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Lecture 1: Introduction

IT was with a considerable amount of diffidence that I accepted the invitation to deliver a course of lectures before this University, in accordance with the terms of Lord Gifford's bequest. Not only is the subject of them a wide and comprehensive one; it is one, moreover, which is full of difficulties. The materials upon which the lectures must be based are almost entirely monumental: they consist of sculptures and paintings, of objects buried with the dead or found among the ruins of temples, and, above all, of texts written in languages and characters which only a century ago were absolutely unknown. How fragmentary and mutilated such materials must be, I need hardly point out. The Egyptian or Babylonian texts we possess at present are but a tithe of those which once existed, or even of those which will yet be discovered. Indeed, so far as the Babylonian texts are concerned, a considerable proportion of those which have already been stored in the museums of Europe and America are still undeciphered, and the work of thoroughly examining them will be the labour of years. And of those which have been copied and translated, the imperfections are great. Not infrequently a text is broken just where it seemed about to throw light on some problem of religion or history, or where a few more words were needed in order to explain the sense. Or again, only a single document may have survived to us out of a long series, like a single chapter out of a book, leading us to form a wholly wrong idea of the author's meaning and the object of the work he had written or compiled. We all know how dangerous it is to explain a passage apart from its context, and to what erroneous conclusions such a practice is likely to lead.

And yet it is with such broken and precarious materials that the student of the religions of the past has to work. Classical antiquity can give us but little help. In the literary age of Greece and Rome the ancient religions of Babylonia and Egypt had passed into their dotage, and the conceptions on which they were founded had been transformed or forgotten. What was left of them was little more than an empty and unintelligible husk, or even a mere caricature. The gods, in whose name the kings of Assyria had gone forth to conquer, and in whose honour Nebuchadrezzar had reared the temples and palaces of Babylon, had degenerated into the patrons of a system of magic; the priests, who had once made and unmade the lords of the East, had become “Chaldæan” fortune-tellers, and the religion and science of Babylonia were remembered only for their connection with astrology The old tradition had survived in Egypt with less apparent alteration, but even there the continuity of religious belief and teaching was more apparent than real, external rather than internal; and though the Ptolemies and early Roman emperors rebuilt the temples on the old lines, and allowed themselves to be depicted in the dress of the Pharaohs, making offerings to gods whose very names they could not have pronounced, it was all felt to be but a sham, a dressing up, as it were, in the clothes of a religion out of which all the spirit and life had fled.

Both in Egypt and in Babylonia, therefore, we are thrown back upon the monumental texts which the excavator has recovered from the soil, and the decipherer has pieced together with infinite labour and patience. At every step we are brought face to face with the imperfections of the record, and made aware how much we have to read into the story, how scanty is the evidence, how disconnected are the facts. The conclusions we form must to a large extent be theoretical and provisional, liable to be revised and modified with the acquisition of fresh material or a more skilful combination of what is already known. We are compelled to interpret the past in the light of the present, to judge the men of old by the men of to-day, and to explain their beliefs in accordance with what seem to us the common and natural opinions of civilised humanity.

I need not point out how precarious all such attempts must necessarily be. There is nothing harder than to determine the real character of the religion of a people, even when the religion is still living. We may describe its outward characteristics, though even these are not unfrequently a matter of dispute; but the religious ideas themselves, which constitute its essence, are far more difficult to grasp and define. Indeed, it is not always easy for the individual himself to state with philosophical or scientific precision the religious beliefs which he may hold. Difficult as it is to know what another man believes, it is sometimes quite as difficult to know exactly what one believes one's self. Our religious ideas and beliefs are a heritage which has come to us from the past, but which has also been influenced and modified by the experiences we have undergone, by the education we have received, and, above all, by the knowledge and tendencies of our age. We seldom attempt to reduce them into a harmonious whole, to reconcile their inconsistencies, or to fit them into a consistent system. Beliefs which go back, it may be, to the ages of barbarism, exist with but little change by the side of others which are derived from the latest revelations of physical science; and our conceptions of a spiritual world are not unfrequently an ill-assorted mixture of survivals from a time when the universe was but a small tract of the earth's surface, with an extinguisher-like firmament above it, and of the ideas which astronomy has given us of illimitable space, with its millions of worlds.

If it is difficult to understand and describe with accuracy the religions which are living in our midst, how much more difficult must it be to understand and describe the religions that have gone before them, even when the materials for doing so are at hand! We are constantly told that the past history of the particular forms of religion which we profess, has been misunderstood and misconceived; that it is only now, for example, that the true history of early Christianity is being discovered and written, or that the motives and principles underlying the Reformation are being rightly understood. The earlier phases in the history of a religion soon become unintelligible to a later generation. If we would understand them, we must have not only the materials in which the record of them has been, as it were, embodied, but also the seeing eye and the sympathetic mind which will enable us to throw ourselves back into the past, to see the world as our forefathers saw it, and to share for a time in their beliefs. Then and then only shall we be able to realise what the religion of former generations actually meant, what was its inner essence as well as its outer form.

When, instead of examining and describing a past phase in the history of a still existing form of faith, we are called upon to examine and describe a form of faith which has wholly passed away, our task becomes infinitely greater. We have no longer the principle of continuity and development to help us; it is a new plant that we have to study, not the same plant in an earlier period of its growth. The fundamental ideas which form, as it were, its environment, are strange to us; the polytheism of Babylonia, or the animal-worship of Egypt, transports us to a world of ideas which stands wholly apart from that wherein we move. It is difficult for us to put ourselves in the place of those who saw no underlying unity in the universe, no single principle to which it could all be referred, or who believed that the dumb animals were incarnations of the divine. And yet, until we can do so, the religions of the two great cultured nations of the ancient world, the pioneers of the civilisation we enjoy to-day, will be for us a hopeless puzzle, a labyrinth without a clue.

Before that clue can be found, we must divest ourselves of our modernism. We must go back in thought and sympathy to the old Orient, and forget, so far as is possible, the intervening ages of history and development, and the mental and moral differences between the East and the West. I say so far as is possible, for the possibility is relative only. No man can shake off the influences of the age and country of which he is the child; we cannot undo our training and education, or root out the inherited instincts with which we were born. We cannot put back the hand of time, nor can the Ethiopian change his skin. All we can do is to suppress our own prejudices, to rid ourselves of baseless assumptions and prepossessions, and to interpret such evidence as we have honestly and literally. Above all, we must possess that power of sympathy, that historical imagination, as it is sometimes called, which will enable us to realise the past, and to enter, in some degree, into its feelings and experiences.

The first fact which the historian of religion has to bear in mind is, that religion and morality are not necessarily connected together. The recent history of religion in Western Europe, it is true, has made it increasingly difficult for us to understand this fact, especially in days when systems of morality have been put forward as religions in themselves. But between religion and morality there is not necessarily any close tie. Religion has to do with a power outside ourselves, morality with our conduct one to another. The civilised nations of the world have doubtless usually regarded the power that governs the universe as a moral power, and have consequently placed morality under the sanction of religion. But the power may also be conceived of as non-moral, or even as immoral; the blind law of destiny, to which, according to Greek belief, the gods themselves were subject, was necessarily non-moral; while certain Gnostic sects accounted for the existence of evil by the theory that the creator-god was imperfect, and therefore evil in his nature. Indeed, the cruelties perpetrated by what we term nature have seemed to many so contrary to the very elements of moral law, as to presuppose that the power which permits and orders them is essentially immoral. Zoroastrianism divided the world between a god of good and a god of evil, and held that, under the present dispensation at all events, the god of evil was, on the whole, the stronger power.

It is strength rather than goodness that primitive man admires, worships, and fears. In the struggle for existence, at any rate in its earlier stages, physical strength plays the most important part. The old instinctive pride of strength which enabled our first ancestors to battle successfully against the forces of nature and the beasts of the forest, still survives in the child and the boy. The baby still delights to pull off the wings and legs of the fly that has fallen into its power; and the hero of the playground is the strongest athlete, and not the best scholar or the most virtuous of schoolboys. A sudden outbreak of political fury like that which characterised the French Revolution shows how thin is the varnish of conventional morality which covers the passions of civilised man, and Christian Europe still makes the battlefield its court of final appeal. Like the lower animals, man is still governed by the law which dooms the weaker to extinction or decay, and gives the palm of victory to the strong. In spite of all that moralists may say and preach, power and not morality still governs the world.

We need not wonder, therefore, that in the earliest forms of religion we find little or no traces of the moral element. What we term morality was, in fact, a slow growth. It was the necessary result of life in a community. As long as men lived apart one from the other, there was little opportunity for its display or evolution. But with the rise of a community came also the development of a moral law. In its practical details, doubtless, that law differed in many respects from the moral law which we profess to obey to-day. It was only by slow degrees that the sacredness of the marriage tie or of family life, as we understand it, came to be recognised. Among certain tribes of Esquimaux there is still promiscuous intercourse between the two sexes; and wherever Mohammedanism extends, polygamy, with its attendant degradation of the woman, is permitted. On the other hand, there are still tribes and races in which polyandry is practised, and the child has consequently no father whom it can rightfully call its own. Until the recent conversion of the Fijians to Christianity, it was considered a filial duty for the sons to kill and devour their parents when they had become too old for work; and in the royal family of Egypt, as among the Ptolemies who entered on its heritage, the brother was compelled by law and custom to marry his sister. Family morality, in fact, if I may use such an expression, has been slower in its development than communal morality; it was in the community and in the social relations of men to one another that the ethical sense was first developed, and it was from the community that the newly-won code of morals was transferred to the family. Man recognised that he was a moral agent in his dealings with the community to which he belonged, long before he recognised it as an individual.

Religion, however, has an inverse history. It starts from the individual, it is extended to the community. The individual must have a sense of a power outside himself, whom he is called upon to worship or propitiate, before he can rise to the idea of tribal gods. The fetish can be adored, the ancestor addressed in prayer, before the family has become the tribe, or promiscuous intercourse has passed into polygamy.

The association of morality and religion, therefore, is not only not a necessity, but it is of comparatively late origin in the history of mankind. Indeed, the union of the two is by no means complete even yet. Orthodox Christianity still maintains that correctness of belief is at least as important as correctness of behaviour, and it is not so long ago that men were punished and done to death, not for immoral conduct, but for refusing to accept some dogma of the Church. In the eyes of the Creator, the correct statement of abstruse metaphysical questions was supposed to he of more importance than the fulfilment of the moral law.

The first step in the work of bringing religion and morality together was to place morality under the sanction of religion. The rules of conduct which the experiences of social life had rendered necessary or advantageous were enforced by an appeal to the terrors of religious belief. Practices which sinned against the code of social morality were put under the ban of the gods and their ministers, and those who ventured to adopt them were doomed to destruction in this world and the next. The tapu, which was originally confined to reserving certain places and objects for the use of the divine powers, was invoked for the protection of ethical laws, or to punish violations of them, and the curse of heaven was called down not only upon the enemy of the tribe, but upon the enemy of the moral code of the tribe as well.

Religion thus became tribal as well as personal; the religious instinct in the individual clothed itself with the forms of social life, and the religious conceptions which had gathered round the life of the family were modified and transferred to the life of the community. It was no longer only a feeling of fear or reverence on the part of the individual which made him bow down before the terrors of the supernatural and obey its behests; to this were now added all the ties and associations connected with the life of a tribe. The ethical element was joined to the religious, and what has been termed the religions instinct or consciousness in the individual man attached itself to the rules and laws of ethical conduct. But the attachment was, in the first instance, more or less accidental; long ages had to pass before the place of the two elements, the ethical and religious, was reversed, and the religious sanction of the ethical code was exchanged for an ethical sanction of religion. It needed centuries of training before a Christian poet could declare: “He can't be wrong whose life is in the right.”

There is yet another danger against which we must guard when dealing with the religions of the past; it is that of confusing the thoughts and utterances of individuals with the common religious beliefs of the communities in which they lived. We are for the most part dependent on literary materials for our knowledge of the faiths of the ancient world, and consequently the danger of which I speak is one to which the historian of religion is particularly exposed. But it must be remembered that a literary writer is, by the very fact of his literary activity, different from the majority of his contemporaries, and that this difference in the ages before the invention of printing was greater than it is to-day. He was not only an educated man; he was also a man of exceptional culture. He was a man whose thoughts and sayings were considered worthy of being remembered, who could think for himself, and whose thoughts were listened to by others. His abilities or genius raised him above the ordinary level; his ideas, accordingly, could not be the ideas of the multitude about him, nor could he, from the nature of the case, express them in the same way. The poets or theologians of Egypt and Babylonia were necessarily original thinkers, and we cannot, therefore, expect to find in their writings merely a reflection of the beliefs or superstitions of those among whom they lived.

To reconstruct the religion of Egypt from the literary works of which a few fragments have come down to us, would be like reconstructing the religion of this country in the last century from a few tattered pages of Hume or Burns, of Dugald Stewart or Sir Walter Scott. The attempts to show that ancient Egyptian religion was a sublime monotheism, or an enlightened pantheism which disguised itself in allegories and metaphors, have their origin in a confusion between the aspirations of individual thinkers and the actual religion of their time. There are indeed literary monuments rescued from the wreck of ancient Egyptian culture which embody the highest and most spiritual conceptions of the Godhead, and use the language of the purest monotheism. But such monuments represent the beliefs and ideas of the cultured few rather than of the Egyptians as a whole, or even of the majority of the educated classes. They set before us the highest point to which the individual Egyptian could attain in his spiritual conceptions—not the religion of the day as it was generally believed and practised. To regard them as representing the popular faith of Egypt, would be as misleading as to suppose that Socrates or Plato were faithful exponents of Athenian religion.

That this view of the literary monuments of ancient Egypt is correct, can be shown, from two concrete instances. On the one side, there is the curious attempt made by Amon-hotep IV., of the Eighteenth Dynasty, to revolutionise Egyptian religion, and to replace the old religion of the State by a sort of monotheistic pantheism. The hymns addressed to the solar disk—the visible symbol of the new God—breathe an exalted spirituality, and remind us of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures. “O God,” we read in one of them. “O God, who in truth art the living one, who standest before our eyes; thou created that which was not, thou formest it all”; “We also have come into being through the word of thy mouth.”

But all such language was inspired by a cult which was not Egyptian, and which the Egyptians themselves regarded as an insult to their national deity, and a declaration of war against the priesthood of Thebes. Hardly was its royal patron consigned to his tomb when the national hatred burst forth against those who still adhered to the new faith; the temple and city of the solar disk were levelled with the ground, and the body of the heretic Pharaoh himself was torn in pieces. Had the religious productions of the court of Amon-hotep IV. alone survived to us, we should have formed out of them a wholly false picture of the religion of ancient Egypt, and ascribed to it doctrines which were held only by a few individuals at only one short period of its history,—doctrines, moreover, which were detested and bitterly resented by the orthodox adherents of the old creeds.

My other example is taken from a class of literature which exists wherever there is a cultured society and an ancient civilisation. It is the literature of scepticism, of those minds who cannot accept the popular notions of divinity, who are critically contemptuous of time-honoured traditions, and who find it impossible to reconcile the teaching of the popular cult with the daily experiences of life. It is not so much that they deny or oppose the doctrines of the official creed, as that they ignore them. Their scepticism is that of Epicurus rather than of the French encyclopædists. Let the multitude believe in its gods and its priests, so long as they themselves are not forced to do the same.

Egypt had its literary sceptics like Greece or Rome. Listen, for instance, to the so-called Song of the Harper, written as long ago as the age of the Eleventh Dynasty, somewhere about 2500 B.C. This is how a part of it runs in Canon Rawnsley's metrical translation, which faithfully preserves the spirit and sense of the original—1

“What is fortune? say the wise.

Vanished are the hearths and homes;

What he does or thinks, who dies,

None to tell us comes

Eat and drink in peace to-day,

When you go your goods remain;

He who fares the last long way,

Comes not back again.”

The Song of the Harper is not the only fragment of the sceptical literature of Egypt which we possess. At a far later date, a treatise was written in which, under the thinly-veiled form of a fable the dogmas of the national faith were controverted and overthrown. It takes the form of a dialogue between an Ethiopian cat—the representative of all that was orthodox and respectable in Egyptian society—and a jackal, who is made the mouthpiece of heretical unbelief.2 But it is clear that the sympathies of the author are with the sceptic rather than with the believer; and it is the cat and not the jackal who is worsted in argument. In this first controversy between authority and reason, authority thus comes off second best, and just as Epicurus has a predecessor in the author of the Song of the Harper, so Voltaire has a predecessor in the author of the dialogue.

Here, again, it is obvious that if only these two specimens of Egyptian theological literature had been preserved, we should have carried away with us a very erroneous idea of ancient Egyptian belief—or unbelief. Who could have imagined that the Egyptians were a people who had elaborated a minutely-detailed description of the world beyond the grave, and who believed more intensely perhaps than any other people has done either before or since in a future life? Who could have supposed that their religion inculcated a belief not only in the immortality of the soul or spirit, but in the resurrection of the body as well; and that they painted the fields of the blessed to which they looked forward after death as a happier and a sunnier Egypt, a land of light and gladness, of feasting and joy? We cannot judge what Egyptian religion was like merely from the writings of some of its literary men, or build upon them elaborate theories as to what priest and layman believed. In dealing with the fragments of Egyptian literature, we must ever bear in mind that they represent, not the ideas of the mass of the people, but the conceptions of the cultured few.

But there is still another error into which we may fall. It is that of attaching too literal a meaning to the language of theology. The error is the natural result of the reaction from the older methods of interpretation, which found allegories in the simplest of texts, and mystical significations in the plainest words. The application of the scientific method to the records of the past brought with it a recognition that an ancient writer meant what he said quite as much as a writer of to-day, and that to read into his language the arbitrary ideas of a modern hierophant might be an attractive pastime, but not a serious occupation Before we can hope to understand the literature of the past, we must try to discover what is its literal and natural meaning, unbiassed by prejudices or prepossessions, or even by the authority of great names. Theologians have been too fond of availing themselves of the ambiguities of language, and of seeing in a text more than its author either knew or dreamt of. Unless we have express testimony to the contrary, it is no more permissible to find parables and metaphorical expressions in an old Egyptian book than it is in the productions of the modern press.

But, on the other hand, it is possible to press this literalism too far. Language, it has been said, is a storehouse of faded metaphors; and if this is true of language in general, it is still more true of theological language. We can understand the spiritual and the abstract only through the help of the material; the words by which we denote them must be drawn, in the first instance, from the world of the senses. Just as in the world of sense itself the picture that we see or the music that we hear comes to us through the nerves of sight and hearing, so all that we know or believe of the moral and spiritual world is conveyed to us through sensuous and material channels. Thought is impossible without the brain through which it can act, and we cannot convey to others or even to ourselves our conceptions of right and wrong, of beauty and goodness, without having recourse to analogies from the world of phenomena, to metaphor and imagery, to parable and allegory. What is “conception” itself but a “grasping with both hands,” or “parable” but a “throwing by the side of”? If we would deal with the spiritual and moral, we must have recourse to metaphorical forms of speech. A religion is necessarily built up on a foundation of metaphor.

To interpret such metaphors in their purely natural sense would therefore land us in gross error. Unfortunately, modern students of the religious history of the past have not always been careful to avoid doing so. Misled by the fact that language often enshrines old beliefs and customs which have otherwise passed out of memory, they have forgotten that a metaphor is not necessarily a survival, or a survival a metaphor. In the hieroglyphic texts discovered in the Pyramids of the sixth Egyptian dynasty, Sahu or Orion, the huntsman of the skies, is said to eat the great gods in the morning, the lesser gods at noon and the smaller ones at night, roasting their flesh in the vast ovens of the heavens; and it has been hastily concluded that this points to a time when the ancestors of the historical Egyptians actually did eat human flesh. It would be just as reasonable to conclude from the language of the Eucharistic Office that the members of the Christian Church were once addicted to cannibalism. Eating and drinking are very obvious metaphors, and there are even languages in which the word “to eat” has acquired the meaning “to exist.”3 I remember hearing of a tribe who believed that we worshipped a lamb because of the literal translation into their language of the phrase, “O Lamb of God.” Theology is full of instances in which the language it uses has been metaphorical from the outset, and the endeavour to interpret it with bald literality, and to see in it the fossilised ideas and practices of the past, would end in nothing but failure. Christianity is not the only religion which has consciously employed parable for inculcating the truths it professes to teach. Buddhism has done the same, and the “Parables of Buddhagosha” have had a wider influence than all the other volumes of the Buddhist Canon.

Survivals there undoubtedly are in theological language as in all other forms of language, and one of the hardest tasks of the student of ancient religion is to determine where they really exist. Is the symbolism embodied in a word or an expression of primary or secondary origin? Was it from the very beginning a symbol and metaphor intended to be but the sensuous channel through which some perception of divine truth could be conveyed to us, or does it reflect the manners and thought of an earlier age of society, which has acquired a symbolical significance with the lapse of centuries? When the primitive Aryan gave the Being whom he worshipped the name of Dyaus, from a root which signified “to be bright,” did he actually see in the bright firmament the divinity he adored, or was the title a metaphorical one expressive only of the fact that the power outside himself was bright and shining like the sun? The Babylonians pictured their gods in the image of man: did Babylonian religion accordingly begin with the worship of deified ancestors, or were the human figures mere symbols and images denoting that the highest conception man could form of his creator was that of a being like himself? The answer to these questions, which it has been of late years the fashion to seek in modern savagery, is inconclusive. It has first to be proved that modern savagery is not due to degeneration rather than to arrested development, and that the forefathers of the civilised nations of the ancient world were ever on the same level as the savage of to-day. In fact the savage of to-day is not, and cannot be, a representative of primitive man. If the ordinary doctrine of development is right, primitive man would have known nothing of those essentials of human life and progress of which no savage community has hitherto been found to be destitute. He would have known nothing of the art of producing fire, nothing of language, without which human society would be impossible. On the other hand, if the civilised races of mankind possessed from the outset the germs of culture and the power to develop it, they can in no way be compared with the savages of the modern world, who have lived, generation after generation, stationary and unprogressive, like the beasts that perish, even though at times they may have been in contact with a higher civilisation. To explain the religious beliefs and usages of the Greeks and Romans from the religious ideas and customs of Australians or Hottentots, is in most cases but labour in vain; and to seek the origin of Semitic religion in the habits and superstitions of low-caste Bedâwin, is like looking to the gipsies for an explanation of European Christianity. Such a procedure is the abuse, not the use, of the anthropological method. Folk-lore gives us a key to the mind of the child, and of the childlike portion of society; it sheds no light on the beginnings either of religion or of civilisation, and to make it do so is to mistake a will-o'-the-wisp for a beacon-light. It is once more to find “survivals” where they exist only in the mind of the inquirer. So long as civilised society has lasted, it has contained the ignorant as well as the learned, the fool as well as the wise man, and we are no more justified in arguing from the ignorance of the past than we should be in arguing from the ignorance of the present. So far as folk-tales genuinely reflect the mind of the unlearned and childlike only, they are of little help to the student of the religions of the ancient civilised world.

We must, then, beware of discovering allegory and symbol where they do not exist; we must equally beware of overlooking them where they are actually to be found. And we must remember that, although the metaphors and symbolism of the earlier civilisations are not likely to be those which seem natural to the modern European, this is no reason why we should deny the existence of them. In fact, without them religious language and beliefs are impossible; it is only through the world of the senses that a way lies to a knowledge of the world beyond. The conditions into which we were born necessitate our expressing and realising our mental, moral, and religious conceptions through sensuous imagery and similitude. Only we must never forget that the imagery is not the same for different races or generations of mankind.

Before concluding, I must say a few words in explanation of the title I have given to the course of lectures I have the honour of delivering before you. It is not my intention to give a systematic description or analysis of the ancient religions of Egypt and Babylonia. That would hardly be in keeping with the terms of Lord Gifford's bequest, nor would the details be interesting, except to a small company of specialists. Indeed, in the case of the ancient religion of Babylonia, the details are still so imperfect and disputed, that a discussion of them is fitted rather for the pages of a learned Society's journal than for a course of lectures. What the lecturer has to do is to take the facts that have been already ascertained, to see to what conclusions they point, and to review the theories which they countenance or condemn. The names and number of the gods and goddesses worshipped by the Egyptians and Babylonians is of little moment to the scientific student of religion: what he wants to know is the conception of the deity which underlay these manifold forms, and the relation in which man was believed to stand to the divine powers around him. What was it that the civilised Babylonian or Egyptian meant by the term “god”? What was the idea or belief that lay behind the polytheism of the popular cult, and in what respects is it marked off from the ideas and beliefs that rule the religions of our modern world? The old Egyptian, indeed, might not have understood what we mean by “polytheism” and “monotheism,” but would he not have already recognised the two tendencies of thought which have found expression among us in these words? Was St. Paul right when he declared that the old civilised nations had sought after the God of Christianity, “if haply they might feel after Him and find Him,” or is there an impassable gulf between the religious conceptions of paganism and those of Christian Europe? Such are some of the questions to whose solution I trust that the facts I have to bring before you may contribute, in however humble a degree.

  • 1.

    Notes for the Nile, pp. 188, 189.

  • 2.

    Révillout in the Revue égyptologique, i. 4, ii. 3.

  • 3.

    For the extraordinary variety of senses in which the verb ye, “to eat,” has come to be used in the African language of Akra, see Pott, Ueber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues von Wilhelm von Humboldt, ii. pp. 495–498 (1876). Thus ye no, “to be master,” is literally “to eat the upper side”; ye gbî, “to live” or “exist,” is literally “to eat a day”; feî ye, “to be cold,” is “to eat cold.”