Imagens das páginas



pelled by facts to admit, together with the moral degradation, the almost utter religious insensibility of many tribes and populations still existing on the surface of the earth, and which may justifiably be put into the class of Turanians. These low and debased herds of men, women and children do indeed reproduce in modern days the earliest and semi-barbarous peoples which represent that family of men in the earlier ages. If class names were given in virtue not so much of consanguinity as moral condition, the scale of culture at its lowest figures could be too easily filled in with names as savage as those of the days of Cain.

As it is in the normal man that the idea of God germinates, blossoms, and produces sound and nutritious fruit, so all abnormal conditions of humanity are adverse and even deadly to the thought. Yet never can man wholly escape from the idea of power superior to himself. If God is not owned, Satan takes his place. And wherever Satan is, some black art or the other prevails. Magic may be taken to represent the preternatural control which priestcraft or jugglery of some kind exercises over man in the abuse of the acknowledgment of God. Indeed, magic is the reality that is denoted by the name Satan. The two words are interchangeable. What ecclesiastically is called the devil, may be said to require the historical name of magic. In this sense I am the great and universal magician. A magician as a man would be contemptible, even in ignorant and brutish races, did he not contrive to persuade his dupes that he was sustained and led by an invisible and mighty power. In the mental confusion which attaches to all inferior natures, a man led by me becomes a devil himself. The identification is often aided by religious falsities and incantations. Even the art of healing conduces to the deception. "The medicine man" of a semibarbarous tribe is often little else than Satan incarnate.

Among barbarous populations, magic, if not religion itself, is its most important observance. The magician is the arbiter of the destinies of men and society. He fixes the hour for



undertakings and combats; he points out the most prolific water for fishing and the most promising grounds for hunting. By invoking the aid of the devil, he heals the sick and revives the dying. In all uncivilized lands, if the sea is lashed into fury, it is done by my hand; if the winds roar and threaten a tempest, I "ride on the whirlwind and direct the storm;" if a volcano bursts into pyramids of flames and lava, it is my wrath that burns and devastates. In the eyes of the native Polynesians, when the earth trembles, when wigwams totter and fall to ruin, when families are engulfed, the evil power Pelo is venting his destructive rage.

Black races, which in certain lands seem to possess little more of humanity than its form and some sort of articulate speech, are the most superstitious, and consequently most under the control of magicians. It is a popular pleasure to the native of New Guinea to pick up the grigris or fetiches, to arrange them in the consecrated forms, to decorate his bow and his lance with them, to offer them presents, to salute them, to put up to them his prayers. A feather, a little bone, a brilliant insect, the eye of a jackal, a serpent's tooth, a living snake these are his protecting genii, his powerful divinities. But the superstitions of black men are not always so little baneful. Fearfully cruel are the manners of the Caffres, presided over by sortilege or the casting of lots; no less horrid the human sacrifices which the terrible Bengeulans, on the western shore of Africa, offer to the devil; sacrifices preceded by magical conjurations during an entire day, and followed by banquets of human flesh and strong drink. "It is," says a priest of the Roman Church, "it is the most solid victory that Satan has gained over the fallen race of men, to persuade them to feast on one another." Dread of the Congos, as the magical rulers of Congo, is universal. Those gods on earth have skill to calm the hurricane, to implore disease away, to bring ruin on lands and hamlets. The king himself bends before their chief, who bears the title of Cha-Combo.

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



Thus it lay for four thousand years, during which period earth, with a few exceptions, was only a training ground for hell. At length God interposed and sent his Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to substitute a blessing for the curse. But here, again, God was disappointed in the result. Jesus was crucified, I triumphed. The world still remained for the most part in my hands, and in my hands for the most part it remains to this hour, and will remain when time shall have passed into eternity, leaving me the ruler and the punisher of millions that no man can number, no man estimate, except by saying that my victims incomparably surpass the true worshipers of God. This, then, is the final issue of creation. The noblest work of God is not only a failure, but a ruin, an irreparable and everlasting ruin.

What specially darkens this result is, that it is grossly and incurably unjust for God to condemn a race for one act of disobedience on the part of one man. It is unjust to continue in existence the race condemned, so as to cause the certain loss to all eternity of most individuals of each successive generation. It is unjust to punish the innocent Jesus for the sins of a guilty world. It is unjust, when God has received the penalty, to exact a second payment in the eternal torments of the bulk of human kind. But the height of injue tice is it, when God has been placated, for him to act toward men for ever as pitilessly as he would have done had he received no vicarious atonement whatever. But even tha injustice is exaggerated when the condemned suffering many behold the elect few in the enjoyment of God's favour, not because they are more obedient than the others, but imply because such is God's will. The will of won a God is the rule of simple force. Hence emphatically God boomer batan. Even greater than it is would be the majority of my WIS laves, but for an order of men whose special fretione i take the sting out of that curse. Thee nea, Lavig so momentous, obtain immense power of enig 1 subdue generations after gezentista vo tan .....



The Albinos of Loango are sorcerers by privilege of birth, and live at the public cost; their mokissos or demons are, however, less cruel than those of Benguela.

The natives of Tucopia (New Hebrides) never undertake a maritime expedition without having launched into the bosom of the sea a canoe bedecked with flowers and ornamented with plumes, to conjure the spirits of the tempests by offering that nutriment to their fury. The same was done by the Egyptians and other nations of antiquity. At Nitendi and in the isles of Solomon the magicians are accounted organs of Satan, who throws them on the ground, transports them from place to place, and, during a superinduced insensibility, plunges them into the most violent contortions. On recovering their senses, or, as the phrase is, when the evil Spirit quits them, they utter a sudden, sharp and piercing cry, which relieves the bosom whence it comes. These recall to mind the demoniacs of the New Testament. In Borneo and other

savage places, where no worship is addressed to the Deity, and where I am alone believed in, being the perpetual object of popular terrors, magic is equally universal and baneful.

In all such states of unculture I alone reign over human beings. Me they own, me they worship, me they imitate. God, properly so called, is not in all their thoughts. The being whom they really acknowledge is Satan, "the prince of darkness." They know no other invisible power. Their recognition may be unconscious, certainly it is not distinctive. Nevertheless it is real, equally is it terrific. A reflection of themselves, it is dark and deadly, and its worshipers it makes as dark and as deadly with the lapse of time. Yet even here there is an ideal. The ideal of barbarians is evil on an imposing scale. That ideal begets a rivalry. The greatest man is the greatest slaughterer. This ideal, alas! is not unknown in modern days and in nations that bear the Christian name. Its common name is "glory."

The most extraordinary instance of the dualism recently

« AnteriorContinuar »