Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/661

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



APRIL, 1878.



EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.
By HERBERT SPENCER.
III. MUTILATIONS.

FACILITY of exposition will be gained by approaching indirectly the facts and conclusions here to be set forth.

As described by Burton, the ancient ceremony of infeftment in Scotland was completed thus: "He [superior's attorney] would stoop down, and, lifting a stone and a handful of earth, hand these over to the new vassal's attorney, thereby conferring upon him 'real, actual, and corporeal' possession of the fief." Among a distant, slightly-civilized people, a parallel form occurs. On selling his cultivated plot, a Khond, having invoked the village deity to bear witness to the sale, "then delivers a handful of soil to the purchaser." From cases where the transfer of lands for a consideration is thus expressed, we may pass to cases where lands are by a similar form surrendered to show political submission. When the Athenians applied to Persia for help against the Spartans, after the attack of Cleomenes, a confession of subordination was demanded in return for the protection asked; and the confession was made by sending earth and water. A like act has a like meaning in Feejee: "The soro with a basket of earth . . . is generally connected with war, and is presented by the weaker party, indicating the yielding up of their land to the conquerors." And similarly in India: When, some ten years ago, Tu-wên-hsin sent his "Panthay" mission to England, "they carried with them pieces of rock hewed from the four corners of the [Tali] mountain as the most formal expression of his desire to become feudatory to the British crown."

This giving of a part instead of the whole, where the whole cannot be mechanically handed over, may be called a symbolic ceremony;