blackest hue; whereas other forms of falsehood, being less frequent, less obvious, and less easy to define, have also been less emphasised. But after full allowance is made for this influence, the fact still remains that a mystic efficacy is very commonly ascribed to the spoken word. Even among ourselves many persons would not dare to praise their health or fortune for fear lest some evil should result from their speech ; and among less civilised peoples much greater significance is given to a word than among us. Herodotus, after mentioning the extreme

. importance which the ancient Persians attached to the duty of speaking the truth, adds that they held it unlawful even “to talk of anything which it is unlawful to do." I think, then, we may assume that, if for some reason or other, falsehood is stigmatised, the mysterious tendency inherent in the word easily develops into an avenging power which, as often happens in similar cases, is associated with the activity of a god.

The punishing power of a word is particularly conspicuous in the case of an oath. But the evil attending perjury does not come from the lie as such : it is in the first place a result of the curse which constitutes the oath. An oath is essentially a conditional self-imprecation, a curse by which a person calls down upon himself some evil in the event of what he says not being true. The efficacy of the oath is originally entirely magical, it is due to the magic power inherent in the cursing words. In order to charge them with supernatural energy various methods are adopted. Sometimes the person who takes the oath puts himself in contact with some object which represents the state referred to in the oath, so that the oath may absorb, as it were, its quality and communicate it to the perjurer. Thus the Kandhs swear upon the lizard's skin, “ whose scaliness they pray may be their lot if forsworn,” or upon the earth of an ant-hill, “like which they desire that, if false, they may be reduced to powder.”? The Tunguses regard it as the most dreadful 1 Herodotus, i. 139. Macpherson, Memorials of Service in India, p. 83.

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of all their oaths when an accused person is compelled to drink some of the blood of a dog which, after its throat has been cut, is impaled near a fire and burnt, or has its flesh scattered about piece-meal, and to swear :-“I speak the truth, and that is as true as it is that I drink this blood. If I lie, let me perish, burn, or be dried up like this dog."? In other cases the person who is to swear takes hold of a certain object and calls it to inflict on him some injury if he perjure himself. The Kandhs frequently take oath upon the skin of a tiger, “ from which animal destruction to the perjured is invoked.” ? The Angami Nagas, when they swear to keep the peace, or to perform any promise, “place the barrel of a gun, or a spear, between their teeth, signifying by this ceremony that, if they do not act up to their agreement, they are prepared to fall by either of the two weapons.

The Chuvashes, again, put a piece of bread and a little salt in the mouth and swear, “May I be in want of these, if I say not true!” or “if I do not keep my word!”

Another method of charging an oath with supernatural energy is to touch, or to establish some kind of contact with, a holy object on the occasion when the oath is taken. The Iowa have a mysterious iron or stone, wrapped in seven skins, by which they make men swear to speak the truth. The people of Kesam, in the highlands of Palembang, swear by an old sacred knife, the Bataks of South Tóba on their village idols,” the Ostyaks on the nose of a bear, which is regarded by them as an animal endowed with supernatural power. Among the Tunguses a criminal may be compelled to climb one

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1 Georgi, Russia, iii. 86. 2 Macpherson, op. cit. p. 83. Cf. Hose, Natives of Borneo,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xxiii. 165 (Kayans).

3 Butler, Travels in Assam, p. 154. Mac Mahon, Far Cathay, p. 253. Prain, Angami Nagas,' in Revue coloniale internationale, v. 490. Cf. Lewin, Wild Races of South-Eastern India, pp. 193 (Toungtha), 244 sq. (I'ankhos and Bunjogees) ; St. John, • Hill Tribes of North Aracan,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. ii. 242.

Georgi, op. cit. i. 110. 5 Hamilton, . quoted by Dorsey', “Siouan Cults,' in Ann. Rep. Bur. Ethn. xi. 427.

6 Glimpses of the Eastern Archi. pelago, p. 104.

von Brenner, Besuch bei den Kaunibalen Sumatras, p. 213.

8 Castrén, Nordiska resor och forskningar, i. 307, 309 ; iv. 123 sq. Cf. Ahlqvist,

. Unter Wogulen und Ostjaken,' in Acta Societatis Scient. iarum Fennica, xiv. 298.




of their sacred mountains, repeating as he mounts, “ May I die if I am guilty,” or, “May I lose my children and my cattle,” or, “I renounce for ever all success in hunting and fishing if I am guilty.”] In Tibetan law-courts, when the great oath is taken, “it is done by the person placing a holy scripture on his head, and sitting on the reeking hide of an ox and eating part of the ox's heart." ? Hindus swear on a copy of the Sanskrit haribans, or with Ganges water in their hands, or touch the legs of a Brâhmana in taking an oath.3 Muhammedans swear on the Koran, as Christians do on the Bible. In Morocco an oath derives efficacy from contact with, or the presence of, any lifeless object, animal, or person endowed with baraka, or holiness, such as a saint-house or a mosque,

or wool, a flock of sheep or a horse, or shereef. In mediæval Christendom sacred relics were generally adopted as the most effective means of adding security to oaths, and “so little respect was felt for the simple oath that, ere long, the adjuncts came to be looked upon as the essential feature, and the imprecation itself to be divested of binding force without them.” 4

Finally, as an ordinary curse, so an oath is made efficacious by bringing in the name of a supernatural being, to whom an appeal is made. When the Comanches of Texas make a sacred pledge or promise,

they call upon the great spirit as their father, and the earth as their mother, to testify to the truth of their asseverations. Of the Chukchi we are told that “ as often as they would certify the truth of any thing by oath or solemn protestations they take the sun for their guarantee and security. Among the Tunguses an accused person takes a knife in his hand, brandishes it towards the sun, and says, “ If I


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1 Georgi, op. cit. iii. 86.

2 Waddell, Buddhism of Tibet, p. 569, n. 7.

3 Grierson, Bihär Peasant Life, p. 401. Sleeman, Rambles and Recol. lections of an Indian Oficial, ii. 116.

4 Lea, Superstition and Force, p. 29.

See also Kaufmann, Deutsche

Geschichte, ii. 297 ; Ellinger, Das
Verhältniss der öffentlichen Meinung zu
Wahrheit und Lüge im 10. U, und 12.
Jahrhundert, pp. 30, 111.

Neighbors, in Schoolcraft,
Indian Tribes of the United States,

i. 132.

6 Georgi, op. cit. iii. 183.

and says,

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am guilty, may the sun send diseases into my bowels as mortal as a stab with this knife would be "1

An Arab from the province of Dukkâla in Morocco presses a dagger against his chest, saying, “By this poison, may God thrust it into my heart if I did so or so!” If a Masai is accused of having done something wrong, he drinks some blood, which is given him by the spokesman,

“ If I have done this deed may God kill me ” ; and it is believed that if he has committed the crime he dies, whereas no harm befalls him if he is innocent.? Among the Tshi-speaking peoples of the Gold Coast, “ to make an oath binding on the person who takes it, it is usual to give him something to eat or to drink which in some way appertains to a deity, who is then invoked to visit a breach of faith with punishment.”

Among the Shekani and Bakele people of Southern Guinea, when a covenant between different tribes is about to be formed, their great spirit, Mwetyi,“ is always invoked as a witness, and is commissioned with the duty of visiting vengeance upon the party who shall violate the engagement. It seems to be a common practice in certain parts of Africa to swear by some fetish. The Efatese, of the New Hebrides, invoked punishment from the gods in their oaths." In Florida, of the Solomon Group, a man will deny an accusation by some tindalo (that is, the disembodied spirit of some man who already in his lifetime was supposed to be endowed with supernatural power), or by the ghostly frigate-bird, or by the ghostly shark. When an ancient Egyptian wished to give assurance of his honesty and good faith, he called Thoth to witness, the advocate in the heavenly court of justice, without whose justification no soul could stand in the day of judgment.S The Eranians swore by Mithra,' the Greeks by Zeus, to the i Georgi, op. cit. iii. 85 sq.

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7 Codrington, op. cit. p. 217. Hollis, Masai, p. 345.

8 Tiele, History of the Egyptian * Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Religion, p. 229. Amélineau, op. cit. Gold Coast, p. 196.

• Wilson, Western Africa, p. 392. 9 Schultze, Der Fetischismus, p. 111. 19 Iliad, iii. 276 sqq. Farnell, Cults 6 Turner, Samoa, p. 334.

of the Greek Stales, i. 70.

p. 251.

9 Yasts, x.

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Romans by Jupiter and Dius Fidius. A god is more able than ordinary mortals to master the processes of nature, and he may also better know whether the sworn word be true or false. It is undoubtedly on account of their superior knowledge that sun or moon or light gods are so frequently appealed to in oaths. The Egyptian god Ra is a solar, and Thoth a lunar deity. The Zoroastrian Mithra, who“ has a thousand senses, and sees every man that tells a lie,” 5 is closely connected with the sun ; and Rashnu Razista, according to M. Darmesteter, is an offshoot either of Mithra or Ahura Mazda himself. Dius Fidius seems originally to have been a spirit of the heaven, and a wielder of the lightning, closely allied to the great Jupiter. Zeus is all-seeing, the infallible spy of both gods and men. Now, even though the oath has the form of an appeal to a god, it may nevertheless be of a chiefly magic character, being an imprecation rather than a prayer. The oaths which the Moors swear by Allah are otherwise exactly similar in nature to those in which he is not mentioned at all. But the more the belief in magic was shaken, the more the spoken word was divested of that mysterious power which had been attributed to it by minds too apt to confound words with facts, the more prominent became the religious element in the oath. The fulfilment of the self-imprecation was made dependent upon the free will of the deity appealed to, and was regarded as the punishment for an offence committed by the perjurer against the god himself.10

von Lasaulx, Der Eid bei den schichte des Alterthums, i. 541 sq. Römern, p. 9.

Geiger, op. cit. i.


Ivi. 2 Cf. James, Expedition from Pitts- i Darmesteter, in Sacred Books of the burg to the Rocky Mountains, i. 267 East, xxiii. 168. (Omahas); Tylor, Primitive Culture, 8 Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 141. ii. 231 (Ostyaks).

9 Cf. Iliad, iii. 277 ; Ovid, Mela3 Maspero, Dawn of Civilization, morphoses, iv. 172; Darmesteter, p. 87 sq. Wiedemann, Religion of the Essais orientaux, p. 107; Usener, 'Ancient Egyptians, p. 14.

Götternamen, p. 177 599. * Maspero, op. cit. p. 145. Renouf, 10 Grotius says (De jure belli et pacis, Hibbert Lectures on the Religion of ii. 13. 12) that even he who swears by Ancient Egypt, p. 116.

false gods is bound, “because, though 5 Yasts, x. 107

under false notions, he refers to the G Darmesteter, in Sacred Books of the general idea of Godhead, and there. East, xxiii, 122, n. 4.

Meyer, Ger fore the true God will interpret it as a

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