Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/360

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

350 1^^^^ Religious Basis of Social Union.

consecration and the mystical rite of crowning. Priest- hoods, which, I take it, are the h'neal descendants of these Elder Brethren or ' whig oligarchy,' have always been able to make a monarchy their tool and mouthpiece — whether hereditary or elective — Babylon, Egypt, India will occur. Personal autocracy is the rarest thing in the world ; the normal type of kingship everywhere is something very like the Limited or Constitutional Royalty for which the last century took out a patent in its wonderful conceit as a novel invention. This form will not, of course, be the means for breaking out of routine, convention, tribal limits : it has become a feckless instrument of the Conservative party, who honestly believe that the common welfare depends on the maintenance of their privileges. Still it leads to a very important development in religion, of which we can feel the effects to the present hour. However the king acquires his mana — from his forefathers as a birthright or by (so-called) popular election and investiture — he is for a time the sole source of authority and fountain of honour : even if he be kept a close prisoner in his compound (as is very often the case), and like the Mikado for 700 years allowed no active part whatever in government, whether as judge, general or administrator. Yet he is divine — as the ambiguous word can be understood from time to time; he is the temporary vehicle of an indispensable yet incal- culable force : on him depend fertile crops and success in hunting or campaign. When he lost this volatile essence he was killed (as Sir James Frazer has so abundantly witnessed) that his mana might pass on unimpaired to his heir; and of the fitting moment for assassination or felo-de-se the Elders, or later the Priests, were the best judges. When virtue had gone out of him he was just an ordinary man, indeed something less — aiit C(Esar ant nulliis is literally true. Regicide, instead of being an exceptional act of sacrilege, was the normal and legitimate ending of every reign.