Popular Science Monthly/Volume 12/February 1878/Evolution of Ceremonial Government I
|←Notes|| Popular Science Monthly Volume 12 February 1878 (1878)
Evolution of Ceremonial Government I
By Herbert Spencer
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IF, excluding all purely private actions, we include under the name "conduct" all actions which involve direct relations with other persons; and if under the name "government" we include all control of such conduct, however arising; then we must say that the earliest kind of government, the most general kind of government, and the government which is ever spontaneously recommencing, is the government of ceremonial observance. More than this is true. Not simply does this kind of government precede other kinds, and not only has it in all places and times approached nearer to universality of influence, but it has ever had, and continues to have, the largest share in regulating men's lives.
Proof that the modifications of conduct called "manners" and "behavior" arise long before those which political and religious restraints cause, is yielded by the fact that, besides preceding social evolution, they precede human evolution: they are traceable among the higher animals. The dog afraid of being beaten, comes crawling up to his master, clearly manifesting the desire to submit. Nor is it solely to human beings that dogs use such propitiatory actions: they do the like one to another. All have occasionally seen how, on the approach of some formidable-looking Newfoundland or mastiff, a small spaniel, in the extremity of its terror, throws itself on its back with legs in the air. Instead of threatening resistance by growls and showing of teeth, as it might have done had not resistance been hopeless, it spontaneously assumes the attitude that would result from defeat in battle, tacitly saying, "I am conquered, and at your mercy." Clearly, then, besides certain modes of behavior expressing affection, which are established still earlier in creatures lower than man, there are established certain modes of behavior expressing subjection.
After recognizing this fact, we shall be prepared to recognize the fact that daily intercourse among the lowest savages, whose small, loose groups, scarcely to be called social, are without political or religious regulation, is under a considerable amount of ceremonial regulation. No ruling agency, beyond that arising from personal superiority, characterizes the scattered hordes of Australians; but they have imperative ceremonies. Strangers meeting have to remain some time silent; a mile from an encampment approach must be heralded by loud "cooeys;" a green bough is used as an emblem of "peace; and brotherly feeling is indicated by exchange of names. So the Tasmanians, similarly without government save that implied by predominance of a leader during war, had settled ways of indicating peace and defiance. The Esquimaux, too, though without social ranks or anything like chieftainship, have understood usages for the treatment of guests.
Kindred evidence may be joined with this. Ceremonial control is highly developed in many places where the other forms of control are but rudimentary. The wild Comanche "exacts the observance of his rules of etiquette from strangers," and "is greatly offended" by any breach of them. When Araucanians meet, the inquiries, felicitations, and condolences, which custom demands are so elaborate, that "the formality occupies ten or fifteen minutes." Of the ungoverned Bedouins we read that "their manners are sometimes dashed with a strange ceremoniousness;" and the salutations of Arabs are such that the "compliments in a well-bred man never last less than ten minutes." "We were particularly struck," says Livingstone, "with the punctiliousness of manners shown by the Balonda." "The Malagasy have many different forms of salutation, of which they make liberal use. . . . Hence in their general intercourse there is much that is stiff, formal, and precise." A Samoan orator, when speaking in parliament, "is not contented with a mere word of salutation, such as 'gentlemen,' but he must, with great minuteness, go over the names and titles, and a host of ancestral references, of which they are proud."
That ceremonial restraint, preceding other forms of restraint, continues ever to be the most widely-diffused form of restraint, we are shown by such facts as that in all intercourse between societies, civilized, semi-civilized, or barbarous, as well as in all intercourse between members of each society, the decisively governmental actions are usually prefaced by this government of observances. The embassy may fail, negotiation may be brought to a close by war, coercion of one society by another may set up wider political rule with its peremptory commands; but there is habitually this more general and vague regulation of conduct preceding the more special and definite. So within a community, acts of relatively stringent control coming from ruling agencies, civil and religious, begin with and are qualified by this ceremonial control, which not only initiates but in a sense envelops all other. Functionaries, ecclesiastical and political, coercive as their proceedings may be, conform them in large measure to the requirements of courtesy. The priest, however arrogant, fulfills the usages of civility; and the officer of the law performs his duty subject to certain propitiatory words and movements.
Yet another indication of primordialism may be named. This species of control establishes itself anew with every fresh relation among individuals. Even between intimates those greetings which are requisite to signify continuance of respect, precede each renewal of intercourse. Though their particular form may be settled by custom, such greetings are in substance direct results of the desire not to offend. And in presence of a stranger, say in a railway-carriage, a certain self-restraint, joined with some such act as the offer of a newspaper, shows the spontaneous rise of a propitiatory behavior such as even the rudest of mankind are not without.
So that the modified forms of action produced in men by the presence of their fellows, and which are seen alike in the otherwise uncontrolled members of the lowest social groups and in the otherwise-controlled members of the highest social groups, constitute that comparatively vague control out of which other more definite controls are evolved—the primitive undifferentiated kind of government from which the political and religious governments are differentiated, and within which they ever continue immersed.
This proposition looks strange mainly because, when studying less-advanced societies, we carry with us our developed conceptions of law and religion. Swayed by them, we fail to perceive that what we think the essential parts of sacred and secular regulations were originally subordinate parts, and that the essential parts consisted of ceremonial observances.
It is clear, a priori, that this must be so if social phenomena are evolved. A political organization or a settled cult cannot suddenly come into existence, but implies preëstablished subordination. Before there are laws, there must be submission to some potentate enacting and enforcing them. Before religious obligations are recognized, there must be acknowledged one or more supernatural powers. Evidently, then, the behavior expressing obedience to a ruler, visible or invisible, must precede in time the civil or religious restraints he imposes. And this inferable precedence of ceremonial government is a precedence we everywhere find.
How in the political sphere fulfillment of forms signifying subordination is the primary thing, early European history shows us. During times when the question, who should be master, was in course of settlement, now in small areas and now in larger areas uniting them, there was scarcely any of the regulation which developed civil government brings; but there was on allegiance humbly expressed. While each man was left to guard himself, and blood-feuds between families were unchecked by the central power—while the right of private vengeance was so well recognized that the Salic law made it penal to carry off enemies' heads from the stakes on which they were exhibited near the dwellings of those who had killed them; there was a rigorous demanding of oaths of fidelity to political superiors and periodic manifestations of loyalty. Simple homage, growing presently into liege homage, was paid by smaller rulers to greater; and the vassal who, kneeling ungirt and swordless before his suzerain, professed his subjection and then entered on possession of his lands, was little interfered with so long as he continued to display his vassalage in court and in camp. Refusal to go through the required observances was tantamount to rebellion; as at the present time in China, where disregard of the forms of behavior prescribed toward each grade of officers "is considered to be nearly equivalent to a rejection of their authority." Among peoples in lower stages this connection of social traits is still better shown. Referring to the extreme ceremoniousness of the Tahitians, Ellis writes: "This peculiarity appears to have accompanied them to the temples, to have distinguished the homage and the service they rendered to their gods, to have marked their affairs of state, and the carriage of the people toward their rulers, to have pervaded the whole of their social intercourse." Meanwhile, he says, they were destitute "of even oral laws and institutes:" so verifying the statement of Cook that there was no public administration of justice. Again, from Mariner we learn that if any one in Tonga were to neglect the proper salutation in presence of a superior noble, some calamity from the gods would be expected as a punishment for the omission; and his list of Tongan virtues commences with "paying respect to the gods, nobles, and aged persons." When to this we add his statement that many actions reprobated by the Tongans are not thought intrinsically wrong, but are wrong merely if done against gods or nobles, we get proof that, along with high development of ceremonial control, the sentiments, ideas, and usages, out of which civil government comes, were but feebly developed. Similarly in the ancient American states. The laws of the Mexican king, Montezuma I., mostly related to the intercourse of, and the distinctions between, classes. In Peru, "the most common punishment was death, for they said that a culprit was not punished for the delinquencies he had committed, but for having broken the commandment of the Ynca." There had not been reached the stage in which the transgressions of man against man are the wrongs to be redressed, and in which there is consequently a proportioning of penalties to injuries; but the real crime was insubordination: implying that insistance on marks of subordination constituted the essential part of government. A statement of Thunberg shows us that in Japan, so elaborately ceremonious in its life, exactly the same theory led to exactly the same result. And here we are reminded that even in societies so advanced as our own there continue the traces of a kindred early condition. "Indictment for felony," says Wharton, "is" (for a transgression) "against the peace of our lord the king, his crown and dignity in general;" the injured individual being ignored. Evidently the implication is that obedience was the primary requirement, and behavior expressing it the first modification of conduct insisted on.
Religious control, still better, perhaps, than political control, shows us this general truth. When we find that rites performed at graves, becoming afterward religious rites performed at altars in temples, were at first acts done for the benefit of the ghost, either as originally conceived or as ideally expanded into a deity—when we find that the sacrifices and libations, the immolations and blood-offerings and mutilations, all begun to profit or to please the double of the dead man, were continued on larger scales where the double of the dead man was especially feared—when we find that fasting as a funeral rite gave origin to religious fasting, that praises of the deceased and prayers to him grew into religious praises and prayers—we are shown why primitive religion consisted almost wholly of propitiatory observances. Though in certain rude societies now existing, one of the propitiations is the repetition of injunctions given by the departed father or chief, joined in some cases with expressions of penitence for breach of them, and though we are shown by this that from the first there exists the germ out of which grow the sanctified precepts eventually constituting important adjuncts to religion; yet, since the supposed supernatural beings are at first regarded as retaining after death the desires and passions that distinguished them during life, this rudiment of a moral code is originally but an insignificant part of the cult: due rendering of those offerings, and praises, and marks of subordination, by which the good-will of the ghost or god is to be obtained, forming the chief part. Everywhere we meet with proofs. We read of the Tahitians that "religious rites were connected with almost every act of their lives;" and we read kindred statements respecting the uncivilized and semi-civilized in general. The Sandwich Islanders, along with scarcely any of that ethical element which the conception of religion includes among ourselves, had a rigorous and elaborate ceremonial. Noting that tabu means literally "sacred to the gods," I quote the following account of its observance in Hawaii from Ellis:
And how completely the idea of transgression was associated in the mind of the Sandwich-Islander with breach of ceremonial observance, is shown in the fact that "if any one made a noise on a tabu-day. . . . he must die." Through stages considerably advanced, religion continues to be thus constituted. When questioning the Nicaraguans concerning their creed, Oviedo, eliciting the fact that they confessed, their sins to an appointed old man, asks what sort, of sins they confessed; and the first clause of the answer is, "We tell him when we have broken our festivals and not kept them." Similarly of the Peruvians, we read that "the most notable sin was neglect in the service of the huacas" (spirits, etc.); and a large part of life was spent in propitiating the apotheosized dead. How elaborate the observances, how frequent the festivals, how lavish was the expenditure, by which, among the ancient Egyptians, the good-will of supernatural beings was sought, the records everywhere show us; and that with them religious duty consisted in thus ministering to the desires of ancestral ghosts, deified in various degrees, we are shown by the prayer of Rameses to his father Amnion, in which he claims his help in battle because of the many bulls he has sacrificed to him. With the Hebrews in pre-Mosaic times it was the same. As Kuenen remarks', the "great work and enduring merit" of Moses was that he gave dominance to the moral element in religion. In his reformed creed, "Jahveh is distinguished from the rest of the gods in this, that he will be served, not merely by sacrifices and feasts, but also, nay, in the first place, by the observance of the moral commandments." That the piety of the Greeks included diligent performance of rites at tombs, and that the Greek god was especially angered by non-observance of propitiatory ceremonies, are familiar facts; and credit with a god was claimed by the Trojan as by the Egyptian, not on account of rectitude, but on account of oblations made; as is shown by Chryses's prayer to Apollo. So, too, Christianity, originally a renewed development of the ethical element at the expense of the ceremonial element, losing as it spread those early traits which distinguished it from lower creeds, displayed, in mediæval Europe, a relatively large amount of ceremony and a relatively small amount of morality. Of the seventy-three chapters constituting the Rule of St. Benedict, nine concern the moral and general duties of the brothers, while thirteen concern the religious ordinances. And how the idea of criminality attached to disregard of ordinances is proved by the following passage from the Rule of St. Columbanus:
That from the times when men condoned crimes by building chapels and going on pilgrimages, down to present times, when barons no longer invade one another's territories or torture Jews, there has been a decrease of ceremony along with an increase of morality, is clear; though if we look at unadvanced parts of Europe, such as Naples or Sicily, we see that even now observance of rites is in them a much larger component of religion than obedience to moral rules. And when we remember how modern is the rise of Protestantism, which, less elaborate and imperative in its forms, does not habitually compound for transgressions by performance of acts expressing subordination, and how very recent is the spread of dissenting Protestantism, in which this change is carried further; we are shown that the subordination of ceremony to morality characterizes religion only in its later stages.
Mark, then, what follows. If the two kinds of control which eventually grow into civil and religious governments, originally include scarcely anything beyond observance of ceremonies, the precedence of ceremonial control over other controls is a corollary.
Divergent products of evolution betray their kinship by severally retaining certain traits which belonged to that from which they were evolved; and the implication is, that whatever traits they have in common, arose earlier in time than did the traits which distinguish them from one another. If fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals, all possess vertebral columns, it follows, on the evolution hypothesis, that the vertebral column became a part of the organization at an earlier period than did the four-chambered heart, the teeth in sockets, and the mammas, which distinguish one of these groups, or than did the toothless beak, the tri-locular heart, and the feathers, which distinguish another of these groups, and so on. Applying this principle in the present case, it is inferable that if the controls classed as civil, religious, and social, have certain common characters, these characters, older than are these now differentiated kinds of control, must have belonged to the primitive control out of which they developed. Ceremonial acts, then, have the highest antiquity; for these differentiated kinds of control all exhibit them.
There is the making of presents: this is one of the acts showing subordination to a ruler in early stages; it is a religious rite, performed originally at the grave and later on at the altar; and from the beginning it has been a means of showing consideration in social intercourse and securing good-will. There are the obeisances: these, of their several kinds, serve to express reverence in its various degrees, to gods, to rulers, and to private persons; here the prostration is habitually seen, now in the temple, now before the monarch, and now to a powerful man; here there is genuflection in presence of idols, rulers, and fellow-subjects; here the salaam is more or less common to the three cases; here uncovering of the head is a sign alike of worship, of loyalty, and of respect; and here the bow serves the same three purposes. Similarly with titles: father is a name of honor applied to a god, to a king, and to an honored individual; so too is lord; and so are sundry other names. The same thing holds of humble speeches: professions of inferiority and subjection on the part of the speaker are used to secure divine favor, the favor of a ruler, and the favor of a private person. Once more, it is thus with words of praise; telling a deity of his greatness constitutes a large element of worship; despotic monarchs are addressed in terms of exaggerated eulogy; and where ceremony is dominant in social intercourse, extravagant compliments are addressed to private persons.
In many of the less-advanced societies, and also in the more advanced that have retained early types of organization, we find various other examples of observances expressing subordination, that are common to the three kinds of control—civil, religious, and social. Among the Malayo-Polynesians the offering of the first fish, and of first fruits, is used as a mark of respect alike to gods and to chiefs; and the Feejeeans make the same gifts to their gods as they do to their chiefs—food, turtles, whales' teeth. In Tonga, "if a great chief takes an oath, he swears by the god; if an inferior chief takes an oath, he swears by his superior relation, who, of course, is a greater chief." In Feejee, "all are careful not to tread on the threshold of a place set apart for the gods: persons of rank stride over; others pass over on their hands and knees. The same form is observed in crossing the threshold of a chief's house." In Siam, "at the full moon of the fifth month, the talapoins" (priests) "wash the idol with perfumed water. . . . The people also wash the sancrats and other talapoins; and then in the families children wash their parents." China affords good instances. "At his accession, the emperor kneels thrice and bows nine times before the altar of his father, and goes through the same ceremony before the throne on which is seated the empress dowager. On his then ascending his throne, the great officers, marshaled according to their ranks, kneel and bow nine times. And the equally ceremonious Japanese furnish kindred evidence." From the emperor to the lowest subject in the realm there is a constant succession of prostrations. The former, in want of a human being superior to himself in rank, bows humbly to some pagan idol; and every one of his subjects, from prince to peasant, has some person before whom he is bound to cringe and crouch in the dirt: "that is, religious, political, and social subordination are expressed by the same form of behavior.
These indications of a general truth, which will be abundantly exemplified when treating of each kind of ceremonial observance, I here give in brief, as further showing that the control of ceremony precedes in order of evolution the civil and religious controls, and has therefore to be first dealt with.
On passing from the most general to the less general aspects of ceremonial government, we are met by the question, "How do there arise those modifications of behavior which constitute it?" Commonly it is assumed that they are consciously fixed upon as symbolizing reverence or respect. In pursuance of the usual method of speculating about primitive practices, developed ideas are read back into undeveloped minds. The supposition is of the same kind as that which gave origin to the social-contract theory: a kind of conception that has become familiar to the civilized man is supposed to have been familiar to man in his earliest state. But, just as little basis as there is for the belief that primitive men deliberately made social contracts, is there for the belief that primitive men deliberately adopted symbols. The current error is best seen on turning to the most developed kind of symbolization—that of language. The savage does not sit down and knowingly coin a word; but the words which he finds in use, and the new ones which come into use during his life, grow up unawares by onomatopœa, or by vocal suggestions of qualities, or by metaphor which some observable likeness suggests. Among civilized peoples, however, who have learned that words are symbolic, new words are frequently chosen to symbolize new ideas. So, too, is it with written language. The early Egyptian never thought of choosing a sign to represent a sound, but his records began, as those of North American Indians begin now, with rude pictures of the transactions to be kept in memory; and, as the process of recording extended, the pictures, abbreviated and generalized, lost more and more their likenesses to objects and acts, until, under stress of the need for expressing proper names, some of them were used phonetically, and signs of sounds came unawares into existence. But, in our days, there has been reached a stage at which, as short-hand shows us, special signs are consciously chosen to symbolize special sounds. The lesson taught is obvious. Just as it would be an error to conclude that, because we knowingly choose sounds to symbolize ideas, and marks to symbolize sounds, the like was originally done by savages and by barbarians; so is it an error to conclude that, because among the civilized, certain ceremonies (say those of freemasons) are arbitrarily fixed upon, so ceremonies were arbitrarily fixed upon by the uncivilized. Already, in indicating the primitiveness of ceremonial control, I have named some modes of behavior expressing subordination which have a natural genesis; and here the implication to which I would draw attention is that, until we have found a natural genesis for a ceremony, we may be sure that we have not discovered its origin. The truth of this implication will seem less improbable on observing sundry ways in which spontaneous manifestations of emotion initiate formal observances.
The ewe bleating after her lamb that has strayed, and smelling now at at one and now at another of the lambs near her, but at length, by its odor, identifying as her own one that comes running up, doubtless, thereupon, experiences a wave of gratified maternal feeling; and, by repetition, there is established between this odor and this pleasure such an association that the first habitually produces the last; the smell becomes, on all occasions, agreeable by serving to bring into consciousness more or less of the philoprogenitive emotion. That, by some races of mankind, individuals are similarly identified, the Bible yields proof. Though Isaac, with senses dulled by age, fails thus to distinguish his sons from one another, yet the fact that, unable to see Jacob, and puzzled by the conflicting evidence his voice and his hands furnished, "he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him," shows that different persons, even members of the same family, were perceived by the Hebrews to have their specific odors. And that perception of the odor possessed by one who is loved, yields pleasure, proof is given by another Asiatic race. Of a Mongol father, Timkowski writes: "He smelt from time to time the head of his youngest son, a mark of paternal tenderness usual among the Mongols, instead of embracing." Describing the Philippine-Islanders, Jagor says: "The sense of smell is developed among the Indians to so great a degree that they are able, by smelling at the pocket-handkerchiefs, to tell to which persons they belong ('Reisesk,' page 39); and lovers at parting exchange pieces of the linen they may be wearing, and during their separation inhale the odor of the beloved being, besides smothering the relics with kisses." So, too, is it with the Chittagong Hill people. Lewin tells us that "their manner of kissing is peculiar. Instead of pressing lip to lip, they place the mouth and nose upon the cheek and inhale the breath strongly. Their form of speech is not, 'Give me a kiss!' but 'Smell me!' " And now note a sequence. Inhalation of the odor given off by a loved person coming to be a mark of affection for him or for her, it happens that since men wish to be liked, and are pleased by display of liking, the performance of this act which signifies liking initiates a complimentary observance, and gives rise to certain modes of showing respect. The Samoans salute by "juxtaposition of noses, accompanied, not by a rub, but a hearty smell. They shake and smell the hands also, especially of a superior." And there are like salutes among the Esquimaux and the New-Zealanders.
The alliance between smell and taste being so close, we may naturally expect a class of acts which arise from tasting, parallel to the class of acts which smelling originates; and the expectation is fulfilled. That the billing of doves or pigeons and the like action of love-birds indicate an affection which is gratified by the gustatory sensation, cannot well be questioned. No act of this kind on the part of an inferior creature, as of a cow licking her calf, can have any other origin than the direct prompting of a desire which gains by the act satisfaction; and in such a case the satisfaction is obviously that which vivid perception of offspring gives to the maternal yearning. In some animals like acts arise from other forms of affection. Licking the hand, or, where it is accessible, the face, is a common display of attachment on a dog's part; and when we remember how keen must be the olfactory sense by which a dog traces his master, we cannot doubt that to his gustatory sense, too, there is yielded some impression—an impression associated with those pleasures of affection which his master's presence gives. The inference that kissing as a mark of affection in the human race has a kindred origin, is sufficiently probable. Though kissing is not universal—though the negro races do not appear to understand it, and though, as we have seen, there are cases in which sniffing replaces it—yet, being common to unlike and widely-dispersed races, we may conclude that it originated in the same manner as the analogous action among lower creatures. Here, however, we are chiefly concerned to observe the indirect result. From kissing as a natural sign of affection, there is derived the kissing which, as a means of simulating affection, gratifies those who are kissed, and, by gratifying them, propitiates them. Hence an obvious root for the kissing of feet, hands, garments, as a part of ceremonial.
Feeling, sensational or emotional, causes muscular contractions, which are strong in proportion as it is intense; and, among other feelings, those of love and liking have an effect of this kind, which takes on its appropriate form. The most significant of the actions hence originating is not much displayed by inferior creatures, because their limbs are unfitted for prehension; but in the human race its natural genesis is sufficiently manifest. Mentioning a mother's embrace of her child will remind all that the strength of the embrace (unless restrained to prevent mischief) measures the strength of the feeling; and while reminded that the feeling thus naturally vents itself in muscular actions, they may further see that these actions are directed in such a way as to give satisfaction to the feeling by yielding a vivid consciousness of possession. That among adults the allied feelings originate like acts, scarcely needs adding. It is not so much these facts, however, as the derived facts, which we have to take note of. Here is another root for a ceremony: an embrace, too, serving to express liking, serves to propitiate in cases where it is not negatived by those other observances which subjection entails. We find it where governmental subordination is but little developed. Of some Snake Indians they met, we read in Lewis and Clarke, that "the three men immediately leaped from their horses, came up to Captain Lewis, and embraced him with great cordiality." Marcy tells of a Comanche that, "seizing me in his brawny arms while we were yet in the saddle, and laying his greasy head upon my shoulder, he inflicted upon me a most bruin-like squeeze, which I endured with a degree of patient fortitude worthy of the occasion." So, too, Snow says the Fuegian "friendly mode of salutation was anything but agreeable. The men came and hugged me, very much like the grip of a bear."
Discharging itself in muscular actions which, in cases like the foregoing, are directed to an end, feeling in other cases discharges itself in undirected muscular actions. The resulting changes are habitually rhythmical. Each considerable movement of a limb brings it to a position at which a counter-movement is easy; both because the muscles producing the counter-movement are then in the best positions for contraction, and because they have had a brief rest. Hence the naturalness of striking the hands together or against other parts. We see this as a spontaneous manifestation of pleasure among children; and we find it giving origin to a ceremony among the uncivilized. Clapping of the hands is "the highest mark of respect" in Loango; and it occurs with kindred meaning among the Coast Negroes, the East Africans, the Dahomans. Joined with other acts expressing welcome, the people of Batoka "slap the outsides of their thighs;" the Balonda people, besides clapping their hands, sometimes "in saluting drum their ribs with their elbows;" while among the Coast Negroes and in Dahomey, snapping the fingers is one of the salutes. Rhythmical muscular motions of the arms and hands, thus expressing pleasure, real or pretended, in presence of another person, are not the only motions of this class: the legs come into play. Children often "jump for joy," and occasionally adults may be seen to do the like. Saltatory movements are therefore apt to grow into compliments. In Loango "many of the nobility salute the king by leaping with great strides backward and forward two or three times and swinging their arms." The Fuegians also, as the United States explorers tell us, show friendship "by jumping up and down."
Feeling, discharging itself, contracts the muscles of the vocal organs, as well as other muscles; so that, along with bodily motions signifying pleasure, there go sounds, loud in proportion as the pleasure is great. Hence shouts, indicating joy in general, indicate the joy produced by meeting one who is beloved, and serve to give the appearance of joy before one whose good-will is sought. Among the Feejeeans, respect is "indicated by the tama, which is a shout of reverence uttered by inferiors when approaching a chief or chief town." In Australia, as we have seen, it is necessary on coming within a mile of an encampment to make loud cooeys—an action which, while primarily indicating pleasure at the coming reunion, further indicates those friendly intentions which a secret approach would render more than doubtful.
One more example may be named: Tears result from strong feeling—mostly from painful feeling, but also from pleasurable feeling when extreme. Hence, as a sign of joy, weeping occasionally passes into a complimentary observance. The beginning of such an observance is shown us by Hebrew traditions in the reception of Tobias by Raguel, when he finds him to be his cousin's son: "Then Raguel leaped up and kissed him and wept." And among some races there grows from this root a social rite. In New Zealand a meeting "led to a warm tangi between the two parties; but, after sitting opposite to each other for a quarter of an hour or more, crying bitterly, with a most piteous moaning and lamentation, the tangi was transformed into a hungi, and the two old ladies commenced pressing noses, giving occasional satisfactory grunts." And then we find it becoming a public ceremony on the arrival of a great chief: "The women stood upon a hill, and loud and long was the tangi to welcome his approach. Occasionally, however, they would leave off, to have a chat or a laugh, and then mechanically resume their weeping." Other Malayo-Polynesians do the like.
To these illustrations of the way in which natural manifestations of emotion originate ceremonies, may be added a few illustrations of the way in which ceremonies, not originating directly from spontaneous actions, nevertheless originate by natural sequence—not by intentional symbolization. Brief indications must suffice.
Livingstone tells us that blood-relations are formed in Central South Africa by imbibing a little of each other's blood. A like way of establishing brotherhood is used in Madagascar, in Borneo, and in many places throughout the world, and it was used among our remote ancestors. This is assumed to be a symbolic observance. On studying early ideas, however, and finding, as we have done, that the primitive man regards the nature of anything as inhering in all its parts, and therefore thinks he gets the courage of a brave enemy by eating his heart, or is inspired with the virtues of a deceased relative by grinding his bones and drinking them in water, we see that, by absorbing each other's blood, men are supposed to establish actual community of nature, and are also supposed to gain power over each other by possessing parts of each other.
Similarly with the ceremony of exchanging names. "To bestow his name upon a friend is the highest compliment that one man can offer another," among the Shoshones. The Australians exchange names with Europeans, as a proof of brotherly feeling. This, which is a widely-diffused practice, arises from the belief that the name is a part of the individual. Possessing a man's name is equivalent to possessing something that forms a portion of his being, and enables the possessor to work mischief to him; and hence, among numerous peoples, a reason for studiously concealing names. To exchange names, therefore, is to establish some participation in one another's being, and at the same time to trust each with power over the other, implying great mutual confidence.
It is a usage among the people of Vate, "when they wish to make peace, to kill one or more of their own people, and send the body to those with whom they have been fighting to eat;" and, in Samoa, "it is the custom, on the submission of one party to another, to bow down before their conquerors, each with a piece of fire-wood and a bundle of leaves, such as are used in dressing a pig for the oven" (bamboo-knives being sometimes added), "as much as to say, 'Kill us and cook us, if you please.' " These facts I name because they clearly show a point of departure from which there might arise an apparently artificial ceremony. Let the traditions of cannibalism among the Samoans disappear, and this surviving custom of presenting fire-wood, leaves, and knives, as a sign of submission, would, in pursuance of the ordinary method of interpretation, be taken for an observance deliberately devised.
That peace should be signified among the Dakotas by burying the tomahawk, and among the Brazilians by a present of bows and arrows, may be cited as instances of what is in a sense symbolization, but what is in origin a modification of the action symbolized; for cessation of fighting is necessitated by putting away weapons, or by giving weapons to an antagonist. If, as among the civilized, a conquered antagonist delivers up his sword, the act of so making himself defenseless is an act of personal submission; but eventually it comes to be, on the part of a general, a sign that his army surrenders. Similarly, when, as in parts of Africa, "some of the free blacks become slaves voluntarily by going through the simple but significant ceremony of breaking a spear in the presence of their future master," we may properly say that the relation thus artificially established is as near an approach as may be to the relation established when an enemy, whose weapon is broken, is made a slave by his captor: the symbolic transaction simulates the actual transaction.
An instructive example comes next. I refer to the bearing of green boughs as a sign of peace, as an act of propitiation, and as a religious ceremony. As indicating peace the custom occurs among the Araucanians, Australians, Tasmanians, New Guinea people, New Caledonians, Sandwich-Islanders, Tahitians, Samoans, New-Zealanders; and branches were used by the Hebrews also for propitiatory approach (2 Maccabees xiv. 4). In some cases we find it employed to signify not peace only but submission. Speaking of the Peruvians, Cieza says, "The men and boys came out with green boughs and palm-leaves to seek for mercy;" and among the Greeks, too, a suppliant carried an olive-branch. Wall-paintings left by the ancient Egyptians show us palm-branches carried in funeral processions to propitiate the dead; and, at the present time, "a wreath of palm-branches stuck in the grave" is common in a Moslem cemetery in Egypt. A statement of Wallis respecting the Tahitians shows it passing into a religious observance: a pendant left flying on the beach the natives regarded with fear, bringing green boughs and hogs, which they laid down at the foot of the staff. And that a portion of a tree was anciently an appliance of worship in the East is shown by the direction in Leviticus xxiii. 40, to take the "boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees," etc., and "rejoice before the Lord:" a verification being furnished by the description of the chosen in heaven, who stand before the throne with "palms in their hands" (Revelation vii. 9). The explanation, when we get the clew, is simple. Many travelers' narratives illustrate the fact that laying down weapons on approaching strangers is taken to imply pacific intentions: the obvious reason being that opposite intentions are thus negatived. Of the Kaffirs, for instance, Barrow says, " 'A messenger of peace' is known by this people from his laying down his hassagai or spear on the ground, at the distance of two hundred paces from those to whom he is sent, and by advancing thence with extended arms:" the extension of the arms evidently having the purpose of showing that he has no weapon secreted. But how is the absence of weapons to be shown when so far off that weapons, if carried, are invisible? Simply by carrying other things which are visible; and boughs covered with leaves are the most convenient and generally available things for this purpose. A verification is at hand. The Tasmanians had a way of deceiving those who inferred from the green boughs they were bringing in their hands that they were weaponless. They practised the art of holding their spears between their toes as they walked: "The black. . . . approaching him in pretended amity, trailed between his toes the fatal spear." Arbitrary, then, as this usage seems when observed in its later forms only, it proves to be by no means arbitrary when traced back to its origin. Taken as evidence that the advancing stranger is without arms, the green bough is primarily a sign that he is not an enemy. It is thereafter joined with other marks of friendship. It survives when the propitiation passes into submission. And so it becomes incorporated with various other actions which express reverence and worship.
One more instance I must add, because it conspicuously shows us how there grow up the interpretations of ceremonies as artificially devised actions, when their natural origins are unknown. Describing Arab marriages, Baker says: "There is much feasting, and the unfortunate bridegroom undergoes the ordeal of whipping by the relations of his bride, in order to test his courage. . . . If the happy husband wishes to be considered a man worth having, he must receive the chastisement with an expression of enjoyment, in which case the crowds of women in admiration again raise their thrilling cry." Here, instead of the primitive abduction violently resisted by the woman and her relatives—instead of the actual capture required to be achieved, as among the Kamtchadales, spite of the blows and wounds inflicted by "all the women in the village"—instead of those modifications of the "form of capture" in which, along with mock pursuit, there goes receipt by the abductor of more or less violence from the pursuers; we have a modification in which the pursuit has disappeared, and the violence is passively received. And then there arises the belief that this castigation of the bridegroom is a deliberately chosen way "to test his courage."
These facts are not given as adequately proving that, in all cases, ceremonies are modifications of actions which had at first direct adaptations to desired ends, and that their apparently symbolic characters result from their survival under changed circumstances. Here I have aimed only to indicate, in the briefest way, the reasons for rejecting the current hypothesis that ceremonies originate in conscious symbolization, and for justifying the belief that we may in every case expect to find them originating by evolution. This expectation we shall hereafter find abundantly fulfilled.
A chief reason why little attention has been paid to phenomena of this class, all-pervading and conspicuous as they are, is that while to most social functions there correspond structures too large to be overlooked, functions which make up ceremonial control have correlative structures so small as to seem of no significance. That ceremonial government has its special organization, just as the political and ecclesiastical governments have, is a fact habitually passed over, because, while the last two organizations have developed, the first has dwindled—in those societies, at least, which have reached the stage at which social phenomena become subjects of speculation. Originally, however, the officials who direct the rites expressing political subordination have an importance second only to that of the officials who direct religious rites; and the two officialisms are homologous. To whichever class belonging, these functionaries conduct propitiatory acts: the visible ruler being the propitiated person in the one case, and the ruler no longer visible being the propitiated person in the other case. Both are performers and regulators of worship—worship of the living king and worship of the dead king. In our advanced stage the differentiation of the divine from the human has become so great that this proposition looks scarcely credible. But on going back through stages in which the attributes of the conceived deity are less and less unlike those of the visible man, and eventually reaching the early stage in which the other-self of the dead man, considered indiscriminately as ghost and god, is not to be distinguished, when he appears, from the living man; we cannot fail to see the alliance in Nature between the functions of those who minister to the ruler who has gone away and those who minister to the ruler who has taken his place. What remaining strangeness there may seem in this assertion of homology disappears, on remembering that in sundry ancient societies living kings were literally worshiped as dead kings were, and that the adoration of the living king by priests was but a more extreme form of the adoration habitually paid by all who served him.
Social organizations that are but little differentiated clearly show us several aspects of this kinship. In common with those below him, the savage chief proclaims his own great deeds and the achievements of his ancestors; and that in some cases this habit of self-praise long persists, Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions prove. Advance from the stage at which the head-man lauds himself to the stage at which laudation of him is done by deputy is well typified in the contrast between the recent usage in Madagascar, where the king in public assembly was in the habit of relating "his origin, his descent from the line of former sovereigns, and his incontestable right to the kingdom," and the usage that existed in past times among ourselves, when the like distinctions and powers and claims of the king were publicly asserted for him by an appointed officer. As the ruler, extending his dominions and growing in power, gathers round him an increasing number of agents, the utterance of propitiatory praises, at first by all of these, becomes eventually distinctive of certain among them: there arise official glorifiers. "In Samoa, a chief in traveling is attended by his principal orator." In Feejee each tribe has its "orator, to make orations on occasions of ceremony." Dupuis tells us that the attendants of the chiefs of Ashantee eagerly vociferate the "strong names" of their masters; and a more recent writer describes certain of the king's attendants, whose duty it is to "give him names "—cry out his titles and high qualities. In kindred fashion a Yoruba king, when he goes abroad, is accompanied by his wives, who sing his praise. Now, when we meet with facts of this kind—when we read that in Madagascar "the sovereign has a large band of female singers, who attend in the court-yard, and who accompany their monarch whenever he takes an excursion, either for a short airing or distant journey;" when we are told that in China "his imperial majesty was preceded by persons loudly proclaiming his virtues and his power;" when we learn that among the ancient Chibchas the hogotá was received with "songs in which they sung his deeds and victories"—we cannot deny that these assertors of greatness and singers of praises do for the living king exactly that which priests and priestesses do for the dead king, and for the god who evolves from the dead king.
In societies that have their ceremonial governments largely developed, the homology is further shown. As such societies ordinarily have many gods of various powers, severally served by their official glorifiers, so they have various grades of living potentates, severally served by men who assert their greatness and demand respect. In Samoa, "a herald runs a few paces before, calling out, as he meets any one, the name of the chief who is coming." With a Madagascar chief in his palanquin, "one or two men with assagais, or spears, in their hands, ran along in front shouting out the name of the chief." In advance of anin Japan there "first walked four men with brooms, such as always precede the retinue of a great lord, in order to admonish the people with cries of 'Stay, stay!' which means, 'Sit, or bow you down;' " and in China a magistrate making a progress is preceded by men bearing "red boards having the rank of the officer painted on them, running and shouting to the street passengers: 'Retire, retire! keep silence, and clear the way!' Gong strikers follow, denoting at certain intervals by so many strokes their master's grade and office."
Another parallelism exists between the official who proclaims the king's will and the official who proclaims the will of the deity—between the interpreter who conveys statements to the king and brings back his reply, and the priest who conveys the petitions or questions of worshipers, and explains the oracular response. In many places where regal power is extreme, the monarch is either invisible or cannot be directly communicated with: the living ruler thus simulating the dead and divine ruler, and requiring kindred intermediators. It was thus in ancient Mexico. Of Montezuma II. it is said that "no commoner was to look him in the face, and if one did, he died for it;" and further, that he did not communicate with any one "except by an interpreter." In Nicaragua the homey, "the sovereign's words are spoken to the meu, who informs the interpreter, who passes it on to the visitor, and the answer must trickle back through the same channels." And, concerning Abyssinia, where even the chiefs sit in their houses in darkness, so "that vulgar eyes may not gaze too plainly upon" them, we are told the king was "not seen when sitting in council," but "sat in a darkened room," and "observed through a window what was going on in the chamber without;" and also that he had "an interpreter, who was the medium of communication between the king and his people on state occasions; his name meant the voice or word of the king." I may add that this parallelism between the secular and sacred agents of communication is in some cases recognized by peoples whose institutions display it. Thomson tells us that the New Zealand priests were regarded as the of the gods."carried their exclusion so far as to receive messages from other chiefs only through officers delegated for that purpose." So of Peru, where some of the rulers "had the custom not to be seen by their subjects but on rare occasions," we read that at the first interview with the Spaniards, " gave no answer, nor did he even raise his eyes to look at the captain (Hernando de Soto). But a chief replied to what the captain had said." With the Chibchas "the first of the court officers was the crier, as they said that he was the medium by which the will of the prince was explained." Throughout Africa at the present time like customs have generated like appliances. Speke tells us that, "in conversation with the King of Uganda, the words must always be transmitted through one or more of his officers." Among the inland negroes "it is quite beneath the dignity of an attàh to reply from the throne except through his 'mouth,' or prime-minister." In
There is a further evidence of this homology. Where, along with social development considerably advanced, ancestor-worship has remained dominant, and where gods and men are, consequently, but little differentiated, the two organizations are but little differentiated. China furnishes a good instance. Hue tells us that "the Chinese emperors are in the habit of deifying. . . . civil or military officers, whose life has been characterized by some memorable act, and the worship rendered to these constitutes the official religion of the mandarins." Further, we read in Gutzlaff that the emperor "confers various titles on officers who have left the world, and shown themselves worthy of the high trust reposed in them, creating them governors, presidents, overseers, etc., in Hades, and thus establishing his government even among the manes." And then we learn from Williams that the Lipu, or Board of Rites, examines and directs concerning the performances of the five kinds of ritual observances—those of a propitious and those of a felicitous nature, military and hospitable rites, and those of an infelicitous nature. Among its departments is that of ceremonial forms—the etiquette to be observed at court, the regulations of dresses, of carriages and riding-accoutrements, of followers and insignia, personal and written intercourse between the various ranks of peers. Another department superintends the rites to be observed in worshiping deities and spirits of departed monarchs, sages and worthies, etc.—statements showing that the same board regulates both religious ceremonial and civil ceremonial. To which summarized account I may add this quotation: "In court, the master of ceremonies stands in a conspicuous place, and with a loud voice commands the courtiers to rise and kneel, stand or march"—that is, he directs the worshipers of the monarch as a chief priest directs the worshipers of the god. Equally marked were, until lately, the kindred relations in Japan. With the sacredness of the mikado, and with his divine inaccessibility, travelers have familiarized us; but the implied confusion between the divine and the human went to a much greater extent—an extent which would be scarcely credible, did not independent witnesses testify to it. Dickson says:
Similarly we are told by Mitford that—
And then we read that under the Japanese cabinet, one of the eight administrative boards, the Ti bu shio, "deals with the forms of society, manners, etiquette, worship, ceremonies for the living and the dead," etc.: the propitiation of living persons and the propitiation of dead persons and deities have a supreme regulative centre in common.
Western peoples, among whom during the Christian era differentiation of the divine from the human has become very decided, show us in a less marked manner the homology between the ceremonial organization and the ecclesiastical organization. Still it is, or rather, was once, clearly traceable. In feudal days, beyond the lord-high chamberlains, grand-masters of ceremonies, ushers, and so forth, belonging to royal courts, and the kindred officers found in the households of subordinate rulers and nobles—officers who conducted propitiatory observances—there were the heralds. These formed a class of ceremonial functionaries, in various ways resembling a priesthood. Just noting as significant the remark of Scott that, "so intimate was the union betwixt chivalry and religion esteemed to be, that the several gradations of the former were seriously considered as parallel to those of the Church," I go on to point out that these officers, pertaining to the institutions of chivalry, formed a body which, where it was highly organized, as in France, had five ranks: chevaucheur, poursuivant d’armes, visitations were made; and in various other ways the functions of the organization were allied to priestly functions. Heralds verified the titles of those who aspired to the distinctions of chivalry, as priests decided on the fitness of applicants for the sanctions of the Church; and on the occasions of their visitations they were to "correct things ill and dishonest," and to advise princes—duties allied to those of priests. Besides announcing the wills of earthly rulers, as priests of all religions announce the wills of heavenly rulers, they were glorifiers of the first, as priests were of the last—part of their duty to those they served being "to publish their praises in foreign lands." At the burials of kings and princes, where observances for honoring the living and observances for honoring the dead came in contact, the kinship of a herald's function to the function of a priest was again shown; for, besides putting in the tomb the insignia of rank of the deceased potentate, and in that manner sacrificing to him, the herald had to write, or to get written, a eulogy—had to initiate that worship of the dead out of which grow higher forms of worship. Similar, if less elaborate, was the system in England. Heralds wore crowns, had royal dresses, and used the plural "we." Anciently, there were two heraldic provinces, with their respective chief heralds, like two dioceses. Further development produced a garter king-at-arms, with provincial kings-at-arms presiding over minor heraldic officers; and, in 1483, all were incorporated into the College of Heralds. As in France, visitations were made for the purpose of verifying existing titles and honors, and authorizing others; and funeral rites were so far under heraldic control that, among the nobility, no one could be buried without the assent of the herald.d’armes, roi d’armes, and roi d’armes de France. Into these ranks its members were successively initiated by a species of baptism—wine being substituted for water. They held periodic chapters in the church of Saint-Antoine. When bearing mandates and messages they were similarly dressed with their masters, royal or noble, and were similarly honored by those to whom they were sent, having thus a deputed dignity akin to the deputed sacredness of priests. By the chief king-at-arms and five others, local visitations were made for inquiry and discipline, as ecclesiastical
Why these structures which discharged ceremonial functions once conspicuous and important dwindled, while civil and ecclesiastical structures developed, it is easy to see. Propitiation of the living has been, from the outset, necessarily more localized than propitiation of the dead. The existing ruler can be worshiped only in his presence, or, at any rate, within his dwelling or in its neighborhood. Though in Peru adoration was paid to images of the living Yncas; and though in Madagascar King Radama, when absent, had his praises sung in the words, "God is gone to the west, Radama is a mighty bull;" yet, generally, the obeisances and laudations expressing subordination to the great man while alive, are not made when they cannot be witnessed by him or his immediate dependents. But when the great man dies and there begin the awe and fear of his ghost, conceived as able to reappear anywhere, propitiations are no longer so narrowly localized; and in proportion as, with formation of larger societies, there comes development of deities greater in supposed power and range, dread of them and reverence for them are felt simultaneously over wide areas. Hence the official propitiators, multiplying and spreading, severally carry on their worships in many places at the same time—there arise large bodies of ecclesiastical officials. Not for these reasons alone, however, does the ceremonial organization fail to grow as the other organizations do: their development causes its decay. Though, during early stages of social integration, local rulers have their local courts with appropriate officers of ceremony, the process of consolidation and increasing subordination to a central government, results in decreasing dignity of the local rulers, and disappearance of the official upholders of their dignities. Among ourselves in past times, "dukes, marquises, and earls, were allowed a herald and pursuivant; viscounts, and barons, and others not ennobled, even knights bannerets, might retain one of the latter;" but, as the regal power grew, "the practice gradually ceased; there were none so late as Elizabeth's reign." Yet further, the structure carrying on ceremonial control slowly falls away, because its functions are gradually encroached upon. Political and ecclesiastical regulations, though at first insisting mainly on conduct expressing obedience to rulers, divine and human, develop more and more in the directions of equitable restraints on conduct between individuals, and ethical precepts for the guidance of such conduct; and in doing this they trench more and more on the sphere of the ceremonial organization. In France, besides having the semi-priestly functions we have noted, the heralds were "judges of the crimes committed by the nobility;" and they were empowered to degrade a transgressing noble, confiscate his goods, raze his dwellings, lay waste his lands, and strip him of his arms. In England, too, certain civil duties were discharged by these officers of ceremony. Till 1688, the provincial kings-at-arms had "visited their divisions, receiving commissions for that purpose from the sovereign, by which means the funeral certificates, the descents, and alliances of the nobility and gentry, had been properly registered in this college" (of heralds). "These became records in all the courts at law." Evidently the assumption of functions of these kinds by ecclesiastical and political agents has joined in reducing the ceremonial structures to those rudiments which now remain, in the almost forgotten Heralds' College, and in the court officials who regulate intercourse with the sovereign.
Before passing to a detailed account of ceremonial government under its various aspects, it will be well to sum up the results of this preliminary survey. They are these:
That control of conduct which we distinguish as ceremony precedes the civil and ecclesiastical controls. It begins with sub-human types of creatures; it occurs among otherwise ungoverned savages; it often becomes highly developed where the other kinds of rule are little developed; it is ever being spontaneously generated afresh between individuals in all societies; and it envelops the more definite restraints which state and church exercise. The primitiveness of ceremonial government is further shown by the fact that, at first, political and religious governments do little more than maintain systems of ceremony, directed toward particular persons living and dead: the codes of law enforced by the one, and the moral codes enunciated by the other, come later. There is, again, the evidence derived from the possession of certain elements in common by the three controls, social, political, and religious; for the forms observable in social intercourse occur also in the political and religious intercourse as forms of homage and forms of worship. More significant still is the circumstance that ceremonies may mostly be traced back to certain spontaneous acts which manifestly precede legislation, civil and ecclesiastical. Instead of arising by dictation or by agreement, which would imply the preestablished organization required for making and enforcing rules, they arise by modifications of acts performed for personal ends; and so prove themselves to grow out of individual conduct before social arrangements exist to control it. Lastly, we note that when there arises a political head, who, demanding subordination, is at first his own master of the ceremonies, and who presently collects round him subservient attendants performing propitiatory acts, which by repetition are made definite and fixed, there arise ceremonial officials. Though, along with the growth of organizations which enforce civil laws and enunciate moral precepts, there has been such a decay of the ceremonial organization as to render it among ourselves inconspicuous; yet in early stages the body of officials who conduct propitiation of living rulers, supreme and subordinate, homologous with the body of officials who conduct propitiation of dead apotheosized rulers, major and minor, is a considerable element of the social structure; and it dwindles only as fast as the structures, political and ecclesiastical, which exercise controls more definite and detailed, usurp its functions.
Carrying with us these general conceptions, let us now pass to the several components of ceremonial rule. We will deal with them under the heads—Trophies, Mutilations, Presents, Obeisances, Forms of Address, Titles, Badges and Costumes, Further Class Distinctions, Fashion, Past and Future of Ceremony.
- In his "Early History of Mankind" (second edition, pp. 51, 52), Mr. Tylor thus comments on such observances: "The lowest class of salutations, which merely aim at giving pleasant bodily sensations, merge into the civilities which we see exchanged among the lower animals. Such are patting, stroking, kissing, pressing noses, blowing, sniffing, and so forth. . . . Natural expressions of joy, such as clapping hands in Africa, and jumping up and down in Tierra del Fuego, are made to do duty as signs of friendship or greeting." Mr. Tylor does not, however, indicate the physio-psychological sources of these actions.