SIR JOHN LUBBOCK ON THE ORIGIN OF CIVILIZATION.*
WE consider that Sir John Lubbock pays a very heavy penalty for his refusal to meet the irrepressible question, " What does religion mean ?" The penalty is this, —that, with great qualifica- tions, both natural and acquired, for taking a larger and deeper view of the subject than has been hitherto taken, he is forced to acquiesce in a popular sense of the word "religion" and also of the word "morality," which is at once hopelessly vague and hopelessly narrow.
To illustrate this, we must recur once again to that passage in which he speaks of a mother's love. He acknowledges the moral aspect of it. "The mother will," he says, "submit to any sacri- fices for the welfare of her offspring, and fight against almost any odds for their protection. It is not, however, moral feeling in the strict sense of the term ; and she would indeed be a cold-hearted mother who cherished and protected her infant only because it was right to do so." (First Edition, page 20.) The only answer to the question why must we not call her love "morality" is that it is shared by the lower animals, and "we do not generally attri- bute moral feelings to quadrupeds and birds."
It appears, then, that mother's love can have nothing moral in it because it is shared by quadrupeds and birds. Apply this canon to Scripture. "He that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." That is impossible, we may say, with still greater plausi- bility, for a dog loves his master with a most faithful and devoted love. It appears, secondly, that a mother's care and consideration for her child have nothing of the nature of morality in the strict sense of the term. Why? She does not cherish and protect her child because it is right, but because her love makes her delight in doing it. So that morality does not deserve the name, if it is done at the dictate of love. This is in flat contradiction to the teach- ing of the great Christian evangelists, who tell us that morality is really no morality at all unless done at the dictate of love.
Should any one answer satirically, 'Oh, you come over us with your theology, but that is something superhuman and transcen- dental altogether. We speak of mere human morality.' We answer, —this is heathen morality, as well as Christian morality. Aristotle considers no man safely grounded in morality till he does moral deeds freely from the love of them—that is any argument. But a far greater school of moralists than Greece ever knew, moralists of altogether a more practical and businesslike turn than the Greeks, we mean the great Chinese school, Confucius Tsze-sze, Tih, Mencius, and others, taught exactly the same thing. "Benevolence is the
• The Origin of Civilization. By Sir John Lubbock, Bart. Second Edition. London ; Longmano.
Max," said Tsze-sze ; meaning that it was the sum and substance of human virtue. And what was this "benevolence" which the Chinese canonized ? "It is a commiserating spirit," says Mencius. Indeed the doctrine of human love as the root of morality is much more Pally and carefully enunciated in the Chinese sacred books than in any other sacred books whatsoever.
If we wish to see Love canonized as the root of all goodness, the one supreme object of worship, we must turn to our own sacred
books ; but if we wish further to ask what form of love is set up as the supreme object of worship,—how shall we worship love and avoid that downward course, that idolatrous worship, into which the great Hindoo school fell,—we shall find the Chinese a great help to us. The love you must adore, they said, is parental love. You mast worship the parent. We know their limitations, their inability to detach the worship of parental love from a most dreary and discouraging worship of the mouldering remains of the dead. The music that reached the keener ears of the Aryan race, and bid them look away from the dust and darkness of the sepulchre into the heaven above, and claim a home and a parent there, beyond the reach of change or decay, that music they did not fully comprehend, or if they did, its incantations were not power- ful enough to draw them from their relic-worship ; but with all this, they had hold of the fact that he who would worship love rightly, must first learn to worship it in the first form it assumes upon earth, the form of parental love. And this is precisely what our sacred books teach us. We are to worship the Parental love. We are aware of the sort of tacit protest with which this will be received. The great Ephesian philosopher and evangelist would not have pointed to a mother and child, and said, Look there, worship in that the image and symbol of all that is highest and holiest.' We know it. But then what do we mean when we call him inspired ? We mean that laws which he could not rise above, whose nature he could not penetrate, whose mandates he could not disobey, laws like those that govern us all, laws governing all wise thought and speech, compelled him, while he was teach- ing his own theological views, to choose certain natural affec- tions as symbols through which alone he could represent to men the character of the God he worshipped. And thus he could not choose but consecrate certain affections, and set them forth as the signatures through which men were to contemplate and worship the Most High.
Parental love is the one actual realized ideal of morality. A man who felt towards his fellow-men that same generous self-sacri- ficing zeal, that tender considerate interest that a parent does to her children, would be pronounced by all men to be worthy of praise, because he would supply to those around him that softening, humanizing leaven which men having met with in their own homes, miss and sigh for in the world of business or politics. The Chinese, practical men of business as they were, saw that the one thing needful for society was, that men should learn to consider not only their own rights and claims, but those of others. And in answer to the question, where is this spirit to be found ? they looked round, and found it in the parent. They believed the parental love to be capable of diffusion, latent everywhere, but patent in the home ; which was also a grand and subtle conception, and true to fact also. For what is a mother's love ? a tie simply binding the parent to its own offspring? No; this is only its disguise. It is not a tie of consanguinity. It is a tie uniting us to our fellow-creatures, to which the mother becomes awakened by the touch and sight of a little one committed to her tender mercies. Mothers will take equally well to children not their own.
That this affection is the nurse of the warlike as well as of the gentler affections, that it will make the most timid fierce and fearless is plain to all ; that it is the nurse of justice, the very root of justice, is a thing our readers may easily think out for them- selves. To say that nothing makes a person so unjust as maternal feeling does not even touch what we say. We are not speaking of what the mother is to those who lie out of the sphere of her affections, but of what she is to those within her sphere. The smallness of the scale on which her virtues are exhibited does not destroy the perfection of the type.
The problem which the Chinese set to themselves was to pre- serve the type in its purity, and at the game time to extend its sphere. They felt that to honour and cultivate the type was the most effectual way of extending the sphere,—that one trained in domestic virtue and taught to love it at home would diffuse it in the world.
It is a plain historical fact, in our opinion, that filial piety was the first instinct that ever prompted men to acts of worship. At any rate, the nature of the things offered shows, we think, very clearly that the first sacrifices were offerings to the dead, especially to dead parents. And these offerings, again, point back to a very natural and intelligible origin. The savage, grown gentle enough to remember and harbour his old parents for a time, found the burden too heavy at last, and left them to die. A lingering ten- derness, or sense of remorse, however, prompted him to leave at their side some little supply of the necessaries of life. To neglect this came in most countries to be deemed unholy and unlucky, even in the case of the dying, nay, even in the case of the dead. Thesenatural acts of tenderness, probably at first performed without any theory concerning the state of the departed, led in many cases to a belief, first, in the existence of departed spirits, next to a belief in the existence of avengers or guardians of the dead, and, indeed, to the living also, for what were they but way- farers travelling to the land of the dead? Thus offerings to those exposed to die would grow into sacrifices to the gods.
It might be said that offerings to dead parents were the result not of love, but rather of remorse and ghostly fears. Yes ; but then we could show by a large array of facie that, as a rule, remorse and ghostly fear were felt towards parents only, showing that these avenging furies were the Nemesis of wounded love.
But some modern Plato, a man of advanced Aryan type, might say, There is something higher than the worship of the parent, even though it be the eternal Parent in heaven. We must worship God, not only as the parent, as one infinitely good to us,— we must worship the eternal goodness, the beauty through whose presence all beautiful things are so, not for what it is lo us, but for its own sake. And so romantic love, the worship of the beautiful, would be the highest of all worship, if only it could be emancipated from impurity and idolatry by a perception on the part of the worshipper that the most beautiful thing or person was only so by reason of its harmony with the visible universe. When we call a. thing beautiful, our true meaning, whether we know it or not, is that we feel it to be a true note of the universal harmony, that stirs and inspires us.' So we imagine some modern Plato to speak ;—and he is right. But yet, perhaps, it has escaped his atten- tion that parental love, as it is the first form in which the divine goodness showed itself, so it must be the first form in which the great Author of our being is worshipped. Only those who have been trained and purified by a culture of the parento-filial and fraternal instincts are capable of finding in romantic love a window through which they may behold the glory and beauty of the visible creation, and worship God as the unseen fountain of it.
The history of mankind teaches us everywhere, just what Sir John Lubbock's chapter on "marriage and relationship" teaches us, that romantic love is latest in the field, latest to display its true character, latest apprehended, and latest consecrated. To the Semitic and Turanian races were committed the task of consecrating the parental conservative affections, but the work of consecrating those affections that are the mightiest quickenere of the creative or imaginative powers has been committed to the great Aryan races. We believe that these things will come out more clearly, but that already they demand to be taken account of by those who would note the progress of humanity. We think that facts are rapidly accumulating, or even have accumulated, which put as in a posi- tion to point to two great converging roads by which the nations.
have in times past been led to a knowledge of God,—one the road of parent-worship, the other the road of nature-worship. We consider that the truths taught and the affections developed by the first worship are the necessary pre-existiug foundation on which alone the second can be securely based.