Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/405

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CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

that insistance on marks of subordination constituted the essential part of government. A statement of Thunberg shows us that in Japan, so elaborately ceremonious in its life, exactly the same theory led to exactly the same result. And here we are reminded that even in societies so advanced as our own there continue the traces of a kindred early condition. "Indictment for felony," says Wharton, "is" (for a transgression) "against the peace of our lord the king, his crown and dignity in general;" the injured individual being ignored. Evidently the implication is that obedience was the primary requirement, and behavior expressing it the first modification of conduct insisted on.

Religious control, still better, perhaps, than political control, shows us this general truth. When we find that rites performed at graves, becoming afterward religious rites performed at altars in temples, were at first acts done for the benefit of the ghost, either as originally conceived or as ideally expanded into a deity—when we find that the sacrifices and libations, the immolations and blood-offerings and mutilations, all begun to profit or to please the double of the dead man, were continued on larger scales where the double of the dead man was especially feared—when we find that fasting as a funeral rite gave origin to religious fasting, that praises of the deceased and prayers to him grew into religious praises and prayers—we are shown why primitive religion consisted almost wholly of propitiatory observances. Though in certain rude societies now existing, one of the propitiations is the repetition of injunctions given by the departed father or chief, joined in some cases with expressions of penitence for breach of them, and though we are shown by this that from the first there exists the germ out of which grow the sanctified precepts eventually constituting important adjuncts to religion; yet, since the supposed supernatural beings are at first regarded as retaining after death the desires and passions that distinguished them during life, this rudiment of a moral code is originally but an insignificant part of the cult: due rendering of those offerings, and praises, and marks of subordination, by which the good-will of the ghost or god is to be obtained, forming the chief part. Everywhere we meet with proofs. We read of the Tahitians that "religious rites were connected with almost every act of their lives;" and we read kindred statements respecting the uncivilized and semi-civilized in general. The Sandwich Islanders, along with scarcely any of that ethical element which the conception of religion includes among ourselves, had a rigorous and elaborate ceremonial. Noting that tabu means literally "sacred to the gods," I quote the following account of its observance in Hawaii from Ellis:

"During the season of strict tabu, every fire or light in the island or district must be extinguished; no canoe must be launched on the water, no person must bathe; and except those whose attendance was required at the temple, no indi-