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CHAP. of people, and of country. In no respect is the com
mon nature of human kind so strongly indicated as in the universality of some kind of religion ; in no respect is man so various, yet so much the same. All the religions of antiquity, multiform and countless as they appear, may be easily reduced to certain classes, and, independent of the traditions which they may possess in common, throughout the whole, reigns something like a family resemblance. Whether all may be rightly considered as depravations of the same primitive form of worship; whether the human mind is necessarily confined to a certain circle of religious notions; whether the striking phenomena of the visible world, presented to the imagination of various people in a similar state of civilisation, will excite the same train of devotional thoughts and emotions, — the philosophical spirit, and extensive range of inquiry, which in modern times have been carried into the study of mythology, approximate in the most remarkable manner the religions of the most remote countries. *
* The best, in my opinion, and stood, when considered in connecmost comprehensive work on the tion with the other religions of antiancient religions, is the (yet unfi- quity, than as an entirely indepennished) translation of Creuzer's dent system; and surely the sarSymbolik, by M. De Guignaut, castic tone in which M. Lobeck Réligions de l'Antiquité, Paris, speaks of the Oriental studies of 1825. 1835. It is far superior in his cotemporaries is unworthy of a arrangement, and does not appear man of consummate learning. The to me so obstinately wedded to the work of the late M. Constant, symbolic theory as the original of Sur la Religion, extensive in reCreuzer. The Aglaophamus of search, ingenious in argument, and Lobeck, as might be expected from eloquent in style, is in my, perthat distinguished scholar, is full of haps partial, judgement, vitiated profound and accurate erudition. by an hostility to every kind of Yet I cannot but think that the Gre- priesthood, better suited to the cian polytheism will be better under- philosophy of the last than of the present century. M. Constant has nation (and here M. Constant placed the evils of sacerdotal influ- would have agreed with us) is altoence in the strongest light, and dis- gether alien to genuine Chrisguised or dissembled its advantages. tianity. The ancient priestly castes, I con- * The Fetiche of the African ceive, attained their power over
The same primary principles everywhere appear, CHAP. modified by the social state, the local circumstances, the civil customs, the imaginative or practical character of the people. Each state of social culture has its characteristic theology, self-adapted to the intellectual and moral condition of the people, and coloured in some degree by the habits of life. In the rudest and most savage races we find a gross superstition, called by modern foreign writers, Fetichism*, in which the shapeless stone, the Fetichism. meanest reptile, any object however worthless or insignificant, is consecrated by a vague and
mysterious reverence, as the representative of an unseen Being. The beneficence of this deity is usually limited to supplying the wants of the day, or to influencing the hourly occurrences of a life, in which violent and exhausting labour alternates either with periods of sluggish and torpid indolence, as among some of the North American tribes; or, as among the Africans, with wild bursts of thoughtless
is the Manitou of the American the rest of their race by their ac- Indian. The word Fetiche was first, knowledged superiority; they were I believe, brought into general use the benefactors, and thence the in the curious volume of the Prerulers of their people: to retain sident De Brosses, Du Culte des their power, as the people advanced, Dieux Fétiches.
The word was they resorted to every means of formed by the traders to Africa, keeping men in ignorance and sub- from the Portuguese, Fetisso, chose jection, and so degenerated into fée, enchantée, divine, ou rendant the tyrants of the human mind. des oracles. De Brosses, page 18. At all events, sacerdotal domi
merriment. * This Fetichism apparently survived in more polished nations, in the household gods, perhaps in the Teraphim, and in the sacred stones (the Bætylia), which were thought either to have fallen from heaven, or were sanctified by immemorial reverence.
In the Oriental pastoral tribes, Tsabaism t, the simpler worship of the heavenly bodies, in general prevailed; which among the agricultural races grew up into a more complicated system, connecting the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon with the pursuits of husbandry. It was Nature-worship, simple in its primary elements, but branching out into mythological fables, rich and diversified in proportion to the poetic genius of the people. This Nature-worship in its simpler, probably its earlier form, appears as a sort of dualism, in which two great antagonist powers, the creative and destructive, Light and Darkness, seem contending for the sovereignty of the world, and, emblematical of moral good and evil, are occupied in pouring the full horn of fertility and blessing, or the vial of wrath and misery, upon the human race. Subordinate to, or as a modification of, these two conflicting powers, most of the Eastern races concurred in deifying the active and passive powers of generation. The sun and the earth, Osiris and Isis, formed
* Hume (History of Nat. Reli- + The astral worship of the gion) argues that a pure and phi- East is ably and clearly developed losophical theism could never be the in an Excursus at the end of Gecreed of a barbarous nation strug- senius's Isaiah. gling with want.
a second dualism. And it is remarkable how widely, CHAP. almost universally extended throughout the earlier world, appears the institution of a solemn period of mourning about the autumnal, and of rejoicing about the vernal, equinox.* The suspension, or apparent extinction of the great + vivifying power of nature, Osiris or Iacchus, the destitution of Ceres, Isis, or the Earth, of her husband or her beautiful daughter, torn in pieces or carried away into their realms by the malignant powers of darkness; their re-appearance in all their bright and fertilising energy ; these, under different forms, were the great annual fast and festival of the early heathen worship. But the poets were the priests of this Poets. Nature-worship; and from their creativeimagination arose the popular mythology, which
gave rate deity to every part of animate or inanimate being; and, departing still farther from the primitive allegory, and the symbolic forms under which
* Plutarch, de Iside et Osi. Gaul and Britain, as in India and ride:-Φρύγες τον θεόν οιόμενοι Syria, without some such common Xeyvūvos uèv kabevosiv, Sépous ó origin. See Picart's large work, έγρηγορέναι, τότε μεν κατευνασμούς Cérémonies et Coutumes Religiτότε δ' ανεγέρσεις βακχεύοντες αυτο euses, passim. τελoύσι. Παφλαγόνες δε καταδεί- Compare likewise Dr. Pritchσθαι και καθείργνυσθαι χειμώνος, ard's valuable work on Egyptian ήρος δε αναλύεσθαι φάσκουσι. Mythology; on the Deification of
+ Bohlen (das Alte Indien, the Active and Passive Powers of p. 139. et seq.) gives a long list of Generation; the Marriage of the these festivals of the sun. Lobeck Sun and the Earth, p. 40., and (i. 690.) would altogether deny pp. 62–75. their symbolical character. It is Nam rudis ante illos, nullo discrimine, vita difficult, however, to account for In speciem conversa, operum rationé ca
rebat, the remarkable similarity between Et stupefacta novo pendebat lumine mundi. the usages of so many distinct na- Tum velut amissis mærens, tum læta retions in the New World as well as
MANIL. I. 67. the Old, in Peru and Florida, in
CHAP. the phenomena of the visible world were embodied,
wandered into pure fiction ; till nature-worship was
While every na-
Some able writers are of the sanctuary the primeval secret.
, p. 16.