made elsewhere; but, setting out with the printed sheets sent to the binders, let us observe the sources of the united components. One manufacturer sends the rough millboards, originally formed of old ropes torn into pulp; from another comes the strong textile fabric forming the flexible back; others severally supply the thread used for stitching the sheets, the transverse tapes to which the sheets are fastened, the glue used for strengthening their united backs, the ornamental cloth covering the outside, which itself is a joint product of weaver and dyer; and, lastly, there is the gold leaf consumed in lettering. To this add that there are every minute employed sundry tools supplied by other manufacturers. Thus is it everywhere—thus is it with our houses, highly complicated in their genesis, and with all the multitudinous articles contained in them.

So that the industrial organization presents a universal network uniting each workshop with many other workshops, each of which is again united with many others; and every workshop is a place where various threads of products are elaborated into a special combination. In short then the division of labour commonly conceived as exhibited by a multitude of different kinds of producers, is quite misconceived unless the differentiation of them is thought of as accompanied by integration.

§ 766. But we have still to take note of a reciprocal influence. Not only is the genesis of each product in large [3-409] measure dependent on the genesis of many other products, but, conversely, many other products are profoundly influenced by the genesis of each. The many affect the one and one affects the many.

A striking instance is afforded by the caoutchouc manufacture. Originally called india-rubber in recognition of its place of origin and its solitary use for rubbing out pencil-marks, this substance has in the course of sixty or seventy years not only yielded us numerous articles of personal and domestic convenience, but has also improved various industries. It is replacing leather for machine-belting, for fire-engine hose, for the tubing used in various businesses. It is used for buffers, valves for engines and pumps, washers for pipe-joints, piston-packing, squeezing-cylinders, and now most conspicuously for the wheels of carriages and cycles. So that by its radiating influences the india-rubber manufacture has modified many other manufactures.

Still more striking, and far more important, have been the radiating influences of the Bessemer-steel manufacture. A material, the expensiveness of which, until 1850, was such as to limit its use mainly to cutting instruments, is now employed wholesale for things of large size—armoured vessels of war, great fast steamers and ships generally, with their boilers, propellers, shafts, chain-cables, anchors, &c. Steel wire has come into extensive use for traction-ropes, hawsers, and vast suspension-bridges; while viaducts, larger than were before practicable, are now framed of steel. In houses, steel-girders, beams, floor-joists are replacing those of wood; and in New York enormous steel-frameworks hold together their vast, many-storied buildings. In all kinds of machinery steel is replacing iron—in cog-wheels, axles, cranks, framings. Thin sheet-steel is being stamped into bowls, trays, cans, saucepans, covers, &c., and from sheet-steel, tinned plates are now made to an immense extent. In 1892, in the United States alone, more than 200,000 tons of steel nails were manufactured. But above all there are the [3-410] effects on railways; where, besides extensive improvements in rolling stock, the permanent way has been revolutionized by the substitution of steel rails for iron rails. In England 32,000 miles of single track have been thus re-laid, and in the United States 175,000 miles. [*]

Something more has happened. While this cheaply manufactured steel has entered into, and improved, many other manufacturers (a much greater number than above enumerated) each primary set of changes has initiated many secondary sets. Each of these cheapened or improved products has itself become a centre of radiating influences. Take an example. A steel-rail outlasts six iron rails; and since a large element in the cost of maintaining a railway is the replacing of worn-out rails, the use of steel-rails achieves a great economy, which, under the influence of competition, entails some reduction in fares and freights. There follows a lowering of prices of various commodities, and, in many cases, the bringing to places of consumption commodities which higher freights would have excluded. By the use of steel for ships, similar multitudinous effects are produced upon the prices and distributions of sea-borne commodities; since one-fourth increase of cargo-carrying capacity is obtained in a steel-ship.

§ 767. The moral of all this is weighty. Immensely more complex than at first appears is the inter-dependence of businesses, and far closer than we at once see has become the integration of them. An involved plexus having centres [3-411] everywhere and sending threads everywhere, so brings into relation all activities, that any considerable change in one sends reverberating changes among all the rest. From those far past days when flint-scrapers were used to shape clubs, the cooperation of appliances, then commenced, has been increasing, at the same time that the cooperation of workers has been increasing; until now the tools as well as the men form an aggregate of mutually dependent parts. Progress here, as everywhere, has been from incoherent homogeneity to coherent heterogeneity.

Blind to the significance of the innumerable facts surrounding them, multitudes of men assert the need for the “organization of labour.” Actually they suppose that at present labour is unorganized. All these marvellous specializations and these endlessly ramifying connections, which have age by age grown up since the time when the members of savage tribes carried on each for himself the same occupations, are non-existent for them; or if they recognize a few of them, they do not perceive that these form but an infinitesimal illustration of the whole.

A fly seated on the surface of the body has about as good a conception of its internal structure, as one of these schemers has of the social organization in which he is imbedded.





§ 768. Regulation, as a form of government, implies actual or potential coercion—either such actual coercion as is used by the slave-driver over the Negro, or such potential coercion as is used by the farmer over his labourer, who knows that idleness will bring dismissal and the penalty which Nature inflicts on the penniless. Under their most general aspects, therefore, all kinds of regulation are akin; however much they may differ in respect to the regulating agency, in respect to the mode of regulation, and in respect to the kind of evil which disregard of the regulation entails.

An underlying coercion being thus in all cases implied, we may naturally look for a primitive connexion between industrial regulation and the kinds of regulation we distinguish as political and ecclesiastical. From the law of Evolution we shall infer that at first these several kinds of regulation were parts of one kind, and that as the political and ecclesiastical have gradually differentiated from one another in the course of social progress, so the industrial has at the same time differentiated from both.

There is a further corollary. While differences necessarily arise between these several forms of regulation, there must simultaneously arise differences between the earlier characters of all three and the later characters of all three. For human nature determines them all, and any general change produced in men by social progress, will show itself by modifying [3-413] at once the qualities of the political, the ecclesiastical, and the industrial governments. Increase or decrease in the coerciveness of one of these kinds of rule, will be accompanied by increase or decrease in the coerciveness of the other kinds of rule.

These general conceptions must now be substantiated by facts; and we must then carry them with us while contemplating the various phenomena of industrial regulation, dealt with in succeeding chapters.

§ 769. Evidence that the political and industrial controls have originally the same centre, and therefore the same quality, is yielded by those rude societies in which the ruler is the sole trader. Of the Barotse, Serpa Pinto writes:—“Throughout the country, trade is carried on exclusively with the king, who makes a monopoly of it.” Among the Khonds “the head man of each village usually acts as chief merchant, buying and bartering whenever he can profitably do so.” Of the Mundrucus Bates says that those who trade with them “have first to distribute their wares . . . . amongst the minor chiefs, and then wait three or four months for repayment in produce.” And in Ellis’s time, trade in many harbours of the Sandwich Islands was almost wholly monopolized by the king and chiefs. So was it, too, in ancient Yucatan. Cortes says, concerning Apospolon, lord of Aculan—“He is the richest of the traders of this country.” Whether or not himself a producer or trader, the primitive ruler commonly directs industrial activities. As observed by Angas, the New Zealand chiefs superintended agricultural and building operations. In East Africa “neither sowing nor harvest can take place without the chief’s permission, and the issue of his order is regulated by his own interests.” In ancient San Salvador “it was the office of the cazique to order the plantings.” Among the Murams of Munipore “formerly no one was allowed to plant his rice until the great chief allowed it or had finished [3-414] his planting.” From other places we learn that besides controlling production the ruling men also control exchange. On the coast of Madagascar, writes Drury, the kings [chiefs] settle what are to be the terms of trade with foreigners. Speaking of Iddah in Africa, Laird and Oldfield say, “the natives could not enter into any traffic with us unless they had first the royal consent.” So was it with the Patagonians.

“It was with great difficulty that they could be prevailed upon to part with their bows and arrows in trade, which they however did, after asking permission from their chief.”

A noteworthy fact should be added. Among some slightly civilized peoples, the industrial government shows signs of divergence from the political. Burton tells us that there is a commercial chief in Whydah; there are industrial chiefs in Fiji; and among the Sakarran Dyaks there is a trading chief in addition to the ordinary chief.

Histories of ancient peoples agree in these respects with accounts of existing peoples. Lists of functionaries show that in Egypt during the Rameses period, the kings carried on extensive industries. “In Phœnicia,” says Movers—

“the foreign wholesale trade seems to have belonged mostly to the state, the kings, and the noble . . . biblical records show commercial expeditions to distant parts undertaken by the kings (I Kings ix. 27, x. 11, 22). The prophet Ezekiel describes the king of Tyrus as a prudent commercial prince.”

We are shown, too, by I Chron., xxvii, 26-31, that through overseers King David was a large grower of various crops, while he did not neglect pastoral farming; and Solomon, who by the agency of keepers was a wine grower, also carried on an extensive trade by land and sea (I Kings, x).

§ 770. Speaking generally, the man who, among primitive peoples, becomes ruler, is at once a man of power and a man of sagacity: his sagacity being in large measure the cause of his supremacy. We may therefore infer that as his political rule, though chiefly guided by his own interests, is in part guided by the interests of his people, so his industrial rule, [3-415] though having for its first end to enrich himself, has for its second end the prosperity of industry at large. It is a fair inference that on the average his greater knowledge expresses itself in orders which seem, and sometimes are, beneficial. Hence it happens that just as, after his death and deification, his commands respecting conduct in general are regarded as sacred, so, too, are his commands respecting the carrying on of industries: there results more or less ecclesiastical regulation of labour.

Beyond the institution of the Sabbath, and beyond the injunctions concerning slaves and hired servants, we have, in the Hebrew scriptures, detailed directions for the carrying on of industry. There are divine commands respecting ploughing and sowing and the breeding of animals. There are also directions respecting the building of houses and the making of clothes; even to the extent of prescribing fringes. Among the Greeks observances of times may be named as being based on divine commands. In Hesiod’s Works and Days it is said—“Mind well, too, and teach thy servants fittingly the days appointed of Jove; to wit, the 30th day of each month, the best both for inspecting work done, and distributing allotted sustenance.” And in pursuance of the same pious conformity there are directions for certain operations on certain days—on the sixth “for cutting kids and flocks of sheep, and for enclosing a fold for sheep;” on the eighth to “emasculate the boar and loud bellowing bull, and on the twelfth the toil-enduring mules;” and on the seventeenth it is appointed to “watch well, and cast upon the well-rounded thrashing-floor Demeter’s holy gift; and let the wood-cutter cut timber for chamber-furniture, &c.” Much of this religious regulation was incidental—was indirectly consequent on the injunctions concerning sacred seasons, and on the assemblings for worship. Everywhere joint celebrations of festivals have been opportunities for trading. At the present time it is thus in India, where a vast fair is held on the occasion of drawing the car of Juggernaut. So is it with the [3-416] gatherings of pilgrim Mahommedans at Mecca, which result in extensive commercial intercourse. According to Alcock it is the same in Japan, where “festivals are high days for the temples, and they seem to take it in rotation to hold a sort of fair.” From ancient Greece and Rome like evidence has been handed down. Curtius describes how in early Greece—

“The holy places of the land were centres of an extensive commercial intercourse, which found peace and security in the sacred ports, on the sacred roads, and in the vicinity of the temples, whilst in the rest of the world a wild law of force prevailed. With the festive assemblies . . . were combined the first trading fairs; at these men first became acquainted with the multiplicity of natural products, and the most remunerative methods of mercantile exchange; at these the relations were opened which united different commercial towns in uninterrupted intercourse, and thus first occasioned the establishment of depôts of goods beyond the sea, and afterwards the foundation of towns.”

At the same time, as a collateral result, banking was initiated under ecclesiastical auspices.

“The gods were the first capitalists in the land, the temples the first financial institutions, and the priest the first to understand the power of capital. . . . The merchants entrust the money to the care of the priests because they can nowhere find a securer place for it; and the priests are sagacious enough not to let the money lie idle.”

Nor did ecclesiastical regulation end here; for if not by injunction, still by usage, the seasons for certain agricultural operations were determined by the recurrence of religious observances. Parallel effects were produced in Rome. Fairs “were associated with the celebration of the festival at the federal temple on the Aventine,” says Mommsen, who adds:—

“A similar and perhaps still greater importance attached in the case of Etruria to the annual general assembly at the temple of Voltumna (perhaps near Montefiascone) in the territory of Volsinii—an assembly which served at the same time as a fair, and was regularly frequented by Roman as well as native traders.”

Beyond this incidental regulation of commercial intercourse, there was a more direct regulation. Work on festival days was interdicted. Mommsen writes:—


“Rest from labour, in the strict sense, took place only on the several festival days, and especially in the holiday-month after the completion of the winter sowing (feriæ sementivæ): during these set times the plough rested by command of the gods, and not the farmer only, but also his slave and his ox, reposed in holiday-idleness.”

A more direct regulation was exercised. Says Mommsen:—

“In Rome the vintage did not begin until the supreme priest of the community, the Flamen Dialis, had granted permission for it, and had himself made a beginning by breaking off a cluster of grapes.”

Like in spirit was the order against selling new wine until the priest had proclaimed the opening of the casks.

Among the Jews the driving out of the money-changers from the temple, presupposes an extreme instance of this influence of ecclesiastical usages over industrial usages: the original sacred use of the place having been obscured by the secular use it had initiated; for doubtless this secular use had arisen from the desire to get sacred witness to commercial transactions.

§ 771. That in later European societies industrial regulation was at first, and long continued to be, a part of political regulation, is a truth so familiar that it scarcely needs illustration. It may be well, however, to show how complete has been in past times their union.

In those mediæval days when the local head, and afterwards the feudal lord, ruled over a territory from which supplies of all kinds had to be furnished, he controlled the processes of production for his own convenience, just as he controlled other things. Down to the serfs and slaves all were governed in their industrial activities as in their lives at large. Under the feudal régime in France, when, in addition to the rural labours pursued within each domain there grew up trades in towns, the governmental authority exercised in the one extended itself to the other. Whether the feudal superior was lay seigneur, archbishop, king, chapter, or monastery, power was exercised by him or it over industry as over other things; so that the right to exercise a trade, or [3-418] the right to elect gild-officers, &c., had to be purchased from him or it. The system of licensing which now remains in a few cases was then universal. When, after centuries of struggle, feudal governments were subordinated by a central government, the head of the State assumed an equally absolute control of production, distribution, and exchange. How unlimited was the control, we see in the fact that, just as in despotically-governed Ancient Mexico, the “permission of the chiefs” was requisite before any one could commence a trade, unless by way of succession, so in monarchical France, there was established the doctrine that “the right to labour is a royal right which the prince may sell and subjects should buy.” Along with this there went the enforcing of countless industrial regulations by armies of officials; pushed to such extremes in France that before the Revolution the producing and distributing organizations were almost strangled.

Here too, as in France, the power to sell was not natural but conferred.

“The market was by descent no popular or tribal right; it was the king’s prerogative; its tolls and customs were regulated by the authority of the Justices of the King’s Bench, and its prices were proclaimed by the King’s Clerk of the Market.”

And again—

A trader coming to a town “was not allowed to do any business secretly or outside the proper limits, but ‘openly in the market thereto assigned,’ and even there he was ordered to stand aside till the townsmen had come back from early mass and had first been served with such stores of corn and malt, of butter and poultry and meat as their households needed, and the bell struck the hour when he might take his turn for what was left. And as he bought so must he sell only in the established and customary place; and food once displayed on his shelf or stall could not be taken out of the town unsold without leave of the bailiffs.”

Legal dictation like in spirit to this was universally displayed. Restraints and directions of industrial activities by the king and his local deputies, carried out down even to [3-419] small details, show how little separated was industrial rule from political rule.

§ 772. The ecclesiastical regulation of industry in modern societies, has been chiefly incidental, as it was in ancient societies. Sacrifice and worship have brought men together at appointed places and times, and trading has arisen as a concomitant. The names of fairs, habitually identical with the names of church-festivals, yield clear evidence. This origin of meetings for buying and selling in France, is well described by Bourquelot.

“People came at first purely from the sentiment of devotion. The earliest business done was in eatables, an abundance of which was rendered necessary by the unusual concourse; then they had the idea of profiting by the circumstance to procure grains which they were ordinarily unable to procure at home or could only be got at high rates. The presence of the consumer brought that of the merchant, and gradually fairs were formed.”

Challamel, when saying that in Paris the region immediately around the cathedral “was devoted to trade,” indicates the way in which not only periodic but permanent localization of trade was incidentally determined by ecclesiastical observances. But in France a direct as well as an indirect clerical influence was exercised.

“In many quarters the secular or regular clergy had the wardenship, seigneurship, and jurisdiction of the fairs. . . . Usually fairs and markets were held in front of the churches; the priests or monks solemnly opened them.”

The history of early England furnishes kindred evidence. Indeed the church had become a trading centre quite literally. In Mrs. Green’s elaborate digest of ancient municipal documents we read—

“The church was their Common Hall where the commonalty met for all kinds of business, to audit the town accounts, to divide the common lands, to make grants of property, to hire soldiers, or to elect a mayor . . . we even hear of a payment made by the priest to the corporation to induce them not to hold their assemblies in the chancel while high mass was being performed. . . . In fair time the throng of traders . . . [3-420] were ‘ever wont and used . . . to lay open, buy and sell divers merchandises in the said church and cemetery.’ . . . It was not till the time of Laud that the public attained to a conviction . . . that the church was desecrated by the transaction in it of common business.”

As suggested above, this use of the parish church for trading purposes, probably arose from the desire to obtain that security for a bargain which the sanctity of the place was supposed to give—a calling on God to witness; and as in markets, at one time, bargains were made in the presence of civil officers, so it may be that in some cases they were made in church in the presence of priests.

Of course to the indirect regulation of industry illustrated in these ways, has to be added the direct regulation by interdicts on labour at certain times—Sunday, holy-days, saints’ days. Though now most of these interdicts have become obsolete, and the remaining ones are by many disregarded, they were at one time largely operative in restraining production, distribution, and exchange.

§ 773. That the different kinds of control over men have differentiated, and that the control of industrial activity has gradually become independent of Church and State, is made sufficiently manifest by the foregoing evidence. But the fact already pointed out, and here to be afresh emphasized, is that there has simultaneously taken place a decrease in the coerciveness of all these kinds of rule. While early despotism has been (among the most civilized peoples at least) restricted by growth of popular power, and while the once rigorous government of the Church, enforced by excommunication and damnation, has almost died away, there has been a relaxing of control over industry; not only by the diminution of political and clerical dictation, but also by the diminution of dictation from authorities within the industrial organization itself. In past days artisans, manufacturers, traders, were subject not only to the peremptory orders of the general government, but also to the peremptory orders of their own [3-421] ruling bodies—gilds and kindred combinations. The general character of early industrial government is well illustrated by Levaseur’s account of the commercial régime of the 14th century in France, as thus condensed.

These wholesale merchants, travelling over the country and abroad, were called mercers. Like the masons and the compagnons, they too formed large associations; each of which comprised many provinces, and was governed by a ‘king of the mercers.’ There was a king in the North, in the South, in the Centre, and in other provinces. There were also private brotherhoods of mercers in each town, &c. The mercer king ruled the general commerce of the province with a high hand. He gave certificates of mastership. No mercer could expose goods for sale without his permission. He had his court of justice, and his revenues.

It was in a kindred spirit that in England and elsewhere gilds regulated men’s businesses. In each town there grew up a trading aristocracy, which at the same time that it controlled the transactions of its own members controlled the lives of hand-workers, and everywhere put narrow limits to individual freedom. Some borough regulations will show this.

Strangers “were forbidden to carry their wares from house to house; here they might not sell their goods with their own hands, there they must dispose of them wholesale, or forfeit their entire stock to the town if they attempted to sell by retail; elsewhere they had to wait for a given number of weeks after their arrival before they could offer their merchandise to the buyer.”

In a future chapter there will be occasion to illustrate at some length this kind of industrial government. Here it is sufficient to indicate the coerciveness of industrial rule which originally accompanied the coerciveness of political and ecclesiastical rule.

I repeat and emphasize this truth because, in the closing chapters of this volume, we must have it constantly in mind, if we are to understand the present forms of industrial organization and frame rational conceptions of the forms it is likely by and by to assume.





§ 774. Though the above title covers nearly all the subject matter of this chapter, yet it is not entirely comprehensive. There are a few facts to be here noted which do not come under it. Though otherwise unfit, the title “Domestic Regulation” would, in respect of these facts, be the best.

For the control of the household group does not without exception centre in the husband and father. Historians and the earlier ethnologists, studying exclusively the records of Semitic and Aryan races, have regarded paternal rule and domestic rule as equivalent expressions. But qualification of their views has been necessitated by facts which study of the human races at large has disclosed. The truth which a generation ago was scarcely suspected, but which is now familiar, that commonly among uncivilized peoples kinship is reckoned through females and not through males, and that very generally descent of property and rank follows the female line, has necessitated remodelling the theories of Sir Henry Maine and others, respecting the primitive family-group. This change of view has been made greater by recognition of the fact that even among peoples who in past times reached high degrees of civilization, as the Egyptians and the Peruvians, this system of relationship obtained—modified, however, in the case of the Inca race by establishment of the rule that the king or noble should marry his [3-423] sister or nearest female relative: so ensuring descent in the male line as well as in the female line.

Mitigation of that harsh treatment to which, in early stages of human progress, women have been subject, has resulted in some cases; and occasionally they have acquired both social and domestic power. This was conspicuously the case in Egypt, where autocratic queens were not unknown; and among a few uncivilized tribes it happens that chieftainship descends to women. Improvement in their domestic position caused by this system of kinship was shown in Tahiti, where a wife could divorce herself as well as a husband. Among the Tongans, too, the status of wives was good. Still better evidence is yielded by the Malagasy: the balance of power inclines in women’s favour. But in the majority of cases descent in the female line seems to have had little or no effect in qualifying the absolute subjection and domestic slavery of wives. In illustration may be named the Australians, Tasmanians, Snakes, Chippewayans, Dakotas, Creeks, Guiana tribes, Arawaks, Caribs, and many others. The power of the husband and father is exercised without limit, notwithstanding the fact that in all tribal relations the children are not reckoned as his but as their mother’s.

Africa furnishes mixed evidence which must be noticed. There is descent in the female line among the Western Bantus, and along with it there go both inferiorities and superiorities of domestic position. One inferiority is seen in the fact that wives are “usually inherited, together with other property”; and yet the wife owns her own hut, field, and poultry. But a special influence qualifies the domestic relation. A wife’s death is apt to bring on the husband a charge of guilt and a fine payable to her relatives, and fear of this leads to lax control of the wife and subjection to her family. Here it would seem then that descent in the female line qualifies male authority: one further indication of this being that the power of the father is unlimited over [3-424] those of his children who have slave-mothers though not over the others.

But apart from qualifications of the marital relation and of domestic rule hence arising, we meet here and there with examples of dominant female influence, and even supremacy, having its effects upon industrial activities. Instances have already been given (§§ 326, 730) showing that in various places trade is in the hands of women, and that in some cases men yield to their authoritative dictation. Here is a more specific instance from New Britain.

The women of Hayter Island sat “calmly in the canoes, giving orders to the sterner sex what to sell and what to take in exchange. All barter goods that the men exchanged were handed to the women, who examined them very carefully, and placed them under where they were sitting.”

Something like domestic equality accompanying industrial equality occurs in Borneo. According to St. John, “marriage among the Dyaks is a business of partnership.” Boyle says of Dyak wives that their share of work is not unreasonable, and their influence in the family is considerable. And while St. John tells us that among some Sea-Dyak tribes, the husband follows the wife and lives with, and works for, her parents, we are told by Brooke that in Mukah and other places in the vicinity, inhabited by Malanaus, the wives close their doors, and will not receive their husbands, unless they procure fish. Here, then, the regulation of industry under its domestic form is in the hands of women rather than of men. In the Indian hills there are people—the Kocch—among whom, along with descent in the female line, there goes complete inversion of the ordinary marital relations.

“When a man marries he lives with his wife’s mother, obeying her and his wife. Marriages are usually arranged by mothers in nonage, but [only after] consulting the destined bride. Grown up women may select a husband for themselves, and another, if the first die.”

Thus, whether or not a sequence of descent in the female line, the authority of women is in some cases greater than [3-425] that of men in relation to industrial government, notwithstanding men’s greater strength.

§ 775. These exceptional instances serve but to remind us that almost universally men, having, by gifts of nature, the mastery, use that mastery in every way—dictating to all members of the family-group in respect of their occupations as in other respects. For we may safely assume that where the subordination of women is unlimited, the subordination of children is also unlimited; and that along with the father’s despotic regulation of them in all else, there goes despotic regulation of their labours. Indeed, we see here in its simplest form the general truth that political rule, ecclesiastical rule, and industrial rule, are at the outset one; since the male head of the family enacts general laws of conduct for its members, exercises that authority which belongs to him as representative and priest of the deceased ancestor or household deity, and is the irresponsible director of daily work.

Naturally, where little or no political organization has arisen, there exists nothing to put a check on the father’s power—nothing save the ability of his children to resist or to escape. This check seems operative in families of Bedouins, among whom the sentiment of filial subordination is small, and among whom a son can easily set up a tent for himself. Hence, says Burckhardt, “the daily quarrels between parents and children in the desert constitute the worst feature of the Bedouin character.” But recognizing such exceptional cases, where, as also among some North American tribes, a wild predatory life conflicts with the maintenance of domestic government, we may say that generally among early pastoral and agricultural peoples, detached family-groups are subject to unlimited paternal rule. By his intended sacrifice, Abraham implied the possession of the life-and-death power; and by Jephtha that power was exercised. A régime of this kind, established during the ages of nomadic life and of scattered agricultural clusters, survives when social [3-426] aggregates are formed for purposes of defence or aggression. And since the men who in their families severally exercise absolute power, even to the killing of wives and children at will, are also the men who rule the aggregate and make the laws; there is nothing tending to change this domestic régime, and it continues through the early stages of civilization. Of leading illustrations I may name first that furnished by China. Remarking that “in their most ancient books the family is declared to be the foundation of society,” Douglas writes—

“In private life, as long as his parents live, he [a son] holds himself at their disposal, and is guided by them in the choice of his occupation and in every concern of life.” . . . “Over the property of sons the father’s authority is as complete as over their liberty” . . . “Full-grown men submit meekly to be flogged without raising their hands.”

And here may be added a passage from the same writer showing that, as above said, the absolute power of the father long survives, because the heads of families themselves constitute the public authority.

“The affairs of each Ching [village community] were in the old days presided over by the heads of the eight families, and in the larger communities an extended assembly of elders adjudicated on all matters relating to the administration of their neighbourhoods. To a great extent this system exists at the present day. Now, as in the days of yore, the head of each household holds autocratic sway over all the members of his family. The very lives of his sons and daughters are in his hands, and if his conduct, however cruel toward his wife, concubines, and dependants, is not of a kind to outrage the feelings of his brother elders—and as a rule it takes a great deal to do this—it is allowed to pass without attracting the attention of any public judicial authority.”

And this absolute subjection is supported by law to the extent that disobedient sons are imprisoned by their fathers. So, too, unlimited paternal power is insisted upon by the sacred books of the Hindus. In the Code of Manu it is written:—

“Three persons—a wife, a son, and a slave—are declared by law to have in general no wealth exclusively their own; the wealth which [3-427] they may earn is regularly acquired for the man to whom they belong.”

And according to Nelson’s View of the Hindu law, this relationship still continues.

“It is the undoubted fact that among the so-called Hindus of the Madras province the Father is looked upon by all at the present day as the Rajah or absolute sovereign of the family . . . He is entitled to reverence during life, as he is to worship after his death. His word is law, to be obeyed without question or demur.”

Alleging a parallelism between this state of things among the Hindus and that among the primitive Teutons, Sir Henry Maine writes:—

“The precinct of the family dwelling-house could be entered by nobody but himself [the father] and those under his patria potestas, not even by officers of the law, for he himself made law within and enforced law made without.”

Elsewhere quoting the Slavonian maxim that “A father is like an earthly god to his son,” Sir Henry Maine gives a kindred account of the patria potestas of the early Romans; but this may be most conveniently summarized in the words of Duruy.

“The father of the family! It is always he who is mentioned, for there is no one else in the house, wife, children, clients, slaves, all are only chattels, instruments of labour, persons without will and without name, subjected to the omnipotence of the father. At once priest and judge, his authority is absolute; he alone is in communication with the gods, for he alone performs the sacra privata, and, as master, he disposes of the powers and life of his slaves. As husband he condemns his wife to death if she forges false keys or violates her vow. . . . As father he kills the child that is born deformed, and sells the others, as many as three times, before losing his claims upon them. Neither age nor dignities emancipate them.”

It goes without saying that the father was the absolute regulator of industry. Wife and children were in the same position as bond-servants. Their acts were controlled just as much as the acts of cattle were controlled.

§ 776. That a kindred relationship obtained during early [3-428] days throughout Europe, we may safely infer on remembering that down to the 13th century in France, it was in the power of a father to imprison a son who displeased him: the implication being that he could force his son to undertake whatever work he pleased. Though in England paternal power never went to this extreme, yet we see in the usages and ideas of quite recent times, how subordinate were children to parents, and especially to the father. If, even down to the earlier part of this century, filial duty was supposed to include obedience to parents in respect of marriage, it must also have included obedience in respect of avocations. We have indeed, in this matter, direct evidence given by a well recognized authority on rural life in general—the late Mr. Jefferies. The following extract exhibits the filial and paternal relations among farmers—

“The growth of half-a-dozen strong sons was a matter of self-congratulation, for each as he came to man’s estate took the place of a labourer, and so reduced the money expenditure. The daughters worked in the dairy, and did not hesitate to milk occasionally, or, at least, to labour in the hay-field. They spun, too, the home-made stuffs in which all the family were clothed. A man’s children were his servants. They could not stir a step without his permission. Obedience and reverence to the parent was the first and greatest of all virtues. Its influence was to extend through life, and through the whole social system. They were to choose the wife or the husband approved of at home. At thirty, perhaps, the more fortunate of the sons were placed on farms of their own nominally, but still really under the father’s control. They dared not plough or sow except in the way that he approved. Their expenditure was strictly regulated by his orders. This lasted till his death, which might not take place for another twenty years.”

This state of things is still in considerable measure that which the law recognizes; for the son under age is held to be legally his father’s servant, and, as shown by an action for seduction, the deprivation of a daughter’s services is put forward as the ground of complaint.

Let us not omit here to note the evidence furnished that coerciveness declines simultaneously in political, ecclesiastical, [3-429] and industrial regulation. For with increase of political freedom and religious freedom, the freedom now practically if not legally given to children, is such that the father, instead of coercing them for his own benefit, habitually coerces himself for their benefit; and is largely swayed by their wishes in respect to their industrial careers.

§ 777. The preceding sections exhibit paternal government at large during early stages, and do but indirectly imply its extension over domestic industry. But facts may be given enforcing the inference that if the father has unlimited authority over his children in other matters, he must have unlimited authority over their labours.

That he dictated the occupations of his sons is implied by that industrial inheritance which has characterized early stages of civilization all over the world. Various influences made paternal power thus show itself. Already a son, ever present in the house, had learned something of the business carried on in it. To complete his knowledge was manifestly easier than to give him knowledge of another business even supposing this could be done on the premises, and much easier considering that, if done at all, it must be done elsewhere at considerable expense. A further motive operated. In early days modes of production were kept secret. The uncivilized and semi-civilized man, prone to superstition, regards every process he does not understand as supernatural; so that in Africa the blacksmith is even now looked upon as a magician. Hence the meaning of the word “craft,” which carries with it the idea of cunning and subtlety, or some skill passing the common apprehension. Evidently, then, the aim always was to keep the secrets of the business in the family. And evidently sons brought up with a knowledge of these secrets, and by years of practice made skilful, were compelled to continue on as journeymen under parental control, since no other career was open to them.


In many societies this industrial usage, naturally evolved, has been made imperative by law; and legislative wisdom has been credited with it and its supposed advantages. Ancient China yields an instance. Said a prisoner to the Marquis of Tsin—“Music was the profession of my father; dared I learn any other?” And in the Thsi-yu it is written—

“The sons of officers ought always to be officers; the sons of artisans ought always to be artisans; the sons of merchants ought always to be merchants, and the sons of farmers ought always to be farmers.”

The like happened in ancient Egypt. According to Duncker—

“We learn that no one was allowed to follow any other occupation than that derived from his father. The inscriptions tell us that the same office, as for instance that of architect, remained in the same family for twenty-three generations.”

Similarly in Greece, custom led to injunction.

At Athens “it was conceived, moreover, that, if men confined themselves to one calling, they would arrive therein at greater excellence; and the law, accordingly, forbade them to be of two trades.”

And it was so in ancient Mexico, where, says Clavigero—

“The sons in general learned the trades of their fathers, and embraced their professions. Thus they perpetuated the arts in families to the advantage of the state.”

Hereafter, in dealing with the organization and government of gilds, we shall find everywhere illustrated similar tendencies and results. In this place it concerns us only to observe that the power of the father as industrial regulator, is necessarily implied.





§ 778. In very rude tribes, and especially in hunting tribes, where supremacy of the father depends on physical or mental superiority, no supremacy of the grandfather is known. But where the sentiment of subordination is deep, paternal control begets grandpaternal control, and the control of the great-grandfather. Naturally the authority of the father, strongly pronounced as we have seen among Turanian, Semitic, and Aryan peoples in their early stages, initiates the authority of the patriarch. And this, passing at his death to his eldest male descendant (or if he is not alive then to his eldest son), makes him the governor of the group, who, along with the other kinds of rule, exercises industrial rule.

Doubtless, as we see among the races named who have given origin to the leading civilizations, filial obedience has been fostered by ancestor-worship. The connexion between the two is clearly implied by the following passage from an article by Dr. Julius Happel in the Revue de l’histoire des religions.

“Aussi longtemps que vivent les parents, on doit, d’après la doctrine du Hsia-King, les traiter comme des dieux terrestres . . . Cette communauté de vie entre les membres d’une même famille doit se poursuivre jusqu’au delà de la mort . . . Tous les événements importants de la famille sont communiqués aux défunts aussi, en particulier tout changement dans la propriété ou le droit possessoral des ancêtres.”

Necessarily along with belief in the ghost of the dead father who is propitiated by sacrifices, and supposed to inflict [3-432] evils if he is angered, there goes the belief that the living father may after death revenge himself on those who have angered him during his life. Hence there results a subordination to him far more profound than can otherwise be established. And this subordination continues, and even becomes greater, when he has become a grandfather or great-grandfather; since then the time is nearer at hand when he can use his supernatural powers to punish recalcitrant descendants.

Another factor conduces to patriarchal authority, namely, full recognition of the right of property. Sons who are independent of their father for maintenance, and sons who will inherit nothing at his death, lack one of the motives for obedience. Such confirmed respect for ownership as insures possession of his land and goods by the grandfather or great-grandfather, even when he becomes feeble, strengthens greatly the rule of the eldest male. This influence we may perceive operating among the ancient Hebrews. The traditions concerning Isaac, Jacob and Esau, and again concerning Joseph and his brethren, imply recognition of a father’s ability to dispose of his property as he pleases. The right of property is regarded as in a measure sacred.

§ 779. Some evidence observable among existing peoples may be set down. The simplest and clearest comes to us from Africa. Describing the condition of things among the Bechuanas, Alberti writes:—

“Un jeune Cafre ne se marie qu’après avoir obtenu le consentement de ses parents; un Cafre marié, eût-il lui-même des fils et des petit-fils, ne troque aucune pièce de bétail, ne conclus aucun marché, sans avoir consulté son père et obtenu son approbation.”

And he goes on to say that—

“Si un fils, à quelque âge que ce fût, ce comportoit mal envers ses parents, s’il refusoit opiniâtrément d’obéir surtout aux ordres de son père, quand ils sont équitables, ou qu’il ne suivît pas ses avis, il seroit sûr de s’attirer la haine et le mépris de toute la horde, au point d’être obligé de la quitter et de se retirer ailleurs.”


The account given by Livingstone adds an important fact.

“The government is patriarchal, each man being, by virtue of paternity, chief of his own children. They build their huts around his . . . Near the centre of each circle of huts there is a spot called a ‘kotla,’ with a fireplace; here they work, eat, or sit and gossip over the news of the day. A poor man attaches himself to the kotla of a rich one, and is considered a child of the latter. An underchief has a number of these circles around his; and the collection of kotlas around the great one in the middle of the whole, that of the principal chief, constitutes the town.”

This last statement shows how the original patriarchal group becomes at once both enlarged and modified by addition of men having no blood-relationship to its members. Everywhere during turbulent times, it must have happened that a fugitive or a “kin-broken” man, being in danger when living alone, or surrounded only by his small family-group, joined a large family-group for sake of safety; and, in doing this, became subordinate to its head. The result, as indicated by Livingstone among South Africans, is tacitly explained by Du Chaillu in his description of the West Africans.

“The patriarchal form of government was the only one known; each village had its chief, and further in the interior the villages seemed to be governed by elders, each elder, with his people, having a separate portion of the village to themselves. There was in each clan the ifoumou, foumou, or acknowledged head of the clan (ifoumou meaning the ‘source,’ the ‘father’).”

“Every one is under the protection of some one. If, by death, a negro is suddenly left alone, he runs great risk of being sold into slavery . . . Every one must have an elder to speak his palavers for him . . . Any free man, by a singular custom, called bola banda . . . can place himself under the protection of the patriarch, who is thus chosen.”

This practice, joined with the practice of giving to the head of the group the title “father,” naturally leads to the result that, in subsequent generations, those of outside derivation come to regard themselves as actual descendants of the original head of the group. The formation of Highland clans, each formed of men all having the same surnames, exhibited the process among ourselves.


Everywhere affiliation of strangers has been prompted both by the desire of fugitives for safety and the desire of the group to increase its strength. We see this alike in the adoption of a brave vanquished man into a tribe by savages, in the adoption into the family among the Romans, and in the acceptance of immigrant men-at-arms by feudal lords. So was it, probably, among the Semitic tribes in early days. The quarrel between the men of Abraham and those of Lot, was most likely a quarrel between the two masses of followers, who were mostly neither children nor slaves but affiliated outsiders.

Of course the status of those who are alien in blood to the patriarchal group, almost necessarily differs from that of its members—differs more or less according to ideas and circumstances, and in some cases very greatly. An example of extreme and permanent inferiority of position, is given by Sir Henry Maine concerning a case in which the patriarchal group was a conquering group. He says that in certain villages of Central and Southern India, there is an hereditary class of “outsiders,” who are looked upon as “essentially impure,” and who, though “not included in the village . . . are an appendage solidly connected with it; they have definite village duties, one of which is the settlement of boundaries . . . They evidently represent a population of alien blood, whose lands have been occupied by the colonists or invaders forming the community.”

Where family-systems and caste-systems are less marked, and where union with the group has been voluntary, there is less difference in the position of the alien; and there may eventually come absorption into it. But inevitably permission to join the group is made dependent on obedience to its head, and the giving to him of services in return for protection. The transaction is analogous to that which, during the feudal stage, was known as “commendation:” subjection being exchanged for safety, and labour being regulated compulsorily.


§ 780. Concerning this formation and expansion of the patriarchal group, we have to note, further, that it is in part determined by a state of chronic hostility among groups. Other instances beyond those furnished by Africa, may be named as showing this. One of them comes to us in the remark of M. de Laveleye respecting the peoples of the Balkan principalities:—

“The southern Slavs escaped the influence of the civil law, by reason of the perpetual wars which devastated their territory, and more especially in consequence of the Turkish invasion. Beaten, isolated, and thrown back on themselves, their only thought was the religious preservation of their traditional institutions, and of their local autonomy. This is the cause of their family communities surviving to our own times, without being subjected to the influence either of the Roman law, or that of feudalism.”

The statement of Mr. Arthur Evans, to be hereafter quoted in another connexion, verifies this explanation.

But the chief purpose of this chapter is simply to indicate the link between paternal regulation and communal regulation. The growth of the family-group into the patriarchal group, and presently into the enlarging cluster of relatives, brings extension and modification of the primitive paternal government, which takes place by insensible steps. The foregoing sections, illustrating this transition, prepare us for entering upon the subject of communal regulation.





§ 781. In those to whom the doctrine of Evolution is repugnant I shall raise a smile of derision by the remark that certain actions of the infant are indicative of certain early social relations. Yet to the evolutionist, it is clear that constant experiences received by men during tens of thousands of years of savage life, must have produced organic modifications; and he will not be surprised to see indications of them given by the child in arms. In The Principles of Psychology, § 189, I have shown that whereas on islands never before visited, voyagers find the sea-birds so tame that they will not get out of the way, birds of kinds which, through unmeasured ages, have been in contact with mankind, have acquired an instinctive dread of them, which shows itself in every young bird as soon as it is out of the nest. Similarly through countless generations of men, the mental association between stranger and enemy, has, by perpetual repetition, been rendered partially organic; so that an unfamiliar face causes the infant gradually to contract its features and presently turn away its head and cry: an unformed cloud of painful feelings is raised by this presentation of an unknown appearance which, in the history of the race, has constantly preceded the reception of injuries.

By this seemingly irrelevant fact I intend to emphasize still further the truth already manifest, that social groups were at first held together by blood-ties. In early days relations [3-437] were ready-made friends, as they are now; while in early days non-relations were either actual or potential foes. Hence the result that the communal group was primarily an aggregate of kindred, and its cohesion all along was maintained for joint protection against those who did not belong to the kindred. Cohesion was great in proportion as external dangers were great, and diminished along with the diminution of external dangers.

Before proceeding to those illustrations which chiefly concern us, as being presented by the forefathers of civilized peoples, let us contemplate those presented by the uncivilized; and chiefly by those among whom kinship through females obtains.

§ 782. The first illustration may fitly be one in which the origin of descent in the female line is made manifest, and in which, while specific male parentage is undetermined, there is male parentage within the group and a doubly-rooted communism. Quoted by Morgan from Herrera, the account concerns a people found on the coast of Venezuela when first visited:—

“The houses they dwelt in were common to all, and so spacious that they contained one hundred and sixty persons, strongly built, though covered with palm-tree leaves, and shaped like a bell.” . . . “They observed no law or rule in matrimony, but took as many wives as they would, and they as many husbands, quitting one another at pleasure, without reckoning any wrong done on either part. There was no such thing as jealousy among them, all living as best pleased them, without taking offence at one another.”

“This,” says Morgan, “shows communism in husbands as well as wives, and rendered communism in food a necessity of their condition.” Passing to those North Americans among whom kinship was reckoned through females, and who formed communal households composed of related families, it will suffice if I string together some extracts concerning different tribes. Of those on the Columbia plains, Lewis and Clarke say:—


“Their large houses usually contain several families, consisting of the parents, their sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren, among whom the provisions are common, and whose harmony is scarcely ever interrupted by disputes.”

“Several of these ancient yourts were very large, as shown by the ruins, being from fifty to eighty yards long, and twenty to forty in width. . . . In these large yourts the primitive Aleuts lived by forties, fifties, and hundreds, with the double object of protection and warmth.”

“The household of the Mandans consisting of from twenty to forty persons, the households of the Columbian tribes of about the same number, the Shoshonee household of seven families, the households of the Sauks, of the Iroquois, and of the Creeks each composed of several families, are fair types of the households of the Northern Indians at the epoch of their discovery.” Morgan adds: “provisions were in common.” They “practiced communism in living in the household.”

Concerning the existing Maya Indians we learn from Mr. J. L. Stephens the following account:—

“Their community consists of a hundred labradores, or working men; their lands are held and wrought in common, and the products are shared by all. Their food is prepared at one hut, and every family sends for its portion.”

While in this last case the separate families of the commune had separate dwellings, in the preceding cases some lived in long houses formed of separate compartments while others lived in large undivided houses.

Only an undeveloped ancestor-worship characterizes these tribes; and it is noteworthy that there consequently lacks the bond of union constituted by subordination to a patriarch. Respecting grown up families among the Columbian tribes we read—“In this state the old man is not considered the head of the family, since the active duties, as well as the responsibility, fall on some of the younger members. As these families gradually expand into bands, or tribes, or nations, the paternal authority is represented by the chief of each association. This chieftain [ship], however, is not hereditary.”

§ 783. Other forms of modified communism are shown us by certain uncivilized peoples in the Old World. Winterbottom [3-439] says that in the neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, “the plantation is cultivated by all the inhabitants of the village, in common, and the produce is divided to every family in proportion to its numbers.” Concerning Northern Celebes since 1822, Mr. A. R. Wallace, an experienced traveller and careful observer, writes:—

“In these villages the coffee plantations and rice fields are cultivated in common. The chief and a few of the old men decide what days in the week it is required to work in them, and a gong beats at seven in the morning to assemble the labourers . . . when the crop is gathered each receives his proportionate share. This system of public fields and common labour is one not uncommon during the first stages of civilisation.”

Near akin, but in some respects different, is the illustration yielded by the Padam, one of the Indian hill-tribes. Here are extracts from Dalton’s account of them:—

The morang “is 200 feet in length and has 16 or 17 fireplaces. . . . The head-men, elders or Gâms, congregated around the central fireplace. No one is permitted to arrogate the position of the chief. . . . The notables meet daily in the morang for the discussion of affairs of state. . . . Apparently nothing is done without a consultation, and an order of the citizens in Morang assembled is issued daily regulating the day’s work. The result is rapidly promulgated by the shrill voices of boys who run through the village giving out the order in a clear monotone like a street cry. . . . I found that no presents were openly received by the Gâms or notables for themselves. Everything given on public grounds is lodged in the common treasury for the benefit of the whole body corporate. . . . Fines, forfeitures, and escheats are similarly appropriated. . . . The crime of an individual is treated as a public disgrace, to be expiated by a public sacrifice. The culprit has eventually to bear the expense of this. . . . There is no power vested in the community to take life or inflict corporal punishment on a free-born citizen, but slaves may be put to death. . . . The Morang is occupied every night by all the bachelors of the village, both freemen and slaves, and with them a certain proportion of the married men are nightly on duty, so as to constitute together a sufficient available force for any contingency of attack, fire, or other public emergency.” “When a man marries, he and his bride . . . set up a house for themselves. In building this they are assisted by the community.”


Here we have a transitional case in which, to a considerable extent, there is recognized the right of private property, at the same time that there is communal property and communal regulation of industry; and in which the communism, in so far as it is maintained, is, in part, maintained for the sake of safety.

§ 784. On now taking up afresh the thread broken at the end of the last chapter, in which patriarchal regulation had been described as transitional to communal regulation, I may fitly quote, as verifying the conclusion that the reverence felt by the young for the old is a chief factor, the testimony contained in a recent book by Mr. D. G. Hogarth, A Wandering Scholar in the Levant. He says:—

“Islam, by the respect it secures to age, gives every village the basis of communal government.”

Aryan peoples, also, with which we are now concerned, have everywhere illustrated the implied truth.

Of the more usual kinds of communal organization arising from the developed patriarchal group, we may begin with those presented by compound households which, in Eastern Europe, exist in one or other form down to the present day. In his Through Bosnia and the Herzegóvina on Foot, Mr. A. J. Evans writes that, after the Turkish invasion had destroyed the preceding social organization, “society reverted to that almost patriarchal form which the Sclavonic settlers had carried with them into the Illyrian triangle.” The allotments parcelled out among the new settlers were “held in common, not so much by a village-community as by a single household. Thus the Starescina, or alderman of the community, was often literally the elective elder of the household.”

“We heard of families still existing [near Sissek] containing over three hundred members all living within the same palisaded yard, and forming a village of themselves; nor is it by any means rare to find villages in the Granitza consisting of a couple of households.”


This transition from the house-community to the village-community is clearly implied in the testimony of M. Bogišić.

“Il se rencontre souvent plusieurs communautés ayant le même nom de famille; cela vient de ce qu’elles ont formé à l’origine une seule association, qui s’est divisée pour en former de nouvelles.”

In some parts, as Radovatz, peace and concomitant industrial progress, have caused a second decay of this communal organization. Though “the old order of things still exists, and each cottage has its house-father and house-mother, and everything is held in common,” yet the households are smaller than they used to be. Other Slav peoples, as the Servians and Russians, exhibit similar phenomena. Asserting the identity of the régime between these two divisions of the race, Madame Yefimenko, as quoted by M. Kovalevsky, writes:—

“Les biens constituent la propriété commune de tous les membres de la famille; de propriété privée, il n’en existe presque pas. . . . Le chef de la communauté ne fait que gérer la fortune commune. A sa mort, elle reste indivise et passe dans les mains d’un autre chef, appellé à ce poste par son âge ou par une élection, ordinairement au frère ou au fils aîné.”

And M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, from personal observation, while similarly describing this communal system in Russia, thus remarks on some of its evils:—

“Les inconvénients ne sont pas moindres quand une étroite izba réunit plusieurs générations et plusieurs ménages que, durant les longues nuits d’un long hiver, les pères et les enfants, les frères et leurs femmes couchent pêle-mêle autour du large poêle. Il en résulte une sorte de promiscuité aussi malsaine pour l’âme que pour le corps.”

Concerning the industrial arrangements of these communal groups, as exemplified among the Servians, M. Bogišić, describing the headship as an elective autocracy kept in check by the general voice, tells us that the house-father directs the industrial actions of the members, holds the property on their behalf, and trades under their approval, while the house-mother governs the women and directs indoor industries.


A noteworthy fact must be added. While these communities, maintained for mutual protection during turbulent ages, have been disintegrating elsewhere, they have retained their original form in Montenegro. Says Sir H. Maine:—

“The dominant notion there is that, as the house-community is liable for the delinquencies of its members, it is entitled to receive all the produce of their labour; and thus the fundamental rule of these communities, as of the Hindu joint families, is that a member working or trading at a distance from the seat of the brotherhood ought to account to it for his profits.”

Evidently the chronic warfare which the Montenegrins carry on, is the cause of the implied cohesion.

§ 785. As simple family-groups grow into compound family-groups, so these, becoming too large for single households, grow, as implied above, into clusters of households: house-communities develop into village-communities. These we have now to consider.

There is evidence that in the 4th century, bc, such village-communities existed in India. Nearchus, one of Alexander’s generals, is reported by Strabo as observing that:—

“Among other tribes the ground is cultivated by families and in common; when the produce is collected, each takes a load sufficient for his subsistence during the year; the remainder is burnt, in order to have a reason for renewing their labour, and not remaining inactive.”

During two thousand and odd years, distorting changes have produced various forms, but the essential nature of these social groups remains traceable. In his essay on “The Village Community of Bengal and Upper India,” Mr. Jogendra Chandra Ghosh tells us that in certain parts of India, villages are “extensive habitations, which are far too big and too irregular, to be called a single dwelling-house, and of which the external appearance may not be very remote from that of a walled village”—a structure which he compares with the structures left by the Pueblos of New Mexico—compound houses so built as to “wall out black barbarism” (§ 730). The defensive purpose of these united [3-443] dwellings, as well as of the dis-united clusters derived from them, which are found elsewhere, is implied in a passage he quotes from Mr. Elliot’s “Report on the Meerut Settlement.”

“During the misrule and disorganisation of former Governments, it was necessary for the brotherhood to combine for the purpose of resisting the unlawful encroachments of their neighbours, and the attacks of predatory hordes; it was not the interest of a party to have his separate share divided off, which could be of no use to him so long as he could not protect it from violence.”

The introduction of outsiders has gradually complicated these communities, but their family-origin is sufficiently shown by the following extracts. Mr. Elphinstone observes:—

“The popular notion is that the village landholders are all descended from one or more individuals who first settled the village. . . . The supposition is confirmed by the fact that to this day there are often only single families of landholders in small villages.”

Mr. Mayne, in his treatise on Hindu Law and Usage, says:—

“The co-sharers in many of these village communities are persons who are actually descended from a common ancestor. In many other cases they profess a common descent, for which there is probably no foundation.”

But the best indication of origin is contained in a statement of Mr. Ghosh.

“Village franchise, according to native ideas, amounts to a right to mess with one’s peers. . . . So long, however, as a man or his wife is not permitted to mess with the rest of the community at his own place, or at that of any of them, the family remains outside the communal circle.”

This test evidently points back to the early days in which the members of the community formed one household. The traits of structure at present existing also imply this. Speaking of the “parallel social strata” which have been developed, Sir Henry Maine writes:—

“There are first, a certain number of families who are traditionally said to be descended from the founder of the village. . . . Below these families, descended from the originators of the colony, there are others distributed into well ascertained groups. The brotherhood, in fact, [3-444] forms a sort of hierarchy, the degrees of which are determined by the order in which the various sets of families were amalgamated with the community.”

Just noting Mr. Ghosh’s remarks that “the village life of our small communities comprises an agricultural and a governmental element,” and that “the village community have to decide all manner of questions: judicial, criminal, social, fiscal, or any other which may arise,” I pass now to the matter which more especially concerns us—the nature of the industrial regulation. The Indian cultivating groups, says Sir Henry Maine:—

“include a nearly complete establishment of occupations and trades for enabling them to continue their collective life without assistance from any person or body external to them. . . . They include several families of hereditary traders; the blacksmith, the harness maker, the shoe maker. . . . There is invariably a village-accountant. . . . But the person practising any one of these hereditary employments is really a servant of the community as well as one of its component members. He is sometimes paid by an allowance in grain, more generally by the allotment to his family of a piece of cultivated land in hereditary possession.”

So that these developed family-unions, maintained for mutual protection, show us at once the original identity of political and industrial rule, the differentiation of occupations within the group, and the partial development of an individual ownership beyond that of personal belongings, which, in some of the Hindu tribes, readily passes into complete ownership by separation of shares.

§ 786. In our own island, Wales yields the evidence least broken and distorted by over-runnings and mixtures of races. Describing the Welsh early social organization, Mr. Seebohm writes as follows:—

In the “tribal house the undivided household of free tribesmen, comprising several generations down to the great-grandchildren of a common ancestor, lived together; and, as already mentioned, even the structure of the house was typical of the tribal family arrangement.”

In a later work are kindred passages.


“The wele, therefore, of the original ancestor is a division not of the land, but of the tribe, and it remains outwardly one unit, with internal subdivisions among sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons.”

“The weles or family groups occupied undivided shares in what may be called the common rights of the villata.”

The kindreds may be pictured as “communities of graziers of cattle with rights of grazing by tribal right or tribal arrangement in different parts of the district, each community, with, it may be, its score or two of kinsmen, forming a complete unit.”

Under this system a man’s position depended wholly on blood-relationship: the “kin-broken” man occupying a servile position. The groups had a general government, under which—

“Associated with the chief of kindred, and acting as his coadjutors, were the seven elders of the kindred, whose duty it was to preserve by tradition the knowledge of kinship . . . to swear to the kin of anyone claiming by kin and descent.”

This last statement refers to a stage later than that of the compound household, when there had been separation of families who had joint claims to pasturage within the tribal territory. At that time a man’s income was “the result of his own labour and use of the cattle and cyvarwys [right of maintenance] which was received as his tribesman’s right on his coming of age and assuming a tribesman’s responsibilities.” But that along with undivided ownership of the land there went divided ownership of other property, is implied by the rules for division of household goods in cases of separation between husband and wife, as also by the rules for payment of blood-money—a graduated scale of galanas, expressed in cows.

In England the normal development of the village-community, which evidence from Wales implies was going on among the British Celts, was of course prevented by invading races, who brought with them tribal usages pre-existing on the Continent, and who, settling down as invaders, variously mingled, founded settlements partially abnormal in character. But, recognizing these causes of deviation, we [3-446] may see in the groups formed, general resemblances to those thus far considered. Accepting the view of Kemble, Cunningham writes:—

“Tracts of uncultivated land were apportioned to groups of warriors . . . The evidence of nomenclature seems to show that several men of the same sept took up land together and formed a township.”

Speaking of the resulting states as existing from the sixth to the ninth centuries, he further says:—

“We may then think of England as occupied by a large number of separate groups, some of which were villages of free warriors, some estates granted on more or less favourable terms; as in all probability there was comparatively little communication between them, they would all be forced to try to raise their own food and provide their clothing.”

And then the industrial economy sequent upon this structure he describes thus:—

“When the village community is really a self-sufficing whole, the thatcher or smith is a member of the body, and pursues his craft without payment either by the hour or piece, because his livelihood is secured to him in the form of so many bushels from each householder, by the custom of the village; he does what work is required in return for his keep.”

“Buying and selling did not go on between the members, but each stood in a known customary relation to the rest.”

Sir Henry Maine, guided in part by his knowledge of industrial arrangements in the Hindu village-community above set forth, gives a kindred description.

“It is the assignment of a definite lot in the cultivated area to particular trades, which allows us to suspect that the early Teutonic groups were similarly self-sufficing. There are several English parishes in which certain pieces of land in the common field have from time immemorial been known by the name of a particular trade; and there is often a popular belief that nobody, not following the trade, can legally be owner of the lot associated with it. And it is possible that we here have a key to the plentifulness and persistence of certain names of trades as surnames among us.”

But while the communal regulation of industry, as exemplified first in the compound household and then in the cluster of related families, gradually modified by the addition [3-447] of unprivileged outsiders, was mainly determined, and for a long time maintained, in the ways above shown; it was in part maintained by the absence of a money-economy, and the concomitant absence of industrial competition. If we ask how a member of one of these communities could be remunerated, when there existed no currency in which the worth of his services to the rest could be stated, and no means of measuring them against the services of others by their relative market-values, we become conscious that this system of combined living, or, later on, of assigning portions of land or shares of products, was practically necessitated. Emergence from the system of undivided earnings and common property, into the system of divided earnings and private property, was necessarily gradual; and the development of a currency was at once a cause and a consequence. It made definite division more practicable; and the further definite division was carried the greater became the need for money to make payments with.





§ 787. Erroneous interpretations of social phenomena are often caused by carrying back modern ideas into ancient times, and supposing that motives which might then have prompted us to do certain things were the motives which prompted uncivilized or semi-civilized men to do them. One example occurs in the usual belief that the symbols which everywhere meet us in the accounts of men’s usages, were consciously chosen—that symbols originated as symbols. But in all cases they were the rudiments of things that were once in actual use. It is assumed, for instance, that a totem, the distinguishing mark of a tribe or individual, was at the outset deliberately selected; whereas, as we have seen (§§ 144, 176), the primitive totem was something rendered sacred by a supposed personal relation to it, usually as ancestor; and when, at a later stage among some tribes, it became a custom for the young savage to choose a totem for himself, the act bore the same relation to the original genesis of totems, as the act of choosing a coat of arms bears to the original genesis of coats of arms. In either case symbolization is secondary not primary.

The undeveloped man is uninventive. As tools and weapons were derived from the original simple stick or club by incidental deviations, so throughout: it was not by intention that the processes and usages of early social life were reached, but through modifications made unawares. [3-449] Non uninventiveness only, but conversatism too, prevents conscious divergence from whatever is established. With the savage the power of custom is overwhelming, and also with the partially civilized. We may therefore be sure that institutions of which we seek the origins have arisen not by design but by incidental growth. Familiar as we are with the formation of societies, associations, unions, and combinations of all types, we are led to think that the savage, similarly prompted, proceeds in analogous ways; but we are wrong in thus interpreting his doings.

Proof is furnished by the truth before pointed out, that the initial step in social evolution is made in an unintended way. Men never entered into any social contract, as Hobbes and Rousseau supposed. Subordination began when some warrior of superior prowess, growing conspicuous in battle, gathered round him the less capable; and when, in subsequent battles he again, as a matter of course, took the lead. Though during intervals between wars he was not at first acknowledged as head, yet inevitably he exercised special influence—influence which eventually grew into chieftainship. And if the primary social institution arose in this undesigned way, we may be sure that secondary institutions also were undesigned.

The implication is that gilds were not social inventions. Another fact has the same implication: they are found all over the world. Were they social inventions they would be exceptional; whereas they exist, or have existed, among many peoples of different types. In two ways then we are prompted to ask out of what preceding social structures they arose; and to this the obvious reply is—family-groups developed into clusters of relatives. Urban influences and urban occupations presently caused them to deviate from the primitive type of structure; but the primitive type was that contemplated in the three preceding chapters.

We have just seen that while still rural in its character, the village community had begun to differentiate: certain [3-450] leading occupations falling into the hands of particular individuals or families. Industrial structures afterwards reached, must have arisen from these germs. As shown by several quotations in the last chapters, one of these village-communities had a political government as well as an industrial government. Though originally coextensive, these, in the ordinary course of evolution, presently ceased to be so; and the industrial body, contained within the whole political body, tended to acquire separateness: leaving outside of it that mass of unprivileged and immigrant persons who had no claims of kinship. If we ask what happened when one of these village-communities, favourably circumstanced, grew to unusual size, or when several became united into a small town, we may conclude that while increase in the numbers of all those industrially occupied was followed by definite combination of them, smaller increases in the numbers of those occupied in special trades must in smaller degrees have also tended to produce segregation. The different kinds of gilds must severally have had their indefinite forms before they became known as gilds. Though at a late stage, when gilds had become familiar combinations, new ones might artificially assume definite shapes in imitation of those already existing, we may not suppose that the original gilds were formed artificially and definitely. But now carrying with us this preliminary conception let us contemplate the evidence.

§ 788. Already it has been shown that naturally, as they become specialized, occupations tend to become family-occupations; and, as families grow into stirps, to become the occupations of increasing clusters of relatives. Alike because of the ease with which each descendant is initiated in the “art and mystery” of the craft, and because of the difficulty in the way of his admission as a worker in any other group than the domestic one, he falls into the inherited kind of business; and clan-monopolizations necessarily establish [3-451] themselves. Here are illustrations taken from extinct and remote societies.

Concerning the Hebrews it may be remarked that the name “bakers’ street” (Jer. xxxvii. 21) shows that in Jerusalem the bakers dwelt together; and again that “the cheesemakers of Jerusalem dwelt together in a special quarter, the cheesemakers’ valley (Jos. War. v. 4. 1).” This clustering together is indirectly implied by the fact which Lumbroso points out:—

“We learn from the Talmud that among the Jews who formed a large part of the industrial population of Alexandria, the goldsmiths and the silversmiths, the weavers, and the blacksmiths occupied different places in the great synagogue.”

Moreover in Nehemiah iii. 8, 31, 32, allusion is made to something like gilds of goldsmiths, apothecaries, and spice-merchants.

How the implied usage, spontaneously originating, gradually passes into imperative law, or something like it, is shown in the case of ancient Egypt. Rawlinson writes:—

“Although the son did not necessarily or always follow his father’s calling, yet the practice was so general, so nearly universal, there was such a prejudice, such a consensus in favour of it, that foreigners commonly left the country impressed with the belief that it was obligatory on all, and that the classes were really castes in the strictest sense.”

As already shown in § 733, such specialized groups of workers had arisen in Rome before recorded times.

Let us turn to existing peoples. In China, where ancestor-worship is so dominant and family-organization consequently so pronounced, there are unions of silk-weavers and dyers, gold-beaters, blacksmiths, millers, needle-makers, carpenters, masons, barbers, kittysols, pewterers, fishing-boat-owners, tea-merchants, bankers. And though, in the following extract from Williams, we get no clue to the origin of these gilds, which doubtless dates back thousands of years, yet we get evidence concerning their nature and actions quite congruous with the hypothesis of family-origin.


“Each guild of carpenters, silkmen, masons, or even of physicians and teachers, works to advance its own interests, keep its own members in order, and defend itself against its opponents. Villagers form themselves into organizations against the wiles of powerful clans; and unscrupulous officials are met and balked by popular unions when they least expect it.”

Indications of family-origin are elsewhere yielded by the localization of trades already illustrated in Hebrew usages. For if gilds grew out of groups of kindred, the proximity of like traders would of course result: relatives would gather together for mutual protection. In Cairo at the present time such localization may be observed, and harmonizes with references contained in the Arabian Nights, which, though fictions, furnish valid evidence of social habits. Again in Shway Yoe’s account of Burma we read:—

“As in all Eastern towns, those who occupy themselves with a regular handicraft all flock together. Thus the umbrella-makers and sellers of sadlery live to the south of the Palace [at Mandalay] vendors of bamboo-work and lacquered boxes to the west, while the potters and miscellaneous goods shops are mostly along the street that leads to Payah Gyee.”

So, too, is it in Siberia. At Nijni Novgorod the streets are called after the names of the merchandize sold therein. And it was thus in ancient England. Says Kemble:—

“We have evidence that streets, which afterwards did, and do yet, bear the names of particular trades or occupations, were equally so designated before the Norman Conquest, in several of our English towns . . . Fellmonger, Horsemonger, and Fleshmonger, Shoewright, and Shieldwright, Tanner and Salter Streets, and the like.”

Then, as ordinarily happens, that which grew up as a custom tended to become a law. Early in the sixteenth century it was enacted that—

“Goldsmith’s Row in Cheapside and Lombard Street should be supplied with goldsmiths; and that those who keep shops scatteringly in other parts of the city should have shops procured for them in Cheapside or Lombard Street, upon penalty that those of the Assistants and Livery, that did not take care herein, should lose their places.”


Presented as these facts are by societies unlike in race and remote from one another in place and time, we cannot but infer that gilds germinated from some structure common to them all; and the multiplying family-group is the only such structure.

§ 789. Of evidences that the gild in its primitive form arose out of the cluster of relatives, perhaps the strongest is the religious bond which held together its members; implied by periodical meetings for joint worship. Among Christian nations this points back to the pre-Christian times in which there doubtless existed among the peoples of Northern Europe, as among those of Southern Europe, and as still among the Hindus, occasions on which the eldest ascendant male of the family-group made sacrifices to the spirits of ancestors. Naturally this habit survived when the worship came to be of another kind.

Whether the members of the group formed a rural community or an urban community, essentially similar connexions were thus formed and maintained among them. Of course perpetual conquests of people by people, and consequent social dislocations, have tended to confuse the evidence. Some, however, may here be given. Writing of Mexico, Prescott says:—

“The different trades were arranged into something like guilds; having each a particular district of the city appropriated to it, with its own chief, its own tutelar deity, its peculiar festivals, and the like.”

Movers’ account of a far-distant people, the Phœnicians, yields facts of allied meaning.

“Where many Phœnician merchants resided, they had obtained landed property with corporative rights and privileges; such was the case at Memphis and at Jerusalem, where they possessed distinct quarters with sanctuaries of their national gods.”

“These corporations, as far as we know, were formed by citizens only of the same Phœnician state. . . . Where there resided Phœnicians of different towns, they formed as many corporations.”


And this segregation carried out, probably associated those of the same stirp. Doubtless retaining their preceding pagan usages, along with the super-posed Christian creed, the early English exhibited kindred relations. Says Brentano—“The Craft-Gilds were, like the rest of the Gilds, at the same time religious fraternities.” According to its statutes the Abbotsbury Gild, dating from the time of Canute, had for its purposes—

“The support and nursing of infirm Gild-brothers, the burial of the dead, and the performance of religious services, and the saying of prayers, for their souls. The association met every year, on the feast of St. Peter, for united worship in honour of their patron saint. Besides this there was a common meal.”

“The Exeter Gild . . . was of altogether the same character. Here, however, association for the purpose of worship and prayer stands out more prominently as the object of the brotherhood than in the former case.”

The long survival of this religious character is shown by Mrs. Green’s digest of fifteenth century records.

“If a religious guild had become identified with the corporation, the town body and the Church were united by a yet closer tie. The corporation of Plymouth, which on its other side was the guild of our Lady and St. George, issued its instructions even as to the use of vestments.”

But in its primitive form this multiplying family-group out of which the industrial group developed (becoming as time went on changed by the admission of those of other blood) had not only a religious character but also a political character; and tended to evolve within itself the essentials of an independent social structure.

§ 790. The quasi-political autonomy of these early groups was a concomitant of the enmities among them. Between adjacent tribes of savages, trespasses frequently committed generate chronic antagonisms; and chronic antagonisms were similarly generated between settlements of the scarcely less savage men from whom we have descended. Says Cunningham:—


“As long as each village was hostile to every other, defended from the predatory incursions of neighbours, not by any respect for the property of others but by the wide extent of its own waste [the surrounding wild tract], regular trade would seem to be impossible.”

And how well established was this diffused enmity is implied by the fact that, just as the other savages above referred to, had neutral meeting places for the occasional exchange of commodities; so the Anglo-Saxons had boundary stones within the waste lands, or “marks,” separating their settlements, at which they met to trade.

This early state, during which inter-village relations were swayed by sentiments like those which now sway international relations, long continued, and left its traces in the intercourse between groups after large places had grown up. In another county a trader had no better status than if he belonged to another country. As Cunningham says, “the Norwich merchant who visited London was as much of a foreigner there as a man from Bruges or Rouen.” One consequence was that transactions with outsiders were municipally administered.

“The town itself (communitas) was the organ by which payments to or from the merchant of another place might be adjusted; it was by suing the community that the creditor could reach a defaulting debtor at a distance.”

This condition of things had for its natural concomitant a practical identity of the gild organization with the municipal organization. The earliest gilds—cnighten gilds—as existing in Canterbury (where the gild is described as “cnights of Canterbury, or ceapmann guild”), Winchester, London, and Cambridge—were in large measure agencies for local government. “In many cases the inhabitants of the town and the inhabitants of the guild were practically coextensive bodies;” and by the charter of Edward IV, the city-franchise was practically limited to the members of the trades and mysteries. In further evidence may be named the regulations of the Cambridge gild which “were less concerned with the recovery of property than with enforcing due [3-456] money penalties for manslaughter and personal injuries.” So, too, Lappenberg tells us that—“At the head of the gilds, as of the cities, we usually find earldormen.” And still more specific is Brentano, who, concerning town-organization before and after the Conquest, writes:—

“The whole body of full citizens, that is, of the possessors of portions of the town-lands of a certain value, the ‘civitas,’ united itself everywhere into one Gild, ‘convivium conjuratum;’ the citizens and the Gild became identical; and what was Gild-law became the law of the town.”

Of course, following the process of evolution, primitive coincidence passed into divergence as growth became great. This is shown by the fact that in London, the political administration separated from the industrial so early that there remains little clear trace of the original gild-merchant. Moreover we see, locally illustrated, the truth already illustrated at large, that all kinds of regulation are differentiated from one primitive kind. Even still, where social development is less advanced, as in the principalities of Eastern Europe, the old communal organization is traceable in both the municipal and the trading organizations.

§ 791. Turning now to the industrial characters of these merchant-gilds, which gradually differentiated from earlier local combinations having religious and municipal characters, we have first to note that subordination of the industrial government to the political government is again shown. These gilds were incorporated by charters—charters each of which, in the beginning, was bought from some feudal superior, who might be archbishop, lay seigneur, or lord of the manor, chapter, or monastery; but who, in later times, when feudal powers were subordinated by royal powers, became the king. By one of these charters there was practically made over to the gild, for a consideration, the right of electing officers, of authorizing the carrying on of trades, and of making industrial regulations. Of course they had [3-457] this quasi-political character at the time when they were practically identical with the municipal governments, and they retained it in large measure after they became separate. One proof of this is that they had their own laws and courts, in which civil causes might be determined.

At the outset one of these merchant-gilds included the various kinds of traders inhabiting the place. Each member of it was a maker of the article he dealt in—a substantial artisan having such property and household as enabled him to carry on a business and train an apprentice. His membership conferred gild-privileges on his wife, daughter, and maid-servants, and in most cases on his widow. But whereas originally each master was himself a worker, in course of time, as towns grew and some masters prospered more than others, there arose distinctions: differentiation began. Becoming rulers of the gild, its wealthier members grew into a gild-aristocracy; and as fast as there arose a class of masters distinguished from the class of workers, the class of masters strove to monopolize gild-privileges, and successfully sought to keep out the inferior class, not only by prohibitory payments but even by regulations which excluded manual workers—sometimes all those who had “blue nails.” Thus, in Scotland, according to Burton, men were made “incapable of holding the rank of guild-brethren, unless they should abandon the pursuit of their craft with their own hands, and conduct it solely by employi