Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/44

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tentation of political officials begins in this way will presently find verification from its harmony with the inference more clearly to be established, that the sustentation of ecclesiastical officials thus originates.

 

Since at first the double of the dead man is conceived as being equally visible and tangible with the original, and as being no less liable to pain, cold, hunger, thirst; he is supposed similarly to want food, drink, clothing, etc., and to be similarly propitiated by providing them for him. So that, at the outset, presents to the dead differ from presents to the living neither in meaning nor motive.

All over the world, in lower forms of society, past and present, we find gifts to the dead paralleling gifts to the living. Food and drink are left with the unburied corpse by Papuans, Tahitians, Sandwich-Islanders, Malayans, Badagas, Karens, ancient Peruvians, Brazilians, etc. Food and drink are afterward carried to the grave in Africa, by the Sherbro people, the Loango people, the inland negroes, the Dahomans, etc.; throughout the Indian hills by Bhils, Santals, Kukis, etc.; in America, by Caribs, Chibchas, Mexicans; and the like usage was general among ancient races in the East. Clothes are periodically taken as presents to the dead by the Esquimaux. In Patagonia they annually open the sepulchral chambers and reclothe the dead; as did too the ancient Peruvians. When a potentate dies among the Congo people, the quantity of clothes given from time to time is so great "that, the first hut in which the body is deposited becoming too small, a second, a third, even to a sixth, increasing in dimensions, is placed over it." The motive for thus trying to please the dead man is the same as would have been the motive for trying to please the man while alive. When we read that a chief among the New Caledonians says to the ghost of his ancestor: "Compassionate father, here is some food for you; eat it; be kind to us on account of it;" or when the Veddah, calling by name a deceased relative, says: "Come and partake of this! Give us maintenance, as you did when living!" we see it to be undeniable that present-giving to the dead is the same as present-giving to the living, with the sole exception that the receiver is invisible.

Noting only that there is a like motive for a like propitiation of the undistinguished supernatural beings which primitive men suppose to be all around them—noting that whether it be in the fragments of bread and cake left for the elves, etc., by our Scandinavian ancestors, or in the eatables and drinkables which at their feasts the Dyaks place on the tops of the houses to feed the spirits, or in the small portions of food cast aside and of drink poured out for the ghosts before beginning their meals by various races throughout the world—let us go on to observe the developed present-making to the developed supernatural being. The things given and the motives for giving them remain the same; though the sameness is slightly disguised by the use of different words