C H A P T E R V.
ARTS OF LIFE.
There are many different languages spoken by the various tribes of Dyaks, all of which, from their resemblance to Malay and to each other, may be grouped together as languages of the Malay family. The resemblance borne to Malay by the language of the Balos (which is the same as that of the Sebuyos, Sakarrans, and various other tribes) is very considerable, but it appears to proceed from their being both originally derived from a common source, rather than from one of them being an offshoot of the other. The Balo language is much more complex and much more difficult than Malay, is very copious and exceedingly idiomatic, is characterised by a great abundance of specific and great absence of generic terms, has names for articles which the Dyaks no longer possess, and presents many other marks of being the language of a people who have retrograded in civilization.That the Dyaks were at one time more civilized than they are at present is a conclusion which may likewise be drawn from the existence among them of many of the arts of life — arts which seem to belong to a higher type of civilization than they at present exhibit, and which appear to be the happily preserved wrecks of that higher civilization from which they have now degenerated.Many things point to India as the source of this civilization. Stone bulls and sacrificing stones,exactly similar to those now used in India, are found in Borneo, although not now used by the natives for any religions purpose; while many of the arts of life, those especially in which their comparative superiority is most, strongly marked, are exactly the same as those of India, I think,therefore, it. may be safely assumed that an intimate connection between Hindostan and Borneo formerly existed, perhaps while the .aborigines of the former country (who may have been of the same race, with the Dyaks
) were its exclusive possessors; and during this period the civilization of Borneo was, I have no doubt, comparatively high. Isolation from India, however — caused, probably, by the conquest of that country by the Hindoos, together with the barbarism induced by incessant internal wars — have gradually reduced the Dyaks to the state in which they now are, andthus they add another to the many examples which history affords of the instability of all civilization which is not based upon true religion.Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, all have flourished and decayed, and the
viIt may be objected that no trace of a Malay or Mongolian race (I regard the two as substantially the same) in to be.found in the plans of India. We must remember, however, that the Turks —originally a Mongolian race— present now all the features of the Caucasian; .and that the Pitcairn Islanders — all of whose mothers, and many of whose fathers, were Malayo-Polynesians — also, I believe, exhibit exclusively the characteristics of Caucasians. It may well be, then, that a Mongolian type has disappeared from India, though intermarriage of the Mongolian race with their Caucasian conquerors.
decay of each can, I. think, be traced to their false religions. So long as the people believed their mythology — so long as they believed in the existence of Deities who saw, and judged, and rewarded, and punished men according to their deeds — they had a constraining power upon their conscience not greatly different from that of the Christian, and while they held this belief they were to a great extent virtuous, industrious, energetic, and progressive. As soon, however, as the progress of civilization had taught them the absurdity of their own religion, they lost belief in it, without acquiring any other, and thus their modes of thought became entirely governed by objects of sense.Hence it followed that the manners of the nation became corrupt, and its intellect deadened, and it retrograded as surely as it had formerly progressed. Thus has it been in all past history, and thus will it be in all time to come. As surely as the religious life of a nation becomes extinct, so surely is its national life near its end; and as there is but one religion which will bear the most thorough investigation from the most profound, acute, and subtle intellects, so it is that religion, and that religion alone, which is fitted to conduct man to the highest and most permanent type of civilization.