Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/51

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always exchanged belts, which were not only the ratification, but the memorandum of the compact."

How gift-making, first developed into a ceremony by fear of the ruler, and made to take a wider range by fear of the strong or the influential, is eventually rendered general by fear of equals who may prove enemies if they are passed over when others are propitiated, we may gather from European history. Thus, in Rome, "all the world gave or received New-Year's gifts." Clients gave them to their patrons; all the Romans gave them to Augustus. "He was seated in the entrance-hall of his house; they defiled before him, and every citizen, holding his offering in his hand, laid it, when passing, at the feet of that terrestrial god. These gifts consisted in silver money, and the sovereign gave back a sum equal or superior to their presents." Because of its association with pagan institutions, this custom, surviving into Christian times, was condemned by the Church. In 578 the Council of Auxerre forbade New-Year's gifts, which it characterized in strong words. Ives, of Chartres, says, "There are some who accept from others, and themselves give, devilish New-Year's gifts." In the twelfth century, Maurice, Bishop of Paris, preached against bad people who "put their faith in presents, and say that none will remain rich during the year if he has not had a gift on New-Year's-day." Notwithstanding ecclesiastical interdicts, however, the custom survived through the middle ages down to modern times; until now priests themselves, as well as others, participate in this usage of mutual propitiation. Moreover, there have simultaneously developed kindred periodic ceremonies; such as, in France, the giving of Easter-eggs. And present-makings of these kinds have undergone changes like those which we traced in other kinds of present-makings: beginning as moderate and voluntary, the presents have become extravagant and in a measure compulsory.


It thus appears that, spontaneously made among primitive men by one member of a tribe to another, or to an alien whose good-will is desired, the gift becomes, as society evolves, the originator of many things.

To the political head, as his power grows, the making of presents is prompted partly by fear of him and partly by the wish for his aid; and the presents made, at first propitiatory only from their intrinsic worth, come presently to be propitiatory as expressions of loyalty; from the last of which there results present-giving as a ceremonial, and from the first of which there results present-giving as tribute, eventually developing into taxes. Simultaneously, the supplies of food, etc., placed on the grave of the dead man to propitiate his ghost, developing into larger and repeated offerings at the grave of the distinguished dead man, and becoming at length sacrifices on the altar of the god, differentiate in an analogous way. The present of meat, drink, or clothes, at first supposed to propitiate because actually useful to the ghost or the