Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Finnish peasant still has faith in incantations and charms

There is nothing strange in the perpetuation of ideas and modes of thought through many thousand years. Their origin is in the very organization of men; for it is through organization that isolated nations manifest a proclivity to certain mental conceptions and even modes of expression. The negro is essentially a Fetish worshiper -a believer in witchcraft and in the efficacy of charms. Such ideas and the modes of expressing them are found wherever that low grade of humanity occurs, occupying a zone across all Africa and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean; nay, even all round the world, if the black populations of America are included; for these in the United States, in the midst of moral, religious, Christian communities, are still full of their African ideas. I believe that if it were possible for a new race of autochthonic negroes to arise, it would inevitably fall into these delusions; as certainly as, if there were new autochthons of the yellow race, they would spontaneously and inevitably invent a monosyllabic language. These are the results of organization. They make their appearance wherever the element of that organization occurs; or, to use a common though perhaps incorrect expression, they descend with the blood. The Finnish peasant still has faith in incantations and charms; he believes that there are witches who can ride on a stick to the moon, and cause her eclipse by their nocturnal invocations; that there are men who can still sell to the sailor a favorable wind, and to the rustic a refreshing shower. It was this element in the blood of Europe that made the barbarian races, after the death of the Latin tongue, such a ready receptacle for all kinds of imposture; that gave faith in relics and force to fetishisms; that turned the minister of the Gospel into a rain-maker and wind-raiser, as if the unchangeable and eternal laws of nature might be suspended or modified at his prayer.

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