Abbildungen der Seite

assumed, represents the fish as instructing Manu in all wisdom. The legend wanting this detail is in the Mahâbhârata ; and there the fish is Brahma : and we have its original in the White Yajurveda, where the fish represents no god in particular, and the legend is introduced merely to explain certain sacrificial ceremonies. The legend of the tortoise-incarnation of Vishnu, again, is post-Vedic, while the idea of the Lord of the Creation becoming a tortoise is Vedic. It occurs in the Yajur-veda. In the Ramâyâna and Linga-Purana it is Brahma, not Vishnu, who, as Creator of the Universe, becomes a boar. This belief first appears in the Black Yajur-veda, and there it is the Lord of Creation who is the boar, and not either Vishnu or Brahma. The original legend of the incarnation, moreover, represents it as cosmical; it is emblematical according to a later conception ; while a third form of the legend has Vishnu for some time incarnate in the boar. During the avatâra the gods, their very existence being threatened by an enemy, implored the aid of Vishnu, who "at that period was the mysterious or primitive boar.” He slew the invader, which was but one of his many exploits in this character. As a man-lion he was of fearful aspect and size; as a boar he was gigantic; as a tortoise he was gigantic; as a fish he filled the ocean. In his fifth and subsequent avatâras he was incarnate in men-gods, such as Krishna and Buddha, whose histories have been traced, the intention of the incarnations being obvious, namely, to effect a compromise with other religions, and if possible draw their adherents within the fold of Brahmanism-a policy that altogether has been highly successful. Was this the policy of the earlier incarnations? We at once recognise the fish and man-lion as Totem gods, and can see how the policy that dictated an avatâra in Buddha, and is now suggesting an avatâra in Christ, to reconcile Brahmanism and Christianity, should have dictated an incarnation in the fish and man-lion. What, then, of the tortoise and the boar? We say they were Totem-gods, and their avatâras dictated by the same policy. Of the tortoise in mythology, except in this case, the present writer is almost ignorant;? but he is a Totem in America, and figures, as does the turtle, on coins of Ægina of ancient date, ranging from 700 B.C. to 450 or 400 B.C., and was presumably a Totem-god. Of the boar there is no doubt. He is worshipped now in China, and was worshipped among the Celts; is a Totem, and figures on the coins of many cities, and the crests of many noble families with whose genealogies legends connect him. Since:

(1) Will any one venture to suggest that Vishnu, a man-god who had an avatar as a tortoise, has degenerated into a Totem of the Delawares ?

(2) The Greeks had a few tortoise names and one nymph, Chelone, who was turned into a tortoise for not attending the nuptials of Jupiter and Juno.

(3) For pig-worship in China, see “ American Expedition to Japan.” New York, 1856. P. 161. Of the sacred pigs, in sacred styes at Canton, the writers say :—"It

had takennder their formed names from i

we know of no othe

the Vedic legends show the fish, tortoise, and boar to have been earlier than Vishnu; to have had to do with the creation with which he only lately came to be connected; and since we have the key to the fictions by which each of them was at the later time made out to have been Vishnu, and so robbed of its primitive character by him ;' we cannot doubt but that we possess in this case so many illustrations of the manner in which Zeus, Poseidon, Deméter, Athene, and others of the Egyptian and Greek gods superseded the Totem-gods of the earlier time, derived names from them, and came to be worshipped under their forms. The hypothesis that similar occurrences had taken place among Horse, Bull, Ram, and Goat tribes will explain the peculiar relations which we have seen existed between these gods and these animals respectively, and we know of no other hypothesis on which they can be, at least so well, explained. That Dionysus or Poseidon, for instance, should be tavpoyevns is a fact presenting no difficulty on our hypothesis any more than that either of them should have been figured as a bull or with a bull's head. To what other hypothesis will the fact not be a stumbling-block? Since these and all the other gods of their class were false gods that were gradually developed by the religious imagination, the fancy of poetical persons and the interested imposture that is everywhere promotive of novelties in religion ; since the whole of the facts we have been surveying demonstrate a progress in religious speculation from -savage fetichism ; and since among the lowest races of men we

find no such gods figuring as Zeus and his companions, we seem · already, at this stage of the argument, to be justified in arriving at the conclusion that the ancient nations came through the Totem stage, and that Totemism was the foundation of their mythologies.


or Poseidonhey can be, at least

was something of a curiosity, though somewhat saddening in the reflections it occasioned to behold the sanctified pork and the reverence with which it is worshipped.” For Celtic pig-worship, see “Transactions of the Ossianic Society," vol. v. p. 62. 1860. The Celtic legends of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland are pervaded by " the primitive, mystecrious boar,” and the Irish scholars connect him with the sacred swine of the ancient Celts who, they suppose, had a “porcine worship which was analogous to, if not identical with, the existing worship of Vishnu in his avatar as a boar.” Their boar, they may rely on it, was much more ancient than Vishnu, and worshipped over a wider area. He occurs on coins of various cities of Gallia, Hispania, and Britannia; of Capua in Campania ; Arpi in Apulia ; Pæstum in Lucania; Erna in Sicilia ; Ætolia in genere; of ancient Athens; of Methymna in Lesbos ; Clazomene in Ionia; Chios in Ionia, and on several other classical coins all of date B.C., besides being figured on many ancient sculptured stones. [The writer is unable to verify the reference to the Transactions of the Ossianic Society. He got it in Campbell's Celtic Tales.]

(1) An instructive fact is that in Fiji two gods, who will naturally hereafter turn into men-gods, lay claim to the Hawk.


LAND. I HAVE now to trace the process by which a nation of feudal landtenants, such as I described in my last article, has been converted into a nation whose land is owned and occupied by a few landowners and farmers, and the mass of whose people have been severed from the land. The process was a double one, and so the history divides itself into two. I have to trace (1) how each class of feudal landtenants emerged gradually into the commercial ownership of their holdings, and (2) how, as they did so, the gradual severance of the people from the land took place.

The commercial element is undoubtedly that which has broken up the old feudal order of things in England. Hence it may be well at the outset to realise to some extent its magnitude and relative growth, as compared with the agricultural or feudal element. And these may, perhaps, be most vividly impressed upon the mind by a glance at the growth of the English population, and by a dissection of its numbers into the agricultural and the non-agricultural classes.

I have already, in my last article, so thoroughly (as I hope) established the rough estimate I made of the population of England at the Conquest, and before and after the Black Death, that this necessary starting-point may now be fairly taken for granted. We do not again stand upon solid ground as to the population of England till the eighteenth century; but its growth may probably be estimated as follows, the figures between brackets being those which are merely conjectural :

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

These figures, rough as they are, may at least give us a wholesome view of the growing power in English history of that commercial element which has for centuries been battling with the feudal element, and which is now getting even the land into its grasp. Between the Domesday Survey and the present time the agricultural population has increased about fourfold, the non-agricultural population

twenty or thirtyfold. At the time of the Domesday Survey threefourths of the nation was agricultural—now only one-fourth. The nation now is as thoroughly a commercial nation as it was then an agricultural one. No wonder feudal tenures have given way to commercial ownership, and commercial principles been applied more and more to land.

The first branch of the inquiry is the history of how and by what process feudal tenants, whose feudal rents were originally equal to the annual value of their holdings, got rid of these feudal rents, and obtained commercial absolute ownership of their land.

No economic cause has had so large a share in this history as the fluctuations in the value of the precious metals and of money. The chief of these may be thus stated :-(1) A gradual rise in the value and purchasing power of silver between 1300 and 1500, until it had nearly doubled its value ; (2) A rapid fall after the discovery of American mines, continued to the present time, in the proportion of six to one.

I shall not, I think, transgress against the doctrines laid down by Mr. J. S. Mill, in his chapter on “Measure of Value," if in estimating the fluctuations in the value of silver I take a quarter of wheat as the standard. The following table fairly exhibits, I believe, the fluctuations in the price of a quarter of wheat in current shillings of each period :

1250—1500 Period of fixed prices ...... 68. per quarter.
neon ren | Period of debased coinage and anarchy Ironia rise

" in prices . . . . . . . . . )
1600—1800 Uniform average price..... 388. 6d. per quarter.

(Period of anarchy in prices, owing to )
1800—1819 protective duties and unconvertible unnatural rise.

currency . . . . . . . . . )
1820—1846 Protection duties and gold currency 568.
1846—1869 Free trade. . . . . . . . . . 52s.

By means of this table it will be easy to estimate the main fluctuations in the value of silver. They are not difficult to trace; for, happily, with the exception of two well-marked periods, the standard fineness of the coin and currency has, speaking generally, been honestly preserved throughout the whole interval from the Norman Conquest to the present time. The first period of exception was between 1543 and 1560, when the coin was debased by Tudor monarchs. The second period was between 1800 and 1819, when an inconvertible paper currency was, in fact, substituted for the coin, and by its inevitable depreciation produced the same results as a direct debasement of the coin would have done. These two periods were, consequently, periods of anarchy in prices, and have been marked as such. But while the standard fineness of the metal of the shilling has

been thus in the main kept uniform, its standard weight has varied. During the three hundred years before 1601 the quantity of metal in the shilling was by several successive stages steadily reduced, till the shilling of 1601 weighed little more than one-third of the shilling of the thirteenth century. To bring out clearly the fluctuations of the value of silver it will therefore be needful, Ist, to turn the shilling into grains of silver ; and, 2ndly, to turn the value of a quarter of wheat also into grains of silver. Then it will be easy to deduce from these figures how much greater was the purchasing power of a grain of silver at each period than it is at the present time. These figures I have placed side by side in the table given below :

Grains of silver *** Value of quarter of wheat :
in each shilling.

in grains of silver.
1066—1300 ..


(Three times ] 1300—1344 .


its present 1344_1346 . . 244

purchasing 1346-1353 . . 240


· · · (power.
... 1296

1412-1464 . . 180
1464-1500. . 144 . . . . . 864 . . . .

1500—1527 . 144 During this period the rise in the price
1527–1543. . 128 l of wheat and fall in purchasing power
1543–1560 [coin debased] of silver was rapid, owing to the disco-
1560—1601 .. 96 ) very of the American mines.
1601–1700 .. 93
1700-1800 ..

}... 93

ŞOne and a 3580 ....

(Unnatural rise in the price of wheat, 1800—1819 ..

owing to the Continental wars and

(unconvertible currency. 1820—1846 .. 93

One. 1846—1869 .. 93 ..... 4836 . .

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]






[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



I am not sure that the rise in silver before 1500 has ever been properly appreciated. Mr. Rogers, in his recent work—invaluable as an encyclopædia of facts relating to prices in the fourteenth century-seems to doubt the fact of the rise; and adopts an ingenious, but as I think untenable, theory to explain it away. Looking at the drain of coin from the West to the East which must have been involved in the support of the crusading hosts, the commerce and increased intercourse between East and West opened out by the Crusades, the growth of commerce in western Europe, proved by the population and prosperity of Flanders, it would have been strange if there had not been an increased demand for currency. These causes were European, and not merely English. Then look at England. What a constant drain of coin out of England the hundred years' war with France must have caused ! What an increase of hoarding the Wars of the Roses must have given rise to ! How much silver must have been coined into plate to meet the increasing luxury and display which was everywhere complained of! In the absence of any greatly increased supply of silver, it is not unnatural

(1) Vol. i. p. 177.

« ZurückWeiter »