able for them in the new world they are supposed after death to inhabit.
Even more striking and conclusive, from our present point of view, is another of Mr. Tylor's well-selected cases. "In Esthonian districts," he says, "within the present century, the traveler might often see the sacred tree, generally an ancient lime, oak, or ash, standing inviolate in a sheltered spot near the dwelling-house; and old memories are handed down of the time when the first blood of a slaughtered beast was sprinkled on its roots that the cattle might prosper, or when an offering was laid beneath the holy linden, on the stone where the worshiper knelt on his bare knees, moving from east to west and back, which stone he kissed thrice when he had said, 'Receive the food as an offering!'" To this case I say confidently, "Either ancestral spirits or the devil." Within the last two hundred years, indeed, there were old men in Gothland who would still go to pray under a great tree, as their forefathers had done in their time before them.
That single sentence of Mr. Duff Macdonald's already quoted, tells us more about the meaning of all these rites than pages of conjectural talk as to indwelling divinities. "It is the great tree at the veranda of the dead man's house," says this acute and original observer, "that is their temple; and if no tree grow there, they erect a little shade, and there perform their simple rites." Mr. Macdonald has lived long among the people whose faith and practice he so clearly describes. He thoroughly understands their ideas and point of view; and I confess I attach a great deal more importance to his trained evidence in such a delicate matter than to a vast amount of uncertain classical argument. Moreover, the Blantyre negroes are still in the most primitive stage of religion; the process of god-making goes on among them to this hour as an every-day occurrence. We catch the phenomenon of the manufacture of deity in the earliest stages of its evolution.
On the whole, then, I think all the evidence is congruous with the theory that tree worship originated in ancestor worship or ghost worship, and with no alternative theory whatsoever. This is the hypothesis that fits all the facts, harmonizes all the discrepancies, and reduces to a plain meaning all the seeming absurdities of strange savage creeds and still stranger ceremonies. And to say the truth, no other hypothesis as to the origin of worship has ever been offered. Mr. Spencer's ghost theory, independently arrived at almost simultaneously by Mr. William Simpson, alone gives us a real explanation of the facts under notice. We find ourselves face to face at the outset with the very curious phenomenon of early races who people the whole world with imagi-
- Primitive Culture, vol. i, p. 224.
- Africana, vol. i, p. 59.