« ForrigeFortsett »
needful to say that I would have the spirit of Party combination increased rather than weakened, provided it is always based on honest individual differences of opinion reached by thoughtful and independent members, upon each measure as it comes before the House, without the artificial incentives now applied by Ministers and Party "Whips.”
Whips.” By such an arrangement parties unavoidably but temporarily created by the discussion of each successive question would be dissolved regularly when it was disposed of. But war to the knife should be declared by the constituencies against the present corrupt excrescence of Party organization ; for unless this is done the evils complained of will be intensified rather than reduced, when the extension of the borough franchise to counties and a redistribution of seats happen to be carried.
Let Ministers be appointed by the vote of the majority in Parliament, and held directly and separately responsible to the House for the direction of their several departments. The formal sanction of
. the Sovereign could be retained as a becoming recognition of the principle of constitutional monarchy. Under the scheme of Government now proposed the retention of office by any Minister, after being disapproved by the House, would be impossible. I assume (1) that Ministerial corporeity should cease ; (2) that the power of Ministers collectively to combine either with or against Parliament would consequently be withdrawn ; (3) that their perpetual, direct, and individual amenability to the House would be a guarantee that the head of each department, being liable to dismissal by a vote of the majority, would always be on his best behaviour; and (4) that the risk of what are known as Ministerial crises would disappear.
I would have the same close and uninterrupted power of supervision and dismissal given to the constituencies in regard to their representatives which, as has been shown, ought to be accorded to the House in reference to Ministers. Under the system of Septennial Parliaments this is of course out of the question. In not a few cases, from year to year, the votes of members on important measures are found to clash with the opinions of the great bulk of their constituents. But at present constituents so circumstanced are only able to pass an impotent vote of censure upon refractory members, who can go on in defiance of the electors until Parliament has run its course. But the method here suggested of granting power to constituencies to sever their connection with their members when they ceased to be in accord on leading questions, would secure for the representation of every constituency unbroken continuity from the day of election to the dissolution of Parliament. It may be mentioned in passing, however, that the adoption of the plan now indicated would leave the duration of Parliament a matter of only secondary moment. If the mechanism of representation and Government admitted of the various classes of voters being represented by men of their own order, and the electors had the power of calling members to account, and, if deemed needful, dispensing with their services, in the event of their losing the confidence of their constituents; if, at the same time, the members thus controlled exercised corresponding vigilance over the entire Ministerial executive in the House, the electorate could be maintained in unceasing harmony with the House and the House in equal harmony with Ministers. As a writer, already quoted, says: “Instead of an inanimate machine which had to be periodically set in motion Parliament would then become a living organism in which the process of secretion and accretion would be continually going on; an organism in which there could be no decay, as all its parts would be in a perpetual state of renewal.” Then, too, would be averted the convulsive effects of a dissolution at distant intervals, when pentup Party and personal acrimony is violently let loose and the trading interests of the country are subject to disturbances. The introduction of the scheme which has been sketched would be followed by the gradual extinction of the existing scandalously incongruous, unscrupulous and maleficent system of Party strife which makes the emoluments and honours of office paramount, and uses the constituencies as pawns on the political chessboard for playing Party games and winning Party victories.
GOLD-WORSHIP IN ITS RELATION TO
ANY, no doubt, will feel surprise at a title which virtually im
plies that “gold-worship” (more familiar to us in the sense of “Mammon-worship”) probably had its origin in that most ancient and widely spread religion of man, the worship of the Sun. If this is so, it becomes more easy to understand how the strong and absorbing passion for possessing gold, which cannot be accounted for by the mere almiration for a particular metal as such, has really become, from long habituation, an hereditary instinct, so to say, in the human mind. By this I mean, that men love gold because their ancestors in all ages loved it, though from different motives at first. And whereas most customs, and all fashions, are liable to change, this has become a permanent institution, and seems quite an unalterable part of our nature.
When Euripides apostrophized gold as “the most beautiful object that a man can take in his hand,” or welcome to himself,* he sarcastically expressed a truth which is even now but too obvious. He meant that those of his contemporaries who preached that virtue or intellect was the highest object of man's aspiration were not superior to the fascination of wealth.
From the time of Cræsus, king of Lydia, six centuries before our era, and without doubt very long before that, the summum bonum of human life, the chief glory of cities, has been the possession of "much gold." All the world over, except among some few isolated savages, perhaps, whose medium of exchange is a handful of cowrieshells, and among all races, whatever their descent or locality, this intense devotion to gold has been an unfailing characteristic. Christianity spoke plainly against the worship of Mammon; but it seems to have failed in getting any large audience against the
* ώ χρυσε δεξίωμα κάλλιστον βροτοίς, Frag. Danais
general greed for gold. This would indeed be a most unfashionable subject for a London pulpit.
These considerations, the antiquity, the universality, and the intensity of the love of gold, induce us to ask if any good reason for, or explanation of it, can be offered ?
It is not its scarcity, for there are few countries in which gold is not found, and several other metals—e.9., tin and platinum, have a much more limited distribution. It is not its beauty, for silver is quite as pretty to the eye, and takes quite as high a polish; it is not merely its colour, for brass and pinchbeck and other alloys of small intrinsic value can hardly be distinguished at sight from gold. It is not—at least, to any extent-its great ductility, its freedom from rust, its purity, or its general use in the arts. This indeed has rather followed than preceded the general reverence for the material ; nor is it merely the cost and labour attending its collection, generally in minute particles. There must be some other reason why of two coins of the same size and with the same impress, say, a shilling and a sovereign, the latter is worth twenty times the former, while the brass button on a footman's livery, though quite as artistic, is just nowhere in the comparison,
The real reason, if our theory is right, is a very curious one indeed, and one that is but little appreciated or understood. The worship of gold can be shown to have descended to us from sunworship, which, in some form or other, has been almost universal.
In plain words, men took to collecting gold, and making gold trinkets, charms, and amulets, because gold was of the same colour, and possibly of the same divine material, as the sun. The sacredness of gold seems indicated by Pindar, who, invoking Theia, the mythical mother of the sun-god, exclaims, “ Through thee it is that mortals esteem mighty gold above all things else!” *
Originating thus in the most absurd superstition, the supposed likeness of the yellow metal to the colour of the sun-god's face, the value of gold has prevailed over the world for so many ages that it has become an hereditary passion; and because of the value thus set on it, and for no other reason, gold has long been the highest metallic medium of exchange.
Mr. Robert Brown, F.S.A., in his learned and interesting treatise, “ The Myth of Kirkê,” remarks :“ The links between gold and solar divinities are endless, and the circumstance supplied a natural basis for the commercial value of the metal.” Elsewhere the same writer observes; “ The bright solar divinities are of course rich in gold, a metal originally owing its importance to its yellow (sun) colour, which made it at once semi-sacred and symbolic long ere it received an artificial commercial value."
* Pind. Isthm. iv. 1.
“ Eridanus," p. 49, note 4.
+ P. 159, note.
It is almost a part of man’s nature to love gold. It is not enough to say that it is natural to him to love wealth, and the influence or luxuries which it can command. No human edict could give to any other metallic token the same value which a gold coin carries with it. Even enormously increased supplies of gold constantly pouring in have failed materially to alter the relative values of silver and of gold. The pre-eminent value of gold as a medium of exchange has become fixed and inveterate.
We are not however treating the matter financially, but simply from an antiquarian point of view. The eager desire to possess gold merely as a form of wealth and a generally recognized currency is one thing; to give this particular metal a permanent value so far above all others is quite another thing, and must be dependent on some sentiment altogether unconnected with its use in the arts.
That sentiment appears to be the ancient belief that gold was in some way generated by the sun. When we read that Zeus visited Danaë in a shower of gold, we find a ready explanation of the legend in an ancient belief of the celestial origin of the metal. “Sun-stuff,” and valued accordingly. The frequent occurrence of golden ornaments in early tombs may be explained as a tribute or offering to the sun-god, that he might give his benign light to the deceased in the nether world. It was paying for his favour in something that he was supposed to love as his own offspring Professor Réville, in the fifth of his recently delivered Hibbert Lectures, well shows the intimate connection between gold and the sun-worshipping Incas of Peru before the Spanish invasion.
"At no time had the sun been worshipped more directly or with warmer devotion than in Peru. It was he whom its people regarded as sovereign lord of the world, king of the heaven and the earth. The villages were usually built so as to look eastward, in order that the inhabitants might salute the supreme god as soon as he appeared in the morning. The commonest representation of him was a golden disc showing a human face surrounded by rays and flames.*
In Peru, as everywhere else, there was felt to be a certain resemblance between the substance of gold and that of the great luminary. In the nuggets torn from the mountains the Peruvians thought they saw the Sun's tears. The great periodic fêtes of the year, the imperial and national festivals, in which everybody took part, were those held in honour of the Sun.”p
The temple of Belus (Baal or Bel) in Babylon, had a golden table in it, unquestionably a symbol of the Sun. The Indian tombs opened at Chiriqui, on the isthmus of Darien, were found to contain immense quantities of golden ornaments-probably regarded as amulets or charms, in various shapes, both human and animal. Between the years 1859 and 1861 golden ornaments valued at nearly £30,000 were extracted from these tombs, most of the gold being largely alloyed with
* See an illustration, “ Temple of the Sun at Cuzco,” in the “Races of Mankind," by Robert Brown, M.A., vol. i. p. 316. + From the Inquirer, May 31, 1884.
. Herod. i. 181.