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he set on foot one of those revivals which have so often given the past a new lease of life. The Western Church at large took up the practice, and round it there naturally gathered surviving remnants of the primitive rite of banquets to the dead. The accusation against the early Christians, that they appeased the shades of the dead with feasts like the Gentiles, would not be beside the mark now, fifteen hundred years later. On the eve of All Souls' begins, within the limits of Christendom, a commemoration of the dead which combines some touches of pathetic imagination with relics of savage animism scarcely to be surpassed in Africa or the South Sea Islands. In Italy the day is given to feasting and drinking in honour of the dead, while skulls and skeletons in sugar and paste form appropriate children's toys. In Tyrol, the poor souls released from purgatory fire for the night may come and smear their burns with the melted fat of the soul light' on the hearth, or cakes are left for them on the table, and the room is kept warm for their comfort. Even in Paris the souls of the departed come to partake of the food of the living. In Brittany the crowd pours into the churchyard at evening, to kneel bareheaded at the graves of dead kinsfolk, to fill the hollow of the tombstone with holy water, or to pour libations of milk upon it. All night the church bells clang, and sometimes a solemn procession of the clergy goes round to bless the graves. In no household that night is the cloth removed, for the supper must be left for the souls to come and take their part, nor must the fire be put out, where they will come to warm themselves. And at last, as the inmates retire to rest, there is heard at the door a doleful chant-it is the souls, who, borrowing the voices of the parish poor, have come to ask the prayers of the living.
If we ask how the spirits of the dead are in general sup
Bastian, ‘Mensch,' vol. ii. p. 336. Meiners, vol. i. p. 316 ; vol. ii. p. 290. Wuttke, 'Deutsche Volksaberglaube,' p. 216. Cortet, ‘Fêtes Religieuses,' p. 233 ; 'Westminster Rev.' Jan. 1860; Hersart de la Villemarqué, ‘Chants de la Bretagne,' vol. ii. p. 307.
posed to feed on the viands set before them, we come upon difficult questions, which will be met with again in discussing the theory of sacrifice. Even where the thought is certainly that the departed soul eats, this thought may be very indefinite, with far less of practical intention in it than of childish make-believe. Now and then, however, the sacríficers themselves offer closer definitions of their meaning. The idea of the ghost actually devouring the material food is not unexampled. Thus, in North America, Algonquin Indians considered that the shadow-like souls of the dead can still eat and drink, often even telling Father Le Jeune that they had found in the morning meat gnawed in the night by the souls. More recently, we read that some Potawatomis will leave off providing the supply of food at the grave if it lies long untouched, it being concluded that the dead no longer wants it, but has found a rich huntingground in the other world. In Africa, again, Father Cavazzi records of the Congo people furnishing their dead with supplies of provisions, that they could not be persuaded that souls did not consume material food. In Europe the Esths, offering food for the dead on All Souls', are said to have rejoiced if they found in the morning that any of it was gone. A less gross conception is that the soul consumes the steam or savour of the food, or its essence or spirit. It is said to have been with such purpose that the Maoris placed food by the dead man's side, and some also with him in the grave. The idea is well displayed among the natives in Mexican districts, where the souls who came to the annual feast are described as hovering over and smelling the food set out for them, or sucking out its nutritive quality. The Hindu entreats the manes to quaff the sweet essence of the offered food; thinking on them, he slowly sets the dish of rice before the Brahmans, and while they silently eat the hot food, the ancestral spirits take their part of the feast. At the old Slavonic meals for the dead, we read of the survivors sitting in silence and throwing morsels under the table, fancying that they could hear the spirits rustle, and see them feed on the smell and steam of the viands. One account describes the mourners at the funeral banquet inviting in the departed soul thought to be standing outside the door, and every guest throwing morsels and pouring drink under the table, for him to refresh himself. What lay on the ground was not picked up, but was left for friendless and kinless souls. When the meal was over, the priest rose from table, swept out the house, and hunted out the souls of the dead like fleas,' with these words, Ye have eaten and drunken, souls, now go, now
1 Le Jeune in ‘Rel. des Jés.' 1634, p. 16; Waitz, vol. iii. p. 195. 2 Cavazzi, 'Congo,' &c., book i. 265.
3 Grimm, 'D. M.' p. 865, but not so in the account of the Feast of the Dead in Boecler, 'Ehsten Abergl. Gebr.' (ed. Kreutzwald), p. 89. Compare Martius, 'Ethnog. Amer.' vol. i. p. 345 (Gês). The following passage from a spiritualist journal, 'The Medium,' Feb. 9, 1872, shows this primitive notion curiously surviving in modern England. 'Every time we sat at dinner, we had not only spirit-voices calling to us, but spirit-hands touching us; and last evening, as it was his farewell, they gave us a special manifestation, unasked for and unlooked for. He sitting at the right hand of me, a vacant chair opposite to him began moving, and, in answer to whether it would have some dinner, said “Yes.” I then asked it to select what it would take, when it chose croquets des pommes de terre (a French way of dressing potatoes, about three inches long and two wide. I will send you one that you may see it). I was desired to put this on the chair, either in a tablespoon or on a plate. I placed it in a tablespoon, thinking that probably the plate might be broken. In a few seconds I was told that it was eaten, and looking, found the half of it gone, with the marks showing the teeth.' (Note to 2nd ed.)
Many travellers have described the imagination with which the Chinese make such offerings. It is that the spirits of the dead consume the impalpable essence of the food, leaving behind its coarse material substance, wherefore the dutiful sacrificers, having set out sumptuous feasts for ancestral souls, allow them a proper time to satisfy their appetite, and then fall to themselves. The Jesuit Father Christoforo Borri suggestively translates the native idea into his own scholastic phraseology. In Cochin China,
Taylor, ‘New Zealand,' p. 220, see 104. 2 Brasseur, ‘Mexique,' vol. iii. p. 24. 3 Colebrooke, 'Essays,' vol. i. p. 163, &c. ; Manu. iii. * Hanusch, 'Slaw. Myth.' p. 408 ; Hartknoch, ‘Preussen,' part i. p. 187. 6 Doolittle, 'Chinese,' vol. ii. pp. 33, 48; Meiners, vol. i. p. 318.
according to him, people believed “that the souls of the dead have need of corporeal sustenance and maintenance, wherefore several times a year, according to their custom, they make splendid and sumptuous banquets, children to their deceased parents, husbands to their wives, friends to their friends, waiting a long while for the dead guest to come and sit down at table to eat.' The missionaries argued against this proceeding, but were met by ridicule of their ignorance, and the reply 'that there were two things in the food, one the substance, and the other the accidents of quantity, quality, smell, taste, and the like. The immaterial souls of the dead, taking for themselves the substance of the food, which being immaterial is food suited to the incorporeal soul, left only in the dishes the accidents which corporeal senses perceive; for this the dead had no need of corporeal instruments, as we have said.' Thereupon the Jesuit proceeds to remark, as to the prospect of conversion of these people, 'it may be judged from the distinction they make between the accidents and the substance of the food which they prepare for the dead,' that it will not be very difficult to prove to them the mystery of the Eucharist. Now to peoples among whom prevails the rite of feasts of the dead, whether they offer the food in mere symbolic pretence, or whether they consider the souls really to feed on it in this spiritual way (as well as in the cases inextricably mixed up with these, where the offering is spiritually conveyed away to the world of spirits), it can be of little consequence what becomes of the gross material food. When the Kafir sorcerer, in cases of sickness, declares that the shades of ancestors demand a particular cow, the beast is slaughtered and left shut up for a time for the shades to eat, or for its spirit to go to the land of shades, and then is taken out to be eaten by the sacrificers. So, in more civilized Japan, when the survivors have placed
Borri, 'Relatione della Nuova Missione della Comp. di Giesu,' Rome, 1631, p. 208; and in Pinkerton, vol. ix. p. 822, &c.
2 Grout, ‘Zulu Land,' p. 140 ; see Callaway, 'Rel. of Amazulu,' p. 11.
their offering of unboiled rice and water in a hollow made for the purpose in a stone of the tomb, it seems to them no matter that the poor or the birds really carry off the grain."
Such rites as these are especially exposed to dwindle in survival. The offerings of meals and feasts to the dead may be traced at their last stage into mere traditional ceremonies, at most tokens of affectionate remembrance of the dead, or works of charity to the living. The Roman Feralia in Ovid's time were a striking example of such transition, for while the idea was recognized that the ghosts fed upon the offerings, ‘nunc posito pascitur umbra cibo,' yet there were but ‘parva munera,' fruits and grains of salt, and corn soaked in wine, set out for their meal in the middle of the road. Little the manes ask, the pious thought stands instead of the rich gift, for Styx holds no greedy gods :'
‘Parva petunt manes. Pietas pro divite grata est
Munere. Non avidos Styx habet ima deos.
Et sparsae fruges, parcaque mica salis,
Haec habeat media testa relicta via.
Still farther back, in old Chinese history, Confucius had been called on to give an opinion as to the sacrifices to the dead. Maintainer of all ancient rites as he was, he stringently kept up this, ‘he sacrificed to the dead as if they were present,' but when he was asked if the dead had knowledge of what was done or no, he declined to answer the question; for if he replied yes, then dutiful descendants would injure their substance by sacrifices, and if no, then undutiful children would leave their parents unburied. The evasion was characteristic of the teacher who expressed his theory of worship in this maxim, 'to give oneself earnestly to the
1 Caron, ‘Japan,' vol. vii. p. 629 ; see Turpin, 'Siam,' ibid. vol. ix. p. 590. 2 Ovid. Fast. ii. 533.