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- Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 - 3/59 -

his highest thought, man mythologises and anthropomorphises, in Greece or Israel, as in Australia.

It does not follow that there is "nothing sacred" in his religion. Mr. Hartland offers me a case in point. In Mrs. Langloh Parker's Australian Legendary Tales (pp. 11, 94), are myths of low adventures of Baiame. In her More Australian Legendary Tales (pp. 84-99), is a very poetical and charming aspect of the Baiame belief. Mr. Hartland says that I will "seek to put" the first set of stories out of court, as "a kind of joke with no sacredness about it". Not I, but the Noongahburrah tribe themselves make this essential distinction. Mrs. Langloh Parker says:[1] "The former series" (with the low Baiame myths) "were all such legends as are told to the black picaninnies; among the present are some they would not be allowed to hear, touching as they do on sacred things, taboo to the young". The blacks draw the line which I am said to seek to draw.

[1] More Legendary Tales, p. xv.

In yet another case[1] grotesque hunting adventures of Baiame are told in the mysteries, and illustrated by the sacred temporary representations in raised earth. I did not know it; I merely followed Mr. Howitt. But I do not doubt it. My reply is, that there was "something sacred" in Greek mysteries, something purifying, ennobling, consoling. For this Lobeck has collected (and disparaged) the evidence of Pindar, Sophocles, Cicero and many others, while even Aristophanes, as Prof. Campbell remarks, says: "We only have bright sun and cheerful life who have been initiated and lived piously in regard to strangers and to private citizens".[2] Security and peace of mind, in this world and for the next, were, we know not how, borne into the hearts of Pindar and Sophocles in the Mysteries. Yet, if we may at all trust the Fathers, there were scenes of debauchery, as at the Mysteries of the Fijians (Nanga) there was buffoonery ("to amuse the boys," Mr. Howitt says of some Australian rites), the story of Baubo is only one example, and, in other mysteries than the Eleusinian, we know of mummeries in which an absurd tale of Zeus is related in connection with an oak log. Yet surely there was "something sacred" in the faith of Zeus! Let us judge the Australians as we judge Greeks. The precepts as to "speaking the straightforward truth," as to unselfishness, avoidance of quarrels, of wrongs to "unprotected women," of unnatural vices, are certainly communicated in the Mysteries of some tribes, with, in another, knowledge of the name and nature of "Our Father," Munganngaur. That a Totemistic dance, or medicine-dance of Emu hunting, is also displayed[3] at certain Mysteries of a given tribe, and that Baiame is spoken of as the hero of this ballet, no more deprives the Australian moral and religious teaching (at the Mysteries) of sacred value, than the stupid indecency whereby Baubo made Demeter laugh destroys the sacredness of the Eleusinia, on which Pindar, Sophocles and Cicero eloquently dwell. If the Australian mystae, at the most solemn moment of their lives, are shown a dull or dirty divine ballet d'action, what did Sophocles see, after taking a swim with his pig? Many things far from edifying, yet the sacred element of religious hope and faith was also represented. So it is in Australia.

[1] J. A. I., xxiv. p. 416.

[2] Religion in Greek Literature, p. 259. It is to be regretted that the learned professor gives no references. The Greek Mysteries are treated later in this volume.

[3] See A picture of Australia, 1829, p. 264.

These studies ought to be comparative, otherwise they are worthless. As Mr. Hartland calls Daramulun "an eternal Creator with a game leg" who "died," he may call Zeus an "eternal father, who swallowed his wife, lay with his mother and sister, made love as a swan, and died, nay, was buried, in Crete". I do not think that Mr. Hartland would call Zeus "a ghost-god" (my own phrase), or think that he was scoring a point against me, if I spoke of the sacred and ethical characteristics of the Zeus adored by Eumaeus in the Odyssey. He would not be so humorous about Zeus, nor fall into an ignoratio elenchi. For my point never was that any Australian tribe had a pure theistic conception unsoiled and unobliterated by myth and buffoonery. My argument was that AMONG their ideas is that of a superhuman being, unceasing (if I may not say eternal), a maker (if I may not say a Creator), a guardian of certain by no means despicable ethics, which I never proclaimed as supernormally inspired! It is no reply to me to say that, in or out of Mysteries, low fables about that being are told, and buffooneries are enacted. For, though I say that certain high ideas are taught in Mysteries, I do not think I say that in Mysteries no low myths are told.

I take this opportunity, as the earliest, to apologise for an error in my Making of Religion concerning a passage in the Primitive Culture of my friend Mr. E. B. Tylor. Mr. Tylor quoted[1] a passage from Captain John Smith's History of Virginia, as given in Pinkerton, xiii. pp. 13-39, 1632. In this passage no mention occurs of a Virginian deity named Ahone but "Okee," another and more truculent god, is named. I observed that, if Mr. Tylor had used Strachey's Historie of Travaile (1612), he would have found "a slightly varying copy" of Smith's text of 1632, with Ahone as superior to Okee. I added in a note (p. 253): "There is a description of Virginia, by W. Strachey, including Smith's remarks published in 1612. Strachey interwove some of this work with his own MS. in the British Museum." Here, as presently will be shown, I erred, in company with Strachey's editor of 1849, and with the writer on Strachey in the Dictionary of National Biography. What Mr. Tylor quoted from an edition of Smith in 1632 had already appeared, in 1612, in a book (Map of Virginia, with a description of the Countrey) described on the title-page as "written by Captain Smith," though, in my opinion, Smith may have had a collaborator. There is no evidence whatever that Strachey had anything to do with this book of 1612, in which there is no mention of Ahone. Mr. Arber dates Strachey's own MS. (in which Ahone occurs) as of 1610- 1615.[2] I myself, for reasons presently to be alleged, date the MS. mainly in 1611-1612. If Mr. Arber and I are right, Strachey must have had access to Smith's MS. before it was published in 1612, and we shall see how he used it. My point here is that Strachey mentioned Ahone (in MS.) before Smith's book of 1612 was published. This could not be gathered from the dedication to Bacon prefixed to Strachey's MS., for that dedication cannot be earlier that 1618.[3] I now ask leave to discuss the evidence for an early pre-Christian belief in a primal Creator, held by the Indian tribes from Plymouth, in New England, to Roanoke Island, off Southern Virginia.

[1] Prim. Cult. ii. p. 342.

[2] Arber's Smith, p. cxxxiii.

[3] Hakluyt Society, Strachey, 1849, pp. xxi., xxii.


An insertion by a manifest plagiary into the work of a detected liar is not, usually, good evidence. Yet this is all the evidence, it may be urged, which we have for the existence of a belief, in early Virginia, as to a good Creator, named Ahone. The matter stands thus: In 1607-1609 the famed Captain John Smith endured and achieved in Virginia sufferings and adventures. In 1608 he sent to the Council at home a MS. map and description of the colony. In 1609 he returned to England (October). In May, 1610, William Strachey, gent., arrived in Virginia, where he was "secretary of state" to Lord De la Warr. In 1612 Strachey and Smith were both in England. In that year Barnes of Oxford published A Map of Virginia, with a description, etc., "written by Captain Smith," according to the title-page. There was annexed a compilation from various sources, edited by "W. S.," that is, NOT William Strachey, but Dr. William Symonds. In the same year, 1612, or in 1611, William Strachey wrote his Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia, at least as far as page 124 of the Hakluyt edition of 1849.[1]

[1] For proof see p. 24. third line from foot of page, where 1612 is indicated. Again, see p. 98, line 5, where "last year" is dated as "1610, about Christmas," which would put Strachey's work at this point as actually of 1611; prior, that is, to Smith's publication. Again, p. 124, "this last year, myself being at the Falls" (of the James River), "I found in an Indian house certain clawes . . . which I brought away and into England".

If Strachey, who went out with Lord De la Warr as secretary in 1610, returned with him (as is likely), he sailed for England on 28th March, 1611. In that case, he was in England in 1611, and the passages cited leave it dubious whether he wrote his book in 1611, 1612, or in both years.[1]

[1] Mr. Arber dates the MS. "1610-1615," and attributes to Strachey Laws for Virginia, 1612.

Strachey embodies in his work considerable pieces of Smith's Map of Virginia and Description, written in 1608, and published in 1612. He continually deserts Smith, however, adding more recent information, reflections and references to the ancient classics, with allusions to his own travels in the Levant. His glossary is much more extensive than Smith's, and he inserts a native song of triumph over the English in the original.[1] Now, when Strachey comes to the religion of the natives[2] he gives eighteen pages (much of it verbiage) to five of Smith's.[3] What Smith (1612) says of their chief god I quote, setting Strachey's version (1611- 1612) beside it.

[1] Strachey, pp. 79-80. He may have got the song from Kemps or Machumps, friendly natives.

[2] Pp. 82-100.

[3] Arber, pp. 74-79.

SMITH (Published, 1612).

But their chiefe God they worship is the Diuell. Him they call Oke, and serue him more of feare than loue. They say they haue conference with him, and fashion themselues as neare to his shape

Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 - 3/59

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