Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Eoads were opened, at least in some rude fashion, and barter was carried on; but, as might have been expected, we find no trace of money. The recognised standard of value, as natural with a pastoral people, was cattle, and this method of estimation has left its traces in almost every Indo-European language. Thus "rupee," which derives its modern meaning from the wider sense of "bullion" is derived from rupa, "cattle," and numerous compound words in Sanskrit referring to wealth or poverty, contain the root gav (our cow). In Homer, as in the early times of the Romans, in the Brehon laws of Ireland, and the Yendidad of the ancient Persians, value is estimated in cattle. The Latin pecunia and peculium are familiar relics of the same condition, and in the Gothic Scriptures of Ulfilas, faihu (properly " cattle ") is always used for wealth or money. From this we have our own word "fee," with the early English "maiden-fee" for dowry.

It is certain that the decimal system, based as it is on the natural fashion of reckoning on the fingers, was already in use, and the numerals that we employ to-day, so far as a hundred, were, with hardly an exception, already familiar. The year was apparently divided into only three seasons—the spring, the summer, and the winter; the moon, which was especially named "the measurer," by its changes marked the months, denoted originally only as moons. It is perhaps a sign of the impression which the gloomy period of the year made upon the quick sensibilities of a people, living much in the open air, that time seems generally to have been counted by winters.

Of the amusements of our Indo-European forefathers it is not possible now to form any definite conception from language; but as the Rigveda and Homer agree in their references to the taste for gambling, it is at least possible that games of chance were familiar. There are indications of the use of the dance and song, either in the worship of the gods or in commemoration of the deeds of valiant heroes, and some signs that the bard already held a position of exalted honour.

The ideas of morality which are current are still simple, concrete, and almost sensuous. Honour derives its name from the shout of applause that sets it forth; fame is the audible utterance of approval; the friend is "one who follows steadily;" sin is "a missing of the path," "a stumbling," or "defilement; " truth and goodness are described emphatically as "things which are." Law is recognised as "that which is ruled by the chieftain," and transgression brings with it a penalty whose name reveals to as that it consisted most commonly of a fine.

The notions of the unseen world bear the same child-like stamp. The relations that hold in the families of mortal men are freely transferred to the realms of the deathless spirits, who are regarded as pure and mighty beings. Just as the earthly father rules in a household which forms in the eyes of the outside world a unity of which he is the sole representative, so the divinity of the various unseen powers is embodied and shadowed forth to men by the all-embracing Heaven, the glorious Father of the Sky. The light of day is the favourite emblem of Him who is at other times regarded as the quickening power of the universe and the giver of all its gifts. It is difficult for us to determine how far the deified natural phenomena, the sun, the moon, the stars, the clouds, the rosy blush of dawn, are regarded as the children of the One Supreme, and how far they appear as simple forms of his self-manifestation. At any rate language can help us but little, and when we fall back upon the earliest Aryan literature it reveals to us just that condition of flux and vagueness which seems so natural in primitive times, a consciousness of a Divine power manifested in every natural force, which ultimately, by the tendencies of languages, passed into a belief in as many individual deities as there were distinguishable features in nature. It is probable that among the first of these to receive an independent existence was the Bride of Heaven, sometimes taking form as the shadowy night that divides with him the rule of the world, sometimes rather as the Mother Earth.

Over against the bright and heavenly company of the children of the Divine power we may see dimly flitting the shadows of treacherous spirits that haunt the darkness. It may be true, as Professor Max Miiller says, that "the Aryan nations had no Devil" in pre-Christian times; but at least they had many devils, and to them they ascribed power of bewitching by evil arts. When these assume a bodily form, it is that of the throttling snake, the emblem and incarnation of the demon of night. But all the gloomier beings come but little into prominence. Our Aryan forefathers, like the gods whom they worshipped, are children of the light, and in it they love to dwell.

But here the curtain falls. When it rises again the scene is changed, and we find ourselves in a different land and time. Language of course can tell us nothing of this, and we are in a region far beyond the reach of any historical record or trustworthy tradition. A possible conjecture is that religious differences sprung up such as those which have been supposed to have occasioned the further separation of the Persians from the Indians. Perhaps a more probable guess is that an irruption of the wild Turanian hordes split them asunder like a wedge, and that, under the impulse of this invasion, one-half went southwards to the Persian hills to fight their way eastwards for many generations down the valley of the Indus to the wealth of Hindostan, while the other half took a united westward course over the plains of Media, to the heart of Europe. This is, however, but guesswork. All that language tells us unmistakably is, that the severance was effected, and that, whereever the earliest home may have been, or however long our ancestors dwelt there together, the time did come when the unity was broken, and the first division appears to have been a bifurcation.

But it does tell more about the condition of the European Aryans. The sea, for instance, was certainly known to them now, though it had not been before, and we may see that their knowledge was not merely that arising from vague reports, by the fact that they possessed, not only a common name for fish, but also special names for various sea and shell-fish, among which may be mentioned the seal, the lobster, and the oyster. It may be possibly that even at this early stage of a united life they extended from the Baltic to the Adriatic and the JEgean; but of this we cannot be certain.

We are on surer ground when we examine the state of their civilisation. The most important change we find is that agriculture now assumes far greater importance; the terms referring to it, before so scanty and doubtful, occur in profusion; we can determine exactly the words that were used for ploughing, sowing, and reaping, for the cornfield, the furrow, and the harvest, for the seed, the harrow, and the pitchfork. Wheat and barley, oats and millet, all are raised for food; we find, it is true, no common word for bread, but this is easily accounted for: as agriculture advanced in the sundered nations, new and improved preparations from corn may well have displaced the rude primitive cakes, and, with the thing, the word may have fallen into oblivion. Peas and beans, turnips and onions, poppies and hemp, are all grown in the gardens. No new metals are added to the three which were known to the united Indo-Europeans, but the number of tools that we can prove to have been made from them is greatly increased. Some of these, however, appear to have been still, occasionally at least, made of flints. Weapons, before unknown, now make their appearance, and defensive armour is seen to be in use. The arts of clothing have developed; weaving, but obscurely hinted at before, and probably not advanced beyond a rough kind of plaiting, is now familiar, and furs and leather come into prominence as materials of dress. Nor is the advance less conspicuous in the important art of cooking; yeast now first makes its appearance, and various kinds of soup are used.

Every fact that we can gather points us to a life, simple indeed, but settled and orderly, and far removed from barbarism. In religious and moral ideas we cannot now trace any important advance upon an earlier stage, and in fact analogy would lead us rather to look for incipient confusion and decline. But in political matters the case is otherwise. It is now first that language tells us of other conceptions than those of the king, his subordinate nobles, and the heads of households. The people comes into view, and the earliest name by which it is known shows it to us as already the source of all lawful power. The ideas of citizenship and of law appear to us, and we can dimly see the slow development of that ordered freedom which has, more than any other thing, given to the Aryan peoples their place of pre-eminence in the annals of the world.

Notes.Tndo- Germanic and Indo-Euro- the Vendidad is one. It is the Parsee

peon.—The Germanic or European races counterpart of the Law of Moses in the

or languages derived from India or Asia. Jewish Scriptures. The Brehon Laws of

Turanian.—Those tribes who spoke a Ireland.—A." Brehon" was a clan-* judge'

language different from the Aryan, the amongst the native Irish. The Brehon

Semitic, or the Chinese. From Turan, laws were, therefore, the laws adminis

the Persian name for the countries north tered by these tribe judges. The Irish

of Iran, or.Persia. The Semitic is the decided questions of right by these

family of languages of which Hebrew obscure rules and customs as often as

and Arabic are examples. Sanskrit.— possible, until very recent times. Of the

A dead language of India, held sacred rise of this code nothing is known, ex

by the Brahmins as that in which their ccpt that it was of immemorial antiquity,

earliest religious books are written. It and had been handed down from one

is the mother language of the various 'Brehon' to another from ages long before

Aryan languages. Vcdas, The.—Ancient history. Pecunia and peeulium, are both de

sacred hooks of India. The name means, rived from the word pecus, cattle. Pecunia

lit. knowledge. The Pig veda is the first is the Latin word for money, because

of the four vedas. Zend-avesta, The, lit. cattle were the main form of wealth

"the living word."—The ancient sacred originally, for which reason the figure of

writings ofthe Parsees. They are ascribed an ox was stamped on the earliest money,

to Zoroaster, but in their present form Peeulium is the Latin word for property

are not older than A.d. 200. Zoroaster, or specially one's own, and shows how this

Zardusht, lived about 600 years before property in the early ages consisted in

Christ, and was either the founder or the herds.—Max MUller.—Professor of Com

reformer of the Persian or Parsee fire- parative Philology at Oxford. A brilliant

worship, or, as it is sometimes called, of writer on the Science of Languages and

the Magian Religion. The Vendidad.— related subjects, and a great scholar.

The religious law of the Parsees. The Born at Dessau, in 1823. Southwards.

Zend-avesta consists of two parts, of which —When the Aryan race thus divided, it formed two great migrations-r-the the Indian Ocean, a little north of Surat.

one to the east, to found the Eastern Length, 800 miles. Ganges.—A. great

Aryan nations in long after ages; the river which, rising in the Himalayas,

other to the west, to become in times flows eastwards across Bengal to the

equally distant the Aryan races of Eu- Bay of Bengal. Length of its course,

rope. The Indus.—A great river flowing over 1,600 miles. Before breaking from

through the recesses of the Hindoo the vast mountains in which it has

Koosh, from its sources in Thibet, and its sources, it meanders through them

then forming the western boundary of for about 800 miles. The Caspian Sea.

India. Falls into the Arabian Sea. An inland sea of Asia, north of Persia.

Length, 1,600 miles. Its yearly dis- 730 miles from north to south, and from

charge of water is estimated at 150 to 270 from east to west. The water

150,000,000 tons. Nerbudda.—A river of is salt. It has neither tides nor outlets,

Hindostan, flowing westwards through evaporation keeping it from overflowing,

the Bengal and Bombay Presidencies. though it receives a great many rivers. It falls into the Gulf of Cambay, in

NIGHT AND DEATH.—Joseph Blanco White.

Born, 1775; died, 1841; aged 66.

Joseph Blanco White was born in Spain. His family was Irish by descent, but had been long settled in the Peninsula. Having been educated for the Roman Catholic priesthood, he took holy orders in 1799, but having come to England in 1810, he became a Protestant. He lived in this country from that time, and became well known in miscellaneous literature for the ease and purity of his English style, notwithstanding its not having been his vernacular. This sonnet was pronounced by Wordsworth file finest in English poetry.

Mysterious Night! When our first Parent knew
Thee, from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for thy lovely frame,
This glorious canopy of Light and Blue?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting Flame,
Hesperus with the Host of Heaven came,
And lo! Creation widened in Man's view.
Who could have thought such Darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find,
Whilst fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless Orbs thou mad'st us blind!
Why do we then shun Death with anxious strife?
H Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?

HAYDON'S LITERARY PARTY.—B. R. Haydon.

Benjamin Kobert Haydon was an English artist of great powers, but of equal want of practical wisdom, so that his career, which might have been famous, was a life-long struggle, ending in suicide. Kind, but rash, industrious, learned, wise in his own profession, foolish in the common

« ElőzőTovább »