Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/752

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corroboration upon an examination of the civilization of the Chinese, the genius of which is forcibly illustrated in their government and religion.

The family is the first social aggregate, and the natural head of the family is the head of the primitive society. As families unite together for common interests in defense or attack, one of the heads of the family is chosen as leader of the tribe. A similar union of tribes forms a nation. The paternal form of government thus naturally becomes the form common among early societies. Particularly is this likely to be the form adopted by those tribes whose instincts and surroundings early lead them to an agricultural life. With these the head is not chosen for his bravery and success in arms—which are lessened instead of being increased by his increasing age—but he is chosen rather for his counsel and advice, to which age but adds wisdom and authority.

Early superstitions and religious beliefs receive their form from the same model of the family. The simple interpretation of dreams and various experiences lead the uncivilized man to a belief in the existence of an accompanying spirit, or a double existence. When he calls out among the hills, an answering voice calls back; and, while gazing into the placid waters of the lake, he sees a shadowy image of himself. Thus to him death is but the separation of the body and the spirit; though the spirit still hovers around its former dwelling-place, and retains an interest in the affairs of its former companions. The father, who was the absolute ruler of the family while living, thus carries his authority beyond the grave. At the funeral, as at festivals, food is offered to his spirit; and his favor is solicited and enmity propitiated by offerings and sacrifices. As the spirit of the father becomes the tutelary deity of the family, the spirit of the chief becomes the tutelary deity of the tribe, and the spirit of the king receives the worship of the nation.

This primitive form of religion and government, originating in the smallest social aggregate, is to-day represented in the oldest and largest society upon the earth. The Emperor of the Chinese is the father of four hundred million people; and their universal religion—whatever other forms are observed with it—is ancestor-worship.

The government still maintains its ancient simple paternal form, with only those changes which have been necessary in adapting the family code to so vast a nation. Descending from the imperial throne, the whole government is found to be formed upon the same plan, repeated over and over. The viceroy of a province, the governor of a city, the elder of a village, and the father of a family, are each based upon the extension of the last. This relationship finds recognition in the "Ta Hioh," one of the four classic books of the Chinese, which is summed up as tending to "the improvement of one's self, the regulation of a family, the government of a state, and the rule of an em-