nary or nonexistent beings of a most shadowy description, and who treat these queer creatures of their own fancy with such respect and tenderness that they actually offer to them food and drink, and all the other things the savage holds most dear, out of pure apparent superabundance of philanthropy. Why on earth should they take the trouble to begin making presents of food and drink to mere wood-spirits or oreads with whom they had no earthly connection or interest of any sort? Here, as elsewhere, c'est le premier pas qui coúte. The offerings made to tree-spirits are precisely the same in kind as the offerings made to dead relations. Dead relations are buried under trees; the nearer we get to primitive customs, the more do we see that the tree-spirit is the ghost, and the more does everybody who has anything to do with him recognize and admit the patent fact. It is only when we have moved very far away from primitive usage and primitive modes of thought, that we begin to find tree-gods whose ghostliness is uncertain, and tales about their origin in which their former humanity is ignored or forgotten. The lowest savages never seem to harbor the faintest doubt that the gods whom they worship in tree or stone or temple are nothing more or less than their own ghostly ancestors.
Again, all the prerogatives which Mr. Frazer assigns to sacred trees are also prerogatives of the deified ancestor. Thus, trees or tree-spirits are believed to give rain and sunshine. But we saw this was precisely the function of the ancestral ghosts among Mr. Duff Macdonald's Blantyre negroes, as indeed it is in endless other cases which I need hardly recall to the anthropological reader. Once more, tree-spirits make the crops grow. Of this belief Mr. Frazer gives many interesting examples. Among the Mundaris, "the grove deities are held responsible for the crops, and are especially honored at all the great agricultural festivals." Swedish peasants stick a leafy branch in each furrow of their cornfields, believing that this will insure an abundant crop. Among the tribes of Gilgit in India, the sacred tree is a species of cedar—as usual an evergreen—and at the beginning of sowing, the people mix their seed-corn with sprigs of this holy conifer, and smoke it all above a bonfire of the sacred cedar wood. But all this goes on all fours with the common belief, on which I need not further enlarge, that it is the deified ancestors who make the earth bring forth her increase, and that all crops are the immediate gift of the "compassionate father," to whom the savage prays for the simple boons which make up all his happiness. Furthermore, the tree-spirit causes the herds to multiply, and blesses women with many
- The Golden Bough, vol. i, p. 66
- See Herbert Spencer, Principles of Sociology, vol. i, part i, passim.