Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lie there. The :

[ocr errors]

hee, to meet the i

great chiefs of the

the kings of the
unto thee:
ve? Art thou na

Hades, and to g-inherited Ek enders it as late Glas, translate

use Halja in it ne of the dead ko ord H, rly translate i of the Old ani." me misleading he sense of German brew historias of everlasting :

necromancer; 'And Samuel said to Saul, why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?' Yet their quiet is contrasted in a tone of sadness with the life on earth; "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.'1 Such thoughts of the life of the shades below did not disappear when, in the later years of the Jewish nation, the great change in the doctrine of the future life passed in so large a measure over the Hebrew mind, their earlier thoughts of ghostly continuance giving place to the doctrines of resurrection and retribution. The ancient ideas have even held their place on into Christian thought, in pictures like that of the Limbus Patrum, the Hades where Christ descended to set free the patriarchs.

The Retribution-theory of the future life comprises in a general way the belief in different grades of future happiness, especially in different regions of the other world allotted to men according to their lives in this. This doctrine of retribution is, as we have already seen, far from universal among mankind, many races recognizing the idea of a spirit outliving the body, without considering the fate of this spirit to depend at all upon the conduct of the living man. The doctrine of retribution indeed hardly seems an original part of the doctrine of the future life. On the contrary, if we judge that men in a primitive state of culture arrived at the notion of a surviving spirit, and that some races, but by no means all, afterwards reached the further stage of recognizing a retribution for deeds done in the body, this theory will not, so far as I know, be discountenanced by facts. Even among the higher savages, however, a con

· Gen. xxxv. 29 ; xxv. 8; xxxvii. 35; Job xi. 8; Amos ix. 2 ; Psalm lxxxix. 48; Ezek. xxxi., xxxii. ; Isaiah xiv. 9, xxxviii. 10–18; 1 Sam. xxviii. 15; Eccles. ix. 10. ' Records of the Past,' vol. i. pp. 141-9; Sayce,

Lectures on Hist. of Rel.' part ii. ; Alger, ‘Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life,'ch. viii.

2 The doctrine of reversal, as in Kamchatka, where rich and poor will change places in the other world (Steller, pp. 269–72), is too exceptional in the lower culture to be generalized. See Steinhauser, ‘Rel. des Negers,'

guiding motius

doctrine of 3.5 stify the trans pecial localitre And Isaac gare unto his people 1 him.' Al s forefathers, has no thout

2

all go

forn by wild her

down to the LXX.

in the Villa ad, who dwel their rest by

nexion between man's life and his happiness or misery after death is often held as a definite article of theology, and thence it is to be traced onward through barbaric religions, and into the very heart of Christianity. Yet the grounds of good and evil in the future life are so far from uniform among the religions of the world, that they may differ widely within what is considered one and the same creed. The result is more definite than the cause, the end than the

Men who alike look forward to a region of unearthly happiness beyond the grave, hope to reach that happy land by roads so strangely different, that the path of life which leads one nation to eternal bliss may seem to the next the very descent into the pit. In noticing among savage and barbaric peoples the qualifications which determine future happiness, we may with some distinctness define these as being excellence, valour, social rank, religious ordinance. On the whole, however, in the religions of the lower range of culture, unless where they may have been affected by contact with higher religions, the destiny of the man after death seems hardly to turn on judicial reward or punishment for his moral conduct in life. Such difference as is made between the future conditions of different classes of souls, seems more often to belong to a remarkable intermediate doctrine, standing between the earlier continuance-theory and the later retribution-theory. The idea of the next life being similar to this seems to have developed into the idea that what gives prosperity and renown here will give it also there, so that earthly conditions carry on their contrasts into the changed world after death. Thus a man's condition after death will be a result of, rather than a compensation or retribution for, his condition during life. A comparison of doctrines held at various stages of culture may justify a tentative speculation as to their actual sequence in history, favouring the opinion that

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

1.c., p. 135. A Wolof proverb is ‘The more powerful one is in this world, the more servile one will be in the next.' (Burton, Wit and Wisdom,' p. 28.)

through such an intermediate stage the doctrine of simple future existence was actually developed into the doctrine of future reward and punishment, a transition which for deep import to human life has scarcely its rival in the history of religion.

The effect of earthly rank on the future life, as looked at by the lower races, brings out this intermediate stage in bold relief. Mere transfer from one life to another makes chiefs and slaves here chiefs and slaves hereafter, and this natural doctrine is very usual. But there are cases in which earthly caste is exaggerated into utter difference in the life to come. The aerial paradise of Raiatea, with its fragrant ever-blooming flowers, its throngs of youths and girls all perfection, its luxurious feasts and merrymakings, were for the privileged orders of Areois and chiefs who could pay the priests their heavy charges, but hardly for the common populace. This idea reached its height in the Tonga islands, where aristocratic souls would pass to take their earthly rank and station in the island paradise of Bolotu, while plebeian souls, if indeed they existed, would die with the plebeian bodies they dwelt in.In Vancouver's Island, the Ahts fancied Quawteaht's calm sunny plenteous land in the sky as the resting-place of high chiefs, who live in one great house as the Creator's guests, while the slain in battle have another to themselves. But otherwise all Indians of low degree go deep down under the earth to the land of Chay-her, with its poor houses and no salmon and small deer, and blankets so small and thin that when the dead are buried the friends often bury blankets with them, to send them to the world below with the departed soul.2 The expectation of royal dignity in the life after death, distinct from the fate of ordinary mortals, comes well into view among the Natchez of Louisiana, where the sun-descended royal family would in some way return to the Sun; thus

p.

1 Ellis, ‘Polyn. Res.' vol. i. pp. 245, 397 ; see also Turner, 'Polynesia,' 237 (Samoans); Mariner, ‘Tonga Is.' vol. ii. p. 105. 2 Sproat, 'Savage Life,' p. 209.

also in the mightier empire of Peru, where each sundescended Inca, feeling the approach of death, announced to his assembled vassals that he was called to heaven to rest with his father the Sun. But in the higher religions, the change in this respect from the doctrine of continuance to the doctrine of retribution is wonderful in its completeness. The story of that great lady who strengthened her hopes of future happiness by the assurance, ‘They will think twice before they refuse a person of my condition,' is a mere jest to modern ears. Yet, like many other modern jest, it is only an archaism which in an older stage of culture had in it nothing ridiculous.

To the happy land of Torngarsuk the Great Spirit, says Cranz, only such Greenlanders come as have been valiant workers, for other ideas of virtue they have none; such as have done great deeds, taken many whales and seals, borne much hardship, been drowned at sea, or died in childbirth.” Thus Charlevoix says of the Indians further south, that their claim to hunt after death on the prairies of eternal spring is to have been good hunters and warriors here. Lescarbot, speaking of the belief among the Indians of Virginia that after death the good will be at rest and the wicked in pain, remarks that their enemies are the wicked and themselves the good, so that in their opinion they are after death much at their ease, and principally when they have well defended their country and slain their enemies.3 So Jean de Lery said of the rude Tupinambas of Brazil, that they think the souls of such as have lived virtuously, that is to say, who have well avenged themselves and eaten many of their enemies, will go behind the great mountains and dance in beautiful gardens with the souls of their fathers, but the souls of the effeminate and worthless, who

1

1 'Rec. des Voy. au Nord,' vol. v. p. 23 (Natchez); Garcilaso de la Vega, Commentarios Reales,' lib. i. c. 23, tr. by C. R. Markham; Prescott, Peru,' vol. i. pp. 29, 83; J. G. Müller, p. 402, &c.

Cranz, 'Grönland,' p. 259. 3 Charlevoix, ‘Nouvelle France, vol. vi. p. 77 ; Lescarbot, 'Hist. de la Nouvelle France, Paris, 1619, p. 679.

2

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

have not striven to defend their country, will go to Aygnan the Evil Spirit, to incessant torments. More characteristic and probably more genuinely native than most of these expectations, is that of the Caribs, that the braves of their nation should go after death to happy islands, where all good fruits grow wild, there to spend their time in dancing and feasting, and to have their enemies the Arawaks for slaves; but the cowards who feared to go to war should go to serve the Arawaks, dwelling in their waste and barren lands beyond the mountains.?

The fate of warriors slain in battle is the subject of two singularly contrasted theories. We have elsewhere examined the deep-lying belief that if a man's body be wounded or mutilated, his soul will arrive in the same state in the other world. Perhaps it is some such idea of the soul being injured with the body by a violent death, that leads the Mintira of the Malay Peninsula, though not believing in a future reward and punishment, to exclude from the happy paradise of ‘Fruit Island' (Pulo Bua) the souls of such as die a bloody death, condemning them to dwell on 'Red Land' (Tana Mera), a desolate barren place, whence they must even go to the fortunate island to fetch their food. In North America, the idea is mentioned among the Hurons that the souls of the slain in war live in a band apart, neither they nor suicides being admitted to the spirit-villages of their tribe. A belief ascribed to certain Indians of California may be cited here, though less as a sample of real native doctrine than to illustrate that borrowing of Christian ideas which so often spoils such evidence for ethnological purposes. They held, it is said, that Niparaya, the Great Spirit, hates war, and will have no warriors in his paradise, but that his adversary Wac, shut vp for rebellion in a great cave, takes thither to himself the

prairies d's and warnus 7g the Iris

be at rest ies are the r

[ocr errors]

opinion te cipally when ain their nambas of B

lived virtni mselves and - great ne souls of ad worthless

1

[ocr errors]

Garcilaso de la
Markham;

Lery, ‘Hist. d’un Voy. en Brésil,' p. 234; Coreal, 'Voi. aux Indes Occ.' vol. i. p. 224.

2 Rochefort, 'Iles Antilles,' p. 430.
3 'Journ. Ind. Archip.' vol. i. p. 325.

[ocr errors]

escarbot, 'Hk

« PreviousContinue »