Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/680

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of it. We must remember in this connection that primitive men really believe in the world and the life beyond the grave. To them it is all very ordinary reality. Thus, slaves are sacrificed on the tombs of their masters to bear them company in their ghostly life. "The practice of sending messengers to the world beyond the grave," says Mr. Macdonald, "is found on the west coast. A chief summons a slave, delivers to him a message, and then cuts off his head. If the chief forgets anything that he wanted to say, he sends another slave as a postscript." Nor are all the victims unwilling sufferers. Wives perform suttee of their own accord on the pyres of their husbands; young men offered themselves voluntarily for the fatherland to Baal; Marcus Curtius devoted himself by leaping into the gulf in the forum.

A curious analogy elsewhere will make this point, I hope, both clearer and more certain. It is a practice with early or undeveloped races to supply an artificial guardian god or spirit for a building, in precisely the same way as I suppose the guardian god or spirit for the growing crops to have been supplied by agriculturists—namely, by killing a human victim, whose blood was sometimes actually used as cement for the walls, so that his ghost might, as it were, be implicitly bound up in the very stones and fabric of the building. There is a legend current in Scotland, says Mr. Tylor,[1] that the Picts bathed their foundation stones with human blood; and St. Columba, not much more advanced in thought than his heathen contemporaries, "found it necessary to bury St. Oran alive beneath the foundation of his monastery." As the chronicler phrases it, "Columbkille said to his people, 'It would be well for us that our roots should pass into the earth here.' And he said to them, 'It is permitted to you that some one of you go under the earth to consecrate it.'" Oran accepted the sacrifice.[2] Even in modern Europe such usages survived late. When the broken dam of the Nogat had to be repaired in 1463, the peasants, being advised to throw in a living man, are said to have made a beggar drunk and utilized him for the purpose. Thuringian legend declares that to make the castle of Liebenstein fast and impregnable, a child was bought for hard money of its mother and walled in. Notice here the analogy to Kandh custom with the meriahs. The child was eating a cake while the masons were at work and it cried out, "Mother, I see thee still"; then after a little time, "Mother, I see thee a little still"; finally, as they put in the last stone, "Mother, now I see thee no more." The wall of Copenhagen, says Mr. Tylor, to whom I am indebted for most of these cases, sank as fast as it was built; so they took an innocent little girl, and set her at a table with toys and eatables; then, while she

  1. Primitive Culture, vol. i, p. 104.
  2. Reeves's Life of St. Columba, p. 288.