Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/362

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

352 The Religious Basis of Social Union.

wall of oligarchic conservatism, where the Humpty Dumpty of privilege has his precarious seat. But it is only with a change in the conception of that divine nature which the king embodies that he becomes an active ruler, a genuine earthly providence.

5. Beneficent activity is by no means an early attribute of the Divine. The Sacred World, with its perilous inrushes upon the normal and conventional, was always under suspicion : the sign manual of the divine was pettiness and unaccountable caprice. Where speculation had reached the stage of cosmogony the creator was represented as a bird or animal, or an ancestor as yet only half human, perhaps by accident or in fun setting physical evolution at work. Or else there was a dim tradition of a Supreme Being like Plato's demiurge in Tiiiiceus or States- man, m.ou\d\v\g the chaos into form and then leaving the world to its own devices, placing his lieutenants in charge and thereafter taking no further interest in its welfare, as Baiame in one legend lying asleep for ages in the sand, which now almost buries him. I would not for a moment deny that this primitive monotheism is possible : writers like Dr. Legge for China and Andrew Lang for a host of savage tribes have pleaded warmly for its recognition. But it is clearly a quite otiose dogma, without the influence on life, morals or the development of worship which Manisvi and Mana-isni exert. But when divine figures in human form began to appear, the kingship shook itself free from its fetters and became an active and a reforming agency. Still charged with mana and ' spiritual grace,' the wearer of the crown began to ' forsake the counsel of the old men,' like Rehoboam, to come forth as war-captain into the light of day, to despise the ritual etiquette which fenced him round and kept him in the shadows ; above all, to pose as the friend, patron and protector of new plebeian settlers within a community whose prosperity implied his own success and renown.