Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/393

This page needs to be proofread.

Reviews. 2>77

by plausible repute, of some real man who was deified, or is a legend used to fortify the claim of authority, or at least equality with the professed ministers of the gods, in spiritual matters? The modern doctrine of the divine right of kings would appear to have been in its origin directed, not against popular liberty, but against ecclesiastical supremacy. Kings who cannot get deified may have serious trouble when they differ with saints — that is, with men who are in a way to be minor gods, as we may fairly say for this purpose when we remember that in Latin Christendom diviis is as current a term as beatus. Henry II. was a pretty strong king as twelfth-century monarchs went, but he found himself weak against Becket. The fact that many priests have made themselves kings, and more kings have been anxious to make out a title to spiritual power, does not, I humbly conceive, show that all or even most kingly power was formerly spiritual, but rather that spiritual authority is something that kings covet because it does not come to them by nature. If the Roman emperors appropriated both sacerdotal offices and godhead from politic motives, why should not prehistoric Roman kings have done like things for like reasons ?

Dr. Frazer's thesis, it is true, derives the king from a tribal medicine-man or wizard rather than from a priest. But this gives rise, I submit, to more difficulties than it avoids. For the priest is there too, and what is he doing in the meantime ? The better opinion is now that the priest and the magician are natural enemies. Magic, being a kind of primitive empirical science gone wrong, seeks only to compel rain and sun, seed- time and harvest, to man's uses, not at all the less because elemental powers are regarded as spiritual, and, further, to work healing or revenge by the well-known sympathetic and "contagious" methods : whereas the priest cultivates the alliance of superior powers by gifts and service, and claims the con- fidence of his fellow-men as being himself in the confidence of the gods. It may be the fact, as M. Huvelin maintained with much learning a few years ago, that archaic formulas have both a magical and a religious operation which can hardly be separated. Dr. Frazer himself has touched this point elsewhere,