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to lend a helping hand. But in 1875, just when I had struck my tent at Oxford to settle in Austria, the then Secretary of State for India, Lord Salisbury, and the Dean of Christ Church, Dr. Liddell, brought their combined influence and power of persuasion to bear on the Indian Council and the University Press at Oxford. The sinews of war were found for at least twenty-four volumes. In October 1876 the undertaking was started, and, if all goes well, in October 1884, the first series of twenty-four volumes will stand on the shelves of every great library in Europe, America, and India. And more than that. Such has been the interest taken in this undertaking by the students of ancient language, religion, and philosophy, that even the unexpected withdrawal of the patronage of the India Office under Lord Salisbury's successor could not endanger the successful continuation of this enterprise, at least during the few years that I may still be able to conduct it.
But while personally I rejoice that all obstacles which were placed in our way, sometimes from a quarter where we least expected it, have been removed, and that with the generous assistance of some of the best Oriental scholars of our age, some at least of the most important works illustrating the ancient religions of the East have been permanently rescued from oblivion and rendered accessible to every man who understands English, some of my friends, men whose judgment I value far higher than my own, wonder what ground there is for rejoicing. Some, more honest than the rest, told me that they had been great admirers of ancient Oriental wisdom till they came to read the translations of the Sacred Books of the East. They had evidently expected to hear the tongues of angels, and not the babbling of babes. But others took higher ground. What, they asked, could the philosophers of the nineteenth century expect to learn from the thoughts and utterances of men who had lived one, two, three, or four thousand years ago ? When I bumbly suggested that these books had a purely historical interest, and that the history of religion could be studied from no other documents, I was told that it was perfectly known how religion arose, and through how many stages it had to pass in its development from fetishism to positivism, and that whatever facts might be found in the Sacred Books of the East, they must all vanish before theories which are infallible and incontrovertible. If anything more was to be discovered about the origin and nature of religion, it was not from dusty historical documents, but from pyschophysiological experiments, or possibly from the creeds of living savages.
I was not surprised at these remarks. I had heard similar remarks many years ago, and they only convinced me that the old antagonism between the historical and theoretical schools of thought was as strong to-day as ever. This antagonism applies not only to the study of religion, but likewise to the study of language, mythology, and philosophy, in fact of all the subjects to wbich my own labours have more specially been directed for many years, and I therefore gladly seize this opportunity of clearly defining once for all the position which I have deliberately chosen from the day that I was a young recruit to the time when I have become a veteran in the noble
of research. There have been, and there probably always will be, two schools of thought, the Historical and the Theoretical. Whether by accident or by conviction I have been through life a follower of the Historical School, a school which in the study of every branch of human knowledge has but one and the same principle, namely, “ Learn to understand what is by learning to understand what has been.
That school was in the ascendant when I began life. It was then represented in Germany by such names as Niebuhr for history, Savigny for law, Bopp for language, Grimm for mythology; or, to mention more familiar names, in France by Cuvier' for natural history; in England by a whole school of students of history and nature, who took pride in calling themselves the only legitimate representatives of the Baconian school of thought.
What a wonderful change has come over us during the last thirty or forty years! The Historical School which, in the beginning of our century, was in the possession of nearly all professorial chairs, and wielding the sceptre of all the great Academies, has dwindled away, and its place has been taken by the Theoretical School, best known in England by its eloquent advocacy of the principles of evolution. This Theoretical School is sometimes called the synthetic, in opposition to the Historical School, which is analytic. It is also characterised as constructive, or as reasoning a priori. In order to appreciate fully the fundamental difference between the two schools, it will be best to see how their principles have been applied to such subjects as the science of language, religion, or antiquities.
The Historical School, in trying to solve the problem of the origin and growth of language, takes language as it finds it. It takes the living language in its various dialects, and traces each word back from century to century, until from the English now spoken in the streets, we arrive at the Saxon of Alfred, the Old Saxon of the Continent, and the Gothic of Ulfilas, as spoken on the Danube in the fifth century. Even here we do not stop. For finding that Gothic is but a dialect of the great Teutonic stem of language, that Teutonic again is but a dialect of the great Aryan family of speech, we trace Teutonic and its collateral branches, Greek, Latin, Celtic, Slavonic, Persian, and Sanskrit, back to that Proto-Aryan form of speech which contained the seeds of all we now see before us, as germs, plants, flowers, fruits, in the languages of the Aryan race.
After having settled this historical outline of the growth of our family of speech, the Aryan, we take any word, or a hundred, or a thousand words, and analyse them, or take them to pieces. That words can be taken to pieces, every grammar teaches us, though the
process of taking them to pieces scientifically and correctly, dissecting limb from limb, is often as difficult and laborious as any anatomical preparation. Well, let us take quite a modern word—the American cute, sharp. We all know that cute is only a shortening of acute, and that acute is the Latin acutus, sharp. In acutus, again, we easily recognise the frequent derivative tus, as in cornutus, horned, from cornu, horn. This leaves us Cicu, as in acu-s, a needle. In this word the u can again be separated, for we know it is a very common derivative, in such words as pec-u, cattle, Sanskrit pasú, from pas, to tether; or tanú, thin, Greek Tavú-s, Lat. tenu-i-s, from tan, to stretch. Thus we arrive in the end at AK, and here our analysis must stop, for if we were to divide AK into A and K, we should get, as even Plato knew (Thectetus, 205) mere letters, and no longer significant sounds or syllables. Now what is this AK? We call it a root, which is, of course, a metaphor only. What we mean by calling it a root is that it is the residuum of our analysis, and a residuum which itself resists all further analysis. It is an ultimate fact-and
With these ultimate facts, that is, with a limited number of predicative syllables, to which every word in any of the Aryan languages can be traced back, or, as we may also express it, from which every word in these languages can be derived, the historical school of comparative philology is satisfied, at least to a certain extent; for it has also to account for certain pronouns and adverbs and prepositions, which are not derived from predicative, but from demonstrative roots, and which bave supplied, at the same time, many of those derivative elements, like tus in acu-tus, which we generally call suffixes or terminations.
After this analysis is finished, the historical student has done his work. AK, he says, conveys the concept of sharp, sharpness, being sharp or pointed. How it came to do that we cannot tell, or, at least, we cannot find out by historical analysis. But that it did so, we can prove by a number of words derived from AK in Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, Celtic, Slavonic, and Teutonic speech. For instance: Sanskrit âsu, quick (originally sharp), Greek ókús, Lat. oc-ior, Lat. ac-er, eager, acus, acuo, acies, acumen ; Greek å kuń, the highest point, our edge, A.-S. ecg; also to egg on; äkov, a javelin, acidus, sharp, bitter, ague, a sharp fever, ear of corn, Old High German ahir, Gothic ahs, acus, aceris, husk of grain, and many
Let us now look at the Theoretical School and its treatment of language. How could language arise ? it says; and it answers, Why, we see it every day. We have only to watch a child, and we shall see that a child utters certain sounds of pain and joy, and very soon after imitates the sounds which it hears. It says. Ah! when it is surprised or pleased; it soon says Bah! when it sees a lamb, and Bow-wow! when it sees a dog. Language, we are told, could not arise in any other way; so that interjections and imitations must be considered as the ultimate, or rather the primary facts of language, while their transition into real words is, we are assured, a mere question of evolution.
This theory seems to be easily confirmed by a number of words in all languages, which still exbibit most clearly the signs of such an origin; and still further, by the fact that these supposed rudiments of human speech exist, even at an earlier stage, in the development of animal life, namely, in the sounds uttered by many animals ; though, curiously enough, far more fully and frequently by our most distant ancestors, the birds, than by our nearest relation, the ape.
It is not surprising, therefore, that all who believe in a possible transition from an ape to a man should gladly have embraced this theory of language. The only misfortune is that such a theory, though it easily explains words which really require no explanation, such as crashing, cracking, creaking, crunching, scrunching, leaves us entirely in the lurch when we come to deal with real words-I mean words expressive of general concepts, such as man, tree, name, lawin fact, nine-tenths of our dictionary.
I certainly do not wish to throw unmerited contempt on this Theoretical School. Far from it. We want the theorist quite as much as the historian. The one must check the other, nay, even help the other, just as every government wants an opposition to keep it in order, or, I ought perhaps to say, to give it from time to time new life and vigour. I only wished to show by an example or two, what is the real difference between these two schools, and what I meant when I said that, whether by temperament, or by education, or by conviction, I myself had always belonged to the Historical School.
Take now the science of religion, and we shall find again the same difference of treatment between the historian and the theorist,
The theorist begins by assuring you that all men were originally savages, or, to use a milder term, children. Therefore, if we wish to study the origin of religion, we must study children and savages.
Now at the present moment some savages in Africa, Australia, and elsewhere are fetish-worshippers. Therefore we are assured that five thousand or ten thousand years ago religion must have begun with a worship of fetishes—that is, of stones, and shells, and sticks, and other inanimate objects.
Again, children are very apt not only to beat their dolls, but even to punish a chair or a table if they have hurt themselves against it. This shows that they ascribe life and personality—nay, something like human nature-to inanimate objects, and hence we are told that savages would naturally do the same. A savage, in fact, is made to do everything that an anthropologist wishes him to do; but, even then, the question of all questions, why he does what he is supposed to do, is never asked. We are told that he worships a stone as his god, but how he came to possess the idea of God, and to predicate it of the stone, is called a metaphysical question of no interest to the student of anthropology--that is, of man. If, however, we press for an answer to this all-important question, we are informed that animism, personification, and anthropomorphism are the three well-known agencies which fully account for the fact that the ancient inbabitants of India, Greece, and Italy believed that there was life in the rivers, the mountains, and the sky; that the sun, and the moon, and the dawn were cognisant of the deeds of men, and, finally, that Jupiter and Juno, Mars and Venus, had the form and the beauty, the feelings and passions of men. We might as well be told that all animals are hungry because they have an appetite.
We read in many of the most popular works of the day how, from the stage of fetishism, there was a natural and necessary progress to polytheism, monotheism, and atheism, and after these stages have been erected. one above the other, all that remains is to fill each stage with illustrations taken from every race that ever had a religion, whether these races were ancient or modern, savage or civilised, genealogically related to each other, or perfect strangers.
Again, I must guard most decidedly against being supposed to wish to throw contempt or ridicule on this school. Far from it. I differ from it; I have no taste for it; I also think it is often very misleading. But to compare the thoughts and imaginations of savages and civilised races, of the ancient Egyptians, for instance, and the modern Hottentots, has its value, and the boldest combinations of the Theoretic School have sometimes been confirmed in the most unexpected manner.
Let us see now how the Historical School goes to work in treating of the origin and growth of religion. It begins by collecting all the evidence that is accessible, and classifies it. First of all, religions are divided into those that have sacred books, and those that have not. Secondly, the religions which can be studied in books of recognised or canonical authority, are arranged genealogically. The New Testament is traced back to the Old, the Koran to both the New and Old Testaments. This gives us one class of religions, the Semitic.
Then, again, the sacred books of Buddhism, of Zoroastrianism, and of Brâhmanism are classed together as Aryan, because they all draw their vital elements from one and the same Proto-Aryan source. This gives us a second class of religions, the Aryan.
Outside the pale of the Semitic and Aryan religions, we have the two book-religions of China, the old national traditions collected by Confucius, and the moral and metaphysical system of Lao-tse. This gives us a class of Turanian religions. The study of those religions which have sacred books is in some respects easy, because we have in these books authoritative evidence on which our further reasonings VOL. XV.-No. 88.