Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

noa, or profane; the latter ra, or sacred; and most of the interdictions of things tabooed fell on the weaker sex. The women never shared the family meal, and they were regarded as common property in the households of the chiefs, where polygamy was the rule. Before the arrival of the Europeans, infanticide was systematically practiced ; in Tahiti and some other groups there existed a special caste, among whom this custom was even regarded as a duty. Hence, doubtless, arose the habit of adopting strange children, almost universal in Tahiti, where it gave rise to all manner of complications connected with the tenure and inheritance of property.

In Polynesia the government was almost everywhere centered in the hands of powerful chiefs, against whose mandates there was no appeal. A vigorous hierarchy separated the social classes one from another, proprietors being subject to the chiefs, the poor to the rich, the women to the men ; but over all custom reigned supreme. This law of taboo, which regulated all movements and every individual act, often pressed hard even on its promulgators, and the terrible penalties it enforced against the contumacious certainly contributed to increase the ferocity of the oceanic populations. Almost the only punishment was death, and human sacrifices in honor of the gods were the crowning religious rite. In some places the victims were baked on the altars, and their flesh, wrapped in taro-leaves, was distributed among the warriors.

Yet, despite the little value attached to human life, the death of adult men gave rise to much mourning and solemn obsequies. Nor was this respect for the departed an empty ceremonial, for the ancestors of the Polynesians were raised to the rank of gods, taking their place with those who hurled the thunderbolt and stirred up the angry waters. A certain victorious hero thus became the god of war, and had to be propitiated with supplications. But the common folk and captives were held to be “soulless," although a spirit was attributed to nearly all natura! objects.

In his book on The Cradle of the Aryans, Prof. Rendall takes the position of an independent critic. Reviewing the theories that have been offered, and the arguments, both in favor of an Asiatic and of a European origin, he concludes that the portion of the white race to which the Indo-European languages properly belong had its first home in southern Scandinavia, and is best represented by the Swedes and Norwegians of the present day. Father Van den Gheyn, on the other hand, in his recently published pamphlet, L'Origine Européenne des Aryas, sums up the discussion from the point of view of the old theory of a hoine in the basin of the Oxus and Jaxartes. M. Reinach, reviewing his book, opposes the idea of a European home, but commits himself no further than to say that the spot is "somewhere in Asia."

VOL. XXXVII.—44

KING BOMBA'S PHILOSOPHICAL CATECHISM.

By Prof. E. P. EVANS.

M HE proper education of a prince and heir to the throne has

I been regarded from time immemorial as one of the most perplexing problems of pedagogics. Especially in the past ages of absolutism, when the monarch was the source of all authority, it was a matter of immense importance that the man whose will was to be the law of the land, and upon whose merest whim the weal or woe of a whole people depended, should, as a child, be trained up in the way he should go, and, as an adult, should not be permitted to depart from it.

In the Orient, where the sovereign was revered as a demi-divine incarnation and plenipotentiary delegate from heaven for the administration of justice on earth, he was also supposed to be supernaturally endowed with wisdom from on high-a pleasing fiction, which still survives in the claims of kings to wear their crowns and wield their scepters "by the grace of God.” As a natural sequence of this theory, scions of royal stock were confided to members of the sacerdotal order for their education. In India the Brahman claimed for his caste all posts of honor and emolument in the realm, and all positions of influence near the person of the ruler. Not only was it deemed essential to the power and permanence of the dynasty that he should perform the duties of court priest (purohita), but he also arrogated to himself the functions of court fool (vidúshaka); in his overweening ambition and insatiable greed of supremacy, he could bear no rival near the throne, even though the competitor were a man of motley.

It was likewise the privilege of the Brahman to be pedagogue in perpetuity to the royal family. His son or some member of his caste was as sure of succeeding to the ferule as the king's son or some prince of the blood was of inheriting the scepter; and, judging from what we know of the manuals of instruction, in which his teachings were embodied, he was eminently worthy of his high office. Thus the Hitopadesá was composed or rather compiled by Vishnu Sárman for several young princes who were his pupils; and it would be difficult to find in the whole vast range of didactic literature any work containing in the same compass a greater sum of homely wisdom and a larger number of prudential maxims and ethical rules for the conduct of life than are compressed into this little treatise on deportment, or nîtividya, a word which the modern masters of this science would translate by savoir vivre. This Kind Counsel, as the title Hitopadesá signifies, is illustrated and enforced by a series of fables and kindred

stories, skillfully woven together into a consecutive narration, which has remained for centuries the unsurpassable model of all productions of a like character. In Greek literature we have Xenophon's Cyropædia, which gives an imaginary picture of the education of the elder Cyrus, in order to present the ideal of a prince whose moral and intellectual faculties have been developed according to the principles of the Socratic philosophy. Less worthy of note, and yet not devoid of significance, is the De Clementia ad Neronem Cæsarem of Seneca, whose imperial pupil Nero does not redound to his credit as a tutor, and whose own conduct did not always exemplify his fine ethical maxims. In the sixteenth century Duke Julius, of Brunswick, began with his Deutscher Fürstenspiegel the fabrication of those moral mirrors in which princes are enabled to see themselves as others see them.

The Prince of Machiavelli is a different kind of production, being less a pedagogical than a political treatise—not so much an exposition of ethical principles as an enforcement of practical policy. It is the final, energetic effort of a sincere patriot to rescue his country from the demoralizing and disintegrating influences, aristocratic, democratic, and hierarchical, which made it the prey of factions from within and foreigners from without. If the remedy prescribed is drastic, the disease was also desperate.

Of all modern works belonging to the class under consideration, The Adventures of Telemachus, written by Fénelon for the instruction and guidance of the grandsons of Louis XIV, holds perhaps the highest place in literature. But the ideal of conduct, which the Archbishop of Cambrai here offers for imitation, is so pure and exalted, that the king regarded the book as a satire on his reign and forbade its publication. It was also the common opinion of his courtiers that Calypso was the Marquise de Montespan, Antiope the Duchesse de Bourgogne, and Sesostris no less a personage than the Grand Monarch himself. No one, nowadays, in reading Fénelon's masterpiece of fiction, thinks of the didactic purpose for which it was written; we are attracted solely by the charm of style and the perfection of artistic form which have made it classic.

Very different in this respect is the notorious Philosophical Catechism collaborated by King Ferdinand II and Monsignore Apuzzo, Archbishop of Sorrento, for the use of the Hereditary Prince and of the Most Faithful People of the Two Sicilies. This book, which appeared in 1850, was written to justify the perfidies and perjuries of King Bomba, and also, ad usum Delphini, to inculcate and perpetuate the principles of monarchical absolutism.

After the suppression of the Revolution of 1848, and the abrogation of the reforms which this movement had temporarily effected, the sovereign of the Two Sicilies began to manifest an

extraordinary interest in diffusing what he deemed useful information among his benighted subjects. He made a Collection of Good Books in favor of Truth and Virtue, in which the doctrine of the divine right of kings and the duty of passive obedience on the part of their subjects were taught in the most emphatic terms. These cheaply printed pamphlets and little volumes were scattered broadcast over the country; but as the great majority of the people were unable to read them, owing to the general illit. eracy which his system of government had produced, the priests were instructed to communicate the contents of them to their parishioners, and to make the ideas contained in them the subject of frequent discourse. His Majesty also caused to be published a New Philosophic-Democratic Vocabulary indispensable to every one who desires to understand the New Revolutionary Language, in which the logic of the Holy Office is combined with the rhetoric of the barracks and of Billingsgate to heap contempt upon liberal opinions. But the famous series reaches its climax in the aforementioned Catechism, the capolavoro of Monsignore Apuzzo, who, to the exercise of his archiepiscopal functions, added the sinecure of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the confidential post of tutor to the crown prince.

In the preface the author addresses himself directly to "princes, bishops, magistrates, instructors of youth, and all men of goodwill,” and enjoins upon them to use their authority, their money, and their influence to secure the widest possible distribution of his work. Those who have control of the public funds in the cities of the realm, he says, should apply them generously and systematically to this worthy end, and assures these officials that God will bless their pious embezzlements.

The following is a translation of the first chapter, which treats of Philosophy:

Disciple. What is philosophy ?

Master. It is the science of truth, or rather the science which teaches us to distinguish truth from error.

D. Is it necessary to teach this science to very young persons ?

M. It would not be necessary, since they would learn it gradually from experience and from the words and writings of honest and wise men ; but at the present time it is necessary that Christian teachers should begin early to instruct their pupils in the true philosophy, in order that they may not learn from others a perverse and false philosophy.

D. Why is it that some persons wish to teach a wicked phi. losophy, and desire to diffuse error rather than truth?

“M. Because they are vicious and bad, and wish that all other men should become vicious and bad.

« AnteriorContinuar »