Popular Science Monthly/Volume 27/September 1885/The Primitive Ghost and his Relations

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THE PRIMITIVE GHOST AND HIS RELATIONS.
By JAMES G. FRAZER.

IN his "Roman Questions," that delightful storehouse of old-world lore, Plutarch asks, "When a man who has been falsely reported to have died abroad returns home alive, why is he not admitted by the door, but gets up on the tiles, and so lets himself down into the house?" The curious custom to which Plutarch here refers prevails in modern Persia, for we read in "Hajji Baba" (c. 18) of the man who went through "the ceremony of making his entrance over the roof, instead of through the door; for such is the custom, when a man who has been thought dead returns home alive." From a passage in Agathias (ii, 23) we may, perhaps, infer that the custom in Persia is at least as old as the sixth century of our era. A custom so remote from our modern ways must necessarily have its roots far back in the history of our race. Imagine a modern Englishman, whom his friends had given up for dead, rejoining the home circle by coming down the chimney instead of entering by the front door! In this paper I propose to show that the custom originated in certain primitive beliefs and observances touching the dead—beliefs and observances by no means confined to Greece and Rome, but occurring in similar if not identical forms in many parts of the world.

The importance attached by the Romans in common with most other nations to the due performance of burial rites is well known, and need not be insisted on. For the sake of my argument, however, it is necessary to point out that the attentions bestowed on the dead sprang not so much from the affections as from the fears of the survivors. For, as every one knows, ghosts of the unburied dead haunt the earth and make themselves exceedingly disagreeable, especially to their undutiful relatives. Instances would be superfluous; it is the way of ghosts all the world over, from Brittany to Samoa.[1] But burial by itself was by no means a sufficient safeguard against the return of the ghost; many other precautions were taken by primitive man for the purpose of excluding or barring the importunate dead. Some of these precautions I will now enumerate. They exhibit an ingenuity and fertility of resource worthy of a better cause.

In the first place, an appeal was made to the better feelings of the ghost. He was requested to go quietly to the grave, and at the grave he was requested to stay there.[2]

But to meet the possible case of hardened ghosts, upon whom moral persuasion would be thrown away, more energetic measures were resorted to. Thus among the South Slavonians and Bohemians, the bereaved family, returning from the grave, pelted the ghost of their deceased relative with sticks, stones, and hot coals. Ralston, "Songs of the Russian People," p. 319; Bastian, "Mensch," ii, p. 329. The Tschuwasche, a tribe in Finland, had not even the decency to wait till he was fairly in the grave, but opened fire on him as soon as the coffin was outside the house.[3]

Again, heavy stones were piled on his grave to keep him down, on the principle of "sit tibi terra gravis." This is the origin of funeral cairns and tombstones. As the ghosts of murderers and their victims are especially restless, every one who passes their graves in Arabia, in Germany, and in Spain, is bound to add a stone to the pile. In Oldenburg (and no doubt elsewhere) if the grave is shallow the ghost will certainly walk.[4]

One of the most striking ways of keeping down the dead man is to divert the course of a river, bury him in its bed, and then allow the river to resume its course. It was thus that Alaric was buried, and Commander Cameron found the same mode of burial still in vogue for chieftains among a tribe in Central Africa,[5]

The expedient of inclosing the grave with a fence too high for the ghost to "take" it, especially without a run, is common to Finland and the South Seas.[6]

Another simple but effectual plan was to nail the dead man to the coffin (the Tschuwasche again),[7] or to tie his feet together (among the Arabs), or his neck to his legs (among the Troglodytes, Damaras, and New-Zealanders).[8] The Wallachians drive a long nail through the skull and lay the thorny stem of a wild rose-bush on the corpse.[9] The Californians clinched matters by breaking his spine.[10] The corpses of suicides and vampires had stakes run through them.[11]

Other mutilations of the dead were intended not so much to keep the dead man in his grave as to render his ghost harmless. Thus the Australians cut off the right thumb of a slain enemy, that his ghost might not be able to draw the bow,[12] and Greek murderers used to hack off the extremities of their victims with a similar object.[13]

Again, various steps were taken to chase away the lingering ghost from the home he loved too well. Thus the New-Zealanders thrash the corpse in order to hasten the departure of the soul;[14] the Algonquins[15] beat the walls of the death-chamber with sticks to drive out the ghost; the Chinese knock on the floor with a hammer;[16]</ref> and the Germans wave towels about, or sweep the ghost out with a besom,[17] just as in old Rome the heir solemnly swept out the ghost of his predecessor with a broom made specially for the purpose.[18] In ancient Mexico professional "chuckers-out" were employed, who searched the house diligently till they found the lurking ghost of the late proprietor, whom they there and then summarily ejected.[19]

The favorite "beat" of the ghost is usually the spot where he died. Hence, in order to keep him at least from the house, the Caffres carry a sick man out into the open air to die, and the Maoris used to remove the sick into sheds. If a Caffre or Maori died before he could be carried out, the house was tabooed and deserted.[20] There are traces in Greece, Rome, and China of this custom of carrying dying persons into the open air.[21]

But in case the ghost should, despite all precautions, make his way back from the grave, steps were taken to barricade the house against him. Thus, in some parts of Russia and East Prussia an axe or a lock is laid on the threshold, or a knife is hung over the door,[22] and in Germany as soon as the coffin is carried out of the house all the doors and windows are shut, whereas, so long as the body is still in the house, the windows (and sometimes the doors) are left constantly open to allow the soul to escape.[23] In some parts of England every bolt and lock in the house is unfastened, that the ghost of the dying man may fly freely away.[24]

But, if primitive man knew how to bully, he also knew how to outwit the ghost. For example, a ghost can only find his way back to the house by the way by which he left it. This little weakness did not escape the vigilance of our ancestors, and they took their measures accordingly. The coffin was carried out of the house, not by the door, but by a hole made for the purpose in the wall, and this hole was carefully stopped up as soon as the body had been passed through it; so that, when the ghost strolled quietly back from the grave, he found to his surprise that there was no thoroughfare. The credit of this ingenious device is shared equally by Greenlanders, Hottentots, Bechuanas, Samoieds, Ojibways, Algonquins, Laosians, Hindoos, Thibetans, Siamese, Chinese, and Feejeeans. These special openings, or "doors of the dead," are still to be seen in a village near Amsterdam, and they were common in some towns of central Italy, as Perugia and Assisi.[25] A trace of the same custom survives in Thüringen, where it was thought that the ghost of a man who has been hanged will return to the house if the body be not taken out by a window instead of the door.[26]

The Siamese, not content with carrying the dead man out by a special opening, endeavor to make assurance doubly sure by hurrying him three times round the house at full speed a proceeding well calculated to bewilder the poor soul in the coffin.[27]

The Araucanians adopt the plan of strewing ashes behind the coffin as it is being borne to the grave, in order that the ghost may not be able to find his way back.[28]

The very general practice of closing the eyes of the dead appears to have originated with a similar object; it was a mode of blindfolding the dead, that he might not see the way by which he was carried to his last home. At the grave, where he was to rest forever, there was of course no motive for concealment; hence the Romans,[29] and apparently the Siamese,[30] opened the eyes of the dead man at the funeral pyre, just as we should unbandage the eyes of an enemy after conducting him to his destination. The notion that, if the eyes of the dead be not closed, his ghost will return to fetch away another of the household, still exists in Germany, Bohemia, and England.Wuttke, 725; Dyer, "English Folk-lore," p. 230; Grohmann, "Aberglauben," p. 188. In some parts of Russia they place a coin on each of the dead man's eyes.[31]

With a similar object, the corpse is carried out of the house feet foremost, for if he were carried out head foremost his eyes would be turned toward the door, and he might therefore find his way back. This custom is observed, and this reason is assigned for it, in many parts of Germany and among the Indians of Chili[32] Conversely, in Persia, when a man is setting out on a journey, he steps out of the house with his face turned toward the door, hoping thereby to secure a safe return.[33] In Thüringen and some parts of the north of England it used to be the custom to carry the body to the grave by a roundabout way.[34]

I venture to conjecture that the old Roman usage of burying by night[35] may have originally been intended, like the customs I have mentioned, to keep the way to the grave a secret from the dead, and it is possible that the same idea gave rise to the practice of masking the dead—a practice common to the prehistoric inhabitants of Greece and to the Aleutian-Islanders.[36]

To a desire to deceive the dead man I would also refer the curious custom among the Bohemians of putting on masks and behaving in a strange way as they returned from a burial.[37] They hoped, in fact, so to disguise themselves that the dead man might not know and therefore might not follow them. Whether the wide-spread mourning customs of smearing the body with mud or paint, mutilating it by gashes, cutting off the hair or letting it grow, and putting on beggarly attire or clothes of an unusual color (black, white, or otherwise), may not have also originated in the desire to disguise and therefore to protect the living from the dead, I can not here attempt to determine. This much is certain, that mourning customs are always as far as possible the reverse of those of ordinary life. Thus, at a Roman funeral, the sons of the deceased walked with their heads covered, the daughters with their heads uncovered, thus exactly reversing the ordinary usage, which was that women wore coverings on their heads, while men did not. Plutarch, who notes this, observes that in like manner in Greece men and women during a period of mourning exactly inverted their usual habits of wearing the hair—the ordinary practice of men being to cut it short, that of women to leave it long.[38]

The objection, deeply rooted in many races, to utter the names of deceased persons,[39] sprang no doubt from a fear that the dead might hear and answer to his name. In East Prussia, if the deceased is called thrice by his name, he appears.[40] This reluctance to mention the names of the dead has modified whole languages. Thus among the Australians, Tasmanians, and Abipones, if the name of a deceased person happened to be a common name—e. g., the name of an animal, or plant—this name was abolished, and a new one substituted for it.[41] During the residence of the Jesuit missionary Dobritzhoffer among the Abipones, the name for tiger was thus changed three times.[42] Among the Indians of Columbia near relatives of a deceased person often change their names, under the impression that the ghost will return if he hears the familiar names.[43]

I must pass lightly over the kindlier modes of barring the dead by providing for the personal comforts of the poor ghost in his long home. One instance, however, of the minute care with which the survivors will provide for the wants of the dead, in order that he may have no possible excuse for returning, I can not refrain from mentioning. In the German district of Voigtland,[44] with its inclement sky, they never forget to place in the coffin an umbrella and a pair of goloshes. Whether these utensils are intended for use in heaven, or elsewhere, is a question which I must leave to theologians.

A pathetic example is afforded by some Indian tribes of New Mexico, who drop milk from the mother's breast on the lips of her dead babe.[45]

The nearly universal practice of leaving food on the tomb, or of actually passing it into the grave by means of an aperture or tube, is too well known to need illustration. Like the habit of dressing the dead or dying in his best clothes,[46] it probably originated in the selfish but not unkindly desire to induce the perturbed spirit to rest in the grave, and not come plaguing the survivors for food and raiment.

Merely mentioning the customs of building a little house for the accommodation of the soul either on the grave or on the way to it,[47] and of leaving straw on the road, in the hope that the weary ghost would sit down on it and never get as far as the house,[48] I now come to two modes of barring the ghost, which from their importance I have reserved to the last I mean the methods of barring the ghost by fire and water.

First, by fire. After a funeral certain heathen Siberians, who greatly fear the dead, seek to get rid of the ghost of the departed by leaping over a fire.[49] Similarly at Rome, mourners returning from a funeral stepped over fire,[50] and in China they sometimes do so to this day.[51] Taken in connection with the Siberian custom, the original intention of this ceremony of stepping over fire at Rome and in China can hardly have been other than that of placing a barrier of fire between the living and the dead. But, as has been the case with so many other ceremonies, this particular ceremony may well have been practiced long after its original intention was forgotten. For customs often live on for ages after the circumstances and modes of thought which gave rise to them have disappeared, and in their new environment new motives are invented to explain them. As might have been expected, the custom itself of stepping over fire often dwindled into a mere shadow of its former self. Thus the South Slavonians returning from a funeral are met by an old woman carrying a vessel of live coals. On these they pour water, or else they take a live coal from the hearth and fling it over their heads.[52] The Brahmans contented themselves with simply touching fire,[53] and in Ruthenia the mourners merely look steadfastly at the stove or place their hands on it.[54]

So much for the barrier by fire. Next for the barrier by water. "The Lusatian Wends," says Ralston,[55] "still make a point of placing water between themselves and the dead as they return from a burial, even breaking ice for the purpose if necessary." In many parts of Germany, in modern Greece, and in Cyprus, water is poured out behind the corpse when it is carried from the house, in the belief that, if the ghost returns, he will not be able to cross it.[56] Sometimes by night they pour holy water before the door; the ghost is then thought to stand and whimper on the farther side.[57] The inability of spirits to cross water might be further illustrated from the Bagman's ghastly story in Apuleius,[58] from Paulus's "History of the Lombards,"[59] from Giraldus Cambrensis's "Topography of Ireland,"[60] and from other sources.[61]

Another way of enforcing the water barrier was for the mourners to plunge into a stream in the hope of drowning, or at least shaking off, the ghost. Thus, among the Matamba negroes, a widow is bound hand and foot by the priest, who flings her into the water several times over, with the intention of drowning her husband's ghost, who may be supposed to be clinging to his unfeeling spouse.[62] In Angola, for a similar purpose, widows adopt the less inconvenient practice of ducking their late husbands.[63] In New Zealand all who have attended a funeral betake themselves to the nearest stream and plunge several times, head under, in the water.[64] In Feejee the sextons always washed themselves after a burial.[65] In Tahiti all who assisted at a burial fled precipitately and plunged into the sea, casting also into the sea the garments they had worn.[66] In some parts of West Africa, after the corpse has been deposited in the grave, "all the bearers rush to the water-side and undergo a thorough ablution before they are permitted to return to the town."[67]

But the barrier by water, like the barrier by fire, often dwindled into a mere stunted survival. Thus, after a Roman funeral it was enough to carry water three times round the persons who had been engaged in it and to sprinkle them with the water.[68] In China, on the fifth day after a death, the mourners merely wash their eyes and sprinkle their faces three times with water.[69] In Cappadocia and Crete persons returning from a funeral wash their hands.[70] In Samoa they wash their faces and hands with hot water.[71] In ancient India it was enough merely to touch water.[72] In Greece, so long as a dead body was in the house, a vessel of water stood before the street-door that all who left the house might sprinkle themselves with it.[73] Note that in this case the water had to be fetched from another house—water taken from the house in which the corpse lay would not do. The significance of this fact I shall have occasion to point out presently.

When considered along with the facts I have mentioned, it can hardly be doubted that the original intention of this sprinkling with water was to wash off the ghost who might be following from the house of death; and in general I think we may lay down the rule that, wherever we find a so-called purification by fire or water from pollution contracted by contact with the dead, we may assume with much probability that the original intention was to place a physical barrier of fire or water between the living and the dead, and that the conceptions of pollution and purification are merely the fictions of a later age, invented to explain the purpose of a ceremony of which the original intention was forgotten. Time forbids me to enter into the wider question whether all forms of so-called ceremonial purification may not admit of a similar explanation. I may say, however, that there is evidence that some at least of these forms are best explained on this hypothesis. To one of the most important of these forms of purification—that of mothers after childbirth—reference will be made in the course of this paper.

Such, then, are some of the modes adopted for the purpose of excluding or barring the ghost. Before quitting the subject, however, I wish to observe that, as the essence of these proceedings was simply the erection of a barrier against the disembodied spirit, they might be, and actually were, employed for barring spirits in other connections. Thus, for example, since to early man death means the departure of the soul out of the body, it is obvious that the very same proceedings which serve to exclude the soul after it has left the body—i. e., to bar the ghost, may equally well be employed to bar the soul in the body—i. e., to prevent it escaping; in other words, they may be employed to prevent a sick man from dying—in fact, they may be used as cures. Thus the Chinese attempt to frighten back the soul of a dying man into his body by the utterance of wild cries and the explosion of crackers, while they rush about with extended arms to arrest its progress.[74] The use of water as a means of intercepting the flying soul is perhaps best illustrated by the Circassian treatment of the sick. It is well known that according to primitive man the soul of a sleeper departs from his body to wander far away in dreamland; in fact, the only distinction which early man makes between sleep and death is that sleep is a temporary, while death is a permanent, absence of the soul. Obviously, then, on this view, sleep is highly dangerous to a sick man, for if in sleep his soul departs, how can we be sure that it will come back again? Hence, in order to insure the recovery of a sick man, one of the first requisites is to keep him from sleeping. With this intention the Circassians will dance, sing, play, and tell stories to a sick man by the hour. Fifteen to twenty young fellows, naturally selected for the strength of their lungs, will seat themselves round his bed and make night hideous by singing in chorus at the top of their voices, while from time to time one of their number will create an agreeable variety by banging with a hammer on a plowshare which has been thoughtfully placed for the purpose by the sick man's bed. But if, in spite of these unremitting attentions, the sick man should have the misfortune to fall asleep—mark what follows—they immediately dash water over his face.[75] The intention of this latter proceeding can hardly be doubtful—it is a last effort to stop the soul about to take flight forever. So among the Abipones, a dying man is surrounded by a crowd of old crones brandishing rattles, stamping and yelling, while every now and then one of them flings water over his face so long as there is breath left in his body.[76] The same practice of throwing water over the sick is observed also in China, Siam, Siberia, and Hungary.[77]

By analogy, the origin of the Caffre custom of kindling a fire beside a sick person,[78] the Russian practice of fumigating him,[79] and the Persian practice of lighting a fire on the roof of a house where any one is ill,[80] may perhaps be found in the intention of interposing a barrier of fire to prevent the escape of the soul. For, with regard to the custom of lighting a fire on the roof, it is a common belief that spirits pass out and in through a hole in the roof.[81] In the same way I would explain the extraordinary custom in Lao and Siam of surrounding a mother after childbirth with a blazing fire, within which she has regularly to stay for weeks after the birth of the child.[82] The object, I take it, is to hem in the fluttering soul at this critical period with an impassable girdle of fire. Conversely, among the Caffres a widow must stay by herself beside a blazing fire for a month after her husband's death—no doubt in order to get rid of his ghost.[83] If any confirmation of this interpretation of the Siamese practice were needed, it would seem to be found in the fact that, during her imprisonment within the fiery circle, the woman washes herself daily for a week with a mixture of salt and water,[84] for salt and water, as we know from Theocritus,[85] is a regular specific against spirits.

Of course it is possible that these fiery barriers may also be intended to keep off evil spirits, and this is the second supplementary use to which the proceedings for barring ghosts may be turned. This would appear to have been the object with which, in Siberia, women after childbirth cleansed themselves by leaping several times over a fire, exactly as we saw that in Siberia mourners returning from a funeral leap over a fire for the express purpose of shaking off the spirit of the dead.[86]

In China, the streets along which a funeral is to pass are previously sprinkled with holy water, and even the houses and warehouses along the street come in for their share, in case some artful demon might be lurking in a shop, ready to pounce out on the dead man as he passed.[87] Special precautions are also taken by the Chinese during the actual passage of the funeral; in addition to the usual banging of gongs and popping of crackers, an attempt is made to work on the cupidity of the demons. With this view bank-notes are scattered, regardless of expense, all along the road to the grave. The notes, I need hardly observe, are bad, but they serve the purpose, and, while the ingenuous demons are engaged in the pursuit of these deceitful riches, the soul of the dead man, profiting by their distraction, pursues his way tranquilly behind the coffin to the grave.[88]

In the Hervey Islands, in the South Pacific, after a death the ghosts or demons are fought and soundly pummeled by bodies of armed men, just as the Samogitians and old Prussians used to repel the ghostly squadrons by sword-cuts in the air.[89]

In Christian times bells have been used for a like purpose; this, of course, was the intention of the passing-bell.[90] The idea that the sound of brass or iron had power to put spirits to flight prevailed also in classical antiquity,[91] from which it was perhaps inherited by mediæval Christianity.

I have still one observation to make on the means employed to bar ghosts, and it is this. The very same proceedings which were resorted to after the burial for the purpose of barring the ghost were avoided so long as the corpse was in the house, from fear no doubt of hurting and offending the ghost. Thus we saw that an axe laid on the threshold or a knife hung over the door after the coffin has been carried out, has power to exclude the ghost, who could not enter without cutting himself. Conversely, so long as the corpse is still in the house, the use of sharp-edged instruments should be avoided in case they might wound the ghost. Thus for seven days after a death, the corpse being still in the house, the Chinese refrain from the use of knives and needles and even of chopsticks, eating their food with their fingers.[92] So at the memorial feasts to which they invited the dead, the Russians ate without using knives.[93] In Germany a knife should not be left edge-upward, lest it hurt the ghosts or the angels.[94] They even say that if you see a child in the fire and a knife on its back, you should run to the knife before the child.[95] Again, we saw that the Romans and the Germans swept the ghost, without more ado, out of his own house. On the other hand, the more considerate negroes on the Congo abstain for a whole year from sweeping the house where a man has died, lest the dust should annoy the ghost.[96] Again, we have seen the repugnance of ghosts to water. Hence, when a death took place, the Jews used to empty all the water in the house into the street, lest the ghost should fall in and be drowned.[97] In Burmah, when the coffin is being carried out, every vessel in the house containing water is emptied.[98] In some parts of Bohemia, after a death, they turn the water-butt upside down, because, if the ghost happened to bathe in it and any one drank of it afterward, he would be a dead man within the year.[99] We can now appreciate the significance of the fact mentioned above, that in Greece the lustral water before the door of a house where a dead body lay had always to be fetched from a neighboring house. For, if the water had been taken from the house of death, who could tell but that the ghost might be disporting himself in it?[100] In Pomerania, even after a burial, no washing is done in the house for some time, lest the dead man should be wet in his grave.[101] Among the old Iranians no moisture was allowed to rest on the bread offered to the dead, for, of course, if the bread was damp, the ghost could not get at it.[102]

Once more, we saw that fire was a great stumbling-block to ghosts. Hence in the Highlands of Scotland and in Burmah the fires in a house used always to be extinguished when a death took place, no doubt lest they should burn the ghost.[103] So in old Iran no fire was allowed to be used in the house for nine days after a death,[104] and in later times every fire in the Persian Empire was extinguished in the interval between the death and burial of a king.[105]

It might perhaps be thought that the common practice of fasting after a death was a direct consequence of this disuse of fire; and there are facts which appear at first sight to show that it was so. Thus the Chinese, though they are not allowed to cook in the house for seven days after a death, are not prohibited from eating food which has been prepared elsewhere; indeed, during this period of mourning their wants are regularly supplied by their neighbors.[106] From this it would appear that the prohibition only extends to food cooked in the house of mourning. But this explanation will not suit the German superstition, that while the passing-bell is tolling no one within hearing should eat.[107] For here the prohibition evidently extends to all the food in the neighborhood. The key to the solution of this problem will perhaps be found in the Samoan usage.[108] We are told that in Samoa, "while a dead body is in the house, no food is eaten under the same roof; the family have their meals outside or in another house. Those who attended the deceased were formerly most careful not to handle food, and for days were fed by others as if they were helpless infants." Observe here, firstly, that the objection is not to all eating, but only to eating under the same roof with the dead; and, secondly, that those who have been in contact with the dead may eat but may not touch their food. Now, considering that the ghost could be cut, burned, drowned, bruised with stones, and squeezed in a door (for it is a rule in Germany not to slam a door on Saturday for fear of jamming a ghost),[109] it seems not unreasonable to suppose that a ghost could be eaten, and if we make this supposition I venture to think that we have a clew to the origin of fasting after a death. People in fact originally refrained from eating just in those circumstances in which they considered that they might possibly in eating have devoured a ghost. This supposition explains why, so long as the corpse is in the house, the mourners may eat outside of the house but not in it. Again, it explains why those who have been in contact with the dead and have not yet purified themselves (i. e., have not yet placed a barrier between themselves and the ghost) are not allowed to touch the food they eat; obviously the ghost might be clinging to them and might be transferred from their person to the food, and so eaten.

This theory further explains the German superstition mentioned above, that no one within hearing must eat while the passing-bell is tolling. For the passing-bell is rung when a soul is issuing for the last time from its mortal tabernacle, and, if any one in the neighborhood were at this moment to eat, who knows but that his teeth might close on the passing soul? This explanation is confirmed by the companion superstition that no one should sleep while the passing-bell is tolling, else will his sleep be the sleep of death.[110] Put into primitive language, this means that, as the soul quits the body in sleep, if it chanced in this, its temporary absence, to fall in with a soul that was taking its eternal flight, it might, perhaps, be coaxed or bullied into accompanying it, and might thus convert what had been intended to be merely a ramble, into a journey to that bourn from which no traveler returns.

All this time, however, Plutarch has been waiting for his answer; but, perhaps, as he has already waited two thousand years, he will not object to be kept in suspense a very little longer. For the sake of brevity in what remains, I will omit all mention of the particular usages upon a comparison of which my answer is based, and will confine myself to stating in the briefest way their general result.

We have seen the various devices which the ingenuity of early man struck out for the purpose of giving an "iron welcome to the dead." In all of them, however, it was presupposed that the body was in the hands of the survivors, and had been by them securely buried; that was the first and most essential condition, and, if it was not fulfilled, no amount of secondary precautions would avail to bar the ghost.

But what happened when the body could not be found, as when the man died at sea or abroad? Here the all-important question was, What could be done to lay the wandering ghost? For wander he would, till his body was safe under the sod, and, by supposition, his body was not to be found. The case was a difficult one, but early man was equal to it. He buried the missing man in effigy[111] and, according to all the laws of primitive logic, an effigy is every bit as good as its original.[112] Therefore, when a man is buried in effigy with all due formality, that man is dead and buried beyond a doubt, and his ghost is as harmless as it is in the nature of ghosts to be.

But it occasionally happened that this burial by proxy was premature—that, in fact, the man was not really dead, and, if he came home in person and positively declined to consider himself as dead, the question naturally arose, Was he alive, or was he dead? It was a delicate question, and the solution was ingenious. The man was dead, certainly—that was past praying for. But then he might be born again; he might take a new lease of life. And so it was.; he was put out to nurse, he was dressed in long-clothes—in short, he went through all the stages of a second childhood.[113] But, before he was eligible even for this pleasing experience, he had to overcome the initial difficulty of getting into his own house. For the door was as ghost-proof as fire and water could make it, and he was a ghost. As such, he had to do as ghosts do: in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, he had to come down the chimney.[114] And down the chimney he came—and this is an English answer to a Roman question.—The Contemporary Review.

 
  1. Sebillot, "Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne," i, p. 238; Turner, "Nineteen Years in Polynesia," p. 233.
  2. Gray, "China," i, pp. 300, 304.
  3. Castren, "Finnische Mythologie," p. 120.
  4. Sonntag, "Todtenbestattung," p. 197; Brand's "Popular Antiquities," ii, p. 809; Wuttke, "Deutsche Aberglaube," § 754, cp. 739, 748, 756, 758, 761; Klemra, "Culturgeschichte," ii, p. 225; Waitz, "Anthropologie der Naturvölker," ii, pp. 195, 324, 325, 524; Id., iii, p. 202.
  5. "Across Africa," i, p. 110.
  6. Castren, op. cit., 121; Bastian, ii, p. 368.
  7. Bastian, ii, pp. 337, 365.
  8. Strabo, xvi, 17; Diodorus, iii, 33; Wood, "Natural History of Man," i, p. 348; Yates, "New Zealand," p. 136.
  9. A H. F. Tozer, "Researches in the Highlands of Turkey," ii, p. 92.
  10. Bastian, ii, p. 331.
  11. Bastian, ii, p. 365; Ralston, p. 413; heads of vampires cut off (Wuttke, § 765; Toppen, "Aberglauben aus Masuren," p. 114; Tettau u. Temme, "Volkssagen," p. 275).
  12. Tylor, "Primitive Culture," i, p. 451.
  13. Suidas, s. μαόχαλιόθήναι, μαόχαλίόματα.
  14. Klemm, iv, p. 325; Yates, "New Zealand," p. 136.
  15. Brinton, "Myths of the New World," p. 255.
  16. Gray, "China," i, p. 280.
  17. Wuttke, §§ 725, 737; F. Schmidt, Sitten u. Gebraüche in Thüringen," p. 85; Kohler, "Volksbrauch," p. 254.
  18. Festus, s. v. everriator; cf. Gray, "China," i, p. 287.
  19. Bancroft, "Native Races of the Pacific States," i, p. 641.
  20. Lichtenstein, "Travels in Southern Africa," i, pp. 258, 259; J. Campbell, "South Africa," p. 515, sq.; Taylor, "New Zealand," p. 170; Yates, "New Zealand," p. 86.
  21. Euripides, "Alcestis," v, 234 sqq., cf. 205; Scholiast on Aristophanes, "Lysistrata," v, 611; Seneca, Epist. I, xii, 3; Gray, "China," i, p. 279. In modern Greece, as soon as the corpse is out of the house, the whole house is scoured (C. Wachsmuth, "Das alte Griechenland im neuem," p. 120).
  22. Ralston, p. 318; Wuttke, 736, 766.
  23. Sonntag, p 169; Wuttke, 737, 725; Gubernatis, "Usi funebri," p. 47; Lammert, "Volksmedezin," pp. 103, 105, 106.
  24. Dyer, "English Folk-lore," p. 230; Brand, "Popular Antiquities," ii, p. 231.
  25. Yule on Marco Polo, i, p. 188; Crantz, "Greenland," i, p. 237; ' Tylor, "Prim. Cult.," ii, p. 26; Waitz, "Anthropologie," iii, p. 199; Williams and Calvert, "Feejee," p. 168 Sonntag, p. 51; Bastian, "Mensch," ii, p. 322; Klemm, ii, pp. 221, 225; id., iii, p. 293 C. Bock, "Temples and Elephants," p. 262; Pallegoix, "Siam," i, p. 245; Bowring, "Siam," i, p. 222; Gubernatis, p. 52; C. J. Anderson, "Lake Ngami," 466. A dead pope is carried out by a special door, which is then blocked up till the next pope dies.
  26. Wuttke, 756.
  27. Pallegoix, "Siam," i, p. 245; Bowring, "Siam," i, p. 222. In some parts of Scotland the body used to be carried three times round the church (C. Rogers, "Social Life in Scotland," i, p. 167).
  28. Klemm, v, p. 51; Wood, "Natural History of Man," ii, p. 565.
  29. Pliny, N. II., xi, 150.
  30. C. Bock saw that the eyes of a dead man at the pyre were open (in Siam), and he says that in Lao it was the custom to close the eyes of the dead ("Temples and Elephants," pp. 58, 261).
  31. Gubernatis, "Usi funebri," p. 50.
  32. Wuttke, 736; Klemm, ii, p. 101.
  33. "Hajji Baba," c. i. fin.
  34. F. Schmidt, p. 94.
  35. Servius on Virg. Æn., i, 186. Night burial was sometimes practiced in Scotland (C. Rogers, "Social Life in Scotland," i, p. 161), and commonly in Thüringen (F. Schmidt, p. 96). Cf. Mungo Park, "Travels," p. 414.
  36. Schliemann, "Mycenæ," pp. 198, 219-223, 311 sq.; Bancroft, "Native Races," i, p. 93. The Aztecs masked their dead kings (Bancroft, ii, 606), and the Siamese do so still (Pallegoix, "Royaume de Siam," i, p. 247).
  37. Bastian, ii, p. 328.
  38. Plutarch, "Rom. Quæst.," 14.
  39. Tylor, "Early History of Mankind," p. 142.
  40. Wuttke, 754.
  41. Tylor, ibid., p. 144 sqq.
  42. Klemm, ii, p. 99; Dobritzhoffer, "The Abipones," ii, p. 208 sqq.
  43. Bancroft, "Native Races," i. p. 248.
  44. Wuttke, § 734.
  45. Bancroft, i, p. 360.
  46. Gray, "China," i, pp. 278-280; Klemm, ii, pp. 104, 221, 225; id. iv, p. 38; Marshall, "Travels among the Todas," p. 171.
  47. Klemm, ii, p. 297; Bastian, ii, p. 328; Marco Polo, i, c. 40; Waitz, "Anthropologie," ii, p. 195; id., iii, p. 202; Chalmers and Gill, "New Guinea," p. 56.
  48. Wuttke, 739; Toppen, p. 109.
  49. Meiners, "Geschichte der Religionen," ii, p. 303.
  50. Festus, s. v. aqua et igne.
  51. Gray, "China," i, pp. 287, 305.
  52. Ralston, "Songs," p. 319.
  53. Monier Williams, "Religious Life and Thought in India," pp. 283, 288.
  54. Ralston, I. c.
  55. "Songs of the Russian People," p. 320.
  56. Wuttke, § 737; A. Kuhn, "Märkische Sagen," p. 368; Temme, "Volkssagen der Altmark," p. 77; Lammert, p. 105; Panzer, "Beitrag," i, p. 257; "Folk-lore Journal," ii, p. 170; Töppen, "Aberglauben aus Masuren," p. 108; C. Wachsmuth, "Das Alte Griechenland im neuem," p. 119.
  57. Wuttke, § 748.
  58. "Metamorphoses," i, 19, cf. 13.
  59. iii, c. 34.
  60. Ch. 19.
  61. Grimm, "Deutsche Mythologie," iii, p. 434; Theocritus, 24, 92, 93; Homer, "Odyss," xi, 26 sqq., Ovid, "Fasti," v, 441; Brent, "The Cyclades," pp. 441, 442; Dennys, "Folk lore of China," p. 24; Lammert, "Volksmedezin," p. 103.
  62. Sonntag, p. 113.
  63. Id., p. 115.
  64. Yates, "New Zealand," p. 137; Klemm, iv, p. 305.
  65. Williams and Culvert, "Feejee," p. 163, ed. 1870.
  66. Ellis, "Polynesian Researches," i, p. 403.
  67. Wilson, quoted by Gardner, "Faiths of the World," i, p. 938; cf. Brinton, "Myths of the New World," p. 133; Ellis, "History of Madagascar," i, p. 238.
  68. Virgil, "Æn.," vi, 228, where Servius speaks of carrying fire round similarly.
  69. Gray, "China," i, p. 305.
  70. Wachsmuth, p. 120.
  71. Turner, "Polynesia," p. 228.
  72. Monier Williams, "Religious Thought and Life in India," pp. 283, 288.
  73. Pollux, viii, 65; Hesychius and Suidas, s.v., ὰρδάνιον. Cf. Wachsmuth, ibid., p. 109.
  74. Hue, "L'Empire Chinois," ii, p. 241.
  75. Klemm, iv, p. 34.
  76. Dobritzhoffer, "Account of the Abipones," ii, p. 266. Among the Indians of Lower California, if a sick man falls asleep, they knock him about the head till he wakes, with the sincere intention of saving his life (Bancroft, i, p. 569). Similarly, Caffres when circumcised at the age of fourteen are not allowed to sleep till the wound is healed (Campbell, "Travels in South Africa," p. 514).
  77. Gray, i, p. 278; Pallegoix, i, p. 294; Bowring, i, p. 121; Klemm, x, 254: "Folklore Journal," ii, p. 102. In Tiree a wet shirt is put on the patient, id., i, p. 167.
  78. Lichtenstein, i, p. 258.
  79. Ralston, "Songs of the Russian People, p. 380.
  80. Klemm, vii, p. 142.
  81. Wuttke, 725, 755; Bastian, "Mensch," ii, pp. 319, 323; id., "Die Seele," p. 15; Ralston, "Songs," p. 314; J. T. Brent, "The Cyclades," p. 437; Dennys, "Folk-lore of China," p. 22; Lammert, "Folksmedezin," p. 103.
  82. Carl Bock, "Temples and Elephants," p. 259; Bowring, i, p. 120; Pallegoix, i, p. 223. Cf. Forbes, "British Burmah," p. 46; Darmesteter, "Zend-Avesta," i, p. xciii; Ellis, "History of Madagascar," i, p. 151. A relic of this custom is seen in the old Scotch practice of whirling a fir-candle three times round the bed on which the mother and child lay (C. Rogers, "Social Life in Scotland," i, p. 135). Among the Albanians a fire is kept constantly burning in the room for forty days after birth; the mother is not allowed to leave the house all this time, and at night she may not even leave the room; and any one during this time who enters the house by night is obliged to leap over a burning brand (Hahn, "Albanesische Studien," p. 149). In the Cyclades, for many days after a birth, no one may enter the house by night. The mother does not go to church for forty days after the birth (Brent, pp. 180, 181).
  83. Lichtenstein, i, p. 259.
  84. Bock, op. cit., p. 260.
  85. xxiv, 95, 96.
  86. Meiners, "Geschichte der Religionen," ii, p. 107.
  87. Gray, "China," i, p. 299.
  88. Hue, "L'Empire Chinois," ii, p. 249; Gray, I. c.; Doolittle, "Social Life of the Chinese," p. 153 (ed. Paxton Hood).
  89. Gill, "Myths and Songs from the South Pacific," p. 269; Bastian, ii, p. 341. Cf. Wood, "Nat. Hist, of Man," ii, p. 562.
  90. Brand, "Popular Antiquities," ii, p. 202; Forbes Leslie, "Early Races of Scotland," ii, p. 503.
  91. Lucian, "Philopseudes," c. 15; Ovid, "Fasti," v, 441; cf. Professor Robertson Smith in "Journal of Philology," vol. xiii, No. 26, p. 283, note.
  92. Gray, "China," i, p. 283.
  93. Ralston, "Songs of the Russian People," p. 321.
  94. Grimm, "Deutsche Mythologie," iii, pp. 441, 454; Tettau u. Temme, p. 285; Grohmann, p. 198.
  95. Grimm, ibid., p. 469.
  96. Bastian, "Mensch," ii, p. 323. On the day of the funeral the Albanians refrain from sweeping the place on which the corpse lay. Hahn, "Albanesische Studien," p. 152.
  97. Gardner, "Faiths of the World," i, p. 676.
  98. Forbes, "British Burmah," p. 95.
  99. Grohmann, § 198.
  100. Hence among the Jews all open vessels in the chamber of death were "unclean" Numbers xix, 15).
  101. Wuttke, § 737.
  102. Spiegel, "Eranische Alterthumskunde," iii, p. 705.
  103. Brand, ii, p. 235; James Logan, "The Scottish Gaël, ii, p. 387; Forbes, "British Burmah," p. 94.
  104. Spiegel, ibid., p. 706.
  105. Diodorus, xvii, c. 114.
  106. Gray, "China," i, pp. 287, 288. Cf. Apuleius, "Metam.," ii, c. 24. Similarly among the Albanians there is no cooking in the house for three days after a death, and the family is supported by the food brought by friends. Hahn, "Albanesische Studien," p. 151. So among the Cyclades, Brent, "The Cyclades," p. 221.
  107. W. Sonntag, "Todtenbestattung," p. 175. Similar superstition in New England ("Folk-lore Journal," ii, p. 24).
  108. Turner, "Nineteen Years in Polynesia," p. 228; cf. Taylor, "New Zealand," p. 163; "Old New Zealand, by a Pakeha Maori," p. 124 sqq.; Ellis, "Polynesian Researches," i, p. 402.
  109. Wuttke, 752.
  110. Sonntag, ibid.; cf. Wuttke, 726. In Scotland it was an old custom not to allow any one to sleep in the house where a sick person was at the point of death (C. Rogers, "Social Life in Scotland," i, p. 152).
  111. The practice of burial in effigy prevailed in ancient Greece, Mexico, and Samoa, and it prevails to this day in modern Greece, Albania, India, and China. See Chariton, iv, c. 1; Bancroft, "Native Races of the Pacific States," ii, p. 616; Turner, "Samoa," p. 150; C. Wachsmuth, "Das Alte Griechenland im neuem," p. 113; Hahn, "Albanesische Studien," p. 152; Monier Williams, "Religious Thought and Life in India," p. 300; Gray, "China," i, p. 295. Compare Doolittle, "Social Life of the Chinese," p. 164; Apuleius, "Metam.,"i, c. 6; Brent, "The Cyclades," pp. 223, 224; Servius on Virgil, "Æn.," vi, 366.
  112. For evidence see Tylor's "Early History of Mankind," p. 116 sqq.
  113. Plutarch, "Rom. Quæst.," v.
  114. See the passages cited in note ** to p. 678.

[[Category:Myths]