Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/798

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was primordial, and that politics and religion (or, to use his exact expression, political and religious control) were developed out of it by divergent evolution. His proof is the similarity of the modes in which reverence is shown to gods and to political rulers, and which, he says, denotes the kinship of the two sets of observances and their community of origin. In tracing this similarity he allows his fancy a pretty free range, as, for example, when he identifies the visit of a worshiper to a temple with a morning call paid to a great man, and the payments made for the support of a Christian clergy with sacrifices to a heathen deity. But it does not occur to him that man, being provided with only one set of organs of expression, is obliged to use them in the case of a ruler as well as in that of a god, and may do so without at all confounding in his mind the different characters and claims of the two. The abject adulation which deified the Roman emperors is a proof of this, not a contradiction; for the adulators were perfectly aware that they were giving to a man that which properly belonged to a god, and in the profanation lay the very point of the sycophancy. So with regard to the names of God, which Mr. Spencer thinks we shall be much startled by finding to have been originally descriptive words, and to have expressed superiority. Man has no celestial vocabulary. However distinct his conception of God might be from his conception of anything else, he would have to use the same words to express his reverence in this case as in that of a father or a chieftain. We do not see that the question as to the origin of religion is in any way affected by this discovery. Men speak now of the majesty of the king and the majesty of God; of the honor due to one as well as of the honor due to the other, without any confusion of ideas as to the respective natures and claims of the two beings. The most startling thing surely would have been to find a name for the Deity, unconnected with anything else in human thought or speech, a linguistic aërolite, as it were, dropped from the sky.

Mr. Spencer's view of the origin of religion is perhaps not unaffected by his extreme notion as to the importance and influence of militarism, of which he sees everywhere the malign traces. According to him, the Home Office, when it crops the head of a convict (and washes him), is unwittingly perpetuating the custom of taking trophies by cutting off the hair. When you give a man a lower seat at table, or in an assembly, the survivalist sees in the act a desire to have the force of gravity on your side in the conflict for which everybody is mentally preparing. There is something rather laughable in the idea that the high table on a dais in a college hall is a military vantage ground from which the "don" may be able to make an onslaught on the under-graduates with the force of gravity on his side. Between sun-myths and survivals there will soon be no room left for any natural belief or action.

The twist, as many readers will deem it, extends to every subject