Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/612

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upper classes, repeating their genealogies and the exploits of their ancestors."

Here, then, the priest is the narrator and his narrative is biographico-historical. It consists of leading facts in the lives of persons, and these are so joined with accounts of tribal deeds as to form a rudimentary history.

In Africa where, for reasons before named, loyalty to the living ruler has not usually given origin to worship of the dead ruler, we meet with only the first stage in the development.

The king of the Zulus has "men who perform the part of heralds in the dances, and who now, at every convenient opportunity, recounted the various acts and deeds of their august monarch in a string of unbroken sentences."

In Dahomey, too, the union is between the courtier and the historian. In that kingdom, where women play so dominant a part, there are, as we have seen, female laureates; and "these troubadours are the keepers of the records of the kingdom of Dahomey, and the office, which is hereditary, is a lucrative one."

From Abyssinia we get an illustration of the way in which the united germs of biography and history make their appearance during burials of notables.

"Professional singing women frequently attend the funeral meetings of great people. . . Each person in waiting takes it by turn to improvise some verse in praise of the deceased." But "the professional singers will give minute details of the history of his ancestry, his deeds, character, and even his property."

When the deceased person is a conquering monarch, this funeral laudation by professionals, the first step in apotheosis, begins a worship in which there are united that account of his life which constitutes a biography and that account, of his deeds which forms the nucleus of primitive history.

From the accounts of ancient American civilizations, facts of kindred meaning come to us. Here is a passage from Bancroft concerning the Aztecs:—

"The preparation and guardianship of records of the higher class, such as historical annals and ecclesiastical mysteries, were under the control of the highest ranks of the priesthood."

Again we read:—

At this assembly the 'Book of God' was prepared. "In its pages were inscribed the Nahua annals from the time of the Deluge. . . religious rites, governmental system, laws and social customs; their knowledge respecting agriculture and all the arts and sciences."

It is instructive to observe how in this sacred book, as in other sacred books, religion, history, and biography were mingled with secular customs and knowledge.

Early civilized societies have bequeathed similar proofs. The biographico-historical nature of the Hebrew scriptures is conspic-