Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/177

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EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

peoples in early ages, when war was the business of life, with the usages which obtain now that war has ceased to be the business of life. In feudal days homage was shown by kissing the feet, by going on the knees, by joining the hands, by laying aside sundry parts of the dress; but in our days the more humble of these obeisances have, some quite and others almost, disappeared: leaving only the bow, the courtesy, and the raising of the hat, as their representatives. Moreover, it is observable that, between the more militant nations of Europe and the less militant, kindred differences are traceable: on the Continent obeisances are fuller, and more studiously attended to, than they are here. Even from within our own society evidence is forthcoming; for by the upper classes, forming that regulative part of the social structure which here, as everywhere, has been developed by militancy, there is not only at court, but in private intercourse, greater attention paid to these forms than by the classes forming the industrial structures, among the members of which little more than the bow and the nod are now to be seen. And I may add the significant fact that, in the distinctively militant parts of our society—the army and navy—not only is there a more regular and peremptory performance of prescribed obeisances than in any other of its parts, but, further, that in one of them, the navy, specially characterized by the absolutism of its chief officers, there survives a usage analogous to usages in barbarous societies: in Burmah, it is requisite to make "prostrations in advancing to the palace;" the Dahomans prostrate themselves in front of the palace-gate; in Feejee, stooping is enjoined as "a mark of respect to a chief or his premises, or a chief's settlement;" and, on going on board an English man-of-war, it is the custom to take off the hat to the quarter-deck.

Nor are we without evidence of kindred contrasts among the obeisances made to the supernatural being, whether spirit or deity. The wearing sackcloth to propitiate the ghost, as now in China, and as of old among the Hebrews, the partial baring of the body and putting dust on the head, still occuring in the East as funeral-rites, are not found in advanced societies having types of structure more profoundly modified by industrialism. Among ourselves, most characterized by the degree of this change, obeisances to the dead have wholly disappeared, save in the uncovering at the grave. Similarly with the obeisances used in worship. The baring of the feet when approaching a temple, as in ancient Peru, and the taking off the shoes on entering it, as in the East, are acts finding no parallels here on any occasion, or on the Continent, save on occasion of penance. Neither the prostrations and repeated knockings of the head upon the ground by the Chinese worshiper, nor the kindred attitude of the Mohammedan at prayers, occurs where freer forms of social institutions, proper to the industrial type, have much qualified the militant type. Even going on the knees as a form of religious homage has, among ourselves, fallen greatly into disuse; and the most unmilitant of our sects, the Quakers, make no religious obeisances whatever.