The belief which thus survived among the civilised Greeks of the age of the Despots is shared still by Fijis and Karens, and was derived by all in common from early ancestors of like faith with the founders of Ogbury round barrow. The weapons were broken and the clothes burnt, to liberate their ghosts into the world of spirits, just as now, in Fiji, knives and axes have their spiritual counterparts, which can only be released when the material shape is destroyed or purified by the action of fire. Everything, in such a state, is supposed to possess a soul of its own; and the fire is the chosen mode for setting the soul free from all clogging earthly impurities. So till yesterday, in the rite of suttee, the Hindoo widow immolated herself upon her husband’s pyre, in order that her spirit might follow him unhampered to the world of ghosts whither he was bound. Thus the twin barrows on Ogbury hillside bridge over for us two vast epochs of human culture, both now so remote as to merge together mentally to the casual eyes of modern observers, but yet in reality marking in their very shape and disposition an immense, long, and slow advance of human reason. For just as the long barrow answers in form to the buried human corpse and the chambered hut that surrounds and encloses it, so does the round barrow answer in form to the urn containing the calcined ashes of the cremated barbarian. And is it not a suggestive fact that when we turn to the little graveyard by the church below we find the Christian belief in the resurrection of the body, as opposed to the pagan belief in the immortality of the soul, once more bringing us back to the small oblong mound which is after all but the dwarfed and humbler modern representative of the long barrow? So deep is the connection between that familiar shape and the practice of inhumation that the dwarf long barrow seems everywhere to have come into use again throughout all Europe, after whole centuries of continued cremation, as the natural concomitant and necessary mark of Christian burial.
This is what I would have said, if I had been asked, at Ogbury Barrows. But I wasn’t asked; so I devoted myself instead to psychological research, and said nothing.
FISH OUT OF WATER
Strolling one day in what is euphemistically termed, in equatorial latitudes, ‘the cool of the evening,’ along a tangled tropical American field-path, through a low region of lagoons and watercourses, my attention happened to be momentarily attracted from the monotonous pursuit of the nimble mosquito by a small animal scuttling along irregularly before me, as if in a great hurry to get out of my way before I could turn him into an excellent specimen. At first sight I took the little hopper, in the grey dusk, for one of the common, small green lizards, and wasn’t much disposed to pay it any distinguished share either of personal or scientific attention. But as I