Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/39

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EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

by two contrasted statements in the records of the Hebrews. Of Solomon it is said that "he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt;" and also that "all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon. . . and they brought every man his present. . . a rate year by year." Conversely, it is written that, when Saul was chosen king, "the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents." Throughout the remote East, the bringing of presents to the chief ruler has still the same meaning. In Japan it was "a duty of each lord to visit and pay his respects at the imperial court once a year, when they offered presents;" and, further, "the secular monarch pays his respect and duty once a year to the mikado. . . by a solemn embassy and rich presents." In China the meaning of the act as expressing subordination is extremely marked. Along with the statement that "at the installation of the great khan four thousand messengers and embassadors who came loaded with presents assisted at the ceremony," we read that the Mongol officers asked the Franciscan friars dispatched by Innocent IV. "whether the pope knew that the grand-khan was Heaven's son, and that the dominion of the earth belonged of right to him. . . what present they had brought from the pope to the great khan." And equally pronounced is the interpretation put upon gift-making to the monarch in Burmah, where, according to Yule, strenuous efforts were made "on former occasions to introduce foreign envoys as suppliants on 'beg-pardon days' among the vassals and dependents of the empire: their presents being represented as deprecatory offerings to avert deserved punishment for offenses against their liege lord."

Nor does early European history fail to exemplify the meanings of present-giving, alike for general propitiation, for special propitiation, and as signifying loyalty. We learn that during the Merovingian period "on a fixed day, once a year, in the field of March, according to ancient custom, gifts were offered to the kings by the people;" and that this custom continued into the Carolingian period: the presents being of all kinds—food and liquor, horses, gold, silver, jewels, garments. We have the fact that they were made alike by individuals and communities: towns thus expressing their loyalty. And we have the fact that from the time of Gontram, who was overwhelmed with gifts by the inhabitants of Orleans on entering it, onward, it long continued the habit with towns thus to seek the good-will of monarchs who visited them, until eventually such presents became imperative. In ancient England too, when the monarch visited a town, present-making, at first by free-will but at length of necessity, entailed so heavy a loss that in some cases "the passing of the royal family and court was viewed as a great misfortune."

 

Grouped as above, the evidence will suggest to every reader the in-