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Canada 'had no public worship nor any word for God;' and Hearne, who lived amongst the North American Indians for years, and was perfectly acquainted with their habits and language, says the same of some tribes on Hudson's Bay."
Now, to the assertion of Father Baegert we may oppose a most interesting account of the faith of the Californians left by Father Boscana, one of the earliest missionaries to Upper California. Mr Bancroft, whose researches have been most laborious and extensive, informs us that “the Californian tribes, taken as a whole, are pretty uniform in the main features of their theogonic beliefs. They seem, without exception, to have had a hazy conception of a lofty, almost supreme being; for the most part referred to as a Great Man, the Old Man Above, the One Above; attributing to him, however, as is usual in such cases, nothing but the vaguest and most negative functions and qualities. The real practical power that most interested them, who had most to do with them and they with him, was a demon, or body of demons, of a tolerably pronounced character” (iii. 158). The view adopted by Sir J. Lubbock regarding the Californians is irreconcilable also with the series of testimonies adduced by Waitz. Then the negative reports of Colden (1755) and of Hearne (1769-1772) are not to be allowed to outweigh the contrary reports of numerous other
witnesses no less credible. Further, we are not justified in concluding that a people has no religion because it has "no public worship nor any word for God.” It is clearly proved that the Canadian Indians believed in supernatural beings, and, in fact, in legions of spirits. The sorcery prevalent among them may be viewed as a perverted form of worship. The Koniagas even believe in a chief deity, the Thlinkets in a creator of all beings and things, the Haidahs suppose the great solar spirit to be the Creator and Supreme Ruler, &c. &c. Belief in a former of the universe is, in fact, the rule among the North American Indians. The exceptions are few and doubtful."
Sir J. Lubbock, passing from North America to Polynesia and Australasia, thus continues: “In the 'Voyage de l'Astrolabe' it is stated that the natives of the Samoan and Solomon Islands in the Pacific had no religion; and in the Voyage of the Novara’ the same is said of the Caroline Islanders. The Samoans have neither moraes, nor temples, nor altars, nor offerings, and consequently none of the sanguinary rites observed at the other groups. In consequence of this, the Samoans were considered an impious race; and their impiety became proverbial with the people of Rarotonga, for, when upbraiding a person who neglected the worship of the gods, they would call
See Appendix XXVII. ..
him “a godless Samoan.' On Damood Island, between Australia and New Guinea, Jukes could find no 'traces of any religious belief or observance.' Duradawan, a sepoy, who lived some time with the Andaman Islanders, maintained that they had no religion, and Dr Mouatt believes his statements to be correct. Some of the Australian tribes, also, are said to have no religion. In the Pellew Islands Wilson found no religious buildings, nor any sign of religion. Mr Wallace, who had excellent opportunities for judging, and whose merits as an observer no one can question, tells us that, among the people of Wanumbai, in the Aru Islands, he could find no trace of a religion ; adding, however, that he was but a short time among them.”
It is very strange that Sir John should continue through three editions of his work to represent the Samoan Islanders as destitute of religious beliefs. Williams, in the passage quoted, says nothing of the kind, but, what is very different indeed, that they were considered impious and called godless by their neighbours, because they did not worship in the same manner as they did. They were called “godless” by the people of Rarotonga, just as the early Christians were called godless by the pagan Romans. Williams merely cites the Rarotongan proverb, but Sir John asks us to endorse it. That is impossible, especially since the Rev. George Turner has given us, in his Nineteen Years in Polynesia' (1861), a valuable and elaborate account of the Samoan religion. That the natives of the Samoan Islands should ever have been stated to have no religion, shows only how little credit ought to be attached to general statements of the kind, when not founded on close and careful examination. The treachery and ferocity of the Solomon Islanders have prevented Europeans acquiring much acquaintance with their characters, but that they are not without religious beliefs is proved by their having idols, sometimes ten or more feet high, to which they make offerings of food. Gerland, one of the leading ethnologists of Germany, has shown that the inhabitants of the Caroline Islands are not destitute of religious conceptions. Jukes was but a short time in Damood Island, one of the Torres Islands, and Meinicke has described the religious beliefs prevalent in these islands. That “Duradawan, a sepoy, who lived some time with the Andaman Islanders, maintained that they had no religion," by no means proves that they have none. A far more intelligent man, Father Mersenne, so well known as the friend of Descartes, spent most of his life in Paris, and yet affirmed that there were sixty thousand atheists in that city. Dr Mouatt had no intimate or lengthened intercourse with the Andaman Islanders. Sir J. Lubbock does injustice to Captain Wilson, who believed himself to have ascertained that the Pellew Islanders had some notions of a religion, and certainly believed in a future life. It is improbable that the Wanumbai are without religion, since it appears from the testimonies of Kolff, of Wallace himself, &c., that the other Aru Islanders are not. Gabelentz, in his work on the ‘Melanesian Languages,' has shown that words for God, Spirit, &c., are very widely diffused over the Australasian and Polynesian areas. Our author perhaps deserves conmendation for not having spoken more copiously and confidently about the Australian tribes. Most writers who maintain that the atheism of ignorance is man's original condition, lay great emphasis on the alleged absence of religion among the natives of Australia. But in doing so they rest on what is only alleged and not real. In proof, I may quote from Mr Tylor, who is admitted to be second to no one in this country as an ethnologist. He says: “It is not unusual for the very writer who declares in general terms the absence of religious phenomena among some savage people, himself to give evidence that shows his expressions to be misleading. Thus Dr Lang not only declares that the aborigines of Australia have no idea of a supreme divinity, creator, and judge-no object of worship, no idol, temple, or sacrifice, but that, 'in short, they have nothing