Part 2 out of 12
"Close to the mysteries of God art thou,
My brooding mother-heart,"
the recognition of that outlasting secret hope and love, of which the
Gospel writer told in the simple words: "Now there stood by the cross of
Jesus his mother," and faith in which was strong in the Mesopotamians of
old, who prayed to the goddess Istar, "May thy heart be appeased as the
heart of a mother who has borne children." The world is at its best when
the last, holiest appeal is _ad matrem_. Professor O.T. Mason has
eloquently stated the debt of the world's religions to motherhood (112.
12):--"The mother-goddess of all peoples, culminating in the apotheosis
of the Virgin Mary, is an idea either originated by women, or devised to
satisfy their spiritual cravings. So we may go through the pantheons of
all peoples, finding counterparts of Rhea, mother-earth, goddess of
fertility; Hera, queen of harvests, feeder of mankind; Hestia, goddess
of the hearth and home, of families and states, giving life and warmth;
Aphrodite, the beautiful, patron of romantic love and personal charms;
Hera, sovereign lady, divine caciquess, embodiment of queenly dignity;
Pallas Athene, ideal image of that central inspiring force that we learn
at our mother's knee, and that shone in eternal splendour; Isis, the
goddess of widowhood, sending forth her son Horus, to avenge the death
of his father, Osiris; as moon-goddess, keeping alive the light until
the sun rises again to bless the world."
In Polynesian mythology we find, dwelling in the lowest depths of Avaiki
(the interior of the universe), the "Great Mother,"--the originator of
all things, _Vari-ma-te-takere_, "the very beginning,"--and her
pet child, Tu-metua, "Stick by the parent," her last offspring,
inseparable from her. All of her children were born of pieces of flesh
which she plucked off her own body; the first-born was the man-fish
Vatea, "father of gods and men," whose one eye is the sun, the other the
moon; the fifth child was Raka, to whom his mother gave the winds in a
basket, and "the children of Raka are the numerous winds and storms
which distress mankind. To each child is allotted a hole at the edge of
the horizon, through which he blows at pleasure." In the songs the gods
are termed "the children of Vatea," and the ocean is sometimes called
"the sea of Vatea." Mr. Gill tells us that "the Great Mother
approximates nearest to the dignity of creator"; and, curiously enough,
the word _Vari_, "beginning," signifies, on the island of
Rarotonga, "mud," showing that "these people imagined that once the
world was a 'chaos of mud,' out of which some mighty unseen agent, whom
they called _Vari_, evolved the present order of things" (458. 3,
Another "All-Mother" is she of whom our own poets have sung, "Nature,"
the source and sustainer of all.
"So ubt Natur die Mutterpflicht," sang the poet Schiller, and "Mother
Nature" is the key-word of those modern poets who, in their mystic
philosophy, consciously or unconsciously, revive the old mythologies.
With primitive peoples the being, growing power of the universe was
easily conceived as feminine and as motherly. Nature is the "great
parent," the "gracious mother," of us all. In "Mother Nature," woman,
the creator of the earliest arts of man, is recognized and personified,
and in a wider sense even than the poet dreamt of: "One touch of Nature
makes the whole world kin."
Pindar declared that "gods and men are sons of the same mother," and
with many savage and barbaric tribes, gods, men, animals, and all other
objects, animate and inanimate, are akin(388.210). As Professor
Robertson Smith has said: "The same lack of any sharp distinction
between the nature of different kinds of visible beings appears in the
old myths in which all kinds of objects, animate and inanimate, organic
and inorganic, appear as cognate with one another, with men, and with
the gods" (535.85). Mr. Hartland, speaking of this stage of thought,
says: "Sun and moon, the wind and the waters, perform all the functions
of living beings; they speak, they eat, they marry and have children"
(258.26). The same idea is brought out by Count D'Alviella: "The highest
point of development that polytheism could reach, is found in the
conception of a monarchy or divine family, embracing all terrestrial
beings, and even the whole universe" (388.211). Mr. Frank Cushing
attributes like beliefs in the kinship of all existences to the Zuni
Indians (388.66), and Mr. im Thurn to the Indians of Guiana (388.99).
This feeling of kinship to all that is, is beautifully expressed in the
words of the dying Greek Klepht: "Do not say that I am dead, but say
that I am married in the sorrowful, strange countries, that I have taken
the flat stone for a mother-in-law, the black earth for my wife, and the
little pebbles for brothers-in-law." (Lady Verney, _Essays_, II.
In the Trinity of Upper Egypt the second person was Mut, "Mother
Nature." the others being Armin, the chief god, and their son, Khuns.
Among the Slavs, according to Mone, Ziwa is a nature-goddess, and the
Wends regard her as "many-breasted Mother Nature," the producing and
nourishing power of the earth. Her consort is Zibog, the god of life
(125. II. 23).
Curiously reminiscent of the same train of ideas which has given to the
_moderson_ of Low German the signification of "bastard," is our own
equivalent term "natural son."
Poets and orators have not failed to appeal to "Mother Nature" and to
sing her panegyrics, but there is perhaps nothing more sweet and noble
than the words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: "Nature, like a loving mother,
is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its
place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat
and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony, and beauty may reign
supreme," and the verses of Longfellow:--
"And Nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying, 'Here is a story-book
Thy Father has--written for thee.
"'Come wander with me,' she said,
'Into regions yet untrod;
And read what is still unread,
In the manuscripts of God.'
"And he wandered away and away
With Nature, the dear old nurse,
Who sang to him, night and day,
The rhymes of the universe.
"And whenever the way seemed long,
Or his heart began to fail,
She--would sing a more wonderful song,
Or tell a more marvellous tale."
Through the long centuries Nature has been the mother, nurse, and
teacher of man.
Among other "mother-goddesses" of ancient Italy we find _Maia
Mater_, _Flora Mater_, both deities of growth and reproduction;
_Lua Mater_, "the loosing mother," a goddess of death; _Acca
Larentia_, the mother of the Lares (_Acca_ perhaps =
_Atta_, a child-word for mother, as Lippert suggests); _Mater
matuta_, "mother of the dawn," a goddess of child-birth, worshipped
especially by married women, and to whom there was erected a temple at
The mother-goddesses of Germany are quite numerous. Among those minor
ones cited by Grimm and Simrock, are: Haulemutter, Mutter Holle, the
Klagemutter or Klagemuhmen, Pudelmutter (a name applied to the goddess
Berchta), Etelmutter, Kornmutter, Roggenmutter, Mutterkorn, and the
interesting Buschgroszmutter, "bush grandmother," as the "Queen of the
Wood-Folk" is called. Here the mother-feeling has been so strong as to
grant to even the devil a mother and a grandmother, who figure in many
proverbs and folk-locutions. When the question is asked a Mecklenburger,
concerning a social gathering: "Who was there?" he may answer: "The
devil and his mother (_mom_)"; when a whirlwind occurs, the saying
is: "The Devil is dancing with his grandmother."
In China the position of woman is very low, and, as Mr. Douglas points
out: "It is only when a woman becomes a mother that she receives the
respect which is by right due to her, and then the inferiority of her
sex disappears before the requirements of filial love, which is the
crown and glory of China" (434. 125).
In Chinese cosmogony and mythology motherhood finds recognition. Besides
the great Earth-Mother, we meet with Se-wang-moo, the "Western Royal
Mother," a goddess of fairy-land, and the "Mother of Lightning," thunder
being considered the "father and teacher of all living beings."
Lieh-tze, a philosopher of the fifth century B.C., taught: "My body is
not my own; I am merely an inhabitant of it for the time being, and
shall resign it when I return to the 'Abyss Mother'" (434. 222, 225,
In the Flowery Kingdom there is also a sect "who worship the goddess
Pity, in the form of a woman holding a child in her arms."
Among the deities and semi-deities of the Andaman Islanders are
_chan.a.e.lewadi_, the "mother of the race,"--Mother E.lewadi;
_chan.a.erep_, _chan.a.cha.ria_, _chan.a.te.liu_,
_chan.a.li.mi_, _chan.a.jar.a.ngud_, all inventors and
discoverers of foods and the arts. In the religious system of the
Andaman Islanders, _Pu.luga-_, the Supreme Being, by whom were
created "the world and all objects, animate and inanimate, excepting
only the powers of evil," and of whom it is said, "though his appearance
is like fire, yet he is (nowadays) invisible," is "believed to live in a
large stone house in the sky with a wife whom he created for himself;
she is green in appearance, and has two names, _chan.a.au.lola_
(Mother Freshwater Shrimp) and _chan.a.pa.lak-_--(Mother Eel); by
her he has a large family, all except the eldest being girls; these
last, known as _mo.ro-win--_ (sky-spirits or angels), are said to be
black in appearance, and, with their mother, amuse themselves from time
to time by throwing fish and prawns into the streams and sea for the use
of the inhabitants of the world" (498. 90). With these people also the
first woman was _chan.a.e.lewadi_ (Mother E-lewadi), the ancestress
of the present race of natives. She was drowned, while canoeing, and
"became a small crab of a description still named after her
_e.lewadi_" (498. 96):
Quite frequently we find that primitive peoples have ascribed the origin
of the arts or of the good things of life to women whom they have
canonized as saints or apotheosized into deities.
We may close our consideration of motherhood and what it has given the
world with the apt words of Zmigrodzki:--
"The history of the civilization (Kulturgeschichte) of our race, is, so
to speak, _the history of the mother-influence_. Our ideas of
morality, justice, order, all these are simply _mother-ideas_. The
mother began our culture in that epoch in which, like the man, she was
_autodidactic_. In the epoch of the Church Fathers, the highly
educated mother saved our civilization and gave it a new turn, and only
the highly educated mother will save us out of the moral corruption of
our age. Taken individually also, we can mark the ennobling, elevating
influence which educated mothers have exercised over our great men. Let
us strive as much as possible to have highly accomplished mothers,
wives, friends, and then the wounds which we receive in the struggle for
life will not bleed as they do now" (174. 367).
The history of civilization is the story of the mother, a story that
stales not with repetition. Richter, in his _Levana_, makes
"Never, never has one forgotten his pure, right-educating mother! On the
blue mountains of our dim childhood, towards which we ever turn and
look, stand the mothers who marked out for us from thence our life; the
most blessed age must be forgotten ere we can forget the warmest heart.
You wish, O woman, to be ardently loved, and forever, even till death.
Be, then, the mothers of your children."
Tennyson in _The Foresters_ uses these beautiful words: "Every man
for the sake of the great blessed Mother in heaven, and for the love of
his own little mother on earth, should handle all womankind gently, and
hold them in all honour." Herein lies the whole philosophy of life. The
ancient Germans were right, who, as Tacitus tells us, saw in woman
_sanctum aliquid et providum_, as indeed the Modern German
_Weib_ (cognate with our _wife_) also declares, the original
signification of the word being "the animated, the inspirited."
THE CHILD'S TRIBUTE TO THE FATHER.
If the paternal cottage still shuts us in, its roof still screens us;
and with a father, we have as yet a prophet, priest, and king, and an
obedience that makes us free.--_Carlyle_.
To you your father should be as a god.--_Shakespeare_.
Our Father, who art in Heaven.--_Jesus_.
Father of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.--_Pope_.
_Names of the Father._
_Father_, like _mother_, is a very old word, and goes back,
with the cognate terms in Italic, Hellenic, Teutonic, Celtic, Slavonic,
and Indo-Aryan speech, to the primitive Indo-European language, and,
like _mother_, it is of uncertain etymology.
An English preacher of the twelfth century sought to derive the word
from the Anglo-Saxon _fedan_, "to feed," making the "father" to be
the "feeder" or "nourisher," and some more modern attempts at
explanation are hardly better. This etymology, however incorrect, as it
certainly is, in English, does find analogies in the tongues of
primitive peoples. In the language of the Klamath Indians, of Oregon,
the word for "father" is _t'shishap_ (in the Modoc dialect,
_p'tishap_), meaning "feeder, nourisher," from a radical
_tshi_, which signifies "to give somebody liquid food (as milk,
water)." Whether there is any real connection between our word
_pap_,--with its cognates in other languages,--which signifies
"food for infants," as well as "teat, breast," and the child-word
_papa_, "father," is doubtful, and the same may be said of the
attempt to find a relation between _teat, tit_, etc., and the
widespread child-words for "father," _tat_, _dad_. Wedgewood
(Introd. to _Dictionary_), however, maintained that: "Words formed
of the simplest articulations, _ma_ and _pa_, are used to
designate the objects in which the infant takes the earliest
interest,--the mother, the father, the mother's breast, the act of
taking or sucking food." Tylor also points out how, in the language of
children of to-day, we may find a key to the origin of a mass of words
for "father, mother, grandmother, aunt, child, breast, toy, doll," etc.
From the limited supply of material at the disposal of the early
speakers of a language, we can readily understand how the same sound had
to serve for the connotation of different ideas; this is why
"_mama_ means in one tongue _mother_, in another
_father_, in a third, _uncle_; _dada_ in one language
_father_, in a second _nurse_, in another _breast_;
_tata_ in one language _father_, in another _son_," etc.
The primitive Indo-European _p-tr_, Skeat takes to be formed, with
the agent-suffix _tr_, from the radical _pa_, "to protect, to
guard,"--the father having been originally looked upon as the
"protector," or "guarder." Max Muller, who offers the same derivation,
remarks: "The father, as begetter, was called in Sanskrit
_ganitar_, as protector and supporter of his posterity, however,
_pitar_. For this reason, in the Veda both names together are used
in order to give the complete idea of 'father.' In like manner,
_matar_, 'mother,' is joined with _ganit_, 'genetrix,' and
this shows that the word _matar_ must have soon lost its
etymological signification and come to be a term, of respect and caress.
With the oldest Indo-Europeans, _matar_ meant 'maker,' from
_ma_, 'to form.'"
Kluge, however, seems to reject the interpretation "protector,
defender," and to see in the word a derivative from the "nature-sound"
_pa_. So also Westermarck (166. 86-94). In Gothic, presumably the
oldest of the Teutonic dialects, the most common word for "father" is
_atta_, still seen in the name of the far-famed leader of the Huns,
_Attila_, i.e. "little father," and in the _atti_ of modern
Swiss dialects. To the same root attach themselves Sanskrit _atta_,
"mother, elder sister"; Ossetic _adda_, "little father
(Vaterchen)"; Greek _arra_, Latin _atta_, "father"; Old
Slavonic _oti-ci_, "little father"; Old Irish _aite_,
"foster-father." _Atta_ belongs to the category of "nature-words"
or "nursery-words" of which our _dad_ (_daddy_) is also a
Another member is the widespread _papa, pa._ Our word _papa_,
Skeat thinks, is borrowed, through the French, from Latin _papa_,
found as a Roman cognomen. This goes back in all probability to ancient
Greek, for, in the Odyssey (vi. 57), Nausicaa addresses her father as
[Greek: pappa phile], "dear _papa_." The Papa of German is also
borrowed from French, and, according to Kluge, did not secure a firm,
place in the language until comparatively late in the eighteenth
In some of the Semitic languages the word for "father" signifies
"maker," and the same thing occurs elsewhere among primitive people
As with "mother," so with "father"; in many languages a man (or a boy)
does not employ the same term as a woman (or a girl). In the Haida,
Okanak'en, and Kootenay, all Indian languages of British Columbia, the
words used by males and by females are, respectively: _kun, qat;
lEe'u, mistm; tito, so._
In many languages the word for "father," as is also the case with
"mother," is different when the parent is addressed from that used when
he is spoken of or referred to. In the Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Nootka,
Ntlakyapamuq, four Indian languages of British Columbia, the words for
"father" when addressed, are respectively _a'bo, ats, no'we, pap,_
and for "father" in other cases, _nEgua'at, au'mp, nuwe'k'so,
ska'tsa._ Here, again, it will be noticed that the words used in
address seem shorter and more primitive in character.
In the Chinantee language of Mexico, _nuh_ signifies at the same
time "father" and "man." In Gothic _aba_ means both "father" and
"husband" (492. 33). Here belongs also perhaps the familiar "father"
with which the New England housewife was wont to address her husband.
With many peoples the name "father" is applied to others than the male
parent of the child. The following remarks of McLennan, regarding the
Tamil and Telugu of India, will stand for not a few other primitive
tribes: "All the brothers of a father are usually called fathers, but,
in strictness, those who are older than the father are called _great
fathers_, and those who are younger, _little fathers_. With the
Puharies, all the brothers of a father are equally fathers to his
children." In Hawaii, the term "male parent" "applied equally to the
father, to the uncles, and even to distant relations." In Japan, the
paternal uncle is called "little father" and the maternal uncle "second
little father" (100. 389, 391).
A lengthy discussion of these terms, with a wealth of illustration from
many primitive languages, will be found in Westermarck (166. 86-94).
Of the Roman family it has been said: "It was a community comprising men
and things. The members were maintained by adoption as well as by
consanguinity. The father was before all things the chief, the general
administrator. He was called father even when he had no son; paternity
was a question of law, not one of persons. The heir is no more than the
continuing line of the deceased person; he was heir in spite of himself
for the honour of the defunct, for the lares, the hearth, the manes, and
the hereditary sepulchre" (100. 423). In ancient Rome the
_paterfamilias_ and the _patina potestas_ are seen in their
extreme types. Letourneau remarks further: "Absolute master, both of
things and of people, the paterfamilias had the right to kill his wife
and to sell his sons. Priest and king in turn, it was he who represented
the family in their domestic worship; and when, after his death, he was
laid by the side of his ancestors in the common tomb, he was deified,
and helped to swell the number of the household gods" (100. 433).
Post thus defines the system of "father-right":--
"In the system of 'father-right' the child is related only to the father
and to the persons connected with him through the male line, but not
with his mother and the persons connected with him through the female
line. The narrowest group organized according to father-right consists
of the father and his children. The mother, for the most part, appears
in the condition of a slave to the husband. To the patriarchal family in
the wider sense belong the children of the sons of the father, but not
the children of his daughters; the brothers and sisters of the same
father, but not those merely related to the same mother; the children of
the brother of the same father, but not the children of the sisters of
the same father, etc. With every wife the relationship ceases every
time" (127. I. 24).
The system of father-right is found scattered over the whole globe. It
is found among the Indo-European peoples (Aryans of Asia, Germans,
Slavs, Celts, Romans), the Mongol-Tartar tribes, Chinese, Japanese, and
some of the Semitic nations; in northern Africa and scattered through
the western part of the continent, among the Kaffirs and Hottentots;
among some tribes in Australia and Polynesia and the two Americas (the
The position of the father among those peoples with whom strict
mother-right prevails is thus sketched by Zmigrodski (174.206):--
"The only certain thing was motherhood and the maternal side of the
family,--mother, daughter, granddaughter, that was the fixed stem
continuing with certainty. Father, son, grandson, were only the leaves,
which existed only until the autumnal wind of death tore them away, to
hurl them into the abyss of oblivion. In that epoch no one said, 'I am
the son of such a father and the grandson of such a grandfather,' but 'I
am the son of such a mother and the grandson of such a grandmother.' The
inheritance went not to the son and grandson, but to the daughter and to
the granddaughter, and the sons received a dowry as do the daughters in
our society of to-day. In marriage the woman did not assume the name of
the man, but _vice versa._ The husband of a woman, although the
father of her children, was considered not so near a relative of them as
the wife's brother, their uncle."
Dr. Brinton says, concerning mother-right among the Indians of North
America (412. 48):--
"Her children looked upon her as their parent, but esteemed their father
as no relation whatever. An unusually kind and intelligent Kolosch
Indian was chided by a missionary for allowing his father to suffer for
food. 'Let him go to his own people,' replied the Kolosch, 'they should
look after him.' He did not regard a man as in any way related or bound
to his paternal parent."
In a certain Polynesian mythological tale, the hero is a young man, "the
name of whose father had never been told by his mother," and this has
many modern parallels (115. 97). On the Gold Coast of West Africa there
is a proverb, "Wise is the son that knows his own father" (127.1. 24), a
saying found elsewhere in the world,--indeed, we have it also in
English, and Shakespeare presents but another view of it when he tells
us: "It is a wise father that knows his own child."
In many myths and folk-and fairy-tales of all peoples the discovery by
the child of its parent forms the climax, or at least one of the chief
features of the plot; and we have also those stories which tell how
parents have been killed unwittingly by their own children, or children
have been slain unawares by their parents.
In his interesting study of "Royalty and Divinity" (75), Dr. von Held
has pointed out many resemblances between the primitive concepts "King"
and "God." Both, it would seem, stand in close connection with "Father."
To quote from Dr. von Held: "Fathership (Vaterschaft,
_patriarcha_), lordship (Herrentum), and kingship (Konigtum) are,
therefore (like _rex_ and [Greek: _Basileus_]), ideas not only
linguistically, but, to even a greater degree really, cognate, having
altogether very close relationship to the word and idea 'God.' Of
necessity they involve the existence and idea of a people, and therefore
are related not only to the world of faith, but also to that of
intellect and of material things."
The Emperor of China is the "father and mother of the empire," his
millions of subjects being his "children"; and the ancient Romans had no
nobler title for their emperor than _pater patrice_, the "father of
his country," an appellation bestowed in these later days upon the
immortal first President of the United States.
In the Yajnavalkya, one of the old Sanskrit law-books, the king is
bidden to be "towards servants and subjects as a father" (75. 122), and
even Mirabeau and Gregoire, in the first months of the States-General,
termed the king "le pere de tous les Franqais," while Louis XII. and
Henry IV. of France, as well as Christian III. of Denmark, had given to
them the title "father of the people." The name _pater patrice_ was
not borne by the Caesars alone, for the Roman Senate conferred the title
upon Cicero, and offered it to Marius, who refused to accept it. "Father
of his Country" was the appellation of Cosmo de' Medici, and the Genoese
inscribed the same title upon the base of the statue erected to Andrea
Doria. One of the later Byzantine Emperors, Andronicus Palaologus, even
went so far as to assume this honoured title. Nor has the name "Father
of the People" been confined to kings, for it has been given also to
Gabriel du Pineau, a French lawyer of the seventeenth century.
The "divinity that doth hedge a king" and the fatherhood of the
sovereign reach their acme in Peru, where the Inca was king, father,
even god, and the halo of "divine right" has not ceased even yet to
encircle the brows of the absolute monarchs of Europe and the East.
_Landesvater_ (Vater des Volkes) is the proudest designation of the
German Kaiser. "Little Father" is alike the literal meaning of
_Attila_, the name of the far-famed leader of the "Huns," in the
dark ages of Europe, and of _batyushka_, the affectionate term by
which the peasant of Russia speaks of the Czar.
_Nana_, "Grandfather," is the title of the king of Ashanti in
Africa, and "Sire" was long in France and England a respectful form of
address to the monarch.
Some of the aboriginal tribes of America have conferred upon the
President of the United States the name of the "Great Father at
Washington," the "Great White Father," and "Father" was a term they were
wont to apply to governors, generals, and other great men of the whites
with whom they came into contact.
The father as head of the family is the basis of the idea of
"father-king." This is seen among the Matchlapis, a Kaffir tribe, where
"those who own a sufficient number of cattle to maintain a family have
the right to the title of chief"; this resembles the institution of the
_pater familias_ in ancient Latium (100. 459,533).
Dr. von Held thus expresses himself upon this point: "The first, and one
may say also the last, naturally necessary society of man is the family
in the manifold forms out of which it has been historically developed.
Its beginning and its apex are, under given culture-conditions, the man
who founds it, the father. What first brought man experientially to
creation as a work of love was fatherhood. This view is not altered by
the fact that the father, in order to preserve, or, what is the same, to
continue to produce, to bring up, must command, force, punish. If the
family depends on no higher right, it yet appears as the first state,
and then the father appears not only as father, but also as king" (75.
The occurrence to-day of "King" as a surname takes us back to a time
when the head of the family enjoyed the proud title, which the Romans
conferred upon Casar Augustus, _Pater et Princeps_, the natural
development from Ovid's _virque paterque gregis_.
The Romans called their senators _patres_, and we now speak of the
"city fathers," aldermen, _elder_men, in older English, and the
"fathers" of many a primitive people are its rulers and legislators. The
term "father" we apply also to those who were monarchs and chiefs in
realms of human activity other than that of politics. Following in the
footsteps of the Latins, who spoke of Zeno as _Pater stoicorum_, of
Herodotus as _Pater historioe_, and even of the host of an inn as
_Pater cenoe_, we speak of "fathering" an idea, a plot, and the
like, and denominate "father," the pioneer scientists, inventors, sages,
poets, chroniclers of the race.
From _pater_ the Romans derived _patrimonium_, patrimony,
"what was inherited from the father," an interesting contrast to
_matrimonium_; _patronus_, "patron, defender, master of
slaves"; _patria_ (_terra_), "fatherland,"--Ovid uses
_paterna terra_, and Horace speaks of _paternum flumen_;
_patricius_, "of fatherly dignity, high-born, patrician," etc. Word
after word in the classic tongues speaks of the exalted position of the
father, and many of these have come into our own language through the
influence of the peoples of the Mediterranean.
Said Henry Ward Beecher: "Look at home, father-priest, mother-priest;
your church is a hundred-fold heavier responsibility than mine can be.
Your priesthood is from God's own hands." The priesthood of the father
is widespread. Mr. Gomme tells us: "Certainly among the Hindus, the
Greeks, the Romans, and, so late down as Tacitus, the Germans, the
house-father was priest and judge in his own clan" (461.104). Max Muller
speaks to the same effect: "If we trace religion back to the family, the
father or head of the family is _ipso facto_ the priest. When
families grew into clans, and clans into tribes and confederacies, a
necessity would arise of delegating to some heads of families the
performance of duties which, from having been the spontaneous acts of
individuals, had become the traditional acts of families and clans"
(510.183). Africa, Asia, America, furnish us abundant evidence of this.
Our own language testifies to it also. We speak of the "Fathers of the
Church,"--_patres_, as they were called,--and the term "Father" is
applied to an ecclesiastic of the Roman Catholic Church, just as in the
Romance languages of Europe the descendants of the Latin _pater_
(French _pere_, Spanish _padre_, Italian _padre_, etc.)
are used to denote the same personage. In Russian an endearing term for
"priest" is _batyushka_, "father dear"; the word for a
village-priest, sometimes used disrespectfully, is _pop_. This
latter name is identical with the title of the head of the great
Catholic Church, the "Holy Father," at Rome, viz. _papa_,
signifying literally "papa, father," given in the early days of Latin
Christianity, and the source of our word _Pope_ and its cognates in
the various tongues of modern Europe. The head of an abbey we call an
_abbot_, a name coming, through the Church-Latin _abbas_, from
the Syriac _abba_, "father"; here again recurs the correlation of
priest and father. It is interesting to note that both the words
_papa_ and _abba_, which we have just discussed, and which are
of such importance in the history of religion, are child-words for
"father," bearing evidence of the lasting influence of the child in this
sphere of human activity. Among the ancient Romans we find a _pater
patratus_, whose duty it was to ratify treaties with the proper
religious rites. Dr. von Held is of opinion that, "in the case of a
special priesthood, it is not so much the character of its members as
spiritual fathers, as their calling of servants of God, of servants of a
Father-God, which causes them to be termed fathers, papas" (75. 120).
Shakespeare has aptly said, in the words which Theseus addresses to the
"To you your father should be as a god;
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax,
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it,"
and widespread indeed, in the childhood of the race, has been the belief
in the Fatherhood of God. Concerning the first parents of human kind the
ancient Hebrew Scripture declares: "And God created man in His own
image," and long centuries afterwards, in his memorable oration to the
wise men of Athens upon Mars' Hill, the Apostle Paul quoted with
approval the words of the Greek poet, Cleanthes, who had said: "For we
are all His off-spring." Epictetus, appealing to a master on behalf of
his slaves, asked: "Wilt thou not remember over whom thou rulest, that
they are thy relations, thy brethren by nature, the offspring of Zeus?"
At the battle of Kadshu, Rameses II., of Egypt, abandoned by his
soldiers, as a last appeal, exclaimed: "I will call upon thee, O my
father Amon!" (388. 209).
Many prophets and preachers have there been who taught to men the
doctrine of "God, the Father," but last and best of all was the "Son of
Man," the Christ, who taught his disciples the world-heard prayer: "Our
Father, who art in Heaven," who pro-claimed that "in my Father's house
are many mansions," and whose words in the agony of Gethsemane were:
"Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; remove this cup from
me: howbeit not what I will, but what Thou wilt."
Between the Buddhist Kalmucks, with whom the newly married couple
reverently utter these words: "I incline myself this first time to my
Lord God, who is my father and my mother" (518. I. 423), and the deistic
philosophers of to-day there is a vast gulf, as there is also between
the idea of Deity among the Cakchiquel Indians of Guatemala, where the
words for God _alom_ and _achalom_ signify respectively
"begetter of children," and "begetter of sons," and the modern Christian
concept of God, the Father, with His only begotten Son, the Saviour of
The society of the gods of human creation has everywhere been modelled
upon that of man. He was right who said Olympus was a Greek city and
Zeus a Greek father. According to D'Alviella: "The highest point of
development that polytheism could reach is found in the conception of a
monarchy or divine family, embracing all terrestrial beings, and even
the whole universe. The divine monarch or father, however, might still
be no more than the first among his peers. For the supreme god to become
the Only God, he must rise above all beings, superhuman as well as
human, not only in his power, but in his very nature" (388. 211).
Though the mythology of our Teutonic forefathers knew of the
"All-Father,"--the holy Odin,--it is from those children-loving people,
the Hebrews, that our Christian conception of "God the Father," with
some modifications, is derived. As Professor Robertson Smith has pointed
out, among the Semites we find the idea of the tribal god as father
strongly developed: "But in heathen religions the fatherhood of the gods
is a physical fatherhood. Among the Greeks, for example, the idea that
the gods fashioned men out of clay, as potters fashion images, is
relatively modern. The older conception is that the races of men have
gods for their ancestors, or are the children of the earth, the common
mother of gods and men, so that men are really of the same stock or kin
of the gods. That the same conception was familiar to the older Semites
appears from the Bible. Jeremiah describes idolaters as saying to a
stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth.
In the ancient poem, Num. xxi. 29, the Moabites are called the sons and
daughters of Chemosh, and, at a much more recent date, the prophet
Malachi calls a heathen woman, 'the daughter of a strange god'" (535.
Professor Smith cites also the evidence furnished by genealogies and
personal names: "The father of Solomon's ally, Hiram, King of Tyre, was
called _Abibaal_, 'my father is Baal'; Ben-Hadad, of Damascus, is
'the son of the god Hadad'; in Aramaan we find names like
_Barlaha_, 'son of God,' _Barba'shmin_, 'son of the Lord of
Heaven,' _Barate_, 'son of Ate,' etc." We have also that passage in
Genesis which tells how the "sons of God saw the daughters of men that
were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose" (vi. 2),
while an echo of the same thought dwells with the Polynesians, who term
illegitimate children _tamarika na te Atua_, "children of the gods"
(458. 121). D'Alviella further remarks: "Presently these family
relations of the gods were extended till they embraced the whole
creation, and especially mankind. The confusion between the terms for
creating and begetting, which still maintained itself in half-developed
languages, must have led to a spontaneous fusion of the ideas of creator
and father." But there is another aspect of this question. Of the
Amazulu Callaway writes: "Speaking generally, the head of each house is
worshipped by the children of that house; for they do not know the
ancients who are dead, nor their laud-giving names, nor their names. But
their father whom they knew is the head by whom they begin and end in
their prayer, for they know him best, and his love for his children;
they remember his kindness to them whilst he was living; they compare
his treatment of them whilst he was living, support themselves by it,
and say, 'He will treat us in the same way now he is dead. We do not
know why he should regard others beside us; he will regard us only.'" Of
these people it is true, as they themselves say: "Our father is a great
treasure to us, even when he is dead" (417.144).
Here we pass over to ancestor worship, seen at its height in China,
whose great sage, Confucius, taught: "The great object of marriage is to
beget children, and especially sons, who may perform the required
sacrifices at the tombs of their parents" (434. 126).
In this connection, the following passage from Max Muller is of
interest: "How religious ideas could spring from the perception of
something infinite or immortal in our parents, grandparents, and
ancestors, we can see even at the present day. Among the Zulus, for
instance, _Unkulunkulu_ or _Ukulukulu_, which means the
great-great-grandfather, has become the name of God. It is true that
each family has its own _Unkulunkulu,_ and that his name varies
accordingly. But there is also an _Unkulunkulu_ of all men
(_unkulunladu wabantu bonke_), and he comes very near to being a
father of all men. Here also we can watch a very natural process of
reasoning. A son would look upon his father as his progenitor; he would
remember his father's father, possibly his father's grandfather. But
beyond that his own experience could hardly go, and therefore the father
of his own great-grandfather, of whom he might have heard, but whom he
had never seen, would naturally assume the character of a distant
unknown being; and, if the human mind ascended still further, it would
almost by necessity be driven to a father of all fathers, that is to a
creator of mankind, if not of the world" (510. 156).
Again we reach the "Father" of Pope's "Universal Prayer"--
"Father of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord,"
having started from the same thought as the Hebrews in the infancy of
their race. An Eastern legend of the child Abraham has crystallized the
idea. It is said that one morning, while with his mother in the cave in
which they were hiding from Nimrod, he asked his mother, "Who is my
God?" and she replied, "It is I." "And who is thy God?" he inquired
farther. "Thy father" (547.69). Hence also we derive the declaration of
Du Vair, "Nous devons tenir nos peres comme des dieux en terre," and the
statement of another French writer, of whom Westermarck says: "Bodin
wrote, in the later part of the sixteenth century, that, though the
monarch commands his subjects, the master his disciples, the captain his
soldiers, there is none to whom nature has given any command except the
father, 'who is the true image of the great sovereign God, universal
father of all things'" (166. 238).
"Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,"
sang the poet Herbert, unconsciously renewing an ancient myth. As many
cosmologies tell, Day and Dawn were born of the embraces of Earth and
Sky. Ushas, Eos, Aurora, is the daughter of heaven, and one story of the
birth is contained in the Maori myth of Papa and Rangi. Ushas, Max
Muller tells us, "has two parents, heaven and earth, whose lap she fills
with light" (510. 431). From Rangi, "Father-Sky," and Papa,
"Mother-Earth," say the Maoris of New Zealand, sprang all living things;
and, in like manner, the Chinese consider the Sky or Heaven,--Yang, the
masculine, procreative, active element,--to be the "father of all
things," while the Earth,--Yu, the feminine, conceiving, passive
element,--is the "mother of all things." From the union of these two
everything in existence has arisen, and consequently resembles the one
or the other (529. 107).
Among the primitive Aryans, the Sky, or Heaven God, was called "Father,"
as shown by the Sanskrit _Dyaus Pitar_, Greek _Zeus Patar_,
Latin _Jupiter_, all of which names signify "sky father." Dyaus is
also called _janitar_, "producer, father," and Zeus, the "eternal
father of men," the "father of gods and men, the ruler and preserver of
the world." In the Vedic hymns are invocations of Dyaus (Sky), as "our
Father," and of Prithivi (Earth), as "our Mother" (388. 210).
Dyaus symbolizes the "bright sky"; from the same primitive Indo-European
root come the Latin words _dies_ (day), _deus_ or _divus_
(god); the dark sombre vault of heaven is Varuna, the Greek [Greek:
_Ouranos_], Latin _Uranus_.
Other instances of the bridal of earth and sky,--of "mother earth," and
"father sky,"--are found among the tribes of the Baltic, the Lapps, the
Finns (who have Ukko, "Father Heaven," Akka, "Mother Earth"), and other
more barbaric peoples.
In Ashanti, the new deity, which the introduction of Christianity has
added to the native pantheon, is called _Nana Nyankupon_,
"Grandfather-sky" (438. 24).
The shaman of the Buryats of Alarsk prays to "Father Heaven"; in the
Altai Mountains the prayer is to
"Father Yulgen, thrice exalted,
Whom the edge of the moon's axe shuns,
Who uses the hoof of the horse.
Thou, Yulgen, hast created all men,
Who are stirring round about us,
Thou, Yulgen, hast endowed us with all cattle;
Let us not fall into sorrow!
Grant that we may resist the evil one!" (504. 70, 77).
We too have recollections of that "Father-Sky," whom our far-off
ancestors adored, the bright, glad, cheerful sky, the "ancestor of all."
Max Muller has summed up the facts of our inheritance in brief terms:--
"Remember that this _Dyaush Pitar_ is the same as the Greek [Greek:
_Zeus Patar_], and the Latin _Jupiter_, and you will see how
this one word shows us the easy, the natural, the almost inevitable
transition from the conception of the active sky as a purely physical
fact, to the _Father-Sky_ with all his mythological accidents, and
lastly to that Father in heaven whom Aschylus meant when he burst out in
his majestic prayer to Zeus, _whosoever he is_" (510. 410).
Unnumbered centuries have passed, but the "witchery of the soft blue
sky" has still firm hold upon the race, and we are, as of old, children
of "our Father, who art in Heaven."
Montesinos tells us that Viracocha, "sea-foam," the Peruvian god of the
sea, was regarded as the source of all life and the origin of all
things,--world-tiller, world-animator, he was called (509. 316).
Xenophanes of Kolophon, a Greek philosopher of the sixth century B.C.,
taught that "the mighty sea is the father of clouds and winds and
rivers." In Greek mythology Oceanus is said to be the father of the
principal rivers of earth. Neptune, the god of the sea,--"Father
Neptune," he is sometimes called,--had his analogue in a deity whom the
Libyans looked upon as "the first and greatest of the gods." To Neptune,
as the "Father of Streams," the Romans erected a temple in the Campus
Martius and held games and feasts in his honour. The sea was also spoken
of as _pater aequoreus_.
The name "Father of Waters" is assigned, incorrectly perhaps, to certain
American Indian languages, as an appellation of the Mississippi. From
Macaulay's "Lay of Horatius," we all know
"O Tiber, Father Tiber,
To whom the Romans pray,"
and "Father Thames" is a favourite epithet of the great English river.
In our English nursery-lore the frost is personified as a mischievous
boy, "Jack Frost," to whose pranks its vagaries are due. In old Norse
mythology we read of the terrible "Frost Giants," offspring of Ymir,
born of the ice of Niflheim, which the warmth exhaled from the sun-lit
land of Muspelheim caused to drop off into the great Ginnunga-gap, the
void that once was where earth is now. In his "Frost Spirit" Whittier
has preserved something of the ancient grimness.
We speak commonly of the "Frost-King," whose fetters bind the earth in
In Russia the frost is called "Father Frost," and is personified as a
white old man, or "a mighty smith who forges strong chains with which to
bind the earth and the waters," and on Christmas Eve "the oldest man in
each family takes a spoonful of kissel (a sort of pudding), and then,
having put his head through the window, cries: 'Frost, Frost, come and
eat kissel! Frost, Frost, do not kill our oats! Drive our flax and hemp
deep into the ground'" (520.223-230).
Quite different is the idea contained in Grimm's tale of "Old Mother
Frost,"--the old woman, the shaking of whose bed in the making causes
the feathers to fly, and "then it snows on earth."
Fire has received worship and apotheosis in many parts of the globe. The
Muskogee Indians of the southeastern United States "gave to fire the
highest Indian title of honour, _grandfather_, and their priests
were called 'fire-makers'" (529. 68). The ancient Aztecs called the god
of fire "the oldest of the gods, _Huehueteotl_, and also 'our
Father,' _Tota_, as it was believed that from him all things were
derived." He was supposed "to govern the generative proclivities and the
sexual relations," and he was sometimes called _Xiuhtecutli_, "'God
of the Green Leaf,' that is, of vegetable fecundity and productiveness."
He was worshipped as "the life-giver, the active generator of animate
existence,"--the "primal element and the immediate source of life"
(413). These old Americans were in accord with the philosopher,
Heraclitus of Ephesus, who held that "fire is the element, and all
things were produced in exchange for fire"; and Heraclitus, in the
fragments in which he speaks of "God," the "one wise," that which "knows
all things," means "Fire." In the rites of the Nagualists occurs a
"baptism by fire," which was "celebrated on the fourth day after the
birth of the child, during which time it was deemed essential to keep
the fire burning in the house, but not to permit any of it to be carried
out, as that would bring bad luck to the child," and, in the work of one
of the Spanish priests, a protest is made: "Nor must the lying-in women
and their assistants be permitted to speak of Fire as the father and
mother of all things, and the author of nature; because it is a common
saying with them that Fire is present at the birth and death of every
creature." It appears also that the Indians who followed this strange
cult were wont to speak of "what the Fire said and how the Fire wept"
Among various other peoples, fire is regarded as auspicious to children;
its sacred character is widely recognized. In the Zend-Avesta, the
Bible of the ancient Persians, whose religion survives in the cult of
the Parsees, now chiefly resident in Bombay and its environs, we read of
Ahura-Mazda, the "Wise Lord," the "Father of the pure world," the "best
thing of all, the source of light for the world." Purest and most sacred
of all created things was fire, light (421. 32). In the Sar Dar, one of
the Parsee sacred books, the people are bidden to "keep a continual fire
in the house during a woman's pregnancy, and, after the child is born,
to burn a lamp [or, better, a fire] for three nights and days, so that
the demons and fiends may not be able to do any damage and harm." It is
said that when Zoroaster, the founder of the ancient religion of Persia,
was born, "a demon came at the head of a hundred and fifty other demons,
every night for three nights, to slay him, but they were put to flight
by seeing the fire, and were consequently unable to hurt him" (258. 96).
In ancient Rome, among the Lithuanians on the shores of the Baltic, in
Ireland, in England, Denmark, Germany, "while a child remained
unbaptized," it was, or is, necessary "to burn a light in the chamber."
And in the island of Lewis, off the northwestern coast of Scotland,
"fire used to be carried round women before they were churched, and
children before they were christened, both night and morning; and this
was held effectual to preserve both mother and infant from evil spirits,
and (in the case of the infant) from being changed."
In the Gypsy mountain villages of Upper Hungary, during the baptism of a
child, the women kindle in the hut a little fire, over which the mother
with the baptized infant must step, in order that milk may not fail her
while the child is being suckled (392. II. 21).
In the East Indies, the mother with her new-born child is made to pass
between two fires.
Somewhat similar customs are known to have existed in northern and
western Europe; in Ireland and Scotland especially, where children were
made to pass through or leap over the fire.
To Moloch ("King"), their god of fire, the Phoenicians used to sacrifice
the first-born of their noblest families. A later development of this
cult seems to have consisted in making the child pass between two fires,
or over or through a fire. This "baptism of fire" or "purification by
fire," was in practice among the ancient Aztecs of Mexico. To the second
water-baptism was added the fire-baptism, in which the child was drawn
through the fire four times (509. 653).
Among the Tarahumari Indians of the Mexican Sierra Madre, the
medicine-man "cures" the infant, "so that it may become strong and
healthy, and live a long life." The ceremony is thus described by
Lumholtz: "A big fire of corn-cobs, or of the branches of the
mountain-cedar, is made near the cross [outside the house], and the baby
is carried over the smoke three times towards each cardinal-point, and
also three times backward. The motion is first toward the east, then
toward the west, then south, then north. The smoke of the corn-cobs
assures him of success in agriculture. With a fire-brand the
medicine-man makes three crosses on the child's forehead, if it is a
boy, and four, if a girl" (107. 298).
Among certain South American tribes the child and the mother are
"smoked" with tobacco (326. II. 194).
With marriage, too, fire is associated. In Yucatan, at the betrothal,
the priest held the little fingers of bridegroom and bride to the fire
(509. 504), and in Germany, the maiden, on Christmas night, looks into
the hearth-fire to discover there the features of her future husband
(392. IV. 82). Rademacher (130a) has called attention to the great
importance of the hearth and the fireplace in family life. In the Black
Forest the stove is invoked in these terms: "Dear oven, I beseech thee,
if thou hast a wife, I would have a man" (130 a. 60). Among the White
Russians, before the wedding, the house of the bridegroom and that of
the bride are "cleansed from evil spirits," by burning a heap of straw
in the middle of the living-room, and at the beginning of the
ceremonies, after they have been elevated upon a cask, as "Prince" and
"Princess," the guests, with the wedding cake and two tapers in their
hands, go round the cask three times, and with the tapers held crosswise
burn them a little on the neck, the forehead, and the temples, so that
the hair is singed away somewhat. At church the wax tapers are of
importance: if they burn brightly and clearly, the young couple will
have a happy, merry married life; if feeble, their life will be a quiet
one; if they flicker, there will be strife and quarrels between them
(392 (1891). 161).
Writing of Manabozho, or Michabo, the great divinity of the Algonkian
tribes of the Great Lakes, Dr. D. G. Brinton says: "Michabo, giver of
life and light, creator and preserver, is no apotheosis of a prudent
chieftain, still less the fabrication of an idle fancy, or a designing
priestcraft, but, in origin, deeds, and name, the not unworthy
personification of the purest conceptions they possessed concerning the
Father of All" (409. 469).
To Agni, fire, light, "in whom are all the gods," the ancient Hindu
prayed: "Be unto us easy of access, as a father to his son" (388. 210),
and later generations of men have seen in light the embodiment of God.
As Max Muller says, "We ourselves also, though we may no longer use the
name of Morning-Light for the Infinite, the Beyond, the Divine, still
find no better expression than _Light_ when we speak of the
manifestations of God, whether in nature or in our mind" (510. 434).
In the Christian churches of to-day hymns of praise are sung to God as
"Father of Light and Life," and their neophytes are bidden, as of old,
to "walk as Children of Light."
At the naming of the new-born infant in ancient Mexico, the mother thus
addressed the Sun and the Earth: "Thou Sun, Father of all that live, and
thou Earth, our Mother, take ye this child, and guard it as your son." A
common affirmation with them was: "By the life of the Sun, and of our
Lady, the Earth" (529. 97).
Many primitive tribes have the custom of holding the newborn child up to
Not a few races and peoples have called themselves "children of the
sun." The first of the Incas of Peru--a male and a female--were children
of the Sun "our Father," who, "seeing the pitiable condition of mankind,
was moved to compassion, and sent to them, from Heaven, two of his
children, a son and a daughter, to teach them how to do him honour, and
pay him divine worship "; they were also instructed by the sun in all
the needful arts of life, which they taught to men (529. 102). When the
"children of the Sun" died, they were said to be "called to the home of
the Sun, their Father" (100. 479).
The Comanche Indians, who worship the sun with dances and other rites,
call him _taab-apa_, "Father Sun," and the Sarcees speak of the sun
as "Our Father," and of the earth as "Our Mother" (412. 122, 72).
With the Piute Indians "the sun is the father and ruler of the heavens.
He is the big chief. The moon is his wife, and the stars are their
children. The sun eats his children whenever he can catch them. They
fall before him, and are all the time afraid when he is passing through
the heavens. When he (their father) appears in the morning, you see all
the stars, his children, fly out of sight,--go away back into the blue
of the above,--and they do not wake to be seen again until he, their
father, is about going to his bed" (485. I. 130).
Dr. Eastman says of the Sioux Indians: "The sun was regarded as the
father, and the earth as the mother, of all things that live and grow;
but, as they had been married a long time and had become the parents of
many generations, they were called the great-grandparents" (518 (1894).
Widespread over the earth has been, and still is, the worship of the
sun; some mythologists, indeed, would go too far and explain almost
every feature of savage and barbarous religion as a sun-myth or as
smacking of heliolatry.
Imagery and figurative language borrowed from the consideration of the
aspect and functions of the great orb of day have found their way into
and beautified the religious thought of every modern Christian
community. The words of the poet Thomson:
"Prime cheerer light!
Of all material beings first and best!
Efflux divine! Nature's resplendent robe!
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt
In unessential gloom; and thou, O Sun!
Soul of surrounding worlds! in whom best seen
Shines out thy Maker!"
find briefer expression in the simple speech of the dying Turner: "The
sun is God."
Though, in nearly every portion of the globe the apotheosis of earth is
as a woman, we find in America some evidences of a cult of the
terrestrial Father-God. Concerning the cave-worship of the Mexican
aborigines, Dr. Brinton says (413. 38, 50): "The intimate meaning of
this cave-cult was the worship of the Earth. The Cave-God, the Heart of
the Hills, really typified the Earth, the Soil, from whose dark recesses
flow the limpid streams and spring the tender shoots of the food-plants
as well as the great trees. To the native Mexican the Earth was the
provider of food and drink, the common Father of All; so that, to this
day, when he would take a solemn oath, he stoops to the earth, touches
it with his hand, and repeats the solemn formula: '_Cuix amo nechitla
in toteotzin?_ Does not our Great God see me?'"
Dr. Berendt, when travelling through the forests of Yucatan, heard his
Maya Indian guide exclaim in awe-struck tones, as the roar of a tornado
made itself heard in the distance: _He catal nohoch yikal nohoch
tat_, "Here comes the mighty wind of the Great Father." As Dr.
Brinton points out, this belief has analogues all over the world, in the
notion of the wind-bird, the master of breath, and the spirit, who is
father of all the race, for we learn also that "the whistling of the
wind is called, or attributed to, _tat acmo_, words which mean
'Father Strong-Bird'" (411. 175).
The cartography of the Middle Ages and the epochs of the great maritime
discoveries has made us familiar with the wind-children, offspring of
the wind-father, from whose mouths came the breezes and the storms, and
old Boreas, of whom the sailors sing, has traces of the fatherhood about
him. More than one people has believed that God, the Father, is Spirit,
The ancient Romans applied the term _Pater_ to many of their gods
beside the great Jove. Vulcan was called _Lemnus Pater_, the
"Lemnian Father"; Bacchus, _Pater Lenaus_; Janus, the "early god of
business," is termed by Horace, _Matutinus Pater,_ "Early-morning
Father"; Mars is _Mars Pater,_ etc. The Guarayo Indians, of South
America, prayed for rain and bountiful harvests to "Tamoi, the
grandfather, the old god in heaven, who was their first ancestor and had
taught them agriculture" (100. 288).
The Abipones, of Paraguay, called the Pleiades their "Grandfather" and
"Creator." When the constellation was invisible, they said: "Our
Grandfather, Keebet, is ill" (509. 274, 284).
In his account of the folk-lore of Yucatan, Dr. Brinton tells us that
the giant-beings known as _Hbalamob,_ or _balams,_ are
sometimes "affectionately referred to as _yum balam,_ or 'Father
Balam.'" The term _yum_ is practically the equivalent of the Latin
_pater,_ and of the _"father,"_ employed by many primitive
peoples in addressing, or speaking of, their great male divinities (411.
In his acute exposition of the philosophy of the Zuni Indians, Mr.
Gushing tells us (424. 11) that "all beings, whether deistic and
supernatural, or animistic and mortal, are regarded as belonging to one
system; and that they are likewise believed to be related by blood seems
to be indicated by the fact that human beings are spoken of as the
'children of men,' while _all_ other beings are referred to as 'the
Fathers,' the 'All-Fathers (A-ta-tchu),' and 'Our Fathers.'" The
"Priest'of the Bow," when travelling alone through a dangerous country,
offers up a prayer, which begins: "Si! This day, My Fathers, ye Animal
Beings, although this country be filled with enemies, render me
precious" (424. 41). The hunter, in the ceremonial of the "Deer
Medicine," prays: "Si! This day, My Father, thou Game Animal, even
though thy trail one day and one night hast (been made) round about;
however, grant unto me one step of my earth-mother. Wanting thy
life-blood, wanting that flesh, hence I address to thee good fortune,
address to thee treasure," etc. When he has stricken down the animal,
"before the 'breath of life' has left the fallen deer (if it be such),
he places its fore feet back of its horns, and, grasping its mouth,
holds it firmly, closely, while he applies his lips to its nostrils and
breathes as much wind into them as possible, again inhaling from the
lungs of the dying animal into his own. Then, letting go, he exclaims:
'Ah! Thanks, my father, my child. Grant unto me the seeds of earth
('daily bread') and the gift of water. Grant unto me the light of thy
favour, do" (424. 36).
Something of a like nature, perhaps, attaches to the bear-ceremonials
among the Ainu and other primitive peoples of northeastern Asia, with
whom that animal is held in great respect and reverence, approaching to
Of Po-shai-an-k'ia, "the God (Father) of the Medicine Societies, or
sacred esoteric orders of the Zunis," Mr. Gushing tells us: "He is
supposed to have appeared in human form, poorly clad, and therefore
reviled by men; to have taught the ancestors of the Zuni, Taos, Oraibi,
and Coconino Indians their agricultural and other arts; their systems of
worship by means of plumed and painted prayer-sticks; to have organized
their medicine societies, and then to have disappeared toward his home
in Shi-pa-pu-li-ma (from _shi-pa-a_ = mist, vapour; _u-lin_,
surrounding; and _i-mo-na_ = sitting-place of; 'The mist-enveloped
city'), and to have vanished beneath the world, whence he is said to
have departed for the home of the Sun. He is still the conscious auditor
of the prayers of his children, the invisible ruler of the spiritual
Shi-pa-pu-li-ma, and of the lesser gods of the medicine orders, the
principal 'Finisher of the Paths of our Lives.' He is, so far as any
identity can be established, the 'Montezuma' of popular and usually
erroneous Mexican tradition" (424. 16). Both on the lowest steps of
civilization and on the highest, we meet with this passing over of the
Father into the Son, this participation of God in the affairs and
struggles of men.
THE NAME CHILD.
Liebe Kinder haben viele Namen
[Dear children have many names].--_German Proverb_.
Child or boy, my darling, which you will.--_Swinburne_.
Men ever had, and ever will have, leave
To coin new words well-suited to the age.
Words are like leaves, some wither every year,
And every year a younger race succeeds.--_Roscommon_.
_Child and its Synonyms_.
Our word _child_--the good old English term; for both _babe_
and _infant_ are borrowed--simply means the "product of the womb"
(compare Gothic _kilthei_, "womb"). The Lowland-Scotch dialect
still preserves an old word for "child" in _bairn_, cognate with
Anglo-Saxon _bearn_, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish, and Gothic
_barn_ (the Gothic had a diminutive _barnilo_, "baby"),
Sanskrit _bharna_, which signifies "the borne one," "that which is
born," from the primitive Indo-European root _bhr_, "to bear, to
carry in the womb," whence our "to _bear_" and the German
"ge-_baren_." _Son_, which finds its cognates in all the
principal Aryan dialects, except Latin, and perhaps Celtic,--the Greek
[Greek: yios] is for [Greek: syios], and is the same word,--a widespread
term for "male child, or descendant," originally meant, as the Old Irish
_suth_, "birth, fruit," and the Sanskrit _su_, "to bear, to
give birth to," indicate, "the fruit of the womb, the begotten"--an
expression which meets us time and again in the pages of the Hebrew
Bible. The words _offspring_, _issue_, _seed_, used in
higher diction, explain themselves and find analogues all over the
world. To a like category belong Sanskrit _garbha_, "brood of
birds, child, shoot"; Pali _gabbha_, "womb, embryo, child"; Old
High German _chilburra_, "female lamb"; Gothic _kalbo_,
"female lamb one year old"; German _Kalb_; English _calf_;
Greek [Greek: _delphus_], "womb"; whence [Greek: _adelphus_],
"brother," literally "born of the same womb." Here we see, in the words
for their young, the idea of the kinship of men and animals in which the
primitive races believed. The "brought forth" or "born" is also the
signification of the Niskwalli Indian _ba'-ba-ad_, "infant";
_de-bad-da_, "infant, son"; Maya _al_, "son or daughter of a
woman"; Cakchiquel 4_ahol_, "son," and like terms in many other
tongues. Both the words in our language employed to denote the child
before birth are borrowed. _Embryo_, with its cognates in the
modern tongues of Europe, comes from the Greek [Greek: _embruon_],
"the fruit of the womb before delivery; birth; the embryo, foetus; a
lamb newly born, a kid." The word is derived from _eu_, "within";
and _bruo_, "I am full of anything, I swell or teem with"; in a
transitive sense, "I break forth." The radical idea is clearly
"swelling," and cognates are found in Greek [Greek: _bruon_],
"moss"; and German _Kraut_, "plant, vegetable." _Foetus_ comes
to us from Latin, where it meant "a bearing, offspring, fruit; bearing,
dropping, hatching,--of animals, plants, etc.; fruit, produce,
offspring, progeny, brood." The immediate derivation of the word is
_feto_, "I breed," whence also _effetus_, "having brought
forth young, worn out by bearing, effete." _Feto_ itself is from an
old verb _feuere_, "to generate, to produce," possibly related to
_fui_ and our _be_. The radical signification of _foetus_
then is "that which is bred, or brought to be"; and from the same root
_fe_ are derived _feles_, "cat" (the fruitful animal);
_fe-num_, "hay"; _fe-cundus_, "fertile"; _fe-lix,_
"happy" (fruitful). The corresponding verb in Greek is [Greek:
_phuein_], "to grow, to spring forth, to come into being," whence
the following: [Greek: _phusis_], "a creature, birth,
nature,"--nature is "all that has had birth"; [Greek: _phuton_]
"something grown, plant, tree, creature, child"; [Greek: _phulae,
philon_] "race, clan, tribe,"--the "aggregate of those born in a
certain way or place"; [Greek: _phus_], "son"; [Greek:
_phusas_], "father," etc.
In English, we formerly had the phrase "to look _babies_ in the
eyes," and we still speak of the _pupil_ of the eye, the old
folk-belief having been able to assert itself in the every-day speech of
the race,--the thought that the soul looked out of the windows of the
eyes. In Latin, _pupilla pupila,_ "girl, pupil of the eye," is a
diminutive of _pupa_ (_puppa_), "girl, damsel, doll, puppet";
other related words are _pupulus_, "little boy"; _pupillus_,
"orphan, ward," our _pupil_; _pupulus_, "little child, boy";
_pupus_, "child, boy." The radical of all these is _pu_, "to
beget"; whence are derived also the following: _puer_, "child,
boy"; _puella_ (for _puerula_), a diminutive of _puer_,
"girl"; _pusus_, "boy"; _pusio_, "little boy,"
_pusillus_; "a very little boy"; _putus_, "boy";
_putillus_, "little boy"; _putilla_, "little girl,"--here
belongs also _pusillanimus_, "small-minded, boy-minded";
_pubis_, "ripe, adult"; _pubertas_, "puberty, maturity";
_pullus_, "a young animal, a fowl," whence our _pullet_. In
Greek we find the cognate words [Greek: polos] "a young animal," related
to our _foal, filly_; [Greek: polion], "pony," and, as some,
perhaps too venturesome, have suggested, [Greek: pais], "child," with
its numerous derivatives in the scientifical nomenclature and
phraseology of to-day. In Sanskrit we have _putra_, "son," a word
familiar as a suffix in river-names,--_Brahmaputra_, "son of
Brahma,"--_pota_, "the young of an animal," etc. Skeat thinks that
our word _boy_, borrowed from Low German and probably related to
the Modern High German _Bube_, whence the familiar "bub" of
American colloquial speech, is cognate with Latin _pupus_.
To this stock of words our _babe_, with its diminutive _baby_,
seems not akin. Skeat, rejecting the theory that it is a reduplicative
child-word, like _papa_, sees in it merely a modification
(infantine, perhaps) of the Celtic _maban_, diminutive of
_mab_, "son," and hence related to _maid_, the particular
etymology of which is discussed elsewhere.
_Infant_, also, is a loan-word in English. In Latin, _infans_
was the coinage of some primitive student of children, of some
prehistoric anthropologist, who had a clear conception of "infancy" as
"the period of inability to speak,"--for _infans_ signifies neither
more nor less than "not speaking, unable to speak." The word, like our
"childish," assumed also the meanings "child, young, fresh, new, silly,"
with a diminutive _infantulus_. The Latin word _infans_ has
its representatives in French and other Romance languages, and has given
rise to _enfanter_, "to give birth to a child," _enfantement_,
"labour," two of the few words relating to child-birth in which the
child is directly remembered. The history of the words _infantry_,
"foot-soldiers," and _Infanta_, "a princess of the blood royal" in
Spain (even though she be married), illustrates a curious development of
Our word _daughter_, which finds cognates in Teutonic, Slavonic,
Armenian, Zend, Sanskrit, and Greek, Skeat would derive from the root
_dugh_, "to milk," the "daughter" being primitively the "milker,"
--the "milkmaid,"--which would remove the term from the list of names
for "child" in the proper sense of the word. Kluge, however, with
justice perhaps, considers this etymology improbable.
A familiar phrase in English is "babes and sucklings," the last term of
which, cognate with German _Saugling_, meets with analogues far and
wide among the peoples of the earth. The Latin words for children in
relation to their parents are _filius_ (diminutive _filiolus_),
"son," and _filia_ (diminutive _filiola_), "daughter,"
which have a long list of descendants in the modern Neo-Latin or Romance
languages,--French _fils, fille, filleul_, etc.; Italian _figlio,
figlia_, etc. According to Skeat, _filius_ signified originally
"infant," perhaps "suckling," from _felare_, "to suck," the radical
of which, _fe_ (Indo-European _dhe_), appears also in
_femina_, "woman," and _femella_, "female," the "sucklers"
_par excellence_. In Greek the cognate words are [Greek:
_titthae_], "nurse," _thaelus_, "female," _thaelae_,
"teat," etc.; in Lithuanian, _dels_, "son." With _nonagan_,
"teat, breast," are cognate in the Delaware Indian language
_nonoshellaan_, "to suckle," _nonetschik_, "suckling," and
other primitive tongues have similar series.
The Modern High German word for child is _Kind_, which, as a
substantive, finds representatives neither in Gothic nor in early
English, but has cognates in the Old Norse _kunde_, "son," Gothic
_-kunds_, Anglo-Saxon _-kund_, a suffix signifying "coming
from, originating from." The ultimate radical of the word is the
Indo-European root _gen_ (Teutonic _ken_), "to bear, to
produce," whence have proceeded also _kin_, Gothic _kuni_;
_queen_, Gothic _qvens_, "woman"; _king_, Modern High
German _Konig_, originally signifying perhaps "one of high origin";
Greek _genos_ and its derivatives; Latin _genus, gens, gigno_;
Lithuanian _gentis_, "relative"; Sanskrit _janas_, "kin,
stock," _janus_, "creature, kin, birth," _jantu_, "child,
being, stock," _jata_, "son." _Kind_, therefore, while not the
same word as our _child_, has the same primitive meaning, "the
produced one," and finds further cognates in _kid_ and _colt_,
names applied to the young of certain animals, and the first of which,
in the slang of to-day, is applied to children also. In some parts of
Germany and Switzerland _Kind_ has the sense of _boy_; in
Thuringia, for example, people speak of _zwei Kinder und ein
Madchen,_ "two boys and a girl." From the same radical sprang the
Modern High German _Knabe_, Old High German _chnabo_, "boy,
youth, young fellow, servant," and its cognates, including our English
_knave_, with its changed meaning, and possibly also German
_Knecht_ and English _knight_, of somewhat similar import
To the same original source we trace back Greek [Greek:
_genetaer_], Latin _genitor_, "parent," and their cognates, in
all of which the idea of _genesis_ is prominent. Here belong, in
Greek: [Greek: _genesis_], "origin, birth, beginning"; [Greek:
_gynae_], "woman"; [Greek: _genea_], "family, race"; [Greek:
_geinomai_], "I beget, produce, bring forth, am born"; [Greek:
_gignomai_], "I come into a new state of being, become, am born."
In Latin: _gigno_, "I beget, bring forth"; _gens_, "clan,
race, nation,"--those born in a certain way; _ingens_, "vast, huge,
great,"--"not _gens_," _i.e._ "born beyond or out of its
kind"; _gentilis_, "belonging to the same clan, race, tribe,
nation," then, with various turns of meaning, "national, foreign,"
whence our _gentile, genteel, gentle, gentry,_ etc.; _genus_,
"birth, race, sort, kind"; _ingenium_, "innate quality, natural
disposition"; _ingeniosus_, "of good natural abilities, born
well-endowed," hence _ingenious; ingenuus_, "native, free-born,
worthy of a free man," hence "frank, _ingenuous_";
_progenies_, "descent, descendants, offspring, progeny";
_gener_, "son-in-law"; _genius_, "innate superior nature,
tutelary deity, the god born to a place," hence the _genius_, who
is "born," not "made"; _genuinus_, "innate, born-in,
_genuine_"; _indigena_, "native, born-there, indigenous";
_generosus_, "of high, noble birth," hence "noble-minded,
_generous_"; _genero_, "I beget, produce, engender, create,
procreate," and its derivatives _degenero, regenero_, etc., with
the many words springing from them. From the same radical _gen_
comes the Latin _(g)nascor_, "I am born," whose stem _(g)na_
is seen also in _natio_, "the collection of those born," or "the
birth," and _natura_, "the world of birth,"--like Greek [Greek:
_phnsis_],--for "nations" and "nature" have both "sprung into
being." The Latin _germen_ (our _germ_), which signified
"sprig, offshoot, young bud, sprout, fruit, embryo," probably meant
originally simply "growth," from the root _ker_, "to make to grow."
From the same Indo-European radical have come the Latin _creare_,
"to create, make, produce," with its derivatives _procreare_ and
_creator_, which we now apply to the Supreme Being, as the "maker"
or "producer" of all things. Akin are also _crescere_, "to come
forth, to arise, to appear, to increase, to grow, to spring, to be
born," and _Ceres_, the name of the goddess of agriculture (growth
and creation), whence our word _cereal_; and in Greek [Greek:
Kronos], the son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaa (Earth), [Greek: kratos],
"strength," and its derivatives ("democracy," etc.).
Another interesting Latin word is _pario_, "I bring forth,
produce," whence _parens_, "producer, parent," _partus_,
"birth, bearing, bringing forth; young, offspring, foetus, embryo of any
creature," _parturio, parturitio_, etc. _Pario_ is used alike
of human beings, animals, birds, fish, while _parturio_ is applied
to women and animals, and, by Virgil, even to trees,--_parturit
arbos_, "the tree is budding forth,"--and by other writers to objects
even less animate.
In the Latin _enitor_, "I bring forth or bear children or
young,"--properly, "I struggle, strive, make efforts,"--we meet with the
idea of "labour," now so commonly associated with child-bearing, and
deriving from the old comparison of the tillage of the soil and the
bearing of the young. This association existed in Hebrew also, and Cain,
the first-born of Adam, was the first agriculturist. We still say the
tree _bears_ fruit, the land _bears_ crops, is _fertile_,
and the most characteristic word in English belonging to the category in
question is "to _bear_" children, cognate with Modern High German
_ge-baren_, Gothic _gabairan_, Latin _ferre_ (whence
_fertilis_), Greek _[Greek: ferein]_, Sanskrit _bhri_,
etc., all from the Indo-European root _bher_, "to carry"--compare
the use of _tragen_ in Modern High German: _sie tragt ein Kind
unter dem Herzen_. The passive verb is "to be _born_" literally,
"to be borne, to be carried, produced," and the noun corresponding,
_birth_, cognate with German _Geburt_, and Old Norse
_burthr_, which meant "embryo" as well. Related ideas are seen in
_burden_, and in the Latin, _fors, fortuna_, for "fortune" is
but that which is "borne" or "produced, brought forth," just as the
Modern High German _Heil_, "fortune, luck," is probably connected
with the Indo-European radical _gen_, "to produce."
Corresponding to the Latin _parentes_, in meaning, we have the
Gothic _berusjos_, "the bearers," or "parents"; we still use in
English, "forbears," in the sense of ancestors. The good old English
phrase "with child," which finds its analogues in many other languages,
has, through false modesty, been almost driven out of literature, as it
has been out of conversational language, by _pregnant_, which comes
to us from the Latins, who also used _gravidus_,--a word we now
apply only to animals, especially dogs and ants,--and _enceinte_,
borrowed from French, and referring to the ancient custom of girding a
woman who was with child. Similarly barren of direct reference to the
child are _accouchement_, which we have borrowed from French, and
the German _Entbindung_.
In German, Grimm enumerates, among other phrases relating to
child-birth, the following, the particular meanings and uses of which
are explained in his great dictionary: _Schwanger, gross zum Kinde,
zum Kinde gehen, zum Kinde arbeiten, um's Kind kommen, mit Kinde, ein
Kind tragen, Kindesgrosz, Kindes schwer, Kinder haben, Kinder bekommen,
Kinder kriegen, niederkommen, entbinden,_ and the quaint and
beautiful _eines Kindes genesen_,--all used of the mother. Applied
to both parents we find _Kinder machen_, _Kinder bekommen_
(now used more of the mother), _Kinder erzeugen_ (more recently, of
the father only), _Kinder erzielen_.
Our English word _girl_ is really a diminutive (from a stem
_gir_, seen in Old Low German _gor_, "a child") from some Low
German dialect, and, though it now signifies only "a female child, a
young woman," in Middle English _gerl_ (_girl, gurl_) was
applied to a young person of either sex. In the Swiss dialects to-day
_gurre_, or _gurrli_, is a name given to a "girl" in a
depreciatory sense, like our own "girl-boy." In many primitive tongues
there do not appear to be special words for "son" and "daughter," or for
"boy" and "girl," as distinguished from each other, these terms being
rendered "male-child (man-child)," and "female-child (woman-child)"
respectively. The "man-child" of the King James' version of the
Scriptures belongs in this category. In not a few languages, the words
for "son" and "daughter" and for "boy" and "girl" mean really "little
man," and "little woman"--a survival of which thought meets us in the
"little man" with which his elders are even now wont to denominate "the
small boy." In the Nahuatl language of Mexico, "woman" is _ciuatl_,
"girl" _ciuatontli_; in the Niskwalli, of the State of Washington,
"man" is _stobsh_, "boy" _stotomish_, "woman" _slane_,
"girl" _chachas_ (_i.e._ "small") _slane_; in the Tacana,
of South. America, "man" is _dreja_, "boy" _drejave_, "woman"
_epuna_, "girl" _epunave_. And but too often the "boys" and
"girls" even as mere children are "little men and women" in more
respects than that of name.
In some languages the words for "son," "boy," "girl" are from the same
root. Thus, in the Mazatec language, of Mexico, we find _indidi_
"boy," _tzadi_ "girl," _indi_ "son," and in the Cholona, of
Peru, _nun-pullup_ "boy," _ila-pullup_ "girl," _pul_
"son,"--where _ila_ means "female," and _nun_ "male."
In some others, as was the case with the Latin _puella_, from
_puer_, the word for "girl" seems derived from that for "boy."
Thus, we have in Maya, _mehen_ "son," _ix-mehen_ "daughter,"--
_-ix_ is a feminine prefix; and in the Jivaro, of Ecuador,
_vila_ "son," _vilalu_, "daughter."
Among very many primitive peoples, the words for "babe, infant, child,"
signify really "small," "little one," like the Latin _parvus_, the
Scotch _wean_ (for _wee ane_, "wee one"), etc. In Hawaiian,
for example, the "child" is called _keiki_, "the little one," and
in certain Indian languages of the Western Pacific slope, the Wiyot
_kusha'ma_ "child," Yuke _unsil_ "infant," Wintun
_cru-tut_ "infant," Niskwalli _cha chesh_ "child (boy)," all
signify literally "small," "little one."
Some languages, again, have diminutives of the word for "child," often
formed by reduplication, like the _wee wean_ of Lowland Scotch, and
the _pilpil_, "infant" of the Nahuatl of Mexico.
In the Snanaimuq language, of Vancouver Island, the words
_k.a'ela_, "male infant," and _k.a'k.ela_, "female infant,"
mean simply "the weak one." In the Modoc, of Oregon, a "baby" is
literally, "what is carried on one's self." In the Tsimshian, of British
Columbia, the word _wok.a'uts_, "female infant," signifies really
"without labrets," indicating that the creature is yet too young for the
lip ornaments. In Latin, _liberi_, one of the words for "children,"
shows on its face that it meant only "children, as opposed to the slaves
of the house, _servi_"; for _liberi_ really denotes "the free
ones." In "the Galibi language of Brazil, _tigami_ signifies 'young
brother, son, and little child,' indiscriminately." The following
passage from Westermarck recalls the "my son," etc., of our higher
conversational or even officious style (166.93):--
"Mr. George Bridgman states that, among the Mackay blacks of Queensland,
the word for 'daughter' is used by a man for any young woman belonging
to the class to which his daughter would belong if he had one. And,
speaking of the Australians, Eyre says, 'In their intercourse with each
other, natives of different tribes are exceedingly punctilious and
polite; ... almost everything that is said is prefaced by the
appellation of father, son, brother, mother, sister, or some other
similar term, corresponding to that degree of relationship which would
have been most in accordance with their relative ages and
Similar phenomena meet us in the language of the criminal classes, and
the slang of the wilder youth of the country.
Among the Andaman Islanders: "Parents, when addressing or referring to
their children, and not using names, employ distinct terms, the father
calling his son _dar o-dire,_ i.e. 'he that has been begotten by
me,' and his daughter, _dar o-dire-pail-;_ while the mother makes
use of the word _dab e-tire,_ i.e. 'he whom I have borne,' for the
former, and _dab e-tire pail-_ for the latter; similarly, friends,
in speaking of children to their parents, say respectively, _ngar
o-dire,_ or _ngab e-tire_ (your son), _ngar o-dire-pail-,_
or _ngab e-tire-pail-_ (your daughter)" (498. 59).
In the Tonkawe Indian language of Texas, "to be born" is _nikaman
yekewa,_ literally, "to become bones," and in the Klamath, of Oregon,
"to give birth," is _nkacgi,_ from _nkak,_ "the top of the
head," and _gi,_ "to make," or perhaps from _kak'gi,_ "to
produce bones," from the idea that the seat of life is in the bones. In
the Nipissing dialect of the Algonkian tongue, _ni kanis,_ "my
brother," signifies literally, "my little bone," an etymology which, in
the light of the expressions cited above, reminds one of the Greek
[Greek: adelphos], and the familiar "bone of my bone," etc. A very
interesting word for "child" is Sanskrit _toka,_ Greek [Greek:
teknon], from the Indo-European radical _tek,_ "to prepare, make,
produce, generate." To the same root belong Latin _texere,_ "to
weave," Greek [Greek: technae] "art"; so that the child and art have
their names from the same primitive source--the mother was the former of
the child as she was of the chief arts of life.
The people who seem to have gone farthest in the way of words for
"child" are the Andaman Islanders, who have an elaborate system of
nomenclature from the first year to the twelfth or fifteenth, when
childhood may be said to end. There are also in use a profusion of
"flower-names" and complimentary terms. The "flower-names" are confined
to girls and young women who are not mothers. The following list shows
the peculiarity of the name-giving:--
1. Proper name chosen before birth of child: ._do'ra_.
2. If child turns out to be a boy, he is called: ._do'ra-o'ta_; if
a girl, ._do'ra-ka'ta_; these names (_o'ta_ and _ka'ta_
refer to the genital organs of the two sexes) are used during the first
two or three years only.
3. Until he reaches puberty, the boy is called: ._do'ra da'la_, and
the girl, _.do'ra-po'il'ola_.
4. When she reaches maturity, the girl is said to be _un-la-wi_, or
_a'ka-la-wi_, and receives a "flower-name" chosen from the one of
"the eighteen prescribed trees which blossom in succession" happening to
be in season when she attains womanhood.
5. If this should occur in the middle of August, when the _Pterocarpus
dalbergoides_, called _cha'langa_, is in flower,
"._do'ra-po-ilola_ would become ._cha'garu do'ra_, and this
double name would cling to the girl until she married and was a mother,
then the 'flower' name would give way to the more dignified term
_chan'a_ (madam or mother)._do'ra_; if childless, a woman has
to pass a few years of married life before she is called _chan'a_,
after which no further change is made in her name."
Much other interesting information about name-giving may be found in the
pages of Mr. Man's excellent treatise on this primitive people (498.
Interesting details about signs and symbols for "child" may be found in
the elaborate article of Colonel Mallery on "Sign Language among North
American Indians" (497a), and the book of Mr. W. P. Clark on _Indian
Sign Language_ (420).
Colonel Mallery tells us that "the Egyptian hieroglyphists, notably in
the designation of Horus, their dawn-god, used the finger in or on the
lips for 'child.' It has been conjectured in the last instance that the
gesture implied, not the mode of taking nourishment, but inability to
speak, _in-fans_." This conjecture, however, the author rejects
(497a. 304). Among the Arapaho Indians "the sign for _child, baby_,
is the forefinger in the mouth, _i.e._ a nursing child, and a
natural sign of a deaf-mute is the same;" related seem also the ancient
Chinese forms for "son" and "birth," as well as the symbol for the
latter among the Dakota Indians (494 a. 356). Clark describes the symbol
for "child," which is based upon those for "parturition" and "height,"
thus: "Bring the right hand, back outwards, in front of centre of body,
and close to it, fingers extended, touching, pointing outwards and
downwards; move the hands on a curve downwards and outwards; then carry
the right hand, back outwards, well out to front and right of body,
fingers extended and pointing upwards, hand resting at supposed height
of child; the hand is swept into last position at the completion of
first gesture. In speaking of children generally, and, in fact, unless
it is desired to indicate height or age of the child, the first sign is
all that is used or is necessary. This sign also means the young of any
animal. In speaking of children generally, sometimes the signs for
different heights are only made. Deaf-mutes make the combined sign for
male and female, and then denote the height with right hand held
horizontally" (420. 109).
For "baby," deaf-mutes "hold extended left hand back down, in front of
body, forearm about horizontal and pointing to right and front; then lay
the back of partially compressed right hand on left forearm near wrist"
The interesting and extensive field of personal onomatology--the study
of personal names--cannot be entered upon exhaustively here. Shakespeare
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet,"--
and the same remark might be made of the children of some primitive
peoples. Not infrequently the child is named before it is born. Of the
Central Eskimo we read that often before the birth of the child, "some
relative or friend lays his hand upon the mother's stomach, and decides
what the infant is to be called; and, as the name serves for either sex,
it is of no consequence whether it be a girl or a boy" (402. 612, 590).
Polle has a good deal to say of the deep significance of the name with
certain peoples--"to be" and "to be named" appearing sometimes as
synonymous (517. 99). "Hallowed be Thy name" expresses the ideas of many
generations of men. With the giving of a name the soul and being of a
former bearer of it were supposed to enter into and possess the child or
youth upon whom it was conferred. Kink says of the Eskimo of East
Greenland, that "they seemed to consider man as consisting of three
independent parts,--soul, body, name" (517. 122). One can easily
understand the mysterious associations of the name, the taboos of its
utterance or pronunciation so common among primitive peoples--the
reluctance to speak the name of a dead person, as well as the desire to
confer the name of such a one upon a new-born child, spring both from
the same source.
The folk-lore and ceremonial of name-giving are discussed at length in
Ploss, and the special treatises on popular customs. In several parts of
Germany, it is held to be ominous for misfortune or harm to the child,
if the name chosen for it should be made known before baptism.
Sometimes, the child is hardly recognized as existing until he has been
given a name. In Gerbstadt in Mansfeld, Germany, the child before it
receives its name is known as "dovedung," and, curiously enough, in
far-off Samoa, the corresponding appellation is "excrement of the
The following statement, regarding one of the American Indian tribes,
will stand for many other primitive peoples: "The proper names of the
Dakotas are words, simple and compounded, which are in common use in the
language. They are usually given to children by the father, grandfather,
or some other influential relative. When young men have distinguished
themselves in battle, they frequently take to themselves new names, as
the names of distinguished ancestors of warriors now dead. The son of a
chief when he comes to the chieftainship, generally takes the name of
his father or grandfather, so that the same names, as in other more
powerful dynasties, are handed down along the royal lines" (524. 44-45).
Of the same people we are also told: "The Dakotas have no family or
surnames. But the children of a family have particular names which
belong to them, in the order of their birth up to the fifth child. These
names are for boys, Caske, Hepan, Hepi, Catan, and Hake. For girls they
are, Windna, Hapan, Hapistinna, Wanske, and Wihake."
_Terms applied to Children._
An interesting study might be made of the words we apply to children in
respect of size, _little, small, wee, tiny,_ etc., very many of
which, in their etymology, have no reference to childhood, or indeed to
smallness. The derivation of little is uncertain, but the word is
reasonably thought to have meant "little" in the sense of "deceitful,
mean," from the radical _lut_, "to stoop" (hence "to creep, to
sneak"). Curiously enough, the German _klein_ has lost its original
meaning,--partly seen in our clean,--"bright, clear." _Small_ also
belongs in the same category, as the German _schmal_, "narrow,
slim," indicates, though perhaps the original signification may have
been "small" as we now understand it; a cognate word is the Latin
_macer_, "thin, lean," which has lost an s at the beginning. Even
wee, as the phrase "a little wee bit" hints, is thought (by Skeat) to be
nothing more than a Scandinavian form of the same word which appears in
our English _way_. Skeat also tells us that "a little teeny boy,"
meant at first "a little fractious (peevish) boy," being derived from an
old word _teen_, "anger, peevishness." Analogous to _tiny_ is
_pettish_, which is derived from _pet_, "mama's pet," "a
spoiled child." Endless would the list of words of this class be, if we
had at our disposal the projected English dialect dictionary; many other
illustrations might be drawn from the numerous German dialect
dictionaries and the great Swiss lexicon of Tobler.
Still more interesting, perhaps, would be the discussion of the special
words used to denote the actions and movements of children of all ages,
and the names and appellatives of the child derived from considerations
of age, constitution, habits, actions, speech, etc., which are
especially numerous in Low German dialects and such forms of English
speech as the Lowland Scotch. Worthy of careful attention are the
synonyms of child, the comparisons in which the child figures in the
speech of civilized and uncivilized man; the slang terms also, which,
like the common expression of to-day, _kid_, often go back to a
very primitive state of mind, when "children" and "kids" were really
looked upon as being more akin than now. Beside the terms of contempt
and sarcasm,--_goose_, _loon_, _pig_, _calf_,
_donkey_, etc.,--those figures of speech which, the world over,
express the sentiment of the writer of the _Wisdom of Solomon_
regarding the foolishness of babes,--we, like the ancient Mexicans and
many another lower race, have terms of praise and endearment,--"a jewel
of a babe," and the like,--legions of caressives and diminutives in the
use of which some of the Low German dialects are more lavish even than
In Grimm's great _Deutsches Worterbuch_, the synonymy of the word
_Kind_ and its semasiology are treated at great length, with a
multitude of examples and explanations, useful to students of English,
whose dictionaries lag behind in these respects. The child in language
is a fertile subject for the linguist and the psychologist, and the
field is as yet almost entirely unexplored.
THE CHILD IN THE PRIMITIVE LABORATORY.
As if no mother had made you look nice.--_Proverbial Saying of Songish
Spare the rod and spoil the child.--_Hebrew Proverb._
Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.--_Daniel_ v. 27.
He has lost his measure.--_German Saying._
_"Licking into Shape."_
Pope, in the _Dunciad_, has the well-known lines:--
"So watchful Bruin forms, with plastic care,
Each growing lump, and brings it to a bear,"
a conceit found in Burton, Montaigne, Byron, and other writers, and
based upon an old folk-belief that the cubs are born a formless lump
which the mother-bear has to "lick into shape." The same idea gave rise
to the "ours mal leche" of French, and our own colloquial expression "an
ill-licked cub." In an Alemanian lullaby sung while washing and combing
the child, occurs the following curious passage:--
"I bin e chleine Pumpernickel,
I bin e chleine Bar,
Und wie mi Gott erschaffe hat,
So wagglen ich derher,"
["I am a little Pumpernickel,
I am a little bear,
And just as God has fashioned me
I wiggle about,"]
which, perhaps, contains the same thought. In a recent article,
Professor E. W. Fay offers an etymology of the word "livid" which
facilitates the passage from animal to man: "_Lividus_ meant
'licked.' The word derives from an animal's licking hurts and sores on
the young. A mother of the human species still kisses (licks) a child's
hurt to make it well" (_Mod. Lang. Notes_, IX. 263). Who has not
had his mother say: "Does it hurt? Come and let me kiss it, and make it
Moreover, Reclus tells us, "There are Esquimaux who go further in their
demonstrations of affection, and carrying their complaisance as far as
Mamma Puss and Mamma Bruin, lick their babies to clean them, lick them
well over from head to foot" (523. 38). Nor is it always the mother who
thus acts. Mantegazza observes: "I even know a very affectionate child,
who, without having learnt it from any one, licks the people to whom he
wishes to show friendship" (499. 144).
_Che nasce bella nasce maritata_,--"the girl born pretty is born
married,"--says the Italian proverb, and many devices there are among
primitive races to ensure the beauty which custom demands, but which
nature has failed to provide.
Among the Songish Indians of British Columbia, there is a saying: _Tou
o'wuna tans ksEtctca'ai_,--"as if no mother had made you look nice."
Doctor Boas describes the "making the child look nice" as follows (404.
"As soon as it is born, the mother rubs it from the mouth towards the
ears, so as to press the cheek-bones somewhat upward. The outer corners
of the eyes are pulled outward that they may not become round, which is
considered ill-looking. The calves of the legs are pressed backward and
upward, the knees are tied together to prevent the feet from turning
inward, the forehead is pressed down." Among the Nootka Indians,
according to the same authority: "Immediately after birth, the eyebrows
of the babe are pressed upward, its belly is pressed forward, and the
calves of the legs are squeezed from the ankles upward. All these
manipulations are believed to improve the appearance of the child. It is
believed that the pressing of the eyebrows will give them the peculiar
shape that may be noticed in all carvings of the Indians of the North
Pacific Coast. The squeezing of the legs is intended to produce slim
ankles" (404. 39).
The subject of the human physiognomy and physical characteristics in
folk-lore and folk-speech is a very entertaining one, and the practices
in vogue for beautifying these are legion and found all over the world
Some recollection of such procedure as that of the Songish Indians seems
to linger, perhaps, in the game, which Sicilian nurses play on the
baby's features. It consists in "lightly touching nose, mouth, eyes,
etc., giving a caress or slap to the chin," and repeating at the same
time the verses:--
Ocehi di stiddi
E te 'cca 'na timpulata."
In French we have corresponding to this:--
Nez can can,
And cognate practices exist all over the globe (204. 21).
"Worth his weight in gold" is an expression which has behind it a long
history of folk-thought. Professor Gaidoz, in his essay on _Ransom by
Weight_ (236), and Haberlandt, in his paper on the _Tulapurusha,
Man-Weighing_ (248) of India, have shown to what extent has prevailed
in Europe and Asia the giving of one's weight in gold or other precious
substances by prisoners to their captors, in order to secure their
liberty, by devotees to the church, or to some saint, as a cure for, or
a preventitive of disease, or as an act of charity or of gratitude for
The expression used of Belshazzar in Daniel v. 27, "Thou art weighed in
the balance, and found wanting" (and the analogue in Job xxxi. 6), has
been taken quite literally, and in Brittany, according to the Abbot of
Soissons, there was a Chapel of the Balances, "in which persons who came
to be cured miraculously, were weighed, to ascertain whether their
weight diminished when prayer was made by the monks in their behalf."
Brewer informs us that "Rohese, the mother of Thomas Becket, used to
weigh her boy every year on his birthday, against the money, clothes,
and provisions which she gave to the poor" (191.41). From Gregory of
Tours we learn that Charicus, King of the Suevi, when his son was ill,
"hearing of the miraculous power of the bones of St. Martin, had his son
weighed against gold and silver, and sent the amount to his sepulchre
and sanctuary at Tours" (236. 60).
Weighing of infants is looked upon with favour in some portions of
western Europe, and to the same source we may ultimately trace the
modern baby's card with the weight of the newcomer properly inscribed
upon it,--a fashion which bids fair to be a valuable anthropometric
adjunct. "Hefting the baby" has now taken on a more scientific aspect
than it had of yore.
The following curious custom of the eastern Eskimo is perhaps to be
mentioned here, a practice connected with their treatment of the sick.
"A stone weighing three or four pounds, according to the gravity of the
sickness, is placed by a matron under the pillow. Every morning she
weighs it, pronouncing meanwhile words of mystery. Thus she informs
herself of the state of the patient and his chances of recovery. If the
stone grows constantly heavier, it is because the sick man cannot
escape, and his days are numbered" (523. 39).
It is a far cry from Greenland to England, but there are connecting
links in respect of folk-practice. Mr. Dyer informs us that in the
parish church of Wingrove, near Ailesbury, as late as 1759, a certain
Mrs. Hammokes was accused of witchcraft, and her husband demanded the
"trial by the church Bible." So "she was solemnly conducted to the
parish church, where she was stript of all her clothes to her shift, and
weighed against the great parish Bible in the presence of all her
neighbours. The result was that, to the no small mortification of her
accuser, she outweighed the Bible, and was triumphantly acquitted of the
charge" (436. 307, 308).
How often has not woman, looked upon in the light of a child, been
subjected to the same practices and ceremonies!
The etymology and original significance of our common English words,
_span_, _hand_, _foot_, _cubit_, _fathom_, and
their cognates and equivalents in other languages, to say nothing of the
self-explanatory _finger's breadth_, _arm's length_,
_knee-high_, _ankle-deep_, etc., go back to the same rude
anthropometry of prehistoric and primitive times, from which the classic
peoples of antiquity obtained their canons of proportion and symmetry of
the human body and its members. Among not a few primitive races it is
the child rather than the man that is measured, and we there meet with a
rude sort of anthropometric laboratory. From Ploss, who devotes a single
paragraph to "Measurements of the Body," we learn that these crude
measurements are of great importance in folk-medicine:--
"In Bohemia, the new-born child is usually measured by an old woman, who
measures all the limbs with a ribbon, and compares them with one
another; the hand, _e.g._, must be as long as the face. If the
right relations do not subsist, prayers and various superstitious
practices are resorted to in order to prevent the devil from injuring
the child, and the evil spirits are driven out of the house by means of
fumigation. In the case of sick children in Bohemia the measuring is
resorted to as a sympathetic cure. In other parts of Germany, on the
other hand, in Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia, Oldenburg, it is thought
that measuring and weighing the new-born child may interfere with its
thriving and growth" (326. I. 302).
Sibree states that in Madagascar, at circumcision, the child is measured
and sprinkled with water (214. 6), and Ellis, in his history of that
island, gives the following details of the ceremony (_History of
Madagascar_, Vol. I. p. 182):--
"The children on whom the rite is to be performed are next led across
the blood of the animal just killed, to which some idea of sacredness is
attached. They are then placed on the west side of the house, and, as
they stand erect, a man holding a light cane in his hand, measures the
first child to the crown of the head, and at one stroke cuts off a piece
of the cane measured to that height, having first carefully dipped the