Images de page

hear, and perceive only by means of the imperfect organs of humanity. Probability may lead some of the most reflecting to anticipate a state of future rewards and punishments; as those experienced in the education of the deaf and dumb find that their pupils, even while cut off from all instruction by ordinary means, have been able to form, out of their own unassisted conjectures, some ideas of the existence of a Deity, and of the distinction between the soul and the body-a circumstance which proves how naturally these truths arise in the human mind. The principle that they do so arise, being taught or communicated, leads to farther conclusions.” 1

1 Demonology and Witchcraft, p. 3; 2d Edit. 1881.



Advantage of comparative philology-Root ideas and root words--Soul

names-Relation observed between wind, breath, smoke, and the soul-Roots expressive of force-Names of God expressive of force -Titles of pre-eminence-Attributive names-Names derived from localization—The multiplicity of Divine namesAvoidance of using names-Semitic language a protest against polytheism-Instance of attributes becoming distinct deities.

NHE idea of God having been conceived, it became

necessary for man to find a name which should express his apprehension of the Deity.

We have seen that the perception of a self-generating force in the human will originated the conception of God. It is, therefore, probable that the primitive names of God should bear some analogy to those which designate our personality.

Language and ideas are intimately connected, both in their origin, in their progress, and in their decay; and the analysis of names will often lead us to the root ideas which produced them. Through the rich and tangled jungle of polytheism, comparative philology is the most reliable guide; and in monotheism also it enables us to pierce at once to the root of the God-idea. Primary perceptions are not, however, always represented by root words, for rudi

mentary intuitions are just those which are the last to need indication.

Our ideas can all be traced back to certain radicals, limited in number; and it is the same with words. The large vocabulary at our command can be reduced to a fixed number of root sounds, with fixed ideas attached to them. As ideas enlarge and interpenetrate and diverge, language is modified and moulded to express the new and changing ideas.

The glossary of a people is a measure of their thoughts. The English rustic is said to have only some three hundred words at his command; this is because he has but three hundred ideas. The Australian savage has no word for tree, because he has not arrived at generalizing stage of intellectual progress. He has a name for the eucalyptus, and a name for the cocoa-nut, but has no generic title including both.

A name designating existence will be the nearest approach to a rudimentary conception of the Deity; and, as a conception of His existence is a deduction from the consciousness of man's own existence, we expect to find the highest and most monotheistic names of God related to the names descriptive of our own conscious principle. Accordingly, before we deal with the Divine names we must examine the soul names.

In many instances the terms used to designate the seat of life and perception are derived from a secondary and analogical idea. The soul is the energizing principle, and breath is life, or conterminous with life. When life ceases, breath ceases, and vice versâ. The connexion observed to exist between them supplied man with a name for the soul, when it became necessary for him to express in words the idea of his existence, apart from his body. Such a stock of soul words as jouxń, a veüua, ruah, animus, ghost,

exhibit a rude condition of mind when they were formed, ready to give names on the most superficial analogies, without troubling to penetrate into the depths of the personality in quest of a true basis on which to raise a fabric of psychic terminology. The analogy between soul and breath was so plain that it was at once concluded that they were identical, or, if not identical, were very similar. jouxń is breath or soul, from a root expressive of blowing, a root that reappears in youyuós, drying, the effect of a blast of wind, and in puyuós, another effect, cold. From the same radical was derived avelw, to blow, and Tvellua. The Hebrew ruah has at one time the signification of wind, at another of life, or soul. The Latin animus, anima, were originally identical; "animus est, quo sapimus, anima, qua vivimus," is a later refinement. The root an signifies to breathe, whence the Sanskrit anild, wind, and prâna, spirit, the Greek ävejuos, the Irish anal, breath, and anam, life or soul.

Spirit is from a root sv=sp with a similar meaning, and onomatopoetic, a sound imitative of that produced by breathing Thence the Sanskrit svas, and the Latin spiro, spiritus, &c.

The Teutonic gheist, our ghost, is from a root signifying to blow with violence, which reappears in gust, and in the Icelandic geysir, and in the Scandinavian verb gjösa, to pour forth.

In the primitive tongues of America, a similar identification of soul and breath, spirit and wind, appears. In the Dakota language niya is literally breath, figuratively life; in Netela, piuts is breath and soul; silla in Esquimo means air, and also the reasoning faculty. In the Yakama tongue of Oregon wkrisha expresses wind, and wkrishwit,

i Nonius Marcel. 426, 427.

life; with the Aztecs ehecatl had the meaning of wind, of soul and of life; and in Mohawk, atonritz, the soul, is derived from atonrion, to breathe. 1

Yet, though the relationship of words expressing soul and breath point to a confusion of ideas touching the life and the breath, yet, in all cases, the name for soul is not derived from the word for breath, but from a root expressive of force common to both. Thus, in Sclavonic each branch idea is distinct. The radical is du; thence have been derived dounon, to breathe, and dyma, the seat of force, the mind. From dounon is derived duim, smoke, because the breath has a vaporous appearance; but dyma is not derived from dounon, but from the root.

The Greek Ovuós did not primitively signify breath ; its root is av, equivalent to the Sanskrit , and has the meaning of setting in motion; Ovuós is therefore the motive force in man, acting now in thought, now in the operation of breathing. The word was early applied to breath, however, for it has become the parent of a host of words significative of vapour; Sanskrit d m, Lithuanian dámai, Sclavonic duim, Irish dluinh, Latin fumus, Old German daum.

The relation borne by the breath to steam or smoke caused the soul to be regarded as a vapour. Thus, in the metaphysical Arabic romance of Yokdhan, the hero seeks the source of life and thought with the anatomist's scalpel, and discovers in one of the cavities of the heart a bluish vapour, which was the living soul.2

It was also thought that the soul was a flame, and that the extinction of the “vital spark” was death. But a more common notion was that it was a shadow, hence the

· Brinton : Myths of New World, p. 50.
· Ebn Tophail : Hai Ebn Yokdhan ; ed. Pocock, 1671.

« PrécédentContinuer »