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Title: Demonology and Devil-lore
Author: Conway, Moncure Daniel, 1832-1907
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Demonology and Devil-lore" ***

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                       DEMONOLOGY AND DEVIL-LORE

                                   By

                      MONCURE DANIEL CONWAY, M.A.

             B. D. of Divinity College, Harvard University
            Member of the Anthropological Institute, London



                      With numerous illustrations



                                New York
                         Henry Holt and Company

                                  1879



PREFACE.


Three Friars, says a legend, hid themselves near the Witch Sabbath
orgies that they might count the devils; but the Chief of these,
discovering the friars, said--'Reverend Brothers, our army is such
that if all the Alps, their rocks and glaciers, were equally divided
among us, none would have a pound's weight.' This was in one Alpine
valley. Any one who has caught but a glimpse of the world's Walpurgis
Night, as revealed in Mythology and Folklore, must agree that this
courteous devil did not overstate the case. Any attempt to catalogue
the evil spectres which have haunted mankind were like trying to count
the shadows cast upon the earth by the rising sun. This conviction
has grown upon the author of this work at every step in his studies
of the subject.

In 1859 I contributed, as one of the American 'Tracts for the Times,'
a pamphlet entitled 'The Natural History of the Devil.' Probably
the chief value of that essay was to myself, and this in that
its preparation had revealed to me how pregnant with interest and
importance was the subject selected. Subsequent researches in the
same direction, after I had come to reside in Europe, revealed how
slight had been my conception of the vastness of the domain upon which
that early venture was made. In 1872, while preparing a series of
lectures for the Royal Institution on Demonology, it appeared to me
that the best I could do was to print those lectures with some notes
and additions; but after they were delivered there still remained with
me unused the greater part of materials collected in many countries,
and the phantasmal creatures which I had evoked would not permit me
to rest from my labours until I had dealt with them more thoroughly.

The fable of Thor's attempt to drink up a small spring, and his
failure because it was fed by the ocean, seems aimed at such efforts
as mine. But there is another aspect of the case which has yielded
me more encouragement. These phantom hosts, however unmanageable as
to number, when closely examined, present comparatively few types;
they coalesce by hundreds; from being at first overwhelmed by their
multiplicity, the classifier finds himself at length beating bushes to
start a new variety. Around some single form--the physiognomy, it may
be, of Hunger or Disease, of Lust or Cruelty--ignorant imagination
has broken up nature into innumerable bits which, like mirrors of
various surface, reflect the same in endless sizes and distortions;
but they vanish if that central fact be withdrawn.

In trying to conquer, as it were, these imaginary monsters, they
have sometimes swarmed and gibbered around me in a mad comedy
which travestied their tragic sway over those who believed in their
reality. Gargoyles extended their grin over the finest architecture,
cornices coiled to serpents, the very words of speakers started out of
their conventional sense into images that tripped my attention. Only
as what I believed right solutions were given to their problems were
my sphinxes laid; but through this psychological experience it appeared
that when one was so laid his or her legion disappeared also. Long ago
such phantasms ceased to haunt my nerves, because I discovered their
unreality; I am now venturing to believe that their mythologic forms
cease to haunt my studies, because I have found out their reality.

Why slay the slain? Such may be the question that will arise in the
minds of many who see this book. A Scotch song says, 'The Devil is
dead, and buried at Kirkcaldy;' if so, he did not die until he had
created a world in his image. The natural world is overlaid by an
unnatural religion, breeding bitterness around simplest thoughts,
obstructions to science, estrangements not more reasonable than if
they resulted from varying notions of lunar figures,--all derived from
the Devil-bequeathed dogma that certain beliefs and disbeliefs are of
infernal instigation. Dogmas moulded in a fossil demonology make the
foundation of institutions which divert wealth, learning, enterprise,
to fictitious ends. It has not, therefore, been mere intellectual
curiosity which has kept me working at this subject these many years,
but an increasing conviction that the sequelæ of such superstitions are
exercising a still formidable influence. When Father Delaporte lately
published his book on the Devil, his Bishop wrote--'Reverend Father, if
every one busied himself with the Devil as you do, the kingdom of God
would gain by it.' Identifying the kingdom here spoken of as that of
Truth, it has been with a certain concurrence in the Bishop's sentiment
that I have busied myself with the work now given to the public.



CONTENTS


Part I.


Chapter I.

Dualism.

    Origin of Deism--Evolution from the far to the near--Illustrations
    from Witchcraft--The primitive Pantheism--The dawn of Dualism

Chapter II.

The Genesis of Demons.

    Their good names euphemistic--Their mixed character--Illustrations:
    Beelzebub, Loki--Demon-germs--The knowledge of good and
    evil--Distinction between Demon and Devil


Chapter III.

Degradation.

    The degradation of Deities--Indicated in names--Legends of
    their fall--Incidental signs of the divine origin of Demons and
    Devils


Chapter IV.

The Abgott.

    The ex-god--Deities demonised by conquest--Theological animosity--
    Illustration from the Avesta--Devil-worship an arrested Deism--
    Sheik Adi--Why Demons were painted ugly--Survivals of their beauty


Chapter V.

Classification.

    The obstructions of man--The twelve chief classes--Modifications of
    particular forms for various functions--Theological Demons


Part II.


Chapter I.

Hunger.

    Hunger-demons--Kephn--Miru--Kagura--Ráhu the Hindu sun-devourer--
    The earth monster at Pelsall--A Franconian custom--Sheitan as
    moon-devourer--Hindu offerings to the dead--Ghoul--Goblin--
    Vampyres--Leanness of demons--Old Scotch custom--The origin of
    sacrifices


Chapter II.

Heat.

    Demons of fire--Agni--Asmodeus--Prometheus--Feast of fire--Moloch
    --Tophet--Genii of the lamp--Bel-fires--Hallowe'en--Negro
    superstitions--Chinese fire-god--Volcanic and incendiary demons--
    Mangaian fire-demon--Demons' fear of water


Chapter III.

Cold.

    Descent of Ishtar into Hades--Bardism--Baldur--Herakles--Christ--
    Survivals of the Frost Giant in Slavonic and other countries--
    The Clavie--The Frozen Hell--The Northern abode of Demons--North
    side of churches


Chapter IV.

Elements.

    A Scottish Munasa--Rudra--Siva's lightning eye--The flaming
    sword--Limping Demons--Demons of the storm--Helios, Elias,
    Perun--Thor arrows--The Bob-tailed Dragon--Whirlwind--Japanese
    Thunder God--Christian survivals--Jinni--Inundations--Noah--Nik,
    Nicholas, Old Nick--Nixies--Hydras--Demons of the Danube--Tides
    --Survivals in Russia and England


Chapter V.

Animals.

    Animal demons distinguished--Trivial sources of Mythology--
    Hedgehog--Fox--Transmigrations in Japan--Horses bewitched--
    Rats--Lions--Cats--The Dog--Goethe's horror of dogs--Superstitions
    of the Parsees, people of Travancore, and American Negroes, Red
    Indians, &c.--Cynocephaloi--The Wolf--Traditions of the Nez Perces
    --Fenris--Fables--The Boar--The Bear--Serpent--Every animal power
    to harm demonised--Horns


Chapter VI.

Enemies.

    Aryas, Dasyus,
    Nagas--Yakkhos--Lycians--Ethiopians--Hirpini--Polites--Sosipolis--
    Were-wolves--Goths and Scythians--Giants and Dwarfs--Berserkers--
    Britons--Iceland--Mimacs--Gog and Magog


Chapter VII.

Barrenness.

    Indian Famine and Sun-spots--Sun-worship--Demon of the Desert--The
    Sphinx--Egyptian Plagues described by Lepsius: Locusts, Hurricane,
    Flood, Mice, Flies--The Sheikh's ride--Abaddon--Set--Typhon--The
    Cain wind--Seth--Mirage--The Desert Eden--Azazel--Tawiscara and
    the Wild-rose


Chapter VIII.

Obstacles.

    Mephistopheles on crags--Emerson on Monadnoc--Ruskin on Alpine
    peasants--Holy and unholy mountains--The Devil's Pulpit--
    Montagnards--Tarns--Tenjo--T'ai-shan--Apocatequil--Tyrolese
    legends--Rock ordeal--Scylla and Charybdis--Scottish giants--
    Pontifex--Devil's bridges--Le géant Yéous


Chapter IX.

Illusion.

    Maya--Natural Treacheries--Misleaders--Glamour--Lorelei--Chinese
    Mermaid--Transformations--Swan Maidens--Pigeon Maidens--The
    Seal-skin--Nudity--Teufelsee--Gohlitsee--Japanese Siren--Dropping
    Cave--Venusberg--Godiva--Will-o'-Wisp--Holy Fräulein--The Forsaken
    Merman--The Water-Man--Sea Phantom--Sunken Treasures--Suicide


Chapter X.

Darkness.

    Shadows--Night Deities--Kobolds--Walpurgisnacht--Night as
    Abettor of Evil-doers--Nightmare--Dreams--Invisible Foes--Jacob
    and his Phantom--Nott--The Prince of Darkness--The Brood of
    Midnight--Second-Sight--Spectres of Souter Fell--The Moonshine
    Vampyre--Glamour--Glam and Grettir--A-Story of Dartmoor


Chapter XI.

Disease.

    The Plague Phantom--Devil-dances--Destroying Angels--Ahriman in
    Astrology--Saturn--Satan and Job--Set--The Fatal Seven--Yakseyo--
    The Singhalese Pretraya--Reeri--Maha Sohon--Morotoo--Luther on
    Disease-demons--Gopolu--Madan--Cattle-demon in Russia--Bihlweisen
    --The Plough


Chapter XII.

Death.

    The Vendetta of Death--Teoyaomiqui--Demon of Serpents--Death on
    the Pale Horse--Kali--War-gods--Satan as Death--Death-beds--
    Thanatos--Yama--Yimi--Towers of Silence--Alcestis--Herakles,
    Christ, and Death--Hell--Salt--Azraël--Death and the Cobbler--
    Dance of Death--Death as Foe and as Friend



Part III.


Chapter I.

Decline of Demons.

    The Holy Tree of Travancore--The growth of Demons in India,
    and their decline--The Nepaul Iconoclast--Moral Man and unmoral
    Nature--Man's physical and mental migrations--Heine's 'Gods in
    Exile'--The Goban Saor--Master Smith--A Greek caricature of
    the Gods--The Carpenter v. Deity and Devil--Extermination of
    the Were-wolf--Refuges of Demons--The Giants reduced to Little
    People--Deities and Demons returning to nature


Chapter II.

Generalisation of Demons.

    The Demons' bequest to their
    conquerors--Nondescripts--Exaggerations of Tradition--Saurian
    Theory of Dragons--The Dragon not primitive in Mythology--Monsters
    of Egyptian, Iranian, Vedic, and Jewish Mythologies--Turner's
    Dragon--Della Bella--The Conventional Dragon


Chapter III.

The Serpent.

    The beauty of the Serpent--Emerson on ideal forms--Michelet's
    thoughts on the viper's head--Unique characters of the
    Serpent--The Monkey's horror of Snakes--The Serpent protected
    by superstition--Human defencelessness against its subtle
    powers--Dubufe's picture of the Fall of Man


Chapter IV.

The Worm.

    An African Serpent-drama in America--The Veiled Serpent--The
    Ark of the Covenant--Aaron's Rod--The Worm--An Episode on the Dii
    Involuti--The Serapes--The Bambino at Rome--Serpent-transformations


Chapter V.

Apophis.

    The Naturalistic Theory of Apophis--The Serpent of Time--Epic of
    the Worm--The Asp of Melite--Vanquishers of Time--Nachash-Beriach
    --The Serpent-Spy--Treading on Serpents


Chapter VI.

The Serpent in India.

    The Kankato na--The Vedic Serpents not worshipful--Ananta and
    Sesha--The Healing Serpent--The guardian of treasures--Miss
    Buckland's theory--Primitive rationalism--Underworld
    plutocracy--Rain and lightning--Vritra--History of the word
    'Ahi'--The Adder--Zohak--A Teutonic Laokoon


Chapter VII.

The Basilisk.

    The Serpent's gem--The Basilisk's eye--Basiliscus
    mitratus--House-snakes in Russia and Germany--King-snakes--Heraldic
    Dragon--Henry III.--Melusina--The Laidley Worm--Victorious
    Dragons--Pendragon--Merlin and Vortigern--Medicinal dragons
    361


Chapter VIII.

The Dragon's Eye.

    The Eye of Evil--Turner's Dragons--Cloud-phantoms--Paradise and
    the Snake--Prometheus and Jove--Art and Nature--Dragon forms:
    Anglo-Saxon, Italian, Egyptian, Greek, German--The modern
    conventional Dragon


Chapter IX.

The Combat.

    The pre-Munchausenite world--The Colonial Dragon--Io's
    journey--Medusa--British Dragons--The Communal Dragon--Savage
    Saviours--A Mimac helper--The Brutal Dragon--Woman protected--The
    Saint of the Mikados


Chapter X.

The Dragon-slayer.

    Demi-gods--Alcestis--Herakles--The Ghilghit Fiend--Incarnate
    deliverer of Ghilghit--A Dardistan Madonna--The religion
    of Atheism--Resuscitation of Dragons--St. George and his
    Dragon--Emerson and Ruskin on George--Saintly allies of the
    Dragon


Chapter XI.

The Dragon's Breath.

    Medusa--Phenomena of recurrence--The Brood of Echidna and their
    survival--Behemoth and Leviathan--The Mouth of Hell--The Lambton
    Worm--Ragnar--The Lambton Doom--The Worm's Orthodoxy--The Serpent,
    Superstition, and Science


Chapter XII.

Fate.

    Doré's 'Love and Fate'--Moira and Moiræ--The 'Fates'
    of Æschylus--Divine absolutism surrendered--Jove
    and Typhon--Commutation of the Demon's share--Popular
    fatalism--Theological fatalism--Fate and Necessity--Deification
    of Will--Metaphysics, past and present



Part IV.


Chapter I.

Diabolism.

    Dragon and Devil distinguished--Dragons' wings--War in Heaven--
    Expulsion of Serpents--Dissolution of the Dragon--Theological
    origin of the Devil--Ideal and Actual--Devil Dogma--Debasement
    of ideal persons--Transmigration of phantoms


Chapter II.

The Second Best.

    Respect for the Devil--Primitive Atheism--Idealisation--Birth of
    new gods--New gods diabolised--Compromise between new gods and
    old--Foreign deities degraded--Their utilisation


Chapter III.

Ahriman, the Divine Devil.

    Mr. Irving's impersonation of Superstition--Revolution against
    pious privilege--Doctrine of 'Merits'--Saintly immorality in
    India--A Pantheon turned Inferno--Zendavesta on Good and Evil--
    Parsî Mythology--The Combat of Ahriman with Ormuzd--Optimism--
    Parsî Eschatology--Final Restoration of Ahriman


Chapter IV.

Viswámitra, the Theocratic Devil.

    Priestcraft and Pessimism--An Aryan Tetzel and his Luther--Brahman
    Frogs--Evolution of the Sacerdotal Saint--Viswámitra the Accuser
    of Virtue--The Tamil Passion-Play 'Harischandra'--Ordeal of
    Goblins--The Martyr of Truth--Virtue triumphant over ceremonial
    'Merits'--Harischandra and Job


Chapter V.

Elohim and Jehovah.

    Deified power--Giants and Jehovah--Jehovah's manifesto--The various
    Elohim--Two Jehovahs and two Tables--Contradictions--Detachment
    of the Elohim from Jehovah


Chapter VI.

The Consuming Fire.

    The Shekinah--Jewish idols--Attributes of the fiery and
    cruel Elohim compared with those of the Devil--The powers of
    evil combined under a head--Continuity--The consuming fire
    spiritualised


Chapter VII.

Paradise and the Serpent.

    Herakles and Athena in a holy picture--Human significance of
    Eden--The legend in Genesis puzzling--Silence of later books
    concerning it--Its Vedic elements--Its explanation--Episode of
    the Mahábhárata--Scandinavian variant--The name of Adam--The
    story re-read--Rabbinical interpretations


Chapter VIII.

Eve.

    The Fall of Man--Fall of gods--Giants--Prajápati and Ráhu--Woman
    and Star-Serpent in Persia--Meschia and Meschiane--Bráhman
    legends of the creation of Man--The strength of Woman--Elohist
    and Jehovist creations of Man--The Forbidden Fruit--Eve reappears
    as Sara--Abraham surrenders his wife to Jehovah--The idea not
    sensual--Abraham's circumcision--The evil name of Woman--Noah's
    wife--The temptation of Abraham--Rabbinical legends concerning
    Eve--Pandora--Sentiment of the Myth of Eve


Chapter IX.

Lilith.

    Madonnas--Adam's first wife--Her flight and doom--Creation of
    Devils--Lilith marries Samaël--Tree of Life--Lilith's part
    in the Temptation--Her locks--Lamia--Bodeima--Meschia and
    Meschiane--Amazons--Maternity--Rib-theory of Woman--Káli and
    Durga--Captivity of Woman


Chapter X.

War in Heaven.

    The 'Other'--Tiamat, Bohu, 'the Deep'--Ra and Apophis--Hathors
    --Bel's combat--Revolt in Heaven--Lilith--Myth of the Devil at
    the creation of Light


Chapter XI.

War on Earth.

    The Abode of Devils--Ketef--Disorder--Talmudic legends--The
    restless Spirit--The Fall of Lucifer--Asteria, Hecate, Lilith--The
    Dragon's triumph--A Gipsy legend--Cædmon's Poem of the Rebellious
    Angels--Milton's version--The Puritans and Prince Rupert--Bel
    as ally of the Dragon--A 'Mystery' in Marionettes--European
    Hells


Chapter XII.

Strife.

    Hebrew God of War--Samaël--The father's blessing and curse--
    Esau--Edom--Jacob and the Phantom--The planet Mars--Tradesman
    and Huntsman--'The Devil's Dream'


Chapter XIII.

Barbaric Aristocracy.

    Jacob, the 'Impostor'--The Barterer--Esau, the 'Warrior'--Barbarian
    Dukes--Trade and War--Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau--Their
    Ghosts--Legend of Iblis--Pagan Warriors of Europe--Russian
    Hierarchy of Hell


Chapter XIV.

Job and the Divider.

    Hebrew Polytheism--Problem of Evil--Job's disbelief in a
    future life--The Divider's realm--Salted sacrifices--Theory
    of Orthodoxy--Job's reasoning--His humour--Impartiality of
    Fortune between the evil and good--Agnosticism of Job--Elihu's
    Eclecticism--Jehovah of the Whirlwind--Heresies of Job--Rabbinical
    legend of Job--Universality of the legend


Chapter XV.

Satan.

    Public Prosecutors--Satan as Accuser--English Devil-Worshipper
    --Conversion by Terror--Satan in the Old Testament--The trial of
    Joshua--Sender of Plagues--Satan and Serpent--Portrait of Satan
    --Scapegoat of Christendom--Catholic 'Sight of Hell'--The ally
    of Priesthoods


Chapter XVI.

Religious Despotism.

    Pharaoh and Herod--Zoroaster's mother--Ahriman's emissaries--Kansa
    and Krishna--Emissaries of Kansa--Astyages and Cyrus--Zohák--Bel
    and the Christian


Chapter XVII.

The Prince of this World.

    Temptations--Birth of Buddha--Mara--Temptation of Power--Asceticism
    and Luxury--Mara's menaces--Appearance of the Buddha's
    Vindicator--Ahriman tempts Zoroaster--Satan and Christ--Criticism
    of Strauss--Jewish traditions--Hunger--Variants


Chapter XVIII.

Trial of the Great.

    A 'Morality' at Tours--The 'St. Anthony' of Spagnoletto--Bunyan's
    Pilgrim--Milton on Christ's Temptation--An Edinburgh saint and
    Unitarian fiend--A haunted Jewess--Conversion by fever--Limit of
    courage--Woman and sorcery--Luther and the Devil--The ink-spot at
    Wartburg--Carlyle's interpretation--The cowled Devil--Carlyle's
    trial--In Rue St. Thomas d'Enfer--The Everlasting No--Devil of
    Vauvert--The latter-day conflict--New conditions--The Victory of
    Man--The Scholar and the World


Chapter XIX.

The Man of Sin.

    Hindu myth--Gnostic theories--Ophite scheme of redemption--
    Rabbinical traditions of Primitive Man--Pauline Pessimism--Law
    of death--Satan's ownership of Man--Redemption of the Elect--
    Contemporary statements--Baptism--Exorcism--The 'new man's'
    food--Eucharist--Herbert Spencer's explanation--Primitive
    ideas--Legends of Adam and Seth--Adamites--A Mormon 'Mystery'
    of initiation


Chapter XX.

The Holy Ghost.

    A Hanover relic--Mr. Atkinson on the Dove--The Dove in the Old
    Testament--Ecclesiastical symbol--Judicial symbol--A vision of
    St. Dunstan's--The witness of chastity--Dove and Serpent--The
    unpardonable sin--Inexpiable sin among the Jews--Destructive
    power of Jehovah--Potency of the breath--Third persons of
    Trinities--Pentecost--Christian superstitions--Mr. Moody on the sin
    against the Holy Ghost--Mysterious fear--Idols of the cave


Chapter XXI.

Antichrist.

    The Kali Age--Satan sifting Simon--Satan as Angel of Light--
    Epithets of Antichrist--The Cæsars--Nero--Sacraments imitated
    by Pagans--Satanic signs and wonders--Jerome on Antichrist--
    Armillus--Al Dajjail--Luther on Mohammed--'Mawmet'--Satan
    'God's ape'--Mediæval notions--Witches' Sabbath--An Infernal
    Trinity--Serpent of Sins--Antichrist Popes--Luther as Antichrist
    --Modern notions of Antichrist


Chapter XXII.

The Pride of Life.

    The curse of Iblis--Samaël as Democrat--His vindication by
    Christ and Paul--Asmodäus--History of the name--Aschmedai of the
    Jews--Book of Tobit--Doré's 'Triumph of Christianity'--Aucassin
    and Nicolette--Asmodeus in the convent--The Asmodeus of Le
    Sage--Mephistopheles--Blake's 'Marriage of Heaven and Hell'--The
    Devil and the artists--Sádi's Vision of Satan--Arts of the
    Devil--Suspicion of beauty--Earthly and heavenly mansions--Deacon
    versus Devil


Chapter XXIII.

The Curse on Knowledge.

    A Bishop on intellect--The Bible on learning--The Serpent and
    Seth--A Hebrew Renaissance--Spells--Shelley at Oxford--
    Book-burning--Japanese ink-devil--Book of Cyprianus--Devil's
    Bible--Red Letters--Dread of Science--Roger Bacon--Luther's
    Devil--Lutherans and Science


Chapter XXIV.

Witchcraft.

    Minor gods--Saint and Satyr--Tutelaries--Spells--Early Christianity
    and the poor--Its doctrine as to pagan deities--Mediæval
    Devils--Devils on the stage--An Abbot's revelations--The fairer
    deities--Oriental dreams and spirits--Calls for Nemesis--Lilith
    and her children--Neoplatonicism--Astrology and Alchemy--Devil's
    College--Shem-hammphorásch--Apollonius of Tyana--Faustus--Black Art
    Schools--Compacts with the Devil--Blood covenant--Spirit-seances in
    old times--The Fairfax delusion--Origin of its devil--Witch, goat,
    and cat--Confessions of Witches--Witchcraft in New England--Witch
    trials--Salem demonology--Testing witches--Witch trials in
    Sweden--Witch Sabbath--Mythological elements--Carriers--Scotch
    Witches--The cauldron--Vervain--Rue--Invocation of Hecaté--Factors
    of Witch persecution--Three centuries of massacre--Würzburg
    horrors--Last victims--Modern Spiritualism


Chapter XXV.

Faust and Mephistopheles.

    Mephisto and Mephitis--The Raven Book--Papal sorcery--Magic
    seals--Mephistopheles as dog--George Sabellicus alias Faustus--The
    Faust myth--Marlowe's 'Faust'--Good and evil angels--'El Magico
    Prodigioso'--Cyprian and Justina--Klinger's 'Faust'--Satan's
    sermon--Goethe's Mephistopheles--His German characters--Moral
    scepticism--Devil's gifts--Helena--Redemption through Art--Defeat
    of Mephistopheles


Chapter XXVI.

The Wild Huntsman.

    The Wild Hunt--Euphemisms--Schimmelreiter--Odinwald--Pied Piper
    --Lyeshy--Waldemar's Hunt--Palne Hunter--King Abel's Hunt--Lords
    of Glorup--Le Grand Veneur--Robert le Diable--Arthur--Hugo--Herne
    --Tregeagle--Der Freischütz--Elijah's chariot--Mahan Bali--Déhak
    --Nimrod--Nimrod's defiance of Jehovah--His Tower--Robber Knights
    --The Devil in Leipzig--Olaf hunting pagans--Hunting-horns--Raven
    --Boar--Hounds--Horse--Dapplegrimm--Sleipnir--Horse-flesh--The
    mare Chetiya--Stags--St. Hubert--The White Lady--Myths of Mother
    Rose--Wodan hunting St. Walpurga--Friar Eckhardt


Chapter XXVII.

Le Bon Diable.

    The Devil repainted--Satan a divine agent--St. Orain's
    heresy--Primitive universalism--Father Sinistrari--Salvation of
    demons--Mediæval sects--Aquinas--His prayer for Satan--Popular
    antipathies--The Devil's gratitude--Devil defending
    innocence--Devil against idle lords--The wicked ale-wife--Pious
    offenders punished--Anachronistic Devils--Devils turn to
    poems--Devil's good advice--Devil sticks to his word--His love
    of justice--Charlemagne and the Serpent--Merlin--His prison of
    Air--Mephistopheles in Heaven


Chapter XXVIII.

Animalism.

    Celsus on Satan--Ferocities of inward nature--The Devil
    of Lust--Celibacy--Blue Beards--Shudendozi--A lady in
    distress--Bahirawa--The Black Prince--Madana Yaksenyo--Fair
    fascinators--Devil of Jealousy--Eve's jealousy--Noah's wife--How
    Satan entered the Ark--Shipwright's Dirge--The Second Fall--The
    Drunken curse--Solomon's Fall--Cellar Devils--Gluttony--The Vatican
    haunted--Avarice--Animalised Devils--Man-shaped Animals


Chapter XXIX.

Thoughts and Interpretations      421



PART I.

DEMONOLATRY.


CHAPTER I.

DUALISM.

    Origin of Deism--Evolution from the far to the near--Illustrations
    from witchcraft--The primitive Pantheism--The dawn of Dualism.


A college in the State of Ohio has adopted for its motto the words
'Orient thyself.' This significant admonition to Western youth
represents one condition of attaining truth in the science of
mythology. Through neglect of it the glowing personifications and
metaphors of the East have too generally migrated to the West only to
find it a Medusa turning them to stone. Our prosaic literalism changes
their ideals to idols. The time has come when we must learn rather to
see ourselves in them: out of an age and civilisation where we live in
habitual recognition of natural forces we may transport ourselves to a
period and region where no sophisticated eye looks upon nature. The sun
is a chariot drawn by shining steeds and driven by a refulgent deity;
the stars ascend and move by arbitrary power or command; the tree is
the bower of a spirit; the fountain leaps from the urn of a naiad. In
such gay costumes did the laws of nature hold their carnival until
Science struck the hour for unmasking. The costumes and masks have
with us become materials for studying the history of the human mind,
but to know them we must translate our senses back into that phase
of our own early existence, so far as is consistent with carrying
our culture with us.

Without conceding too much to Solar mythology, it may be pronounced
tolerably clear that the earliest emotion of worship was born out
of the wonder with which man looked up to the heavens above him. The
splendours of the morning and evening; the azure vault, painted with
frescoes of cloud or blackened by the storm; the night, crowned with
constellations: these awakened imagination, inspired awe, kindled
admiration, and at length adoration, in the being who had reached
intervals in which his eye was lifted above the earth. Amid the rapture
of Vedic hymns to these sublimities we meet sharp questionings whether
there be any such gods as the priests say, and suspicion is sometimes
cast on sacrifices. The forms that peopled the celestial spaces may
have been those of ancestors, kings, and great men, but anterior to
all forms was the poetic enthusiasm which built heavenly mansions for
them; and the crude cosmogonies of primitive science were probably
caught up by this spirit, and consecrated as slowly as scientific
generalisations now are.

Our modern ideas of evolution might suggest the reverse of this--that
human worship began with things low and gradually ascended to high
objects; that from rude ages, in which adoration was directed to
stock and stone, tree and reptile, the human mind climbed by degrees
to the contemplation and reverence of celestial grandeurs. But the
accord of this view with our ideas of evolution is apparent only. The
real progress seems here to have been from the far to the near, from
the great to the small. It is, indeed, probably inexact to speak of
the worship of stock and stone, weed and wort, insect and reptile,
as primitive. There are many indications that such things were by no
race considered intrinsically sacred, nor were they really worshipped
until the origin of their sanctity was lost; and even now, ages
after their oracular or symbolical character has been forgotten, the
superstitions that have survived in connection with such insignificant
objects point to an original association with the phenomena of the
heavens. No religions could, at first glance, seem wider apart than
the worship of the serpent and that of the glorious sun; yet many
ancient temples are covered with symbols combining sun and snake,
and no form is more familiar in Egypt than the solar serpent standing
erect upon its tail, with rays around its head.

Nor is this high relationship of the adored reptile found only in
regions where it might have been raised up by ethnical combinations as
the mere survival of a savage symbol. William Craft, an African who
resided for some time in the kingdom of Dahomey, informed me of the
following incident which he had witnessed there. The sacred serpents
are kept in a grand house, which they sometimes leave to crawl in
their neighbouring grounds. One day a negro from some distant region
encountered one of these animals and killed it. The people learning
that one of their gods had been slain, seized the stranger, and having
surrounded him with a circle of brushwood, set it on fire. The poor
wretch broke through the circle of fire and ran, pursued by the crowd,
who struck him with heavy sticks. Smarting from the flames and blows,
he rushed into a river; but no sooner had he entered there than the
pursuit ceased, and he was told that, having gone through fire and
water, he was purified, and might emerge with safety. Thus, even in
that distant and savage region, serpent-worship was associated with
fire-worship and river-worship, which have a wide representation in
both Aryan and Semitic symbolism. To this day the orthodox Israelites
set beside their dead, before burial, the lighted candle and a basin
of pure water. These have been associated in rabbinical mythology with
the angels Michael (genius of Water) and Gabriel (genius of Fire);
but they refer both to the phenomenal glories and the purifying
effects of the two elements as reverenced by the Africans in one
direction and the Parsees in another.

Not less significant are the facts which were attested at the
witch-trials. It was shown that for their pretended divinations they
used plants--as rue and vervain--well known in the ancient Northern
religions, and often recognised as examples of tree-worship; but it
also appeared that around the cauldron a mock zodiacal circle was
drawn, and that every herb employed was alleged to have derived its
potency from having been gathered at a certain hour of the night or
day, a particular quarter of the moon, or from some spot where sun or
moon did or did not shine upon it. Ancient planet-worship is, indeed,
still reflected in the habit of village herbalists, who gather their
simples at certain phases of the moon, or at certain of those holy
periods of the year which conform more or less to the pre-christian
festivals.

These are a few out of many indications that the small and senseless
things which have become almost or quite fetishes were by no means such
at first, but were mystically connected with the heavenly elements
and splendours, like the animal forms in the zodiac. In one of the
earliest hymns of the Rig-Veda it is said--'This earth belongs to
Varuna (Ouranos) the king, and the wide sky: he is contained also in
this drop of water.' As the sky was seen reflected in the shining curve
of a dew-drop, even so in the shape or colour of a leaf or flower,
the transformation of a chrysalis, or the burial and resurrection
of a scarabæus' egg, some sign could be detected making it answer in
place of the typical image which could not yet be painted or carved.

The necessities of expression would, of course, operate to invest
the primitive conceptions and interpretations of celestial phenomena
with those pictorial images drawn from earthly objects of which the
early languages are chiefly composed. In many cases that are met
in the most ancient hymns, the designations of exalted objects are
so little descriptive of them, that we may refer them to a period
anterior to the formation of that refined and complex symbolism by
which primitive religions have acquired a representation in definite
characters. The Vedic comparisons of the various colours of the dawn
to horses, or the rain-clouds to cows, denotes a much less mature
development of thought than the fine observation implied in the
connection of the forked lightning with the forked serpent-tongue and
forked mistletoe, or symbolisation of the universe in the concentric
folds of an onion. It is the presence of these more mystical and
complex ideas in religions which indicate a progress of the human
mind from the large and obvious to the more delicate and occult, and
the growth of the higher vision which can see small things in their
large relationships. Although the exaltation in the Vedas of Varuna
as king of heaven, and as contained also in a drop of water, is in
one verse, we may well recognise an immense distance in time between
the two ideas there embodied. The first represents that primitive
pantheism which is the counterpart of ignorance. An unclassified
outward universe is the reflection of a mind without form and void:
it is while all within is as yet undiscriminating wonder that the
religious vesture of nature will be this undefined pantheism. The
fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has not yet been
tasted. In some of the earlier hymns of the Rig-Veda, the Maruts,
the storm-deities, are praised along with Indra, the sun; Yama,
king of Death, is equally adored with the goddess of Dawn. 'No real
foe of yours is known in heaven, nor in earth.' 'The storms are thy
allies.' Such is the high optimism of sentences found even in sacred
books which elsewhere mask the dawn of the Dualism which ultimately
superseded the harmony of the elemental Powers. 'I create light
and I create darkness, I create good and I create evil.' 'Look unto
Yezdan, who causeth the shadow to fall.' But it is easy to see what
must be the result when this happy family of sun-god and storm-god
and fire-god, and their innumerable co-ordinate divinities, shall
be divided by discord. When each shall have become associated with
some earthly object or fact, he or she will appear as friend or foe,
and their connection with the sources of human pleasure and pain will
be reflected in collisions and wars in the heavens. The rebel clouds
will be transformed to Titans and Dragons. The adored Maruts will be
no longer storm-heroes with unsheathed swords of lightning, marching
as the retinue of Indra, but fire-breathing monsters--Vritras and
Ahis,--and the morning and evening shadows from faithful watch-dogs
become the treacherous hell-hounds, like Orthros and Cerberus. The
vehement antagonisms between animals and men and of tribe against
tribe, will be expressed in the conception of struggles among gods,
who will thus be classified as good or evil deities.

This was precisely what did occur. The primitive pantheism was broken
up: in its place the later ages beheld the universe as the arena of
a tremendous conflict between good and evil Powers, who severally,
in the process of time, marshalled each and everything, from a world
to a worm, under their flaming banners.



CHAPTER II.

THE GENESIS OF DEMONS.

    Their good names euphemistic--Their mixed character--Illustrations:
    Beelzebub, Loki--Demon-germs--The knowledge of good and
    evil--Distinction between Demon and Devil.


The first pantheon of each race was built of intellectual
speculations. In a moral sense, each form in it might be described
as more or less demonic; and, indeed, it may almost be affirmed that
religion, considered as a service rendered to superhuman beings,
began with the propitiation of demons, albeit they might be called
gods. Man found that in the earth good things came with difficulty,
while thorns and weeds sprang up everywhere. The evil powers seemed to
be the strongest. The best deity had a touch of the demon in him. The
sun is the most beneficent, yet he bears the sunstroke along with
the sunbeam, and withers the blooms he calls forth. The splendour,
the might, the majesty, the menace, the grandeur and wrath of the
heavens and the elements were blended in these personifications,
and reflected in the trembling adoration paid to them. The flattering
names given to these powers by their worshippers must be interpreted
by the costly sacrifices with which men sought to propitiate them. No
sacrifice would have been offered originally to a purely benevolent
power. The Furies were called the Eumenides, 'the well-meaning,'
and there arises a temptation to regard the name as preserving the
primitive meaning of the Sanskrit original of Erinyes, namely, Saranyu,
which signifies the morning light stealing over the sky. But the
descriptions of the Erinyes by the Greek poets--especially of Æschylus,
who pictures them as black, serpent-locked, with eyes dropping blood,
and calls them hounds--show that Saranyu as morning light, and thus
the revealer of deeds of darkness, had gradually been degraded into
a personification of the Curse. And yet, while recognising the name
Eumenides as euphemistic, we may admire none the less the growth of
that rationalism which ultimately found in the epithet a suggestion of
the soul of good in things evil, and almost restored the beneficent
sense of Saranyu. 'I have settled in this place,' says Athene in the
'Eumenides' of Æschylus, 'these mighty deities, hard to be appeased;
they have obtained by lot to administer all things concerning men. But
he who has not found them gentle knows not whence come the ills of
life.' But before the dread Erinyes of Homer's age had become the
'venerable goddesses' (semnai theai) of popular phrase in Athens,
or the Eumenides of the later poet's high insight, piercing their
Gorgon form as portrayed by himself, they had passed through all the
phases of human terror. Cowering generations had tried to soothe the
remorseless avengers by complimentary phrases. The worship of the
serpent, originating in the same fear, similarly raised that animal
into the region where poets could invest it with many profound and
beautiful significances. But these more distinctly terrible deities
are found in the shadowy border-land of mythology, from which we may
look back into ages when the fear in which worship is born had not yet
been separated into its elements of awe and admiration, nor the heaven
of supreme forces divided into ranks of benevolent and malevolent
beings; and, on the other hand, we may look forward to the ages in
which the moral consciousness of man begins to form the distinctions
between good and evil, right and wrong, which changes cosmogony into
religion, and impresses every deity of the mind's creation to do his
or her part in reflecting the physical and moral struggles of mankind.

The intermediate processes by which the good and evil were detached,
and advanced to separate personification, cannot always be traced, but
the indications of their work are in most cases sufficiently clear. The
relationship, for instance, between Baal and Baal-zebub cannot be
doubted. The one represents the Sun in his glory as quickener of
Nature and painter of its beauty, the other the insect-breeding power
of the Sun. Baal-zebub is the Fly-god. Only at a comparatively recent
period did the deity of the Philistines, whose oracle was consulted
by Ahaziah (2 Kings i.), suffer under the reputation of being 'the
Prince of Devils,' his name being changed by a mere pun to Beelzebul
(dung-god). It is not impossible that the modern Egyptian mother's
hesitation to disturb flies settling on her sleeping child, and the
sanctity attributed to various insects, originated in the awe felt
for him. The title Fly-god is parallelled by the reverent epithet
apomuios, applied to Zeus as worshipped at Elis, [1] the Myiagrus
deus of the Romans, [2] and the Myiodes mentioned by Pliny. [3] Our
picture is probably from a protecting charm, and evidently by the god's
believers. There is a story of a peasant woman in a French church who
was found kneeling before a marble group, and was warned by a priest
that she was worshipping the wrong figure--namely, Beelzebub. 'Never
mind,' she replied, 'it is well enough to have friends on both
sides.' The story, though now only ben trovato, would represent the
actual state of mind in many a Babylonian invoking the protection of
the Fly-god against formidable swarms of his venomous subjects.

Not less clear is the illustration supplied by Scandinavian
mythology. In Sæmund's Edda the evil-minded Loki says:--


                Odin! dost thou remember
                When we in early days
                Blended our blood together?


The two became detached very slowly; for their separation implied
the crumbling away of a great religion, and its distribution into
new forms; and a religion requires, relatively, as long to decay
as it does to grow, as we who live under a crumbling religion have
good reason to know. Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, of the Brahmo-Somaj,
in an address in London, said, 'The Indian Pantheon has many millions
of deities, and no space is left for the Devil.' He might have added
that these deities have distributed between them all the work that
the Devil could perform if he were admitted. His remark recalled to
me the Eddaic story of Loki's entrance into the assembly of gods in
the halls of Oegir. Loki--destined in a later age to be identified
with Satan--is angrily received by the deities, but he goes round
and mentions incidents in the life of each one which show them to be
little if any better than himself. The gods and goddesses, unable to
reply, confirm the cynic's criticisms in theologic fashion by tying
him up with a serpent for cord.

The late Theodore Parker is said to have replied to a Calvinist who
sought to convert him--'The difference between us is simple: your god
is my devil.' There can be little question that the Hebrews, from whom
the Calvinist inherited his deity, had no devil in their mythology,
because the jealous and vindictive Jehovah was quite equal to any
work of that kind,--as the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, bringing
plagues upon the land, or deceiving a prophet and then destroying him
for his false prophecies. [4] The same accommodating relation of the
primitive deities to all natural phenomena will account for the absence
of distinct representatives of evil of the most primitive religions.

The earliest exceptions to this primeval harmony of the gods,
implying moral chaos in man, were trifling enough: the occasional
monster seems worthy of mention only to display the valour of the god
who slew him. But such were demon-germs, born out of the structural
action of the human mind so soon as it began to form some philosophy
concerning a universe upon which it had at first looked with simple
wonder, and destined to an evolution of vast import when the work of
moralising upon them should follow.

Let us take our stand beside our barbarian, but no longer savage,
ancestor in the far past. We have watched the rosy morning as it
waxed to a blazing noon: then swiftly the sun is blotted out, the
tempest rages, it is a sudden night lit only by the forked lightning
that strikes tree, house, man, with angry thunder-peal. From an
instructed age man can look upon the storm blackening the sky not as
an enemy of the sun, but one of its own superlative effects; but some
thousands of years ago, when we were all living in Eastern barbarism,
we could not conceive that a luminary whose very business it was to
give light, could be a party to his own obscuration. We then looked
with pity upon the ignorance of our ancestors, who had sung hymns to
the storm-dragons, hoping to flatter them into quietness; and we came
by irresistible logic to that Dualism which long divided the visible,
and still divides the moral, universe into two hostile camps.

This is the mother-principle out of which demons (in the ordinary
sense of the term) proceeded. At first few, as distinguished from the
host of deities by exceptional harmfulness, they were multiplied with
man's growth in the classification of his world. Their principle of
existence is capable of indefinite expansion, until it shall include
all the realms of darkness, fear, and pain. In the names of demons,
and in the fables concerning them, the struggles of man in his ages of
weakness with peril, want, and death, are recorded more fully than in
any inscriptions on stone. Dualism is a creed which all superficial
appearances attest. Side by side the desert and the fruitful land,
the sunshine and the frost, sorrow and joy, life and death, sit
weaving around every life its vesture of bright and sombre threads,
and Science alone can detect how each of these casts the shuttle
to the other. Enemies to each other they will appear in every realm
which knowledge has not mastered. There is a refrain, gathered from
many ages, in William Blake's apostrophe to the tiger:--



Tiger! tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye
Framed thy fearful symmetry?



In what distant deeps or skies
Burned that fire within thine eyes?
On what wings dared he aspire?
What the hand dared seize the fire?



When the stars threw down their spears
And water heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?



That which one of the devoutest men of genius whom England has produced
thus asked was silently answered in India by the serpent-worshipper
kneeling with his tongue held in his hand; in Egypt, by Osiris seated
on a throne of chequer. [5]

It is necessary to distinguish clearly between the Demon and the Devil,
though, for some purposes, they must be mentioned together. The world
was haunted with demons for many ages before there was any embodiment
of their spirit in any central form, much less any conception of
a Principle of Evil in the universe. The early demons had no moral
character, not any more than the man-eating tiger. There is no outburst
of moral indignation mingling with the shout of victory when Indra
slays Vritra, and Apollo's face is serene when his dart pierces the
Python. It required a much higher development of the moral sentiment
to give rise to the conception of a devil. Only that intensest light
could cast so black a shadow athwart the world as the belief in a
purely malignant spirit. To such a conception--love of evil for its
own sake--the word Devil is limited in this work; Demon is applied to
beings whose harmfulness is not gratuitous, but incidental to their
own satisfactions.

Deity and Demon are from words once interchangeable, and the latter has
simply suffered degradation by the conventional use of it to designate
the less beneficent powers and qualities, which originally inhered
in every deity, after they were detached from these and separately
personified. Every bright god had his shadow, so to say; and under
the influence of Dualism this shadow attained a distinct existence
and personality in the popular imagination. The principle having
once been established, that what seemed beneficent and what seemed
the reverse must be ascribed to different powers, it is obvious that
the evolution of demons must be continuous, and their distribution
co-extensive with the ills that flesh is heir to.



CHAPTER III.

DEGRADATION.

    The degradation of deities--Indicated in names--Legends of their
    fall--Incidental signs of the divine origin of demons and devils.


The atmospheric conditions having been prepared in the human mind for
the production of demons, the particular shapes or names they would
assume would be determined by a variety of circumstances, ethnical,
climatic, political, or even accidental. They would, indeed, be rarely
accidental; but Professor Max Müller, in his notes to the Rig-Veda,
has called attention to a remarkable instance in which the formation of
an imposing mythological figure of this kind had its name determined
by what, in all probability, was an accident. There appears in the
earliest Vedic hymns the name of Aditi, as the holy Mother of many
gods, and thrice there is mentioned the female name Diti. But there
is reason to believe that Diti is a mere reflex of Aditi, the a being
dropped originally by a reciter's license. The later reciters, however,
regarding every letter in so sacred a book, or even the omission of a
letter, as of eternal significance, Diti--this decapitated Aditi--was
evolved into a separate and powerful being, and, every niche of
beneficence being occupied by its god or goddess, the new form was at
once relegated to the newly-defined realm of evil, where she remained
as the mother of the enemies of the gods, the Daityas. Unhappily this
accident followed the ancient tendency by which the Furies and Vices
have, with scandalous constancy, been described in the feminine gender.

The close resemblance between these two names of Hindu mythology,
severally representing the best and the worst, may be thus accidental,
and only serve to show how the demon-forming tendency, after it began,
was able to press even the most trivial incidents into its service. But
generally the names of demons, and for whole races of demons, report
far more than this; and in no inquiry more than that before us is it
necessary to remember that names are things. The philological facts
supply a remarkable confirmation of the statements already made
as to the original identity of demon and deity. The word 'demon'
itself, as we have said, originally bore a good instead of an evil
meaning. The Sanskrit deva, 'the shining one,' Zend daêva, correspond
with the Greek theos, Latin deus, Anglo-Saxon Tiw; and remain in
'deity,' 'deuce' (probably; it exists in Armorican, teuz, a phantom),
'devel' (the gipsy name for God), and Persian div, demon. The Demon
of Socrates represents the personification of a being still good, but
no doubt on the path of decline from pure divinity. Plato declares
that good men when they die become 'demons,' and he says 'demons
are reporters and carriers between gods and men.' Our familiar word
bogey, a sort of nickname for an evil spirit, comes from the Slavonic
word for God--bog. Appearing here in the West as bogey (Welsh bwg,
a goblin), this word bog began, probably, as the 'Baga' of cuneiform
inscriptions, a name of the Supreme Being, or possibly the Hindu
'Bhaga,' Lord of Life. In the 'Bishop's Bible' the passage occurs,
'Thou shalt not be afraid of any bugs by night:' the word has been
altered to 'terror.'  When we come to the particular names of demons,
we find many of them bearing traces of the splendours from which they
have declined. 'Siva,' the Hindu god of destruction, has a meaning
('auspicious') derived from Svi, 'thrive'--thus related ideally to
Pluto, 'wealth'--and, indeed, in later ages, appears to have gained
the greatest elevation. In a story of the Persian poem Masnavi,
Ahriman is mentioned with Bahman as a fire-fiend, of which class are
the Magian demons and the Jinns generally; which, the sanctity of
fire being considered, is an evidence of their high origin. Avicenna
says that the genii are ethereal animals. Lucifer--light-bearing--is
the fallen angel of the morning star. Loki--the nearest to an evil
power of the Scandinavian personifications--is the German leucht,
or light. Azazel--a word inaccurately rendered 'scape-goat' in the
Bible--appears to have been originally a deity, as the Israelites
were originally required to offer up one goat to Jehovah and
another to Azazel, a name which appears to signify the 'strength
of God.' Gesenius and Ewald regard Azazel as a demon belonging
to the pre-Mosaic religion, but it can hardly be doubted that the
four arch-demons mentioned by the Rabbins--Samaël, Azazel, Asaël,
and Maccathiel--are personifications of the elements as energies
of the deity. Samaël would appear to mean the 'left hand of God;'
Azazel, his strength; Asaël, his reproductive force; and Maccathiel,
his retributive power, but the origin of these names is doubtful..

Although Azazel is now one of the Mussulman names for a devil,
it would appear to be nearly related to Al Uzza of the Koran,
one of the goddesses of whom the significant tradition exists,
that once when Mohammed had read, from the Sura called 'The Star,'
the question, 'What think ye of Allat, Al Uzza, and Manah, that
other third goddess?' he himself added, 'These are the most high
and beauteous damsels, whose intercession is to be hoped for,' the
response being afterwards attributed to a suggestion of Satan. [6]
Belial is merely a word for godlessness; it has become personified
through the misunderstanding of the phrase in the Old Testament by
the translators of the Septuagint, and thus passed into christian
use, as in 2 Cor. vi. 15, 'What concord hath Christ with Belial?' The
word is not used as a proper name in the Old Testament, and the late
creation of a demon out of it may be set down to accident.

Even where the names of demons and devils bear no such traces of
their degradation from the state of deities, there are apt to be
characteristics attributed to them, or myths connected with them,
which point in the direction indicated. Such is the case with Satan,
of whom much must be said hereafter, whose Hebrew name signifies
the adversary, but who, in the Book of Job, appears among the sons
of God. The name given to the devil in the Koran--Eblis--is almost
certainly diabolos Arabicised; and while this Greek word is found
in Pindar [7] (5th century B.C.), meaning a slanderer, the fables
in the Koran concerning Eblis describe him as a fallen angel of the
highest rank.

One of the most striking indications of the fall of demons from heaven
is the wide-spread belief that they are lame. Mr. Tylor has pointed
out the curious persistence of this idea in various ethnical lines of
development. [8] Hephaistos was lamed by his fall when hurled by Zeus
from Olympos; and it is not a little singular that in the English
travesty of limping Vulcan, represented in Wayland the Smith, [9]
there should appear the suggestion, remarked by Mr. Cox, of the name
'Vala' (coverer), one of the designations of the dragon destroyed by
Indra. 'In Sir Walter Scott's romance,' says Mr. Cox, 'Wayland is a
mere impostor, who avails himself of a popular superstition to keep
up an air of mystery about himself and his work, but the character to
which he makes pretence belongs to the genuine Teutonic legend.' [10]
The Persian demon Aeshma--the Asmodeus of the Book of Tobit--appears
with the same characteristic of lameness in the 'Diable Boiteux'
of Le Sage. The christian devil's clubbed or cloven foot is notorious.

Even the horns popularly attributed to the devil may possibly have
originated with the aureole which indicates the glory of his 'first
estate.' Satan is depicted in various relics of early art wearing the
aureole, as in a miniature of the tenth century (from Bible No. 6,
Bib. Roy.), given by M. Didron. [11] The same author has shown that
Pan and the Satyrs, who had so much to do with the shaping of our
horned and hoofed devil, originally got their horns from the same
high source as Moses in the old Bibles, [12] and in the great statue
of him at Rome by Michel Angelo.

It is through this mythologic history that the most powerful
demons have been associated in the popular imagination with stars,
planets,--Ketu in India, Saturn and Mercury the 'Infortunes,'--comets,
and other celestial phenomena. The examples of this are so numerous
that it is impossible to deal with them here, where I can only hope
to offer a few illustrations of the principles affirmed; and in this
case it is of less importance for the English reader, because of the
interesting volume in which the subject has been specially dealt
with. [13] Incidentally, too, the astrological demons and devils
must recur from time to time in the process of our inquiry. But it
will probably be within the knowledge of some of my readers that the
dread of comets and of meteoric showers yet lingers in many parts
of Christendom, and that fear of unlucky stars has not passed away
with astrologers. There is a Scottish legend told by Hugh Miller
of an avenging meteoric demon. A shipmaster who had moored his
vessel near Morial's Den, amused himself by watching the lights
of the scattered farmhouses. After all the rest had gone out one
light lingered for some time. When that light too had disappeared,
the shipmaster beheld a large meteor, which, with a hissing noise,
moved towards the cottage. A dog howled, an owl whooped; but when
the fire-ball had almost reached the roof, a cock crew from within
the cottage, and the meteor rose again. Thrice this was repeated,
the meteor at the third cock-crow ascending among the stars. On the
following day the shipmaster went on shore, purchased the cock, and
took it away with him. Returned from his voyage, he looked for the
cottage, and found nothing but a few blackened stones. Nearly sixty
years ago a human skeleton was found near the spot, doubled up as
if the body had been huddled into a hole: this revived the legend,
and probably added some of those traits which make it a true bit of
mosaic in the mythology of Astræa. [14]

The fabled 'fall of Lucifer' really signifies a process similar to
that which has been noticed in the case of Saranyu. The morning star,
like the morning light, as revealer of the deeds of darkness, becomes
an avenger, and by evolution an instigator of the evil it originally
disclosed and punished. It may be remarked also that though we have
inherited the phrase 'Demons of Darkness,' it was an ancient rabbinical
belief that the demons went abroad in darkness not only because it
facilitated their attacks on man, but because being of luminous forms,
they could recognise each other better with a background of darkness.



CHAPTER IV.

THE ABGOTT.

    The ex-god--Deities demonised by conquest--Theological animosity
    --Illustration from the Avesta--Devil-worship an arrested Deism--
    Sheik Adi--Why demons were painted ugly--Survivals of their beauty.


The phenomena of the transformation of deities into demons meet the
student of Demonology at every step. We shall have to consider many
examples of a kind similar to those which have been mentioned in the
preceding chapter; but it is necessary to present at this stage of our
inquiry a sufficient number of examples to establish the fact that in
every country forces have been at work to degrade the primitive gods
into types of evil, as preliminary to a consideration of the nature
of those forces.

We find the history of the phenomena suggested in the German word for
idol, Abgott--ex-god. Then we have 'pagan,' villager, and 'heathen,' of
the heath, denoting those who stood by their old gods after others had
transferred their faith to the new. These words bring us to consider
the influence upon religious conceptions of the struggles which have
occurred between races and nations, and consequently between their
religions. It must be borne in mind that by the time any tribes had
gathered to the consistency of a nation, one of the strongest forces of
its coherence would be its priesthood. So soon as it became a general
belief that there were in the universe good and evil Powers, there
must arise a popular demand for the means of obtaining their favour;
and this demand has never failed to obtain a supply of priesthoods
claiming to bind or influence the præternatural beings. These
priesthoods represent the strongest motives and fears of a people,
and they were gradually intrenched in great institutions involving
powerful interests. Every invasion or collision or mingling of races
thus brought their respective religions into contact and rivalry;
and as no priesthood has been known to consent peaceably to its own
downfall and the degradation of its own deities, we need not wonder
that there have been perpetual wars for religious ascendency. It
is not unusual to hear sects among ourselves accusing each other
of idolatry. In earlier times the rule was for each religion to
denounce its opponent's gods as devils. Gregory the Great wrote
to his missionary in Britain, the Abbot Mellitus, second Bishop of
Canterbury, that 'whereas the people were accustomed to sacrifice
many oxen in honour of demons, let them celebrate a religious and
solemn festival, and not slay the animals to the devil (diabolo),
but to be eaten by themselves to the glory of God.' Thus the devotion
of meats to those deities of our ancestors which the Pope pronounces
demons, which took place chiefly at Yule-tide, has survived in our
more comfortable Christmas banquets. This was the fate of all the
deities which Christianity undertook to suppress. But it had been the
habit of religions for many ages before. They never denied the actual
existence of the deities they were engaged in suppressing. That would
have been too great an outrage upon popular beliefs, and might have
caused a reaction; and, besides, each new religion had an interest
of its own in preserving the basis of belief in these invisible
beings. Disbelief in the very existence of the old gods might be
followed by a sceptical spirit that might endanger the new. So the
propagandists maintained the existence of native gods, but called
them devils. Sometimes wars or intercourse between tribes led to their
fusion; the battle between opposing religions was drawn, in which case
there would be a compromise by which several deities of different
origin might continue together in the same race and receive equal
homage. The differing degrees of importance ascribed to the separate
persons of the Hindu triad in various localities of India, suggest
it as quite probable that Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva signalled in their
union the political unity of certain districts in that country. [15]
The blending of the names of Confucius and Buddha, in many Chinese
and Japanese temples, may show us an analogous process now going on,
and, indeed, the various ethnical ideas combined in the christian
Trinity render the fact stated one of easy interpretation. But the
religious difficulty was sometimes not susceptible of compromise. The
most powerful priesthood carried the day, and they used every ingenuity
to degrade the gods of their opponents. Agathodemons were turned into
kakodemons. The serpent, worshipped in many lands, might be adopted
as the support of sleeping Vishnu in India, might be associated with
the rainbow ('the heavenly serpent') in Persia, but elsewhere was
cursed as the very genius of evil.

The operation of this force in the degradation of deities, is
particularly revealed in the Sacred Books of Persia. In that country
the great religions of the East would appear to have contended
against each other with especial fury, and their struggles were
probably instrumental in causing one or more of the early migrations
into Western Europe. The great celestial war between Ormuzd and
Ahriman--Light and Darkness--corresponded with a violent theological
conflict, one result of which is that the word deva, meaning 'deity'
to Brahmans, means 'devil' to Parsees. The following extract from
the Zend-Avesta will serve as an example of the spirit in which the
war was waged:--

'All your devas are only manifold children of the Evil Mind--and the
great one who worships the Saoma of lies and deceits; besides the
treacherous acts for which you are notorious throughout the seven
regions of the earth.

'You have invented all the evil which men speak and do, which is
indeed pleasant to the Devas, but is devoid of all goodness, and
therefore perishes before the insight of the truth of the wise.

'Thus you defraud men of their good minds and of their immortality
by your evil minds--as well through those of the Devas as that of the
Evil Spirit--through evil deeds and evil words, whereby the power of
liars grows.' [16]

That is to say--Ours is the true god: your god is a devil.

The Zoroastrian conversion of deva (deus) into devil does not
alone represent the work of this odium theologicum. In the early
hymns of India the appellation asuras is given to the gods. Asura
means a spirit. But in the process of time asura, like dæmon, came
to have a sinister meaning: the gods were called suras, the demons
asuras, and these were said to contend together. But in Persia the
asuras--demonised in India--retained their divinity, and gave the name
ahura to the supreme deity, Ormuzd (Ahura-mazda). On the other hand,
as Mr. Muir supposes, Varenya, applied to evil spirits of darkness in
the Zendavesta, is cognate with Varuna (Heaven); and the Vedic Indra,
king of the gods--the Sun--is named in the Zoroastrian religion as
one of the chief councillors of that Prince of Darkness.

But in every country conquered by a new religion, there will always be
found some, as we have seen, who will hold on to the old deity under
all his changed fortunes. These will be called 'bigots,' but still they
will adhere to the ancient belief and practise the old rites. Sometimes
even after they have had to yield to the popular terminology, and call
the old god a devil, they will find some reason for continuing the
transmitted forms. It is probable that to this cause was originally
due the religions which have been developed into what is now termed
Devil-worship. The distinct and avowed worship of the evil Power in
preference to the good is a rather startling phenomenon when presented
baldly; as, for example, in a prayer of the Madagascans to Nyang,
author of evil, quoted by Dr. Réville:--'O Zamhor! to thee we offer no
prayers. The good god needs no asking. But we must pray to Nyang. Nyang
must be appeased. O Nyang, bad and strong spirit, let not the thunder
roar over our heads! Tell the sea to keep within its bounds! Spare,
O Nyang, the ripening fruit, and dry not up the blossoming rice! Let
not our women bring forth children on the accursed days. Thou reignest,
and this thou knowest, over the wicked; and great is their number,
O Nyang. Torment not, then, any longer the good folk!' [17]

This is natural, and suggestive of the criminal under sentence of
death, who, when asked if he was not afraid to meet his God, replied,
'Not in the least; it's that other party I'm afraid of.' Yet it
is hardly doubtful that the worship of Nyang began in an era when
he was by no means considered morally baser than Zamhor. How the
theory of Dualism, when attained, might produce the phenomenon
called Devil-worship, is illustrated in the case of the Yezedis, now
so notorious for that species of religion. Their theory is usually
supposed to be entirely represented by the expression uttered by one
of them, 'Will not Satan, then, reward the poor Izedis, who alone have
never spoken ill of him, and have suffered so much for him?' [18]
But these words are significant, no doubt, of the underlying fact:
they 'have never spoken ill of' the Satan they worship. The Mussulman
calls the Yezedi a Satan-worshipper only as the early Zoroastrian held
the worshipper of a deva to be the same. The chief object of worship
among the Yezedis is the figure of the bird Taous, a half-mythical
peacock. Professor King of Cambridge traces the Taous of this Assyrian
sect to the "sacred bird called a phoenix," whose picture, as seen
by Herodotus (ii. 73) in Egypt, is described by him as 'very like an
eagle in outline and in size, but with plumage partly gold-coloured,
partly crimson,' and which was said to return to Heliopolis every
five hundred years, there to burn itself on the altar of the Sun,
that another might rise from its ashes. [19] Now the name Yezedis
is simply Izeds, genii; and we are thus pointed to Arabia, where we
find the belief in genii is strongest, and also associated with the
mythical bird Rokh of its folklore. There we find Mohammed rebuking
the popular belief in a certain bird called Hamâh, which was said to
take form from the blood near the brain of a dead person and fly away,
to return, however, at the end of every hundred years to visit that
person's sepulchre. But this is by no means Devil-worship, nor can we
find any trace of that in the most sacred scripture of the Yezedis,
the 'Eulogy of Sheikh Adi.' This Sheikh inherited from his father,
Moosafir, the sanctity of an incarnation of the divine essence,
of which he (Adi) speaks as 'the All-merciful.'


    By his light he hath lighted the lamp of the morning.
    I am he that placed Adam in my Paradise.
    I am he that made Nimrod a hot burning fire.
    I am he that guided Ahmet mine elect,
    I gifted him with my way and guidance.
    Mine are all existences together,
    They are my gift and under my direction.
    I am he that possesseth all majesty,
    And beneficence and charity are from my grace,
    I am he that entereth the heart in my zeal;
    And I shine through the power of my awfulness and majesty.
    I am he to whom the lion of the desert came:
    I rebuked him and he became like stone.
    I am he to whom the serpent came,
    And by my will I made him like dust.
    I am he that shook the rock and made it tremble,
    And sweet water flowed therefrom from every side. [20]


The reverence shown in these sacred sentences for Hebrew names and
traditions--as of Adam in Paradise, Marah, and the smitten rock--and
for Ahmet (Mohammed), appears to have had its only requital in the
odious designation of the worshippers of Taous as Devil-worshippers,
a label which the Yezedis perhaps accepted as the Wesleyans and
Friends accepted such names as 'Methodist' and 'Quaker.'

Mohammed has expiated the many deities he degraded to devils by being
himself turned to an idol (mawmet), a term of contempt all the more
popular for its resemblance to 'mummery.' Despite his denunciations
of idolatry, it is certain that this earlier religion represented
by the Yezedis has never been entirely suppressed even among his own
followers. In Dr. Leitner's interesting collection there is a lamp,
which he obtained from a mosque, made in the shape of a peacock,
and this is but one of many similar relics of primitive or alien
symbolism found among the Mussulman tribes.

The evolution of demons and devils out of deities was made real to
the popular imagination in every country where the new religion found
art existing, and by alliance with it was enabled to shape the ideas
of the people. The theoretical degradation of deities of previously
fair association could only be completed where they were presented to
the eye in repulsive forms. It will readily occur to every one that a
rationally conceived demon or devil would not be repulsive. If it were
a demon that man wished to represent, mere euphemism would prevent its
being rendered odious. The main characteristic of a demon--that which
distinguishes it from a devil--is, as we have seen, that it has a real
and human-like motive for whatever evil it causes. If it afflict or
consume man, it is not from mere malignancy, but because impelled by
the pangs of hunger, lust, or other suffering, like the famished wolf
or shark. And if sacrifices of food were offered to satisfy its need,
equally we might expect that no unnecessary insult would be offered in
the attempt to portray it. But if it were a devil--a being actuated
by simple malevolence--one of its essential functions, temptation,
would be destroyed by hideousness. For the work of seduction we might
expect a devil to wear the form of an angel of light, but by no means
to approach his intended victim in any horrible shape, such as would
repel every mortal. The great representations of evil, whether imagined
by the speculative or the religious sense, have never been, originally,
ugly. The gods might be described as falling swiftly like lightning
out of heaven, but in the popular imagination they retained for a long
time much of their splendour. The very ingenuity with which they were
afterwards invested with ugliness in religious art, attests that there
were certain popular sentiments about them which had to be distinctly
reversed. It was because they were thought beautiful that they must be
painted ugly; it was because they were--even among converts to the new
religion--still secretly believed to be kind and helpful, that there
was employed such elaboration of hideous designs to deform them. The
pictorial representations of demons and devils will come under a more
detailed examination hereafter: it is for the present sufficient to
point out that the traditional blackness or ugliness of demons and
devils, as now thought of, by no means militates against the fact
that they were once the popular deities. The contrast, for instance,
between the horrible physiognomy given to Satan in ordinary christian
art, and the theological representation of him as the Tempter, is
obvious. Had the design of Art been to represent the theological
theory, Satan would have been portrayed in a fascinating form. But
the design was not that; it was to arouse horror and antipathy for
the native deities to which the ignorant clung tenaciously. It was
to train children to think of the still secretly-worshipped idols
as frightful and bestial beings. It is important, therefore, that we
should guard against confusing the speculative or moral attempts of
mankind to personify pain and evil with the ugly and brutal demons and
devils of artificial superstition, oftenest pictured on church walls.
Sometimes they are set to support water-spouts, often the brackets
that hold their foes, the saints. It is a very ancient device. Our
figure 2 is from the handle of a chalice in possession of Sir James
Hooker, meant probably to hold the holy water of Ganges.  These are
not genuine demons or devils, but carefully caricatured deities. Who
that looks upon the grinning bestial forms carved about the roof of any
old church--as those on Melrose Abbey and York Cathedral [21]--which,
there is reason to believe, represent the primitive deities driven from
the interior by potency of holy water, and chained to the uncongenial
service of supporting the roof-gutter--can see in these gargoyles
(Fr. gargouille, dragon), anything but carved imprecations? Was it
to such ugly beings, guardians of their streams, hills, and forests,
that our ancestors consecrated the holly and mistletoe, or with such
that they associated their flowers, fruits, and homes? They were
caricatures inspired by missionaries, made to repel and disgust, as
the images of saints beside them were carved in beauty to attract. If
the pagans had been the artists, the good looks would have been on
the other side. And indeed there was an art of which those pagans
were the unconscious possessors, through which the true characters of
the imaginary beings they adored have been transmitted to us. In the
fables of their folklore we find the Fairies that represent the spirit
of the gods and goddesses to which they are easily traceable. That
goddess who in christian times was pictured as a hag riding on a
broom-stick was Frigga, the Earth-mother, associated with the first
sacred affections clustering around the hearth; or Freya, whose very
name was consecrated in frau, woman and wife. The mantle of Bertha did
not cover more tenderness when it fell to the shoulders of Mary. The
German child's name for the pre-christian Madonna was Mother Rose:
distaff in hand, she watched over the industrious at their household
work: she hovered near the cottage, perhaps to find there some weeping
Cinderella and give her beauty for ashes.



CHAPTER V.

CLASSIFICATION.

    The obstructions of man--The twelve chief classes--Modifications
    of particular forms for various functions--Theological demons.


The statements made concerning the fair names of the chief demons
and devils which have haunted the imagination of mankind, heighten
the contrast between their celestial origin and the functions
attributed to them in their degraded forms. The theory of Dualism,
representing a necessary stage in the mental development of every
race, called for a supply of demons, and the supply came from the
innumerable dethroned, outlawed, and fallen deities and angels which
had followed the subjugation of races and their religions. But though
their celestial origin might linger around them in some slight legend
or characteristic as well as in their names, the evil phenomenon to
which each was attached as an explanation assigned the real form and
work with which he or she was associated in popular superstition. We
therefore find in the demons in which men have believed a complete
catalogue of the obstacles with which they have had to contend in the
long struggle for existence. In the devils we discover equally the
history of the moral and religious struggles through which priesthoods
and churches have had to pass. And the relative extent of this or
that particular class of demons or devils, and the intensity of
belief in any class as shown in the number of survivals from it,
will be found to reflect pretty faithfully the degree to which the
special evil represented by it afflicted primitive man, as attested
by other branches of pre-historic investigation.

As to function, the demons we shall have to consider are those
representing--1. Hunger; 2. Excessive Heat; 3. Excessive Cold;
4. Destructive elements and physical convulsions; 5. Destructive
animals; 6. Human enemies; 7. The Barrenness of the Earth, as rock and
desert; 8. Obstacles, as the river or mountain; 9. Illusion, seductive,
invisible, and mysterious agents, causing delusions; 10. Darkness
(especially when unusual), Dreams, Nightmare; 11. Disease; 12. Death.

These classes are selected, in obedience to necessary limitations,
as representing the twelve chief labours of man which have given
shape to the majority of his haunting demons, as distinguished from
his devils. Of course all classifications of this character must be
understood as made for convenience, and the divisions are not to be
too sharply taken. What Plotinus said of the gods, that each contained
all the rest, is equally true of both demons and devils. The demons
of Hunger are closely related to the demons of Fire: Agni devoured
his parents (two sticks consumed by the flame they produce); and
from them we pass easily to elemental demons, like the lightning,
or demons of fever. And similarly we find a relationship between
other destructive forces. Nevertheless, the distinctions drawn are
not fanciful, but exist in clear and unmistakable beliefs as to the
special dispositions and employments of demons; and as we are not
engaged in dealing with natural phenomena, but with superstitions
concerning them, the only necessity of this classification is that
it shall not be arbitrary, but shall really simplify the immense mass
of facts which the student of Demonology has to encounter.

But there are several points which require especial attention as
preliminary to a consideration of these various classes of demons.

First, it is to be borne in mind that a single demonic form will often
appear in various functions, and that these must not be confused. The
serpent may represent the lightning, or the coil of the whirlwind, or
fatal venom; the earthquake may represent a swallowing Hunger-demon,
or the rage of a chained giant. The separate functions must not be
lost sight of because sometimes traceable to a single form, nor their
practical character suffer disguise through their fair euphemistic
or mythological names.

Secondly, the same form appears repeatedly in a diabolic as well as
a demonic function, and here a clear distinction must be maintained
in the reader's mind. The distinction already taken between a demon
and a devil is not arbitrary: the word demon is related to deity;
the word devil, though sometimes connected with the Sanskrit deva,
has really no relation to it, but has a bad sense as 'calumniator:'
but even if there were no such etymological identity and difference,
it would be necessary to distinguish such widely separate offices as
those representing the afflictive forces of nature where attributed
to humanly appreciable motives on the one hand, and evils ascribed to
pure malignancy or a principle of evil on the other. The Devil may,
indeed, represent a further evolution in the line on which the Demon
has appeared; Ahriman the Bad in conflict with Ormuzd the Good may
be a spiritualisation of the conflict between Light and Darkness, Sun
and Cloud, as represented in the Vedic Indra and Vritra; but the two
phases represent different classes of ideas, indeed different worlds,
and the apprehension of both requires that they shall be carefully
distinguished even when associated with the same forms and names.

Thirdly, there is an important class of demons which the reader
may expect to find fully treated of in the part of my work more
particularly devoted to Demonology, which must be deferred, or further
traced in that portion relating to the Devil; they are forms which in
their original conception were largely beneficent, and have become of
evil repute mainly through the anathema of theology. The chequer-board
on which Osiris sat had its development in hosts of primitive shapes of
light opposing shapes of darkness. The evil of some of these is ideal;
others are morally amphibious: Teraphim, Lares, genii, were ancestors
of the guardian angels and patron saints of the present day; they were
oftenest in the shapes of dogs and cats and aged human ancestors,
supposed to keep watch and ward about the house, like the friendly
Domovoi respected in Russia; the evil disposition and harmfulness
ascribed to them are partly natural but partly also theological,
and due to the difficulty of superseding them with patron saints and
angels. The degradation of beneficent beings, already described in
relation to large demonic and diabolic forms, must be understood as
constantly acting in the smallest details of household superstition,
with what strange reaction and momentous result will appear when we
come to consider the phenomena of Witchcraft.

Finally, it must be remarked that the nature of our inquiry renders
the consideration of the origin of myths--whether 'solar' or other--of
secondary importance. Such origin it will be necessary to point out
and discuss incidentally, but our main point will always be the forms
in which the myths have become incarnate, and their modifications
in various places and times, these being the result of those actual
experiences with which Demonology is chiefly concerned. A myth, as
many able writers have pointed out, is, in its origin, an explanation
by the uncivilised mind of some natural phenomenon--not an allegory,
not an esoteric conceit. For this reason it possesses fluidity, and
takes on manifold shapes. The apparent sleep of the sun in winter
may be represented in a vast range of myths, from the Seven Sleepers
to the Man in the Moon of our nursery rhyme; but the variations all
have relation to facts and circumstances. Comparative Mythology is
mainly concerned with the one thread running through them, and binding
them all to the original myth; the task of Demonology is rather to
discover the agencies which have given their several shapes. If it be
shown that Orthros and Cerberus were primarily the morning and evening
twilight or howling winds, either interpretation is here secondary to
their personification as dogs. Demonology would ask, Why dogs? why
not bulls? Its answer in each case detaches from the anterior myth
its mode, and shows this as the determining force of further myths.



PART II.

THE DEMON.


CHAPTER I.

HUNGER.

    Hunger-demons--Kephn--Miru--Kagura--Ráhu the Hindu
    sun-devourer--The earth monster at Pelsall--A Franconian
    custom--Sheitan as moon-devourer--Hindu offerings to the
    dead--Ghoul--Goblin--Vampyres--Leanness of demons--Old Scotch
    custom.--The origin of sacrifices.


In every part of the earth man's first struggle was for his daily
food. With only a rude implement of stone or bone he had to get fish
from the sea, bird from the air, beast from the forest. For ages,
with such poor equipment, he had to wring a precarious livelihood from
nature. He saw, too, every living form around him similarly trying to
satisfy its hunger. There seemed to be a Spirit of Hunger abroad. And,
at the same time, there was such a resistance to man's satisfaction
of his need--the bird and fish so hard to get, the stingy earth so
ready to give him a stone when he asked for bread--that he came to the
conclusion that there must be invisible voracious beings who wanted all
good things for themselves. So the ancient world was haunted by a vast
brood of Hunger-demons. There is an African tribe, the Karens, whose
representation of the Devil (Kephn) is a huge stomach floating through
the air; and this repulsive image may be regarded as the type of nearly
half the demons which have haunted the human imagination. This, too,
is the terrible Miru, with her daughters and slave, haunting the South
Sea Islander. 'The esoteric doctrine of the priests was, that souls
leave the body ere breath has quite gone, and travel to the edge of
a cliff facing the setting sun (Ra). A large wave now approaches the
base of the cliff, and a gigantic bua tree, covered with fragrant
blossoms, springs up from Avaiki (nether world) to receive on its
far-reaching branches human spirits, who are mysteriously impelled to
cluster on its limbs. When at length the mystic tree is covered with
human spirits, it goes down with its living freight to the nether
world. Akaanga, the slave of fearful Miru, mistress of the invisible
world, infallibly catches all these unhappy spirits in his net and
laves them to and fro in a lake. In these waters the captive ghosts
exhaust themselves by wriggling about like fishes, in the vain hope of
escape. The net is pulled up, and the half-drowned spirits enter into
the presence of dread Miru, who is ugliness personified. The secret
of Miru's power over her intended victims is the 'kava' root (Piper
mythisticum). A bowl of this drink is prepared for each visitor to the
shades by her four lovely daughters. Stupefied with the draught, the
unresisting victims are borne off to a mighty oven and cooked. Miru,
her peerless daughters, her dance-loving son, and the attendants,
subsist exclusively on human spirits decoyed to the nether world
and then cooked. The drinking-cups of Miru are the skulls of her
victims. She is called in song 'Miru-the-ruddy,' because her cheeks
ever glow with the heat of the oven where her captives are cooked. As
the surest way to Miru's oven is to die a natural death, one need not
marvel that the Rev. Mr. Gill, who made these statements before the
Anthropological Institute in London (February 8, 1876), had heard
'many anecdotes of aged warriors, scarcely able to hold a spear,
insisting on being led to the field of battle in the hope of gaining
the house of the brave.' As the South Sea paradise seems to consist
in an eternal war-dance, or, in one island, in an eternal chewing
of sugar-cane, it is not unlikely that the aged seek violent death
chiefly to avoid the oven. We have here a remarkable illustration of
the distinguishing characteristic of the demon. Fearful as Miru is,
it may be noted that there is not one gratuitous element of cruelty
in her procedure. On the contrary, she even provides her victims
with an anæsthetic draught. Her prey is simply netted, washed, and
cooked, as for man are his animal inferiors. In one of the islands
(Aitutaki), Miru is believed to resort to a device which is certainly
terrible--namely, the contrivance that each soul entering the nether
world shall drink a bowl of living centipedes; but this is simply
with the one end in view of appeasing her own pangs of hunger, for
the object and effect of the draught is to cause the souls to drown
themselves, it being apparently only after entire death that they
can be cooked and devoured by Miru and her household.

Fortunately for the islanders, Miru is limited in her tortures to
a transmundane sphere, and room is left for many a slip between
her dreadful cup and the human lip. The floating stomach Kephn is,
however, not other-worldly. We see, however, a softened form of him
in some other tribes. The Greenlanders, Finns, Laps, conceived the
idea that there is a large paunch-demon which people could invoke to
go and suck the cows or consume the herds of their enemies; and the
Icelanders have a superstition that some people can construct such a
demon out of bones and skins, and send him forth to transmute the milk
or flesh of cattle into a supply of flesh and blood. A form of this
kind is represented in the Japanese Kagura (figure 3), the favourite
mask of January dancers and drum-beaters seeking money. The Kagura
is in precise contrast with the Pretas (Siam), which, though twelve
miles in height, are too thin to be seen, their mouths being so small
as to render it impossible to satisfy their fearful hunger.

The pot-bellies given to demons in Travancore and other districts
of India, and the blood-sacrifices by which the natives propitiate
them--concerning which a missionary naively remarks, that even these
heathen recognise, though in corrupted form, 'the great truth that
without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins' [22]--refer
to the Hunger-demon. They are the brood of Kali, girt round with
human skulls.

The expedition which went out to India to observe the last solar
eclipse was incidentally the means of calling attention to a
remarkable survival of the Hunger-demon in connection with astronomic
phenomena. While the English observers were arranging their apparatus,
the natives prepared a pile of brushwood, and, so soon as the eclipse
began, they set fire to this pile and began to shout and yell as they
danced around it. Not less significant were the popular observances
generally. There was a semi-holiday in honour of the eclipse. The
ghauts were crowded with pious worshippers. No Hindu, it is thought,
ought to do any work whatever during an eclipse, and there was a
general tendency to prolong the holiday a little beyond the exact
time when the shadow disappears, and indeed to prolong it throughout
the day. All earthenware vessels used for cooking were broken, and all
cooked food in the houses at the time of the eclipse was thrown out. It
is regarded as a time of peculiar blessings if taken in the right way,
and of dread consequences to persons inclined to heterodoxy or neglect
of the proper observances. Between nine and ten in the evening two
shocks of an earthquake occurred, the latter a rather unpleasant one,
shaking the tables and doors in an uncomfortable fashion for several
seconds. To the natives it was no surprise--they believe firmly in
the connection of eclipses and earthquakes. [23]

Especially notable is the breaking of their culinary utensils by
the Hindus during an eclipse. In Copenhagen there is a collection
of the votive weapons of ancient Norsemen, every one broken as it
was offered up to the god of their victory in token of good faith,
lest they should be suspected of any intention to use again what they
had given away. For the same reason the cup was offered--broken--with
the libation. The Northman felt himself in the presence of the Jötunn
(giants), whose name Grimm identifies as the Eaters. For the Hindu of
to-day the ceremonies appropriate at an eclipse, however important,
have probably as little rational meaning as the occasional Belfire
that lights up certain dark corners of Europe has for those who build
it. But the traditional observances have come up from the childhood
of the world, when the eclipse represented a demon devouring the sun,
who was to have his attention called by outcries and prayers to the
fact that if it was fire he needed there was plenty on earth; and if
food, he might have all in their houses, provided he would consent
to satisfy his appetite with articles of food less important than
the luminaries of heaven.

Such is the shape now taken in India of the ancient myth of the
eclipse. When at the churning of the ocean to find the nectar of
immortality, a demon with dragon-tail was tasting that nectar, the sun
and moon told on him, but not until his head had become immortal; and
it is this head of Ráhu which seeks now to devour the informers--the
Sun and Moon. [24] Mythologically, too, this Ráhu has been divided;
for we shall hereafter trace the dragon-tail of him to the garden of
Eden and in the christian devil, whereas in India he has been improved
from a vindictive to a merely voracious demon.

The fires kindled by the Hindus to frighten Ráhu on his latest
appearance might have defeated the purpose of the expedition by the
smoke it was sending up, had not two officers leaped upon the fire
and scattered its fuel; but just about the time when these courageous
gentlemen were trampling out the fires of superstition whose smoke
would obscure the vision of science, an event occurred in England
which must be traced to the same ancient belief--the belief, namely,
that when anything is apparently swallowed up, as the sun and moon
by an eclipse, or a village by earthquake or flood, it is the work
of a hungry dragon, earthworm, or other monster. The Pelsall mine
was flooded, and a large number of miners drowned. When the accident
became known in the village, the women went out with the families of
the unfortunate men, and sat beside the mouth of the flooded pit,
at the bottom of which the dead bodies yet remained. These women
then yelled down the pit with voices very different from ordinary
lamentation. They also refused unanimously to taste food of any kind,
saying, when pressed to do so, that so long as they could refrain from
eating, their husbands might still be spared to them. When, finally,
one poor woman, driven by the pangs of hunger, was observed to eat a
crust of bread, the cries ceased, and the women, renouncing all hope,
proceeded in silent procession to their homes in Pelsall.

The Hindu people casting their food out of the window during
an eclipse, the Pelsall wives refusing to eat when the mine is
flooded, are acting by force of immemorial tradition, and so are
doing unconsciously what the African woman does consciously when she
surrounds the bed of her sick husband with rice and meat, and beseeches
the demon to devour them instead of the man. To the same class of
notions belong the old custom of trying to discover the body of one
drowned by means of a loaf of bread with a candle stuck in it, which
it was said would pause above the body, and the body might be made to
appear by firing a gun over it--that is, the demon holding it would be
frightened off. A variant, too, is the Persian custom of protecting a
woman in parturition by spreading a table, with a lamp at each corner,
with seven kinds of fruits and seven different aromatic seeds upon it.

In 1769, when Pennant made his 'Scottish Tour,' he found fully
observed in the Highlands the ceremony of making the Beltane Cake on
the first of May, and dedicating its distributed fragments to birds
and beasts of prey, with invocation to the dread being of whom they
were the supposed agents to spare the herds. Demons especially love
milk: the Lambton Worm required nine cows' milk daily; and Jerome
mentions a diabolical baby which exhausted six nurses.

The Devil nominally inherits, among the peasantry of Christendom, the
attributes of the demons which preceded him; but it must be understood
that in every case where mere voracity is ascribed to the Devil, a
primitive demon is meant, and of this fact the superstitious peasant
is dimly conscious. In Franconia, when a baker is about to put dough
biscuits into an oven to be baked, he will first throw half-a-dozen of
them into the fire, saying, 'There, poor devil! those are for you.' If
pressed for an explanation, he will admit his fear that but for this
offering his biscuits are in danger of coming out burnt; but that the
'poor devil' is not bad-hearted, only driven by his hunger to make
mischief. The being he fears is, therefore, clearly not the Devil at
all--whose distinction is a love of wickedness for its own sake--but
the half-starved gobbling ghosts of whom, in Christian countries,
'Devil' has become the generic name. Of their sacrifices, Grace before
meat is a remnant. In Moslem countries, however, 'Sheitan' combines the
demonic and the malignant voracities. During the late lunar eclipse,
the inhabitants of Pera and Constantinople fired guns over their houses
to drive 'Sheitan' (Satan) away from the moon, for, whoever the foe,
the Turk trusts in gunpowder. But superstitions representing Satan
as a devourer are becoming rare. In the church of Nôtre Dame at Hal,
Belgium, the lectern shows a dragon attempting to swallow the Bible,
which is supported on the back of an eagle.

There is another and much more formidable form in which the
Hunger-demon appears in Demonology. The fondness for blood, so
characteristic of supreme gods, was distributed as a special thirst
through a large class of demons. In the legend of Ishtar descending
to Hades [25] to seek some beloved one, she threatens if the door be
not opened--



I will raise the dead to be devourers of the living!
Upon the living shall the dead prey!



This menace shows that the Chaldæan and Babylonian belief in the
vampyre, called Akhkharu in Assyrian, was fully developed at a very
early date. Although the Hunger-demon was very fully developed in
India, it does not appear to have been at any time so cannibalistic,
possibly because the natives were not great flesh-eaters. In some
cases, indeed, we meet with the vampyre superstition; as in the story
of Vikram and the Vampyre, and in the Tamil drama of Harichándra,
where the frenzied Sandramáti says to the king, 'I belong to the
race of elves, and I have killed thy child in order that I might
feed on its delicate flesh.' Such expressions are rare enough to
warrant suspicion of their being importations. The Vetala's appetite
is chiefly for corpses. The poor hungry demons of India--such as the
Bhút, a dismal, ravenous ghost, dreaded at the moon-wane of the month
Katik (Oct.-Nov.)--was not supposed to devour man, but only man's
food. The Hindu demons of this class may be explained by reference
to the sráddha, or oblation to ancestors, concerning which we read
directions in the Manu Code. 'The ancestors of men are satisfied a
whole month with tila, rice, &c.; two months with fish, &c. The Manes
say, Oh, may that man be born in our line who may give us milky food,
with honey and pure butter, both on the thirteenth of the moon and
when the shadow of an elephant falls to the east!' The bloodthirsty
demons of India have pretty generally been caught up like Kali into
a higher symbolism, and their voracity systematised and satisfied in
sacrificial commutations. The popular belief in the southern part of
that country is indicated by Professor Monier Williams, in a letter
written from Southern India, wherein he remarks that the devils alone
require propitiation. It is generally a simple procedure, performed
by offerings of food or other articles supposed to be acceptable
to disembodied beings. For example, when a certain European, once a
terror to the district in which he lived, died in the South of India,
the natives were in the constant habit of depositing brandy and cigars
on his tomb to propitiate his spirit, supposed to roam about the
neighbourhood in a restless manner, and with evil proclivities. The
very same was done to secure the good offices of the philanthropic
spirit of a great European sportsman, who, when he was alive, delivered
his district from the ravages of tigers. Indeed all evil spirits
are thought to be opposed by good ones, who, if duly propitiated,
make it their business to guard the inhabitants of particular places
from demonic intruders. Each district, and even every village, has
its guardian genius, often called its Mother. [26]

Such ideas as these are represented in Europe in some varieties of
the Kobold and the Goblin (Gk. kobalos). Though the goblin must,
according to folk-philosophy, be fed with nice food, it is not
a deadly being; on the contrary, it is said the Gobelin tapestry
derives its name because the secret of its colours was gained from
these ghosts. Though St. Taurin expelled one from Evreux, he found
it so polite that he would not send it to hell, and it still haunts
the credulous there and at Caen, without being thought very formidable.

The demon that 'lurks in graveyards' is universal, and may have
suggested cremation. In the East it is represented mainly by such forms
as the repulsive ghoul, which preys on dead bodies; but it has been
developed in some strange way to the Slavonic phantom called Vampyre,
whose peculiar fearfulness is that it represents the form in which
any deceased person may reappear, not ghoul-like to batten on the
dead, but to suck the blood of the living. This is perhaps the most
formidable survival of demonic superstition now existing in the world.

A people who still have in their dictionary such a word as 'miscreant'
(misbeliever) can hardly wonder that the priests of the Eastern
Church fostered the popular belief that heretics at death changed
into drinkers of the blood of the living. The Slavonic vampyres have
declined in England and America to be the 'Ogres,' who 'smell the blood
of an Englishman,' but are rarely supposed to enjoy it; but it exposes
the real ugliness of the pious superstitions sometimes deemed pretty,
that, in proportion to the intensity of belief in supernaturalism,
the people live in terror of the demons that go about seeking whom
they may devour. In Russia the watcher beside a corpse is armed with
holy charms against attack from it at midnight. A vampyre may be the
soul of any outcast from the Church, or one over whose corpse, before
burial, a cat has leaped or a bird flown. It may be discovered in a
graveyard by leading a black colt through; the animal will refuse to
tread on the vampyre's grave, and the body is taken out and a stake
driven through it, always by a single blow. A related class of demons
are the 'heart-devourers.' They touch their victim with an aspen or
other magical twig; the heart falls out, and is, perhaps, replaced
by some baser one. Mr. Ralston mentions a Mazovian story in which a
hero awakes with the heart of a hare, and remains a coward ever after;
[27] and in another case a quiet peasant received a cock's heart and
was always crowing. The Werewolf, in some respects closely related
to the vampyre, also pursues his ravages among the priest-ridden
peasantry of the South and East.

In Germany, though the more horrible forms of the superstition are
rare, the 'Nachzehrer' is much dreaded. Even in various Protestant
regions it is thought safest that a cross should be set beside every
grave to impede any demonic propensities that may take possession
of the person interred; and where food is not still buried with the
corpse to assuage any pangs of hunger that may arise, a few grains
of corn or rice are scattered upon it in reminiscence of the old
custom. In Diesdorf it is believed that if money is not placed in the
dead person's mouth at burial, or his name not cut from his shirt, he
is likely to become a Nachzehrer, and that the ghost will come forth
in the form of a pig. It is considered a sure preventative of such
a result to break the neck of the dead body. On one occasion, it is
there related, several persons of one family having died, the suspected
corpse was exhumed, and found to have eaten up its own grave-clothes.

Dr. Dyer, an eminent physician of Chicago, Illinois, told me (1875)
that a case occurred in that city within his personal knowledge,
where the body of a woman who had died of consumption was taken out of
the grave and the lungs burned, under a belief that she was drawing
after her into the grave some of her surviving relatives. In 1874,
according to the Providence Journal, in the village of Peacedale, Rhode
Island, U.S., Mr. William Rose dug up the body of his own daughter,
and burned her heart, under the belief that she was wasting away the
lives of other members of his family.

The characteristics of modern 'Spiritualism' appear to indicate
that the superstitious have outgrown this ancient fear of ghostly
malevolence where surrounded by civilisation. It is very rare in the
ancient world or in barbarous regions to find any invocations for the
return of the spirits of the dead. Mr. Tylor has quoted a beautiful
dirge used by the Ho tribe of India, beginning--



We never scolded you, never wronged you;
        Come to us back!



But generally funereal customs are very significant of the fear that
spirits may return, and their dirges more in the vein of the Bodo
of North-East India: 'Take and eat: heretofore you have eaten and
drunk with us, you can do so no more: you were one of us, you can be
so no longer: we come no more to you, come you not to us.' 'Even,'
says Mr. Tylor, 'in the lowest culture we find flesh holding its own
against spirit, and at higher stages the householder rids himself with
little scruple of an unwelcome inmate. The Greenlanders would carry
the dead out by the window, not by the door, while an old woman,
waving a firebrand behind, cried 'Piklerrukpok!' i.e., 'There is
nothing more to be had here!' the Hottentots removed the dead from the
hut by an opening broken out on purpose, to prevent him from finding
the way back; the Siamese, with the same intention, break an opening
through the house wall to carry the coffin through, and then hurry it
at full speed thrice round the house; the Siberian Chuwashes fling a
red-hot stone after the corpse is carried out, for an obstacle to bar
the soul from coming back; so Brandenburg peasants pour out a pail of
water at the door after the coffin to prevent the ghost from walking;
and Pomeranian mourners returning from the churchyard leave behind
the straw from the hearse, that the wandering soul may rest there,
and not come back so far as home.' [28]

It may be remarked, in this connection, that in nearly all the pictures
of demons and devils, they are represented as very lean. The exceptions
will be found generally in certain Southern and tropical demons which
represent cloud or storm--Typhon, for instance--and present a swollen
or bloated appearance. No Northern devil is fat. Shakespeare ascribes
to Cæsar a suspicion of leanness--


        Yond' Cassius hath a lean and hungry look:
        He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.


When Antony defends Cassius, Cæsar only replies, 'Would he were
fatter!' This mistrust of leanness is a reflection from all the
Hunger-demons; it interprets the old sayings that a devil, however
fair in front, may be detected by hollowness of the back, and that
he is usually so thin as to cast no shadow. [29]

Illustrations of the Hunger-demon and its survivals might be greatly
multiplied, were it necessary. It need only, however, be mentioned that
it is to this early and most universal conception of præternatural
danger that the idea of sacrifice as well as of fasting must be
ascribed. It is, indeed, too obvious to require extended demonstration
that the notion of offering fruits and meat to an invisible being
could only have originated in the belief that such being was hungry,
however much the spiritualisation of such offerings may have attended
their continuance among enlightened peoples. In the evolution of
purer deities, Fire--'the devouring element'--was substituted for a
coarser method of accepting sacrifices, and it became a sign of baser
beings--such as the Assyrian Akhkharu, and the later Lamia--to consume
dead bodies with their teeth; and this fire was the spiritual element
in the idolatries whose objects were visible. But the original accent
of sacrifice never left it. The Levitical Law says: 'The two kidneys,
and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul
above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. And the
priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering
made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is the Lord's. It shall be
a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings,
that ye eat neither fat nor blood.' [30] We find the Hunger-demon
shown as well in the wrath of Jehovah against the sons of Eli for
eating the choice parts of the meats offered on his altar, as in that
offering of tender infants to Moloch which his priests denounced,
or in Saturn devouring his children, whom Aryan faith dethroned;
and they all reappear as phantoms thinly veiled above the spotless
Lamb offered up on Calvary, the sacrificed Macaria ('Blessed'), the
pierced heart of Mary. The beautiful boy Menoeceus must be sacrificed
to save Thebes; the gods will not have aged and tough Creon, though a
king, in his place. Iphigenia, though herself saved from the refined
palate of Artemis, through the huntress's fondness for kid's blood,
becomes the priestess of human sacrifices. The human offering deemed
half-divine could alone at last satisfy the Deity, gathered in his
side this sheaf of sacrificial knives, whetted in many lands and
ages, and in his self-sacrifice the Hunger-demon himself was made
the victim. Theologians have been glad to rescue the First Person
of their Trinity from association with the bloodthirsty demons of
barbarous ages by describing the sacrifice of Jesus as God himself
becoming the victim of an eternal law. But, whatever may be said of
this complex device, it is sufficient evidence that man's primitive
demon which personified his hunger has ended with being consumed on
his own altar. For though fasting is a survival of the same savage
notion that man may secure benefits from invisible beings by leaving
them the food, it is a practice which survives rather through the
desire of imitating ascetic saints than because of any understood
principle. The strange yet natural consummation adds depth of meaning
to the legend of Odin being himself sacrificed in his disguise on
the Holy Tree at Upsala, where human victims were hung as offerings
to him; and to his rune in the Havamal--


                    I know that I hung
                    On a wind-rocked tree
                    Nine whole nights,
                    With a spear wounded,
                    And to Odin offered
                    Myself to myself.



CHAPTER II.

HEAT.

    Demons of Fire--Agni--Asmodeus--Prometheus--Feast of fire--Moloch
    --Tophet--Genii of the lamp--Bel-fires--Hallowe'en--Negro
    superstitions--Chinese fire-god--Volcanic and incendiary demons--
    Mangaian fire-demon--Demons' fear of water.


Fire was of old the element of fiends. No doubt this was in part due to
the fact that it also was a devouring element. Sacrifices were burnt;
the demon visibly consumed them. But the great flame-demons represent
chiefly the destructive and painful action of intense heat. They
originate in regions of burning desert, of sunstroke, and drouth.

Agni, the Hindu god of fire, was adored in Vedic hymns as the twin
of Indra.

'Thy appearance is fair to behold, thou bright-faced Agni, when like
gold thou shinest at hand; thy brightness comes like the lightning
of heaven; thou showest splendour like the splendour of the bright sun.

'Adorable and excellent Agni, emit the moving and graceful smoke.

'The flames of Agni are luminous, powerful, fearful, and not to
be trusted.

'I extol the greatness of that showerer of rain, whom men celebrate
as the slayer of Vritra: the Agni, Vaiswanara, slew the stealer of
the waters.'

The slaying of Vritra, the monster, being the chief exploit of Indra,
Agni could only share in it as being the flame that darted with
Indra's weapon, the disc (of the sun).

'Thou (Agni) art laid hold off with difficulty, like the young of
tortuously twining snakes, thou who art a consumer of many forests
as a beast is of fodder.'

Petrifaction awaits all these glowing metaphors of early time. Verbal
inspiration will make Agni a literally tortuous serpent and consuming
fire. His smoke, called Kali (black), is now the name of Siva's
terrible bride.

Much is said in Vedic hymns of the method of producing the sacred
flame symbolising Agni; namely, the rubbing together of two sticks. 'He
it is whom the two sticks have engendered, like a new-born babe.' It
is a curious coincidence that a similar phrase should describe 'the
devil on two sticks,' who has come by way of Persia into European
romance. Asmodeus was a lame demon, and his 'two sticks' as 'Diable
Boiteux' are crutches; but his lameness may be referable to the
attenuated extremities suggested by spires of flame--'tortuously
twining snakes,'--rather than to the rabbinical myth that he broke
his leg on his way to meet Solomon. Benfey identified Asmodeus as
Zend Aêshma-daêva, demon of lust. His goat-feet and fire-coal eyes
are described by Le Sage, and the demon says he was lamed by falling
from the air, like Vulcan, when contending with Pillardoc. It is not
difficult to imagine how flame engendered by the rubbing of sticks
might have attained personification as sensual passion, especially
among Zoroastrians, who would detach from the adorable Fire all
associations of evil. It would harmonise well with the Persian
tendency to diabolise Indian gods, that they should note the lustful
character occasionally ascribed to Agni in the Vedas. 'Him alone,
the ever-youthful Agni, men groom like a horse in the evening and
at dawn; they bed him as a stranger in his couch; the light of Agni,
the worshipped male, is lighted.' Agni was the Indian 'Brulefer' or
love-charmer, and patron of marriage; the fire-god Hephaistos was the
husband of Aphrodite; the day of the Norse thunder-and-lightning god
Thor (Thursday), is in Scandinavian regions considered the luckiest
for marriages.

The process of obtaining fire by friction is represented by a nobler
class of myths than that referred to. In the Mahábhárata the gods
and demons together churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality;
and they use for their churning-stick the mountain Manthara. This word
appears in pramantha, which means a fire-drill, and from it comes the
great name of Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven, and conferred
on mankind a boon which rendered them so powerful that the jealousy
and wrath of Zeus were excited. This fable is generally read in its
highly rationalised and mystical form, and on this account belongs to
another part of our general subject; but it may be remarked here that
the Titan so terribly tortured by Zeus could hardly have been regarded,
originally, as the friend of man. At the time when Zeus was a god
genuinely worshipped--when he first stood forth as the supplanter of
the malign devourer Saturn--it could have been no friend of man who
was seen chained on the rock for ever to be the vulture's prey. It
was fire in some destructive form which must have been then associated
with Prometheus, and not that power by which later myths represented
his animating with a divine spark the man of clay. The Hindu myth
of churning the ocean for the immortal draught, even if it be proved
that the ocean is heaven and the draught lightning, does not help us
much. The traditional association of Prometheus with the Arts might
almost lead one to imagine that the early use of fire by some primitive
inventor had brought upon him the wrath of his mates, and that Zeus'
thunderbolts represented some early 'strike' against machinery.

It is not quite certain that it may not have been through some
euphemistic process that Fire-worship arose in Persia. Not only does
fire occupy a prominent place in the tortures inflicted by Ahriman
in the primitive Parsee Inferno, but it was one of the weapons by
which he attempted to destroy the heavenly child Zoroaster. The evil
magicians kindled a fire in the desert and threw the child on it;
but his mother, Dogdo, found him sleeping tranquilly on the flames,
which were as a pleasant bath, and his face shining like Zohore and
Moschteri (Jupiter and Mercury). [31] The Zoroastrians also held
that the earth would ultimately be destroyed by fire; its metals and
minerals, ignited by a comet, would form streams which all souls would
have to pass through: they would be pleasant to the righteous, but
terrible to the sinful,--who, however, would come through, purified,
into paradise, the last to arrive being Ahriman himself.

The combustible nature of many minerals under the surface of the
earth,--which was all the realm of Hades (invisible),--would assist
the notion of a fiery abode for the infernal gods. Our phrase 'plutonic
rock' would then have a very prosaic sense. Pliny says that in his time
sulphur was used to keep off evil spirits, and it is not impossible
that it first came to be used as a medicine by this route. [32]

Fire-festivals still exist in India, where the ancient raiment of Agni
has been divided up and distributed among many deities. At the popular
annual festival in honour of Dharma Rajah, called the Feast of Fire,
the devotees walk barefoot over a glowing fire extending forty feet. It
lasts eighteen days, during which time those that make a vow to keep
it must fast, abstain from women, lie on the bare ground, and walk
on a brisk fire. The eighteenth day they assemble on the sound of
instruments, their heads crowned with flowers, their bodies daubed
with saffron, and follow the figures of Dharma Rajah and Draupadi
his wife in procession. When they come to the fire, they stir it
to animate its activity, and take a little of the ashes, with which
they rub their foreheads; and when the gods have been carried three
times round it they walk over a hot fire, about forty feet. Some
carry their children in their arms, and others lances, sabres, and
standards. After the ceremony the people press to collect the ashes
to rub their foreheads with, and obtain from devotees the flowers
with which they were adorned, and which they carefully preserve. [33]

The passion of Agni reappears in Draupadi purified by fire for
her five husbands, and especially her union with Dharma Rajah,
son of Yama, is celebrated in this unorthodox passion-feast. It has
been so much the fashion for travellers to look upon all 'idolatry'
with biblical eyes, that we cannot feel certain with Sonnerat that
there was anything more significant in the carrying of children by
the devotees, than the supposition that what was good for the parent
was equally beneficial to the child. But the identification of Moloch
with an Aryan deity is not important; the Indian Feast of Fire and
the rites of Moloch are derived by a very simple mental process
from the most obvious aspects of the Sun as the quickening and the
consuming power in nature. The child offered to Moloch was offered
to the god by whom he was generated, and as the most precious of all
the fruits of the earth for which his genial aid was implored and his
destructive intensity deprecated. Moloch, a word that means 'king,'
was a name almost synonymous with human sacrifice. It was in all
probability at first only a local (Ammonite) personification growing
out of an ancient shrine of Baal. The Midianite Baal accompanied the
Israelites into the wilderness, and that worship was never thoroughly
eradicated. In the Egyptian Confession of Faith, which the initiated
took even into their graves inscribed upon a scroll, the name of
God is not mentioned, but is expressed only by the words Nuk pu Nuk,
'I am he who I am.' [34] The flames of the burning bush, from which
these same words came to Moses, were kindled from Baal, the Sun;
and we need not wonder that while the more enlightened chiefs of
Israel preserved the higher ideas and symbols of the countries they
abandoned, the ignorant would still cling to Apis (the Golden Calf),
to Ashtaroth, and to Moloch. Amos (v. 26), and after him Stephen the
martyr (Acts vii. 43), reproach the Hebrews with having carried into
the wilderness the tabernacle of their god Moloch. And though the
passing of children through the fire to Moloch was, by the Mosaic Law,
made a capital crime, the superstition and the corresponding practice
retained such strength that we find Solomon building a temple to Moloch
on the Mount of Olives (1 Kings xi. 7), and, long after, Manasseh
making his son pass through the fire in honour of the same god.

It is certain from the denunciations of the prophets [35] that the
destruction of children in these flames was actual. From Jeremiah
xix. 6, as well as other sources, we know that the burnings took
place in the Valley of Tophet or Hinnom (Gehenna). The idol Moloch
was of brass, and its throne of brass; its head was that of a calf,
and wore a royal crown; its stomach was a furnace, and when the
children were placed in its arms they were consumed by the fierce
heat,--their cries being drowned by the beating of drums; from which,
toph meaning a 'drum,' the place was also called Tophet. In the fierce
war waged against alien superstitions by Josiah, he defiled Gehenna,
filling it with ordure and dead men's bones to make it odious, 'that
no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire
to Moloch' (2 Kings xxiii. 10), and a perpetual fire was kept there
to consume the filth of Jerusalem.

From this horrible Gehenna, with its perpetual fire, its loathsome
worm, its cruelties, has been derived the picture of a never-ending
Hell prepared for the majority of human beings by One who, while they
live on earth, sends the rain and sunshine alike on the evil and the
good. Wo Chang, a Chinaman in London, has written to a journal [36]
his surprise that our religious teachers should be seized with such
concern for the victims of Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria, while
they are so calm in view of the millions burning, and destined to
burn endlessly, in the flames of hell. Our Oriental brothers will
learn a great deal from our missionaries; among other things, that
the theological god of Christendom is still Moloch.

The Ammonites, of whom Moloch was the special demon, appear to have
gradually blended with the Arabians. These received from many sources
their mongrel superstitions, but among them were always prominent
the planet-gods and fire-gods, whom their growing monotheism (to use
the word still in a loose sense) transformed to powerful angels and
genii. The genii of Arabia are slaves of the lamp; they are evoked
by burning tufts of hair; they ascend as clouds of smoke. Though, as
subordinate agents of the Fire-fiend, they may be consumed by flames,
yet those who so fight them are apt to suffer a like fate, as in the
case of the Lady of Beauty in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. Many
stories of this kind preceded the declarations of the Old Testament,
that Jehovah breathes fire and brimstone, his breath kindling Tophet;
and also the passages of the Koran, and of the New Testament describing
Satan as a fiery fiend.

Various superstitions connecting infernal powers with fire survive
among the Jews of some remote districts of Europe. The Passover
is kept a week by the Jewish inhabitants in the villages on the
Vosges mountains and on the banks of the Rhine. The time of omer is
the interval between the Passover and Pentecost, the seven weeks
elapsing from the departure from Egypt and the giving of the law,
marked in former days by the offering of an omer of barley daily at
the temple. It is considered a fearful time, during which every Jew is
particularly exposed to the evil influence of evil spirits. There is
something dangerous and fatal in the air; every one should be on the
watch, and not tempt the schedim (demons) in any way. Have a strict
eye upon your cattle, say the Jews, for the sorceress will get into
your stables, mount your cows and goats, bring diseases upon them,
and turn their milk sour. In the latter case, try to lay your hand
upon the suspected person; shut her up in a room with a basin of sour
milk, and beat the milk with a hazel-wand, pronouncing God's name
three times. Whilst you are doing this, the sorceress will make great
lamentation, for the blows are falling upon her. Only stop when you see
blue flames dancing on the surface of the milk, for then the charm is
broken. If at nightfall a beggar comes to ask for a little charcoal to
light his fire, be very careful not to give it, and do not let him go
without drawing him three times by his coat-tail; and without losing
time, throw some large handfuls of salt on the fire. In all of which
we may trace traditions of parched wildernesses and fiery serpents,
as well as of Abraham's long warfare with the Fire-worshippers, until,
according to the tradition, he was thrown into the flames he refused
to worship.

It is probable that in all the popular superstitions which now
connect devils and future punishments with fire are blended both the
apotheosis and the degradation of demons. The first and most universal
of deities being the Sun, whose earthly representative is fire, the
student of Comparative Mythology has to pick his way very carefully
in tracing by any ethnological path the innumerable superstitions of
European folklore in which Fire-worship is apparently reflected. The
collection of facts and records contained in a work so accessible to
all who care to pursue the subject as that of Brand and his editors,
[37] renders it unnecessary that I should go into the curious facts
to any great extent here. The uniformity of the traditions by which
the midsummer fires of Northern Europe have been called Baal-fires or
Bel-fires warrant the belief that they are actually descended from
the ancient rites of Baal, even apart from the notorious fact that
they have so generally been accompanied by the superstition that
it is a benefit to children to leap over or be passed through such
fires. That this practice still survives in out-of-the way places of
the British Empire appears from such communications as the following
(from the Times), which are occasionally addressed to the London
journals:--'Lerwick (Shetland), July 7, 1871.--Sir,--It may interest
some of your readers to know that last night (being St. John's Eve,
old style) I observed, within a mile or so of this town, seven bonfires
blazing, in accordance with the immemorial custom of celebrating the
Midsummer solstice. These fires were kindled on various heights around
the ancient hamlet of Sound, and the children leaped over them, and
'passed through the fire to Moloch,' just as their ancestors would
have done a thousand years ago on the same heights, and their still
remoter progenitors in Eastern lands many thousand years ago. This
persistent adherence to mystic rites in this scientific epoch seems
to me worth taking note of.--A. J.'

To this may be added the following recent extract from a Scotch
journal:--

'Hallowe'en was celebrated at Balmoral Castle with unusual ceremony,
in the presence of her Majesty, the Princess Beatrice, the ladies
and gentlemen of the royal household, and a large gathering of the
tenantry. The leading features of the celebration were a torchlight
procession, the lighting of large bonfires, and the burning in effigy
of witches and warlocks. Upwards of 150 torch-bearers assembled at
the castle as dark set in, and separated into two parties, one band
proceeding to Invergelder, and the other remaining at Balmoral. The
torches were lighted at a quarter before six o'clock, and shortly
after the Queen and Princess Beatrice drove to Invergelder, followed
by the Balmoral party of torchbearers. The two parties then united
and returned in procession to the front of Balmoral Castle, where
refreshments were served to all, and dancing was engaged in round a
huge bonfire. Suddenly there appeared from the rear of the Castle a
grotesque apparition representing a witch with a train of followers
dressed like sprites, who danced and gesticulated in all fashions. Then
followed a warlock of demoniac shape, who was succeeded by another
warlock drawing a car, on which was seated the figure of a witch,
surrounded by other figures in the garb of demons. The unearthly
visitors having marched several times round the burning pile,
the principal figure was taken from the car and tossed into the
flames amid the burning of blue lights and a display of crackers
and fireworks. The health of her Majesty the Queen was then pledged,
and drunk with Highland honours by the assembled hundreds. Dancing
was then resumed, and was carried on till a late hour at night.'

The Sixth Council of Constantinople (an. 680), by its sixty-fifth
canon, forbids these fires in the following terms:--'Those bonefires
that are kindled by certain people before their shops and houses,
over which also they use ridiculously to leap, by a certain ancient
custom, we command them from henceforth to cease. Whoever, therefore,
shall do any such thing, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed;
if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. For in the Fourth Book
of the Kings it is thus written: And Manasseh built an altar to all
the host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord's house, and made
his children to pass through the fire.' There is a charming naïveté
in this denunciation. It is no longer doubtful that this 'bonefire'
over which people leaped came from the same source as that Gehenna
from which the Church derived the orthodox theory of hell, as we have
already seen. When Shakespeare speaks (Macbeth) of 'the primrose way
to the everlasting bonfire,' [38] he is, with his wonted felicity,
assigning the flames of hell and the fires of Moloch and Baal their
right archæological relation.

In my boyhood I have often leaped over a bonfire in a part of the
State of Virginia mainly settled by Scotch families, with whom
probably the custom migrated thither. In the superstitions of the
negroes of that and other Southern States fire plays a large part,
but it is hardly possible now to determine whether they have drifted
there from Africa or England. Sometimes there are queer coincidences
between their notions and some of the early legends of Britain. Thus,
the tradition of the shepherd guided by a distant fire to the entrance
of King Arthur's subterranean hall, where a flame fed by no fuel
coming through the floor reveals the slumbering monarch and his court,
resembles somewhat stories I have heard from negroes of their being led
by distant fires to lucky--others say unlucky--or at any rate enchanted
spots. A negro belonging to my father told me that once, as he was
walking on a country road, he saw a great fire in the distance; he
supposed it must be a house on fire, and hastened towards it, meantime
much puzzled, since he knew of no house in that direction. As he went
on his way he turned into a small wood near which the fire seemed to
be, but when he emerged, all he found was a single fire-coal burning
in the path. There were no other traces whatever of fire, but just
then a large dog leaped past him with a loud bark and disappeared.

In a letter on 'Voudouism in Virginia,' which appeared in the New
York Tribune, dated Richmond, September 17, 1875, occurs an account
of a class of superstitions generally kept close from the whites,
as I have always believed because of their purely African origin. As
will be seen, fire represents an important element in the superstitious
practices.

'If an ignorant negro is smitten with a disease which he cannot
comprehend, he often imagines himself the victim of witchcraft,
and having no faith in 'white folks' physic' for such ailments,
must apply to one of these quacks. A physician residing near this
city was invited by such a one to witness his mode of procedure
with a dropsical patient for whom the physician in question had
occasionally charitably prescribed. Curiosity led him to attend the
seance, having previously informed the quack that since the case was
in such hands he relinquished all connection with it. On the coverlet
of the bed on which the sick man lay was spread a quantity of bones,
feathers, and other trash. The charlatan went through with a series of
so-called conjurations, burned feathers, hair, and tiny fragments of
wood in a charcoal furnace, and mumbled gibberish past the physician's
comprehension. He then proceeded to rip open the pillows and bolsters,
and took from them some queer conglomerations of feathers. These he
said had caused all the trouble. Sprinkling a whitish powder over them,
he burnt them in his furnace. A black offensive smoke was produced,
and he announced triumphantly that the evil influence was destroyed
and that the patient would surely get well. He died not many days
later, believing, in common with all his friends and relatives, that
the conjurations of the 'trick doctor' had failed to save him only
because resorted to too late.'

The following account of a spell from which his wife was rescued,
was given me by a negro in Virginia:--

'The wizard,' to quote the exact words of my informant, 'threw a stick
on a chest; the stick bounded like a trapball three times; then he
opened the chest, took out something looking like dust or clay, and
put it into a cup with water over a fire; then he poured it over a
board (after chopping it three times), which he then put up beneath
the shingles of the house. Returning to the chest he took a piece of
old chain, near the length of my hand, took a hoe and buried the chain
near the sill of the door of my wife's house where she would pass;
then he went away. I saw my wife coming and called to her not to pass,
and to go for a hoe and dig up the place. She did this, and I took
up the chain, which burned the ends of all my fingers clean off. The
same night the conjuror came back: my wife took two half dollars and
a quarter in silver and threw them on the ground before him. The man
seemed as if he was shocked, and then offered her his hand, which
she refused to take, as I had bid her not to let him touch her. He
left and never came to the house again. The spell was broken.'

I am convinced that this is a pure Voudou procedure, and it is
interesting in several regards. The introduction of the chain may have
been the result of the excitement of the time, for it was during the
war when negroes were breaking their chains. The fire and water show
how wide-spread in Africa is that double ordeal which, as we have
seen, is well known in the kingdom of Dahomey. [39] But the mingling
of 'something like dust' with the water held in a cup over the fire,
is strongly suggestive of the Jewish method of preparing holy water,
'the water of separation.' 'For an unclean person they shall take of
the dust of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running
water shall be put thereto in a vessel.' [40] The fiery element
of the mixture was in this case imported with the ashes of the red
heifer. As for this sacrifice of the red heifer itself [41] it was
plainly the propitiation of a fiery demon. In Egypt red hair and red
animals of all kinds were considered infernal, and all the details
of this sacrifice show that the colour of this selected heifer was
typical. The heifer was not a usual sacrifice: a red one was obviously
by its colour marked for the genii of fire--the terrible Seven--and
not to be denied them. Its blood was sprinkled seven times before the
tabernacle, and the rest was utterly consumed--including the hide,
which is particularly mentioned--and the ashes taken to make the
'water of separation.' Calmet notes, in this connection, that the
Apis of India was red-coloured.

The following interesting story of the Chinese Fire-god was supplied
to Mr. Dennys [42] by Mr. Playfair of H.M. Consulate, to whom it was
related in Peking:--

'The temples of the God of Fire are numerous in Peking, as is natural
in a city built for the most part of very combustible materials. The
idols representing the god are, with one exception, decked with red
beards, typifying by their colour the element under his control. The
exceptional god has a white beard, and 'thereby hangs a tale.'

'A hundred years ago the Chinese imperial revenue was in much
better case than it is now. At that time they had not yet come into
collision with Western Powers, and the word 'indemnity' had not,
so far, found a place in their vocabulary; internal rebellions were
checked as soon as they broke out, and, in one word, Kien Lung was in
less embarrassed circumstances than Kwang Hsu; he had more money to
spend, and did lay out a good deal in the way of palaces. His favourite
building, and one on which no expense had been spared, was the 'Hall of
Contemplation.' This hall was of very large dimensions; the rafters and
the pillars which supported the roof were of a size such as no trees
in China furnish now-a-days. They were not improbably originally sent
as an offering by the tributary monarch of some tropical country, such
as Burmah or Siam. Two men could barely join hands round the pillars;
they were cased in lustrous jet-black lacquer, which, while adding to
the beauty of their appearance, was also supposed to make them less
liable to combustion. Indeed, every care was taken that no fire should
approach the building; no lighted lamp was allowed in the precincts,
and to have smoked a pipe inside those walls would have been punished
with death. The floor of the hall was of different-coloured marbles,
in a mosaic of flowers and mystic Chinese characters, always kept
polished like a mirror. The sides of the room were lined with rare
books and precious manuscripts. It was, in short, the finest palace
in the imperial city, and it was the pride of Kien Lung.

'Alas for the vanity of human wishes! In spite of every precaution,
one night a fire broke out, and the Hall of Contemplation was in
danger. The Chinese of a century ago were not without fire-engines,
and though miserably inefficient as compared with those of our London
fire brigade, they were better than nothing, and a hundred of them
were soon working round the burning building. The Emperor himself
came out to superintend their efforts and encourage them to renewed
exertions. But the hall was doomed; a more than earthly power was
directing the flames, and mortal efforts were of no avail. For on
one of the burning rafters Kien Lung saw the figure of a little old
man, with a long white beard, standing in a triumphant attitude. 'It
is the God of Fire,' said the Emperor, 'we can do nothing;' so the
building was allowed to blaze in peace. Next day Kien Lung appointed a
commission to go the round of the Peking temples in order to discover
in which of them there was a Fire-god with a white beard, that he
might worship him, and appease the offended deity. The search was
fruitless; all the Fire-gods had red beards. But the commission had
done its work badly; being highly respectable mandarins of genteel
families, they had confined their search to such temples as were
in good repair and of creditable exterior. Outside the north gate
of the imperial city was one old, dilapidated, disreputable shrine
which they had overlooked. It had been crumbling away for years, and
even the dread figure of the God of Fire, which sat above the altar,
had not escaped desecration. 'Time had thinned his flowing locks,'
and the beard had fallen away altogether. One day some water-carriers
who frequented the locality thought, either in charity or by way
of a joke, that the face would look the better for a new beard. So
they unravelled some cord, and with the frayed-out hemp adorned the
beardless chin. An official passing the temple one day peeped in out
of curiosity, and saw the hempen beard. 'Just the thing the Emperor
was inquiring about,' said he to himself, and he took the news to
the palace without delay. Next day there was a state visit to the
dilapidated temple, and Kien Lung made obeisance and vowed a vow.

'O Fire-god,' said he, 'thou hast been wroth with me in that I have
built me palaces, and left thy shrine unhonoured and in ruins. Here do
I vow to build thee a temple surpassed by none other of the Fire-gods
in Peking; but I shall expect thee in future not to meddle with
my palaces.'

'The Emperor was as good as his word. The new temple is on the site of
the old one, and the Fire-god has a flowing beard of fine white hair.'

In the San Francisco Bulletin, I recently read a description of the
celebration by the Chinese in that city of their Feast for the Dead,
in which there are some significant features. The chief attention
was paid, says the reporter, to a figure 'representing what answers
in their theology to our devil, and whom they evidently think it
necessary to propitiate before proceeding with their worship over
individual graves.' This figure is on the west side of their temple;
before and around it candles and joss-sticks were kept burning. On
the east side was the better-looking figure, to which they paid
comparatively little attention.

It was of course but natural that the demons of fire should
gradually be dispelled from that element in its normal aspects, as
its uses became more important through human invention, and its evil
possibilities were mastered. Such demons became gradually located in
the region of especially dangerous fires, as volcanoes and boiling
springs. The Titan whom the ancients believed struggling beneath
Ætna remained there as the Devil in the christian age. St. Agatha
is said to have prevented his vomiting fire for a century by her
prayers. St. Philip ascended the same mountain, and with book and
candle pronounced a prayer of exorcism, at which three devils came
out like fiery flying stones, crying, 'Woe is us! we are still hunted
by Peter through Philip the Elder!' The volcanoes originated the
belief that hell is at the earth's centre, and their busy Vulcans of
classic ages have been easily transformed into sulphurous lords of
the christian Hell. Such is the mediæval Haborym, demon of arson,
with his three heads--man, cat, and serpent--who rides through the
air mounted on a serpent, and bears in his hand a flaming torch. The
astrologers assigned him command of twenty-six legions of demons in
hell, and the superstitious often saw him laughing on the roofs of
burning houses. [43] But still more dignified is Raum, who commands
thirty legions, and who destroys villages; hence, also, concerned in
the destructions of war, he became the demon who awards dignities;
and although this made his usual form of apparition on the right bank
of the Rhine that of the Odinistic raven, on the left bank he may be
detected in the little red man who was reported as the familiar of
Napoleon I. during his career.

Among Mr. Gill's South Pacific myths is one of a Prometheus, Maui, who
by assistance of a red pigeon gets from the subterranean fire-demon
the secret of producing fire (by rubbing sticks), the demon (Mauike)
being then consumed with his realm, and fire being brought to the
upper world to remain the friend of man. In Vedic legend, when the
world was enveloped in darkness, the gods prayed to Agni, who suddenly
burst out as Tvashtri--pure fire, the Vedic Vulcan--to the dismay of
the universe. In Eddaic sagas, Loki was deemed the most voracious of
beings until defeated in an eating match with Logi (devouring fire).

Survivals of belief in the fiery nature of demons are very
numerous. Thus it is a very common belief that the Devil cannot touch
or cross water, and may therefore be escaped by leaping a stream. This
has sometimes been supposed to have something to do with the purifying
character of water; but there are many instances in Christian folklore
where the Devil is shown quite independent of even holy water if it
is not sprinkled on him or does not wet his feet. Thus in the Norfolk
legend concerning St. Godric, the Devil is said to have thrown the
vessel with its holy water at the saint's head out of anger at his
singing a canticle which the Virgin taught him. But when the Devil
attacked him in various ferocious animal shapes, St. Godric escaped
by running into the Wear, where he sometimes stood all night in water
up to his neck.

The Kobolds get the red jackets they are said to wear from their fiery
nature. Originally the lar familiaris of Germany, the Kobold became
of many varieties; but in one line he has been developed from the
house-spirit, whose good or evil temper was recognised in the comforts
or dangers of fire, to a special Stone-demon. The hell-dog in Faust's
room takes refuge from the spell of 'Solomon's Key' behind the stone,
and is there transformed to human shape. The German maidens read many
pretty oracles in the behaviour of the fire, and the like in that of
its fellow Wahrsager the house-dog. It is indeed a widespread notion
that imps and witches lurk about the fireside, obviously in cat and
dog, and ride through the air on implements that usually stand about
the fire,--shovel, tongs, or broom. In Paris it was formerly the
custom to throw twenty-four cats into the fire on St. John's night,
the animals being, according to M. De Plancy, emblems of the devil. So
was replaced the holocaust of human witches, until at last civilisation
rang out its curfew for all such fires as that.



CHAPTER III.

COLD.

    Descent of Ishtar into Hades--Bardism--Baldur--Hercules--Christ
    --Survivals of the Frost Giant in Slavonic and other countries--
    The Clavie--The Frozen Hell--The Northern abode of demons--North
    side of churches.


Even across immemorial generations it is impossible to read without
emotion the legend of the Descent of Ishtar into Hades. [44] Through
seven gates the goddess of Love passes in search of her beloved,
and at each some of her ornaments and clothing are removed by the
dread guardian. Ishtar enters naked into the presence of the Queen
of Death. But gods, men, and herds languish in her absence, and the
wonder-working Hea, the Saviour, so charms the Infernal Queen, that
she bids the Judge of her realm, Annunak, absolve Ishtar from his
golden throne.



'He poured out for Ishtar the waters of life and let her go.
Then the first gate let her forth, and restored to her the first
garment of her body.
The second gate let her forth, and restored to her the diamonds of
her hands and feet.
The third gate let her forth, and restored to her the central girdle
of her waist.
The fourth gate let her forth, and restored to her the small lovely
gems of her forehead.
The fifth gate let her forth, and restored to her the precious stones
of her head.
The sixth gate let her forth, and restored to her the earrings of
her ears.
The seventh gate let her forth, and restored to her the great crown
on her head.'



This old miracle-play of Nature--the return of summer flower by
flower--is deciphered from an ancient Assyrian tablet in a town
within only a few hours of another, where a circle of worshippers
repeat the same at every solstice! Myfyr Morganwg, the Arch-Druid,
adores still Hea by name as his Saviour, and at the winter solstice
assembles his brethren to celebrate his coming to bruise the head
of the Serpent of Hades (Annwn, nearly the same as in the tablet),
that seedtime and harvest shall not fail. [45]

Is this a survival? No doubt; but there is no cult in the world which,
if 'scratched,' as the proverb says, will not reveal beneath it the
same conception. However it may be spiritualised, every 'plan of
salvation' is cast in the mould of Winter conquered by the Sun, the
Descent of Love to the Under World, the delivery of the imprisoned
germs of Life.

It is very instructive to compare with the myth of Ishtar that of
Hermödr, seeking the release of Baldur the Beautiful from Helheim.

The deadly powers of Winter are represented in the Eddaic account
of the death of Baldur, soft summer Light, the Norse Baal. His blind
brother Hödr is Darkness; the demon who directed his arrow is Loki,
subterranean fire; the arrow itself is of mistletoe, which, fostered by
Winter, owes no duty to Baldur; and the realm to which he is borne is
that of Hel, the frozen zone. Hermödr, having arrived, assured Hel that
the gods were in despair for the loss of Baldur. The Queen replied that
it should now be tried whether Baldur was so beloved. 'If, therefore,
all things in the world, both living and lifeless, weep for him, he
shall return to the Æsir.' In the end all wept but the old hag Thokk
(Darkness), who from her cavern sang--



Thokk will wail
With dry eyes
Baldur's bale-fire.
Nought quick or dead
For Carl's son care I.
Let Hel hold her own.



So Baldur remained in Helheim. The myth very closely resembles that
of Ishtar's Descent. In similar accent the messenger of the Southern
gods weeps and lacerates himself as he relates the grief of the
upper world, and all men and animals 'since the time that mother
Ishtar descended into Hades.' But in the latter the messenger is
successful, in the North he is unsuccessful. In the corresponding
myths of warm and sunny climes the effort at release is more or
less successful, in proportion to the extent of winter. In Adonis
released from Hades for four months every year, and another four if
he chose to abandon Persephone for Aphrodite, we have a reflection of
a variable year. That, and the similar myth of Persephone, varied in
the time specified for their passing in the upper and under worlds,
probably in accordance with the climatic averages of the regions in
which they were told. But in the tropics it was easy to believe the
release complete, as in the myth of Ishtar. In Mangaian myths the hero,
Maui, escapes from a nether world of fire, aided by a red pigeon.

When this contest between Winter's Death and Spring's Life became
humanised, it was as Hercules vanquishing Death and completely
releasing Alcestis. When it became spiritualised it was as Christ
conquering Death and Hell, and releasing the spirits from prison. The
wintry desolation had to be artificially imitated in a forty days' fast
and Lent, closing with a thrust from the spear (the mistletoe arrow)
amid darkness (blind Hödr). But the myth of a swift resurrection
had to be artificially preserved in the far North. The legend of a
full triumph over Death and Hell could never have originated among
our Norse ancestors. Their only story resembling it, that of Iduna,
related how her recovery from the Giants brought back health to the
gods, not men. But it was from the South that men had to hear tidings
of a rescue for the earth and man.

We cannot realise now what glad tidings were they which told this new
gospel to peoples sitting in regions of ice and gloom, after it had
been imposed on them against their reluctant fears. In manifold forms
the old combat was renewed in their festivals, and peoples who had
long been prostrate and helpless before the terrible powers of nature
were never weary of the Southern fables of heroic triumphs over them,
long interpreted in the simple physical sense.

The great Demon of the Northern World is still Winter, and the
hereditary hatred of him is such that he is still cursed, scourged,
killed, and buried or drowned under various names and disguises. In
every Slavonic country, says Mr. Ralston, there are to be found,
about carnival time, traces of ancient rites, intended to typify the
death of Winter and the birth of Spring or Summer. In Poland a puppet
made of hemp or straw is flung into a pond or swamp with the words,
'The Devil take thee!' Then the participators in the deed scamper home,
and if one of them stumbles and falls it is believed he will die within
the year. In Upper Lausatia a similar figure is fastened on a pole to
be pelted, then taken to the village boundary and thrown across it or
cast into the water, its bearers returning with green boughs. Sometimes
the figure is shrouded in white, representing snow, and bears in its
hands a broom (the sweeping storm) and a sickle (the fatal reaper). In
Russia the 'Straw Mujik' is burned, and also in Bulgaria; in the latter
the bonfire is accompanied by the firing of guns, and by dances and
songs to Lado, goddess of Spring. This reminiscence of Leto, on whose
account Apollo slew the Python, is rendered yet more striking by the
week of archery which accompanies it, recalling the sunbeam darts of
the god. In Spain and Italy the demon puppet is scourged under the name
of Judas, as indeed is the case in the annual Good Friday performance
of Portuguese sailors in the London Docks. Mr. Tylor found in Mexico a
similar custom, the Judas being a regular horned and hoofed devil. In
Scotland the pre-christian accessories of a corresponding custom are
more pronounced both in the time selected (the last day of the year,
old style) and the place. 'The Clavie,' as the custom of burning the
puppet of Winter is mysteriously called, occurred on January 12 of
this year (1878) at Burghead, a fishing village near Forres, where
stands an old Roman altar locally named the 'Douro.' A tar-barrel
was set on fire and carried by a fisherman round the town, while the
people shouted and hallooed. (If the man who carries the barrel falls
it is an evil omen.) The lighted barrel, having gone round the town,
was carried to the top of the hill and placed on the Douro. More fuel
was added. The sparks as they fly upwards are supposed to be witches
and evil spirits leaving the town; the people therefore shout at and
curse them as they disappear in vacancy. When the burning tar-barrel
falls in pieces, the fishwomen rush in and endeavour to get a lighted
bit of wood from its remains; with this light the fire on the cottage
hearth is at once kindled, and it is considered lucky to keep this
flame alive all the rest of the year. The charcoal of the Clavie is
collected and put in bits up the chimney to prevent the witches and
evil spirits coming into the house. The Douro is covered with a thick
layer of tar from the fires that are annually lighted upon it. Close
to it is a very ancient Roman well.

It is an instance of the irony of etymology that the word 'Hell'
means a place of fireless darkness. Nor is the fact that the name of
the Scandinavian demoness Hel, phonetically corresponding with Kali,
'the Black One' (Goth. Halja), whose abode was an icy hole, has her
name preserved as a place of fiery torment, without significance. In
regions where cold was known to an uncomfortable extent as well
as heat, we usually find it represented in the ideas of future
punishment. The realm called Hades, meaning just the same as Hell,
suggests cold. Tertullian and Jerome say that Christ's own phrases
'outer darkness' and the 'gnashing (chattering) of teeth' suggest a
place of extreme cold alternating with the excessive heat. Traces of
similar speculations are found with the Rabbins. Thus Rabbi Joseph
says Gehenna had both water and fire. Noah saw the angel of death
approaching and hid from him twelve months. Why twelve? Because
(explains Rabbi Jehuda) such is the trial of sinners,--six in water,
six in fire. Dante (following Virgil) has frigid as well as burning
hells; and the idea was refined by some scholiasts to a statement
which would seem to make the alternations of future punishment amount
to a severe ague and fever. Milton (Paradise Lost, ii.) has blended
the rabbinical notions with those of Virgil (Æn. vi.) in his terrible
picture of the frozen continent, where



                              The parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire:
Thither by harpy-footed Furies haled
At certain revolutions all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft etherial warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round.



With which may be compared Shakespeare's lines in 'Measure for
Measure'--


                The de-lighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice.



In Thibet hell is believed to have sixteen circles, eight burning,
eight frozen, which M. Delepierre attributes to the rapid changes of
their climate between the extremes of heat and cold. [46] Plutarch,
relating the vision of Thespesius in Hades, speaks of the frozen region
there. Denys le Chartreux (De Poenis Inferni) says the severest of
infernal torments is freezing. In the 'Kalendar of Shepherds' (1506)
a legend runs:--'Lazarus sayde, 'I sawe a flode of frosone yce in
the whiche envyous men and women were plonged unto the navyll, and
then sodynly came a colde wynde ryght great that blewe and dyd depe
downe all the envyous into the colde water that nothynge was seen of
them.' Such, too, is Persian Ardá Viráf's vision.

The Demon of Cold has a habitat, naturally, in every
Northern region. He is the Ke-mung of China, who--man-shaped,
dragon-headed--haunts the Chang river, and causes rain-storms. [47] In
Greenland it is Erleursortok, who suffers perpetual agues, and leaps
on souls at death to satisfy his hunger. The Chenoos (demons) of the
Mimacs of Nova Scotia present certain features of the race-demons,
but are fearfully cold. The Chenoo weapon is a dragon's horn, his
yell is fatal to the hearer, his heart is a block of ice. This heart
must be destroyed if the demon is to be slain, but it can only be
done by melting in the fire: the chief precaution required is that
one is not drowned in the flood so caused. The icy demon survived
long in Scotland. Sir James Melville, in his 'Memoirs,' says 'the
spirit or devil that helped the Scottish witches to raise a storm
in the sea of Norway was cold as ice and his body hard as iron;
his face was terrible, his nose like the beak of an eagle, great
burning eyes, his hands and legs hairy, with claws on his nails like
a griffin.' Dr. Fian was burnt for raising this demon to oppose James
I. on his stormy passage from Denmark.

This type of demon haunted people's minds in Scandinavia, where,
though traditions of a flame demon (Loki) and the end of the world
by fire were imported, the popular belief seems to have been mainly
occupied with Frost giants, and the formidable Oegir, god of the
bleak sea east winds, preserved in our word awe (Anglo-Saxon ege),
and more directly in the name of our familiar demon, the Ogre,
so often slain in the child's Gladsheim. Loki (fire) was, indeed,
speedily relegated by the Æsir (gods) to a hidden subterraneous
realm, where his existence could only be known by the earthquakes,
geysers, and Hecla eruptions which he occasioned. Yet he was to come
forth at Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods. We can see a singular
blending of tropical and frigid zones--the one traditional, the other
native--in the Prose Edda. Thus:--'What will remain,' said Gangler,
'after heaven and earth and the whole universe shall be consumed,
and after all the gods and the homes of Valhalla and all mankind
shall have perished?' 'There will be many abodes,' replied Thridi,
'some good, some bad. The best place of all to be in will be Gimil,
in heaven; and all who delight in quaffing good drink will find a
great store in the hall called Brimir, which is also in heaven in the
region Okolni. There is also a fair hall of ruddy gold, (for) Sindri,
which stands on the mountains of Nida. In those halls righteous and
well-minded men shall abide. In Ná-strönd there is a vast and direful
structure with doors that face the north. It is formed entirely of the
backs of serpents, wattled together like wicker-work. But the serpents'
heads are turned towards the inside of the hall, and continually vomit
forth floods of venom, in which wade all those who commit murder or
who forswear themselves. As it is said in the Völuspá:--



She saw a hall
Far from the sun
In Náströnd standing,
Northward the doors look,
And venom-drops
Fall in through loopholes.
Formed is that hall
Of wreathed serpents.
There saw she wade
Through heavy streams
Men forsworn
And murderers.



These names for the heavenly regions and their occupants indicate
sunshine and fire. Gimil means fire (gímr): Brimir (brími, flame),
the giant, and Sindri (cinder), the dwarf, jeweller of the gods,
are raised to halls of gold. Nothing is said of a garden, or walking
therein 'in the cool of the day.' On the other hand, Ná-strönd means
Strand of the Dead, in that region whose 'doors face the north, far
from the sun,' we behold an inferno of extreme cold. Christianity
has not availed to give the Icelanders any demonic name suggestive of
fire. They speak of 'Skratti' (the roarer, perhaps our Old Scratch),
and 'Kolski' (the coal black one), but promise nothing so luminous
and comfortable as fire or fire-fiend to the evil-doer.

In the great Epic of the Nibelungen Lied we have probably the shape
in which the Northman's dream of Paradise finally cohered,--a
Rose-garden in the South, guarded by a huge Worm (water-snake,
or glittering glacial sea intervening), whose glowing charms, with
Beauty (Chriemhild) for their queen, could be won only by a brave
dragon-slaying Siegfried. In passing by the pretty lakeside home of
Richard Wagner, on my way to witness the Ammergau version of another
dragon-binding and paradise-regaining legend, I noted that the
old name of the (Starnberg) lake was Wurmsee, from the dragon that
once haunted it, while from the composer's window might be seen its
'Isle of Roses,' which the dragon guarded. Since then the myth of
many forms has had its musical apotheosis at Bayreuth under his wand.

England, partly perhaps on account of its harsh climate, once had the
reputation of being the chief abode of demons. A demoness leaving her
lover on the Continent says, 'My mother is calling me in England.' [48]
But England assigned them still higher latitudes; in christianising
Ireland, Iona, and other islands far north, it was preliminary to
expel the demons. 'The Clavie,' the 'Deis-iuil' of Lewis and other
Hebrides islands--fire carried round cattle to defend them from demons,
and around mothers not yet churched, to keep the babes from being
'changed'--show that the expulsion still goes on, though in such
regions Norse and christian notions have become so jumbled that it is
'fighting the devil with fire.' So in the Havamal men are warned to
invoke 'fire for distempers;' and Gudrun sings--



Raise, ye Jarls, an oaken pile;
Let it under heaven the lightest be.
May it burn a breast full of woes!
The fire round my heart its sorrows melt.



The last line is in contrast with the Hindu saying, 'the flame of
her husband's pyre cools the widow's breast.'

The characters of the Northern Heaven and Hell survive in the English
custom of burying the dead on the southern side of a church. How widely
this usage prevailed in Brand's time may be seen by reference to his
chapter on churchyards. The north side of the graveyard was set apart
for unbaptized infants and executed criminals, and it was permitted
the people to dance or play tennis in that part. Dr. Lee says that in
the churchyard at Morwenstow the southern portion only contains graves,
the north part being untenanted; as the Cornish believe (following old
traditions) that the north is the region of demons. In some parishes
of Cornwall when a baptism occurs the north door of the nave opposite
the font is thrown open, so that the devil cast out may retire to his
own region, the north. [49] This accords with the saying in Martin's
'Month's Mind'--ab aquilone omne malum.

Indeed, it is not improbable that the fact noted by White, in his
'History of Selborne,' that 'the usual approach to most country
churches is by the south,' indicated a belief that the sacred edifice
should turn its back on the region of demons. It is a singular instance
of survival which has brought about the fact that people who listen
devoutly to sermons describing the fiery character of Satan and his
abode should surround the very churches in which those sermons are
heard with evidences of their lingering faith that the devil belongs to
the region of ice, and that their dead must be buried in the direction
of the happy abodes of Brimir and Sindri,--Fire and Cinders!

M. François Lenormant has written an extremely instructive chapter
in comparison of the Accadian and the Finnish mythologies. He there
shows that they are as one and the same tree, adapted to antagonistic
climates. [50] With similar triad, runes, charms, and even names in
some cases, their regard for the fire worshipped by both varies in a
way that seems at first glance somewhat anomalous. The Accadians in
their fire-worship exhausted the resources of praise in ascription of
glory and power to the flames; the Finns in their cold home celebrated
the fire festival at the winter solstice, uttered invocations over
the fire, and the mother of the family, with her domestic libation,
said: 'Always rise so high, O my flame, but burn not larger nor more
ardent!' This diminution of enthusiasm in the Northern fire-worshipper,
as compared with the Southern, may only be the result of euphemism in
the latter; or perhaps while the formidable character of the fire-god
among the primitive Assyrians is indicated in the utter prostration
before him characteristic of their litanies and invocations, in the
case of the Finns the perpetual presence of the more potent cold
led to the less excessive adoration. These ventured to recognise the
faults of fire.

The true nature of this anomaly becomes visible when we consider
that the great demon, dreaded by the two countries drawing their
cult from a common source, represented the excess of the power most
dreaded. The demon in each case was a wind; among the Finns the north
wind, among the Accadians the south-west (the most fiery) wind. The
Finnish demon was Hiisi, speeding on his pale horse through the air,
with a terrible train of monster dogs, cats, furies, scattering pain,
disease, and death. [51] The Accadian demon, of which the bronze image
is in the Louvre, is the body of a dog, erect on eagle's feet, its arms
pointed with lion's paws; it has the tail of a scorpion and the head of
a skeleton, half stripped of flesh, preserving the eyes, and mounted
with the horns of a goat. It has four outspread wings. On the back
of this ingeniously horrible image is an inscription in the Accadian
language, apprising us that it is the demon of the south-west wind,
made to be placed at the door or window, to avert its hostile action.

As we observe such figures as these on the one hand, and on the other
the fair beings imagined to be antagonistic to them; as we note in
runes and incantations how intensely the ancients felt themselves to
be surrounded by these good and evil powers, and, reading nature so,
learned to see in the seasons successively conquering and conquered
by each other, and alternation of longer days and longer nights, the
changing fortunes of a never-ending battle; we may better realise
the meaning of solstitial festivals, the customs that gathered
around Yuletide and New Year, and the manifold survivals from them
which annually masquerade in Christian costume and names. To our
sun-worshipping ancestor the new year meant the first faint advantage
of the warmer time over winter, as nearly as he could fix it. The
hovering of day between superiority of light and darkness is now named
after doubting Thomas. At Yuletide the dawning victory of the sun is
seen as a holy infant in a manger amid beasts of the stall. The old
nature-worship has bequeathed to christian belief a close-fitting
mantle. But the old idea of a war between the wintry and the warm
powers still haunts the period of the New Year; and the twelve days
and nights, once believed to be the period of a fiercely-contested
battle between good and evil demons, are still regarded by many
as a period for especial watchfulness and prayer. New Year's Eve,
in the north of England still 'Hogmanay,'--probably O. N. höku-nött,
midwinter-night, when the sacrifices of Thor were prepared,--formerly
had many observances which reflected the belief that good and evil
ghosts were contending for every man and woman: the air was believed
to be swarming with them, and watch must be kept to see that the
protecting fire did not go out in any household; that no strange man,
woman, or animal approached,--possibly a demon in disguise. Sacred
plants were set in doors and windows to prevent the entrance of any
malevolent being from the multitudes filling the air. John Wesley,
whose noble heart was allied with a mind strangely open to stories
of hobgoblins, led the way of churches and sects back into this
ancient atmosphere. Nevertheless, the rationalism of the age has
influenced St. Wesley's Feast--Watchnight. It can hardly recognise
its brother in the Boar's Head Banquet of Queen's College, Oxford,
which celebrated victory over tusky winter, the decapitated demon
whose bristles were once icicles fallen beneath the sylvan spirits
of holly and rosemary. Yet what the Watchnight really signifies in
the antiquarian sense is just that old culminating combat between the
powers of fire and frost, once believed to determine human fates. In
White Russia, on New Year's Day, when the annual elemental battle has
been decided, the killed and wounded on one hand, and the fortunate
on the other, are told by carrying from house to house the rich and
the poor Kolyadas. These are two children, one dressed in fine attire,
and crowned with a wreath of full ears of grain, the other ragged, and
wearing a wreath of threshed straw. These having been closely covered,
each householder is called in, and chooses one. If his choice chances
upon the 'poor Kolyada,' the attending chorus chant a mournful strain,
in which he is warned to expect a bad harvest, poverty, and perhaps
death; if he selects the 'rich Kolyada,' a cheerful song is sung
promising him harvest, health, and wealth.

The natives of certain districts of Dardistan assign political and
social significance to their Feast of Fire, which is celebrated in the
month preceding winter, at new moon, just after their meat provision
for the season is laid in to dry. Their legend is, that it was then
their national hero slew their ancient tyrant and introduced good
government. This legend, related elsewhere, is of a tyrant slain
through the discovery that his heart was made of snow. He was slain
by the warmth of torches. In the celebrations all the men of the
villages go forth with torches, which they swing round their heads,
and throw in the direction of Ghilgit, where the snow-hearted tyrant
so long held his castle. When the husbands return home from their
torch-throwing a little drama is rehearsed. The wives refuse them
entrance till they have entreated, recounting the benefits they have
brought them; after admission the husband affects sulkiness, and must
be brought round with caresses to join in the banquet. The wife leads
him forward with this song:--'Thou hast made me glad, thou favourite
of the Rajah! Thou hast rejoiced me, oh bold horseman! I am pleased
with thee who so well usest the gun and sword! Thou hast delighted
me, oh thou invested with a mantle of honours! Oh great happiness,
I will buy it by giving pleasure's price! Oh thou nourishment to us,
heap of corn, store of ghee--delighted will I buy it all by giving
pleasure's price!'



CHAPTER IV.

ELEMENTS.

    A Scottish Munasa--Rudra--Siva's lightning eye--The flaming
    sword--Limping demons--Demons of the storm--Helios, Elias,
    Perun--Thor arrows--The Bob-tailed Dragon--Whirlwind--Japanese
    thunder god--Christian survivals--Jinni--Inundations--Noah--Nik,
    Nicholas, Old Nick--Nixies--Hydras--Demons of the
    Danube--Tides--Survivals in Russia and England.


During some recent years curious advertisements have appeared in a
journal of Edinburgh, calling for pious persons to occupy certain
hours of the night with holy exercises. It would appear that they
refer to a band of prayerful persons who provide that there shall
be an unbroken round of prayers during every moment of the day and
night. Their theory is, that it is the usual cessation of christian
prayers at night which causes so many disasters. The devils being then
less restrained, raise storms and all elemental perils. The praying
circle, which hopes to bind these demons by an uninterrupted chain of
prayers, originated, as I am informed, in the pious enthusiasm of a
lady whose kindly solicitude in some pre-existent sister was no doubt
personified in the Hindu Munasa, who, while all gods slept, sat in the
shape of a serpent on a branch of Euphorbia to preserve mankind from
the venom of snakes. It is to be feared, however, that it is hardly
the wisdom of the serpent which is on prayerful watch at Edinburgh,
but rather a vigilance of that perilous kind which was exercised by
'Meggie o' the Shore,' anno 1785, as related by Hugh Miller. [52]
On a boisterous night, when two young girls had taken refuge in her
cottage, they all heard about midnight cries of distress mingling
with the roar of the sea, 'Raise the window curtain and look out,'
said Meggie. The terrified girls did so, and said, 'There is a bright
light in the middle of the Bay of Udall. It hangs over the water about
the height of a ship's mast, and we can see something below it like
a boat riding at anchor, with the white sea raging around her.' 'Now
drop the curtain,' said Meggie; 'I am no stranger, my lasses, to
sights and noises like these--sights and noises of another world;
but I have been taught that God is nearer to me than any spirit can
be; and so have learned not to be afraid.' Afterwards it is not
wonderful that a Cromarty yawl was discovered to have foundered,
and all on board to have been drowned; though Meggie's neighbours
seemed to have preserved the legend after her faith, and made the
scene described a premonition of what actually occurred. It was in
a region where mariners when becalmed invoke the wind by whistling;
and both the whistling and the praying, though their prospects in
the future may be slender, have had a long career in the past.

In the 'Rig-Veda' there is a remarkable hymn to Rudra (the Roarer),
which may be properly quoted here:--

1. Sire of the storm gods, let thy favour extend to us; shut us not
out from the sight of the sun; may our hero be successful in the
onslaught. O Rudra, may we wax mighty in our offspring.

2. Through the assuaging remedies conferred by thee, O Rudra, may
we reach a hundred winters; drive away far from us hatred, distress,
and all-pervading diseases.

3. Thou, O Rudra, art the most excellent of beings in glory, the
strongest of the strong, O wielder of the bolt; bear us safely through
evil to the further shore; ward off all the assaults of sin.

4. May we not provoke thee to anger, O Rudra, by our adorations,
neither through faultiness in praises, nor through wantonness in
invocations; lift up our heroes by thy remedies; thou art, I hear,
the chief physician among physicians.

5. May I propitiate with hymns this Rudra who is worshipped with
invocations and oblations; may the tender-hearted, easily-entreated,
tawny-haired, beautiful-chinned god not deliver us up to the plotter
of evil [literally, to the mind meditating 'I kill'].

6. The bounteous giver, escorted by the storm-gods, hath gladdened
me, his suppliant, with most invigorating food; as one distressed by
heat seeketh the shade, may I, free from harm, find shelter in the
good-will of Rudra.

7. Where, O Rudra, is that gracious hand of thine, which is healing
and comforting? Do thou, removing the evil which cometh from the gods,
O bounteous giver, have mercy upon me.

8. To the tawny, the fair-complexioned dispenser of bounties, I send
forth a great and beautiful song of praise; adore the radiant god
with prostrations; we hymn the illustrious name of Rudra.

9. Sturdy-limbed, many-shaped, fierce, tawny, he hath decked himself
with brilliant ornaments of gold; truly strength is inseparable from
Rudra, the sovereign of this vast world.

10. Worthy of worship, thou bearest the arrows and the bow; worthy of
worship, thou wearest a resplendent necklace of many forms; worthy
of worship, thou rulest over this immense universe; there is none,
O Rudra, mightier than thou.

11. Celebrate the renowned and ever-youthful god who is seated on a
chariot, who is, like a wild beast, terrible, fierce, and destructive;
have mercy upon the singer, O Rudra, when thou art praised; may thy
hosts strike down another than us.

12. As a boy saluteth his father who approacheth and speaketh to him,
so, O Rudra, I greet thee, the giver of much, the lord of the good;
grant us remedies when thou art praised.

13. Your remedies, O storm-gods, which are pure and helping, O
bounteous givers, which are joy-conferring, which our father Manu
chose, these and the blessing and succour of Rudra I crave.

14. May the dart of Rudra be turned aside from us, may the great
malevolence of the flaming-god be averted; unbend thy strong bow
from those who are liberal with their wealth; O generous god, have
mercy upon our offspring and our posterity (i.e., our children and
children's children).

15. Thus, O tawny Rudra, wise giver of gifts, listen to our cry,
give heed to us here, that thou mayest not be angry with us, O god,
nor slay us; may we, rich in heroic sons, utter great praise at the
sacrifice. [53]

In other hymns the malevolent character of Rudra is made still more
prominent:--

7. Slay not our strong man nor our little child, neither him who
is growing nor him who is grown, neither our father nor our mother;
hurt not, O Rudra, our dear selves.

8. Harm us not in our children and children's children, nor in our men,
nor in our kine, nor in our horses. Smite not our heroes in thy wrath;
we wait upon thee perpetually with offerings. [54]

In this hymn (verse 1) Rudra is described as 'having braided hair;'
and in the 'Yajur-veda' and the 'Atharva-veda' other attributes
of Siva are ascribed to him, such as the epithet nîla-grîva, or
blue-necked. In the 'Rig-veda' Siva occurs frequently as an epithet,
and means auspicious. It was used as a euphemistic epithet to appease
Rudra, the lord of tempests; and finally, the epithet developed into
a distinct god.

The parentage of Siva is further indicated in the legends that
his glance destroyed the head of the youthful deity Ganesa,
who now wears the elephant head, with which it was replaced; and
that the gods persuaded him to keep his eyes perpetually winking
(like sheet-lightning), lest his concentrated look (the thunderbolt)
should reduce the universe to ashes. With the latter legend the gaze
of the evil eye in India might naturally be associated, though in
the majority of countries this was rather associated with the malign
influences ascribed to certain planets, especially Saturn; the charms
against the evil eye being marked over with zodiacal signs. The very
myth of Siva's eye survives in the Russian demon Magarko ('Winker')
and the Servian Vii, whose glance is said to have power to reduce men,
and even cities, to ashes.

The terrible Rudra is represented in a vast number of beliefs, some
of them perhaps survivals; in the rough sea and east-wind demon Oegir
of the northern world, and Typhon in the south; and in Luther's faith
that 'devils do house in the dense black clouds, and send storms,
hail, thunder and lightning, and poison the air with their infernal
stench,' a doctrine which Burton, the Anatomist of Melancholy, too,
maintained against the meteorologists of his time.

Among the ancient Aryans lightning seems to have been the supreme type
of divine destructiveness. Rudra's dart, Siva's eye, reappear with
the Singhalese prince of demons Wessamonny, described as wielding a
golden sword, which, when he is angry, flies out of his hand, to which
it spontaneously returns, after cutting off a thousand heads. [55]
A wonderful spear was borne by Odin, and was possibly the original
Excalibur. The four-faced Sviatevit of Russia, whose mantle has fallen
to St. George, whose statue was found at Zbrucz in 1851, bore a horn
of wine (rain) and a sword (lightning).

In Greece similar swords were wielded by Zeus, and also by the
god of war. Through Zeus and Ares, the original wielders of the
lightning--Indra and Siva--became types of many gods and semi-divine
heroes. The evil eye of Siva glared from the forehead of the Cyclopes,
forgers of thunderbolts; and the saving disc of Indra flashed in the
swords and arrows of famous dragon-slayers--Perseus, Pegasus, Hercules,
and St. George. The same sword defended the Tree of Life in Eden,
and was borne in the hand of Death on the Pale Horse (a white horse
was sacrificed to Sviatevit in Russia within christian times). And,
finally, we have the wonderful sword which obeys the command 'Heads
off!' delighting all nurseries by the service it does to the King of
the Golden Mountain.

'I beheld Satan as lightning falling out of heaven.' To the Greeks
this falling of rebellious deities out of heaven accounted, as we
have seen explained, for their lameness. But a universal phenomenon
can alone account for the many demons with crooked or crippled legs
(like 'Diable Boiteux') [56] all around the world. The Namaquas of
South Africa have a 'deity' whose occupation it is to cause pain
and death; his name is Tsui'knap, that is 'wounded knee.' [57]
Livingstone says of the Bakwains, another people of South Africa,
'It is curious that in all their pretended dreams or visions of
their god he has always a crooked leg, like the Egyptian Thau.' [58]
In Mainas, South America, they believe in a treacherous demon,
Uchuella-chaqui, or Lame-foot, who in dark forests puts on a friendly
shape to lure Indians to destruction; but the huntsmen say they can
never be deceived if they examine this demon's foot-track, because
of the unequal size of the two feet. [59] The native Australians
believed in a demon named Biam; he is black and deformed in his lower
extremities; they attributed to him many of their songs and dances,
but also a sort of small-pox to which they were liable. [60] We have
no evidence that these superstitions migrated from a common centre;
and there can be little doubt that many of these crooked legs are
traceable to the crooked lightning. [61] At the same time this is by
no means inconsistent with what has been already said of the fall of
Titans and angels from heaven as often accounting for their lameness
in popular myths. But in such details it is hard to reach certainty,
since so many of the facts bear a suspicious resemblance to each
other. A wild boar with 'distorted legs' attacked St. Godric, and
the temptation is strong to generalise on the story, but the legs
probably mean only to certify that it was the devil.

Dr. Schliemann has unearthed among his other treasures the remarkable
fact that a temple of Helios (the sun) once stood near the site of
the present Church of Elias, at Mycenæ, which has from time immemorial
been the place to which people repair to pray for rain. [62] When the
storm-breeding Sun was succeeded by the Prophet whose prayer evoked
the cloud, even the name of the latter did not need to be changed. The
discovery is the more interesting because it has always been a part
of the christian folklore of that region that, when a storm with
lightning occurs, it is 'Elias in his chariot of fire.' A similar
phrase is used in some part of every Aryan country, with variation
of the name: it is Woden, or King Waldemar, or the Grand Veneur,
or sometimes God, who is said to be going forth in his chariot.

These storm-demons in their chariots have their forerunner in Vata
or Vayu, the subject of one of the most beautiful Vedic hymns. 'I
celebrate the glory of Vata's chariot; its noise comes rending and
resounding. Touching the sky he moves onward, making all things ruddy;
and he comes propelling the dust of the earth.

'Soul of the gods, source of the universe, this deity moves as he
lists. His sounds have been heard, but his form is not seen; this
Vata let us worship with an oblation.' [63]

This last verse, as Mr. Muir has pointed out, bears a startling
resemblance to the passage in John, 'The Wind bloweth where it listeth,
and thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth; so is
every one that is born of the Wind.' [64]

But an equally striking development of the Vedic idea is represented
in the Siamese legend of Buddha, and in this case the Vedic Wind-god
Vayu reappears by name for the Angels of Tempests, or Loka Phayu. The
first portent which preceded the descent of Buddha from the Tushita
heavens was 'when the Angels of the Tempest, clothed in red garments,
and with streaming hair, travel among the abodes of mankind crying,
'Attend all ye who are near to death; repent and be not heedless! The
end of the world approaches, but one hundred thousand years more
and it will be destroyed. Exert yourselves, then, exert yourselves
to acquire merit. Above all things be charitable; abstain from doing
evil; meditate with love to all beings, and listen to the teachings of
holiness. For we are all in the mouth of the king of death. Strive then
earnestly for meritorious fruits, and seek that which is good.' [65]

Not less remarkable is the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel to 1 Kings
xix., where around Elias on the mountain gather 'a host of angels of
the wind, cleaving the mountain and breaking the rocks before the
Lord;' and after these, 'angels of commotion,' and next 'of fire,'
and, finally, 'voices singing in silence' preceded the descent of
Jehovah. It can hardly be wondered that a prophet of whom this story
was told, and that of the storm evoked from a small cloud, should
be caught up into that chariot of the Vedic Vayu which has rolled on
through all the ages of mythology.

Mythologic streams seem to keep their channels almost as steadfastly
as rivers, but as even these change at last or blend, so do the old
traditions. Thus we find that while Thor and Odin remain as separate
in survivals as Vayu and Parjanya in India, in Russia Elias has
inherited not the mantle of the wind-god or storm-breeding sun,
but of the Slavonic Thunderer Perun. There is little doubt that
this is Parjanya, described in the 'Rig-Veda' as 'the thunderer,
the showerer, the bountiful,' [66] who 'strikes down trees' and 'the
wicked.' 'The people of Novgorod,' says Herberstein, 'formerly offered
their chief worship and adoration to a certain idol named Perun. When
subsequently they received baptism they removed it from its place,
and threw it into the river Volchov; and the story goes that it swam
against the stream, and that near the bridge a voice was heard saying,
'This for you, O inhabitants of Novgorod, in memory of me;' and at
the same time a certain rope was thrown upon the bridge. Even now
it happens from time to time on certain days of the year that this
voice of Perun may be heard, and on these occasions the citizens run
together and lash each other with ropes, and such a tumult arises
therefrom that all the efforts of the governor can scarcely assuage
it.' [67] The statue of Perun in Kief, says Mr. Ralston, had a trunk
of wood, while the head was of silver, with moustaches of gold, and
among its weapons was a mace. Afanasief states that in White-Russian
traditions Perun is tall and well-shaped, with black hair and a long
golden beard. This beard relates him to Barbarossa, and, perhaps,
though distantly, with the wood-demon Barbatos, the Wild Archer,
who divined by the songs of birds. [68] Perun also has a bow which is
'sometimes identified with the rainbow, an idea which is known also to
the Finns. From it, according to the White Russians, are shot burning
arrows, which set on fire all things that they touch. In many parts of
Russia (as well as of Germany) it is supposed that these bolts sink
deep into the soil, but that at the end of three or seven years they
return to the surface in the shape of longish stones of a black or dark
grey colour--probably belemnites, or masses of fused sand--which are
called thunderbolts, and considered as excellent preservations against
lightning and conflagrations. The Finns call them Ukonkiwi--the stone
of thunder-god Ukko, and in Courland their name is Perkuhnsteine, which
explains itself. In some cases the flaming dart of Perun became, in the
imagination of the people, a golden key. With it he unlocked the earth,
and brought to light its concealed treasures, its restrained waters,
its captive founts of light. With it also he locked away in safety
fugitives who wished to be put out of the power of malignant conjurors,
and performed various other good offices. Appeals to him to exercise
these functions still exist in the spells used by the peasants,
but his name has given way to that of some christian personage. In
one of them, for instance, the Archangel Michael is called upon to
secure the invoker behind an iron door fastened by twenty-seven locks,
the keys of which are given to the angels to be carried to heaven. In
another, John the Baptist is represented as standing upon a stone in
the Holy Sea [i.e., in heaven], resting upon an iron crook or staff,
and is called upon to stay the flow of blood from a wound, locking
the invoker's veins 'with his heavenly key.' In this case the myth has
passed into a rite. In order to stay a violent bleeding from the nose,
a locked padlock is brought, and the blood is allowed to drop through
its aperture, or the sufferer grasps a key in each hand, either plan
being expected to prove efficacious. As far as the key is concerned,
the belief seems to be still maintained among ourselves.' [69]

The Key has a holy sense in various religions, and consequently an
infernal key is its natural counterpart. The Vedic hymns, which say
so much about the shutting and opening, imprisoning and releasing,
of heavenly rains and earthly fruits by demons and deities, interpret
many phenomena of nature, and the same ideas have arisen in many
lands. We cannot be certain, therefore, that Calmet is right in
assigning an Indian origin to the subjoined Figure 5, an ancient
Persian medal. The signs of the zodiac on its body show it to be one
of those celestial demons believed able to bind the beneficent or
loose the formidable powers of nature. The Key is of especial import
in Hebrew faith. It was the high-priest Eliakim's symbol of office,
as being also prefect in the king's house. 'The key of the house of
David will I lay upon his shoulder: he shall open and none shall shut;
he shall shut and none shall open.' [70] The Rabbins had a saying
that God reserves to himself four keys, which he will intrust not
even to the angels: the key of rain, the key of the grave, the key of
fruitfulness, and the key of barrenness. It was the sign of one set
above angels when Christ was seen with the keys of Hell and Death,
or when he delivered the keys of heaven to Peter, [71]--still thrust
down the backs of protestant children to cure nose-bleed.

The ubiquitous superstition which attributes the flint arrows of
pre-historic races to gods, shot by them as lightning, and, as some
said, from a rainbow, is too childlike a theory to call for elaborate
treatment. We need not, ethnographically, connect our 'Thor arrows'
and 'Elf shots' with the stones hurled at mortals by the Thunder-Duke
(Lui-tsz) of China. The ancient Parthians, who used to reply to the
thunderstorm by shooting arrows at it, and the Turks, who attack an
eclipse with guns, fairly represent the infancy of the human race,
though perhaps with more than its average pluck. Dr. Macgowan relates,
concerning the Lei-chau (Thunder District) of China, various myths
which resemble those which surround the world. After thunderstorms,
black stones, it is believed, may be found which emit light and
peculiar sounds on being struck. In a temple consecrated to the
Thunder Duke the people annually place a drum for that stormy demon
to beat. The drum was formerly left on a mountain-top with a little
boy as a sacrifice. [72] Mr. Dennys [73] speaks of the belief in the
same country that violent winds and typhoons are caused by the passage
through the air of the 'Bob-tailed Dragon,' and also of the rain-god
Yü-Shüh. A storm-god connected with the 'Eagre,' or bore of the river
Tsien-tang, presents a coincidence of name with the Scandinavian
Oegir, which would be hardly noticeable were it not for the very close
resemblance between the folklore concerning the 'Bob-tailed Dragon'
and the storm-dragons of several Aryan races. Generally, in both
China and Japan the Dragon is regarded with a veneration equal to
the horror with which the serpent is visited. Of this phenomenon and
its analogies in Britain I shall have an explanation to submit when
we come to consider Dragon-myths more particularly. To this general
rule the 'Bob-tailed Dragon' of China is a partial exception. His
fidelity as a friend led to the ill return of an attack by which his
tail was amputated, and ever since his soured temper has shown itself
in raising storms. When a violent tempest arises the Cantonese say,
'The Bob-tailed Dragon is passing,' in the same proverbial way as the
Aryan peasantries attribute the same phenomenon to their storm-gods.

The notion is widely prevalent in some districts of France that
all whirlwinds, however slight, are caused by wizards or witches,
who are in them, careering through the air; and it is stated by the
Melusine that in the department of the Orne storms are attributed
to the clergy, who are supposed to be circling in them. The same
excellent journal states that some years ago, in that department, a
parishioner who saw his crops threatened by a hail-storm fired into
the cloud. The next day he heard that the parish priest had broken
his leg by a fall for which he could not account.

The following examples are given by Kuhn. Near Stangenhagen is a
treasure hid in a mountain which Lord von Thümen tried to seek,
but was caught up with his horse by a whirlwind and deposited at
home again. The Devil is believed to be seated at the centre of
every whirlwind. At Biesenthal it is said a noble lady became the
Wind's bride. She was in her time a famous rider and huntress, who
rode recklessly over farmers' fields and gardens; now she is herself
hunted by snakes and dragons, and may be heard howling in every storm.

I suspect that the bristling hair so frequently portrayed in the
Japanese Oni, Devils, refers to their frequent residence at the
centre of a gale of wind. Their demon of the storm is generally
pictured throned upon a flower of flames, his upraised and extended
fingers emitting the most terrific lightnings, which fall upon his
victims and envelop them in flames. Sometimes, however, the Japanese
artists poke fun at their thunder-god, and show him sprawling on the
ground from the recoil of his own lightnings. The following extract
from The Christian Herald (London, April 12, 1877) will show how
far the dread of this Japanese Oni extends: 'A pious father writes,
'A few days ago there was a severe thunderstorm, which seemed to
gather very heavily in the direction where my son lived; and I had
a feeling that I must go and pray that he might be protected, and
not be killed by the lightning. The impression seemed to say, 'There
is no time to be lost.' I obeyed, and went and knelt down and prayed
that the Lord would spare his life. I believe he heard my prayer. My
son called on me afterwards, and, speaking of the shower, said,
'The lightning came downwards and struck the very hoe in my hands,
and numbed me.' I said, 'Perhaps you would have been killed if some
one had not been praying for you.' Since then he has been converted,
and, I trust, will be saved in God's everlasting kingdom.''

Such paragraphs may now strike even many christians as 'survivals.' But
it is not so very long since some eminent clergymen looked upon
Benjamin Franklin as the heaven-defying Ajax of Christendom, because
he undertook to show people how they might divert the lightnings
from their habitations. In those days Franklin personally visited a
church at Streatham, whose steeple had been struck by lightning, and,
after observing the region, gave an opinion that if the steeple were
again erected without a lightning-rod, it would again be struck. The
audacious man who 'snatched sceptres from tyrants and lightnings
from heaven,' as the proverb ran, was not listened to: the steeple
was rebuilt, and again demolished by lightning.

The supreme god of the Quichuas (American), Viracocha ('sea foam'),
rises out of Lake Titicaca, and journeys with lightnings for
all opposers, to disappear in the Western Ocean. The Quichua is
mentally brother of the Arab camel-driver. 'The sea,' it is said
in the 'Arabian Nights,'--'the sea became troubled before them, and
there arose from it a black pillar, ascending towards the sky, and
approaching the meadow,' and 'behold it was a Jinn [74] of gigantic
stature.' The Jinn is sometimes helpful as it is formidable; it repays
the fisherman who unseals it from the casket fished up from the sea,
as fruitfulness comes out of the cloud no larger than a man's hand
evoked by Elijah. The perilous Jinn described in the above extract is
the waterspout. Waterspouts are attributed in China to the battles
of dragons in the air, and the same country recognises a demon of
high tides. The newest goddess in China is a canonised protectress
against the shipwrecking storm-demons of the coast, an exaltation
recently proclaimed by the Government of the empire in obedience,
as the edict stated, to the belief prevailing among sailors. In this
the Chinese are a long way behind the mariners and fishermen of the
French coast, who have for centuries, by a pious philology, connected
'Maria' with 'La Marée' and 'La Mer;' and whenever they have been
saved from storms, bring their votive offerings to sea-side shrines
of the Star of the Sea.

The old Jewish theology, in its eagerness to claim for Jehovah the
absolutism which would make him 'Lord of lords,' instituted his
responsibility for many doubtful performances, the burthen of which
is now escaped by the device of saying that he 'permitted' them. In
this way the Elohim who brought on the Deluge have been identified
with Jehovah. None the less must we see in the biblical account
of the Flood the action of tempestuous water-demons. What power a
christian would recognise in such an event were it related in the
sacred books of another religion may be seen in the vision of the
Apocalypse--'The Serpent cast out of his mouth a flood of water after
the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away with the flood;
and the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed up
the flood.' This Demon of Inundation meets the explorer of Egyptian
and Accadian inscriptions at every turn. The terrible Seven, whom
even the God of Fire cannot control, 'break down the banks of the
Abyss of Waters.' [75] The God of the Tigris, Tourtak (Tartak of the
Bible), is 'the great destroyer.' [76] Leviathan 'maketh the deep to
boil like a pot:' 'when he raises up himself the mighty are afraid;
by reason of breakings they purify themselves.' [77]

In the Astronomical Tablets, which Professor Sayce dates about
B.C. 1600, we have the continual association of eclipse and flood:
'On the fifteenth day an eclipse takes place. The king dies; and rains
in the heaven, floods in the channels are.' 'In the month of Elul
(August), the fourteenth day, an eclipse takes place.... Northward
... its shadow is seen; and to the King of Mullias a crown is
given. To the king the crown is an omen; and over the king the eclipse
passes. Rains in heaven, floods in the channels flow. A famine is
in the country. Men their sons for silver sell.' 'After a year the
Air-god inundates.' [78]

In the Chaldæo-Babylonian cosmogony the three zones of the universe
were ruled over by a Triad as follows: the Heaven by Anu; the surface
of the earth, including the atmosphere, by Bel; the under-world by
Nouah. [79] This same Nouah is the Assyrian Hea or Saviour; and it
is Noah of the Bible. The name means a rest or residence,--the place
where man may dwell. When Tiamat the Dragon, or the Leviathan, opens
'the fountains of the great deep,' and Anu 'the windows of Heaven,'
it is Hea or Noah who saves the life of man. M. François Lenormant
has shown this to be the probable sense of one of the most ancient
Accadian fragments in the British Museum. In it allusion is made
to 'the serpent of seven heads ... that beats the sea.' [80] Hea,
however, appears to be more clearly indicated in a fragment which
Professor Sayce appends to this:--



Below in the abyss the forceful multitudes may they sacrifice.
The overwhelming fear of Anu in the midst of Heaven encircles his path.
The spirits of earth, the mighty gods, withstand him not.
The king like a lightning-flash opened.
Adar, the striker of the fortresses of the rebel band, opened.
Like the streams in the circle of heaven I besprinkled the seed of men.
His marching in the fealty of Bel to the temple I directed,
(He is) the hero of the gods, the protector of mankind, far (and)
near....
O my lord, life of Nebo (breathe thy inspiration), incline thine ear.
O Adar, hero, crown of light, (breathe) thy inspiration, (incline)
thine ear.
The overwhelming fear of thee may the sea know....
Thy setting (is) the herald of his rest from marching,
In thy marching Merodach (is) at rest [81]....
Thy father on his throne thou dost not smite.
Bel on his throne thou dost not smite.
The spirits of earth on their throne may he consume.
May thy father into the hands of thy valour cause (them) to go forth.
May Bel into the hands of thy valour cause (them) to go forth.
(The king, the proclaimed) of Anu, the firstborn of the gods.
He that stands before Bel, the heart of the life of the House of the
Beloved. [82]
The hero of the mountain (for those that) die in multitudes.... the
one god, he will not urge. [83]



In this primitive fragment we find the hero of the mountain (Noah),
invoking both Bel and Nebo, aerial and infernal Intelligences, and Adar
the Chaldæan Hercules, for their 'inspiration'--that breath which, in
the biblical story, goes forth in the form of the Dove ('the herald
of his rest' in the Accadian fragment), and in the 'wind' by which
the waters were assuaged (in the fragment 'the spirits of the earth'
which are given into the hand of the violent 'hero of the mountain,'
whom alone the gods 'will not urge').

The Hydra may be taken as a type of the destructive water-demon in a
double sense, for its heads remain in many mythical forms. The Syrian
Dagon and Atergatis, fish-deities, have bequeathed but their element
to our Undines of romance. Some nymphs have so long been detached
from aqueous associations as to have made their names puzzling, and
their place in demonology more so. To the Nixy (nêchô) of Germany,
now merely mischievous like the British Pixy, many philologists trace
the common phrase for the Devil,--'Old Nick.' I believe, however,
that this phrase owes its popularity to St. Nicholas rather than to
the Norse water-god whose place he was assigned after the christian
accession. This saintly Poseidon, who, from being the patron of
fishermen, gradually became associated with that demon whom, Sir
Walter Scott said, 'the British sailor feared when he feared nothing
else,' was also of old the patron of pirates; and robbers were called
'St. Nicholas' clerks.' [84] In Norway and the Netherlands the ancient
belief in the demon Nikke was strong; he was a kind of Wild Huntsman
of the Sea, and has left many legends, of which 'The Flying Dutchman'
is one. But my belief is that, through his legendary relation to boys,
St. Nicholas gave the name Old Nick its modern moral accent. Because
of his reputation for having restored to life three murdered children
St. Nicholas was made their patron, and on his day, December 6, it
was the old custom to consecrate a Boy-Bishop, who held office until
the 28th of the month. By this means he became the moral appendage
of the old Wodan god of the Germanic races, who was believed in
winter time to find shelter in and shower benefits from evergreens,
especially firs, on his favourite children who happened to wander
beneath them. 'Bartel,' 'Klaubauf,' or whatever he might be called, was
reduced to be the servant of St. Nicholas, whose name is now jumbled
into 'Santaclaus.' According to the old custom he appeared attended
by his Knecht Klaubauf--personated by those who knew all about the
children--bringing a sort of doomsday. The gifts having been bestowed
on the good children, St. Nicholas then ordered Klaubauf to put the
naughty ones into his pannier and carry them off for punishment. The
terror and shrieks thus caused have created vast misery among children,
and in Munich and some other places the authorities have very properly
made such tragedies illegal. But for many centuries it was the custom
of nurses and mothers to threaten refractory children with being
carried off at the end of the year by Nicholas; and in this way
each year closed, in the young apprehension, with a Judgment Day,
a Weighing of Souls, and a Devil or Old Nick as agent of retribution.

Nick has long since lost his aquatic character, and we find his name in
the Far West (America) turning up as 'The Nick of the Woods,'--the wild
legend of a settler who, following a vow of vengeance for his wrongs,
used to kill the red men while they slept, and was supposed to be a
demon. The Japanese have a water-dragon--Kappa--of a retributive and
moral kind, whose office it is to swallow bad boys who go to swim
in disobedience to their parents' commands, or at improper times
and places. It is not improbable that such dangers to the young
originated some of the water-demons,--probably such as are thought
of as diminutive and mischievous,--e.g., Nixies. The Nixa was for a
long time on the Baltic coast the female 'Old Nick,' and much feared
by fishermen. Her malign disposition is represented in the Kelpie
of Scotland,--a water-horse, believed to carry away the unwary by
sudden floods to devour them. In Germany there was a river-goddess
whose temple stood at Magdeburg, whence its name. A legend exists of
her having appeared in the market there in christian costume, but she
was detected by a continual dripping of water from the corner of her
apron. In Germany the Nixies generally played the part of the naiads
of ancient times. [85] In Russia similar beings, called Rusalkas,
are much more formidable.

In many regions of Christendom it is related that these demons,
relatives of the Swan-maidens, considered in another chapter, have
been converted into friendly or even pious creatures, and baptized
into saintly names. Sometimes there are legends which reveal this
transition. Thus it is related that in the year 1440, the dikes of
Holland being broken down by a violent tempest, the sea overflowed
the meadows; and some maidens of the town of Edam, in West Friesland,
going in a boat to milk their cows, espied a mermaid embarrassed in
the mud, the waters being very shallow. They took it into their boat
and brought it to Edam, and dressed it in women's apparel, and taught
it to spin. It ate as they did, but could not be brought to speak. It
was carried to Haarlem, where it lived for some years, though showing
an inclination to water. Parival, who tells the story, relates that
they had conveyed to it some notions of the existence of a deity,
and it made its reverences devoutly whenever it passed a crucifix.

Another creature of the same species was in the year 1531 caught in
the Baltic, and sent as a present to Sigismund, King of Poland. It
was seen by all the persons about the court, but only lived three days.

The Hydra--the torrent which, cut off in one direction, makes many
headways in others--has its survivals in the many diabolical names
assigned to boiling springs and to torrents that become dangerously
swollen. In California the boiling springs called 'Devil's Tea-kettle'
and 'Devil's Mush-pot' repeat the 'Devil's Punch-bowls' of Europe,
and the innumerable Devil's Dikes and Ditches.  St. Gerard's Hill,
near Pesth, on which the saint suffered martyrdom, is believed to be
crowded with devils whenever an inundation threatens the city; they
indulge in fiendish laughter, and play with the telescopes of the
observatory, so that they who look through them afterwards see only
devils' and witches' dances! [86] At Buda, across the river from Pesth,
is the famous 'Devil's Ditch,' which the inhabitants use as a sewer
while it is dry, making it a Gehenna to poison them with stenches,
but which often becomes a devastating torrent when thaw comes on the
Blocksberg. In 1874 the inhabitants vaulted it over to keep away the
normal stench, but the Hydra-head so lopped off grew again, and in
July 1875 swallowed up a hundred people. [87]

The once perilous Strudel and Wirbel of the Danube are haunted by
diabolical legends. From Dr. William Beattie's admirable work on
'The Danube' I quote the following passages:--'After descending the
Greinerschwall, or rapids of Grein above mentioned, the river rolls
on for a considerable space, in a deep and almost tranquil volume,
which, by contrast with the approaching turmoil, gives increased
effect to its wild, stormy, and romantic features. At first a hollow,
subdued roar, like that of distant thunder, strikes the ear and
rouses the traveller's attention. This increases every second, and
the stir and activity which now prevail among the hands on board show
that additional force, vigilance, and caution are to be employed
in the use of the helm and oars. The water is now changed in its
colour--chafed into foam, and agitated like a seething cauldron. In
front, and in the centre of the channel, rises an abrupt, isolated,
and colossal rock, fringed with wood, and crested with a mouldering
tower, on the summit of which is planted a lofty cross, to which in
the moment of danger the ancient boatmen were wont to address their
prayers for deliverance. The first sight of this used to create
no little excitement and apprehension on board; the master ordered
strict silence to be observed, the steersman grasped the helm with a
firmer hand, the passengers moved aside, so as to leave free space
for the boatmen, while the women and children were hurried into
the cabin, there to await, with feelings of no little anxiety, the
result of the enterprise. Every boatman, with his head uncovered,
muttered a prayer to his patron saint; and away dashed the barge
through the tumbling breakers, that seemed as if hurrying it on
to inevitable destruction. All these preparations, joined by the
wildness of the adjacent scenery, the terrific aspect of the rocks,
and the tempestuous state of the water, were sufficient to produce a
powerful sensation on the minds even of those who had been all their
lives familiar with dangers; while the shadowy phantoms with which
superstition had peopled it threw a deeper gloom over the whole scene.'

Concerning the whirlpool called Wirbel, and the surrounding ruins,
the same author writes: 'Each of these mouldering fortresses was
the subject of some miraculous tradition, which circulated at every
hearth. The sombre and mysterious aspect of the place, its wild
scenery, and the frequent accidents which occurred in the passage,
invested it with awe and terror; but above all, the superstitions
of the time, a belief in the marvellous, and the credulity of the
boatmen, made the navigation of the Strudel and the Wirbel a theme of
the wildest romance. At night, sounds that were heard far above the
roar of the Danube issued from every ruin. Magical lights flashed
through their loopholes and casements, festivals were held in the
long-deserted halls, maskers glided from room to room, the waltzers
maddened to the strains of an infernal orchestra, armed sentinels
paraded the battlements, while at intervals the clash of arms, the
neighing of steeds, and the shrieks of unearthly combatants smote
fitfully on the boatmen's ear. But the tower on which these scenes
were most fearfully enacted was that on the Longstone, commonly
called the 'Devil's Tower,' as it well deserved to be--for here,
in close communion with his master, resided the 'Black Monk,' whose
office it was to exhibit false lights and landmarks along the gulf,
so as to decoy the vessels into the whirlpool, or dash them against
the rocks. He was considerably annoyed in his quarters, however,
on the arrival of the great Soliman in these regions; for to repel
the turbaned host, or at least to check their triumphant progress to
the Upper Danube, the inhabitants were summoned to join the national
standard, and each to defend his own hearth. Fortifications were
suddenly thrown up, even churches and other religious edifices were
placed in a state of military defence; women and children, the aged
and the sick, as already mentioned in our notice of Schaumburg,
were lodged in fortresses, and thus secured from the violence of
the approaching Moslem. Among the other points at which the greatest
efforts were made to check the enemy, the passage of the Strudel and
Wirbel was rendered as impregnable as the time and circumstances of
the case would allow. To supply materials for the work, patriotism
for a time got the better of superstition, and the said Devil's Tower
was demolished and converted into a strong breastwork. Thus forcibly
dislodged, the Black Monk is said to have pronounced a malediction
on the intruders, and to have chosen a new haunt among the recesses
of the Harz mountains.'

When the glaciers send down their torrents and flood the Rhone,
it is the immemorial belief that the Devil may be sometimes seen
swimming in it, with a sword in one hand and a golden globe in the
other. Since it is contrary to all orthodox folklore that the Devil
should be so friendly with water, the name must be regarded as a
modern substitute for the earlier Rhone demon. We probably get closer
to the original form of the superstition in the Swiss Oberland, which
interprets the noises of the Furka Glacier, which feeds the Rhone,
as the groans of wicked souls condemned for ever to labour there
in directing the river's course; their mistress being a demoness
who sometimes appears just before the floods, floating on a raft,
and ordering the river to rise.

There is a tidal demonolatry also. The author of 'Rambles in
Northumberland' gives a tradition concerning the river Wansbeck:
'This river discharges itself into the sea at a place called Cambois,
about nine miles to the eastward, and the tide flows to within five
miles of Morpeth. Tradition reports that Michael Scott, whose fame as a
wizard is not confined to Scotland, would have brought the tide to the
town had not the courage of the person failed upon whom the execution
of this project depended. This agent of Michael, after his principal
had performed certain spells, was to run from the neighbourhood of
Cambois to Morpeth without looking behind, and the tide would follow
him. After having advanced a certain distance he became alarmed at
the roaring of the waters behind him, and forgetting the injunction,
gave a glance over his shoulder to see if the danger was imminent,
when the advancing tide immediately stopped, and the burgesses of
Morpeth thus lost the chance of having the Wansbeck navigable between
their town and the sea. It is also said that Michael intended to
confer a similar favour on the inhabitants of Durham, by making the
Wear navigable to their city; but his good intentions, which were to
be carried into effect in the same manner, were also frustrated by
the cowardice of the person who had to guide the tide.'

The gentle and just king Æolus, who taught his islanders navigation, in
his mythologic transfiguration had to share the wayward dispositions of
the winds he was said to rule; but though he wrecked the Trojan fleet
and many a ship, his old human heart remained to be trusted on the
appearance of Halcyon. His unhappy daughter of that name cast herself
into the sea after the shipwreck of her husband (Ceyx), and the two
were changed into birds. It was believed that for seven days before and
seven after the shortest day of the year, when the halcyon is breeding,
Æolus restrains his winds, and the sea is calm. The accent of this
fable has been transmitted to some variants of the folklore of swans.
In Russia the Tsar Morskoi or Water Demon's beautiful daughters (swans)
may naturally be supposed to influence the tides which the fair bathers
of our time are reduced to obey. In various regions the tides are
believed to have some relation to swans, and to respect them. I have
met with a notion of this kind in England. On the day of Livingstone's
funeral there was an extraordinary tide in the Thames, which had been
predicted and provided for. The crowds which had gathered at the Abbey
on that occasion repaired after the funeral to Westminster Bridge to
observe the tide, and among them was a venerable disbeliever in
science, who announced to a group that there would be no high tide,
'because the swans were nesting.' This sceptic was speedily put to
confusion by the result, and perhaps one superstition the less remained
in the circle that seemed to regard him as an oracle.

The Russian peasantry live in much fear of the Rusalkas and Vodyanuie,
water-spirits who, of course, have for their chief the surly Neptune
Tsar Morskoi. In deprecation of this tribe, the peasant is careful
not to bathe without a cross round the neck, nor to ford a stream
on horseback without signing a cross on the water with a scythe
or knife. In the Ukrain these water-demons are supposed to be the
transformed souls of Pharaoh and his host when they were drowned,
and they are increased by people who drown themselves. In Bohemia
fishermen are known sometimes to refuse aid to one drowning, for
fear the Vodyany will be offended and prevent the fish, over which
he holds rule, from entering their nets. The wrath of such beings is
indicated by the upheavals of water and foam; and they are supposed
especially mischievous in the spring, when torrents and floods are
pouring from melted snow. Those undefined monsters which Beowulf slew,
Grendel and his mother, are interpreted by Simrock as personifications
of the untamed sea and stormy floods invading the low flat shores,
whose devastations so filled Faust with horror (II. iv.), and in
combating which his own hitherto desolating powers found their task.


        The Sea sweeps on in thousand quarters flowing,
        Itself unfruitful, barrenness bestowing;
        It breaks, and swells, and rolls, and overwhelms
        The desert stretch of desolated realms....
        Let that high joy be mine for evermore,
        To shut the lordly Ocean from the shore,
        The watery waste to limit and to bar,
        And push it back upon itself afar!


In such brave work Faust had many forerunners, whose art and courage
have their monument in the fairer fables of all these elemental powers
in which fear saw demons. Pavana, in India, messenger of the gods,
rides upon the winds, and in his forty-nine forms, corresponding with
the points of the Hindu compass, guards the earth. Solomon, too,
journeyed on a magic carpet woven of the winds, which still serves
the purposes of the Wise. From the churned ocean rose Lakshmí (after
the solar origin was lost to the myth), Hindu goddess of prosperity;
and from the sea-foam rose Aphrodite, Beauty. These fair forms had
their true worshipper in the Northman, who left on mastered wind and
wave his song as Emerson found it--


            The gale that wrecked you on the sand,
              It helped my rowers to row;
            The storm is my best galley hand,
              And drives me where I go.



CHAPTER V.

ANIMALS.

    Animal demons distinguished--Trivial sources of
    Mythology--Hedgehog--Fox--Transmigrations in Japan--Horses
    bewitched--Rats--Lions--Cats--The Dog--Goethe's horror of
    dogs--Superstitions of the Parsees, people of Travancore,
    and American Negroes, Red Indians, &c.--Cynocephaloi--The
    Wolf--Traditions of the Nez Perces--Fenris--Fables--The Boar--The
    Bear--Serpent--Every animal power to harm demonised--Horns.


The animal demons--those whose evil repute is the result of
something in their nature which may be inimical to man--should
be distinguished from the forms which have been diabolised by
association with mythological personages or ideas. The lion, tiger,
and wolf are examples of the one class; the stag, horse, owl, and
raven of the other. But there are circumstances which render it very
difficult to observe this distinction. The line has to be drawn, if
at all, between the measureless forces of degradation on the one side,
discovering some evil in animals which, but for their bad associations,
would not have been much thought of; and of euphemism on the other,
transforming harmful beasts to benignant agents by dwelling upon some
minor characteristic.

There are a few obviously dangerous animals, such as the serpent,
where it is easy to pick our way; we can recognise the fear that
flatters it to an agathodemon and the diminished fear that pronounces
it accurst. [88] But what shall be said of the Goat? Was there really
anything in its smell or in its flesh when first eaten, its butting,
or injury to plants, which originally classed it among the unclean
animals? or was it merely demonised because of its uncanny and
shaggy appearance? What explanation can be given of the evil repute
of our household friend the Cat? Is it derived by inheritance from
its fierce ancestors of the jungle? Was it first suggested by its
horrible human-like sleep-murdering caterwaulings at night? or has it
simply suffered from a theological curse on the cats said to draw the
chariots of the goddesses of Beauty? The demonic Dog is, if anything,
a still more complex subject. The student of mythology and folklore
speedily becomes familiar with the trivial sources from which vast
streams of superstition often issue. The cock's challenge to the
all-detecting sun no doubt originated his ominous career from the
Code of Manu to the cock-headed devils frescoed in the cathedrals of
Russia. The fleshy, forked roots of a soporific plant issued in that
vast Mandrake Mythology which has been the subject of many volumes,
without being even yet fully explored. The Italians have a saying that
'One knavery of the hedgehog is worth more than many of the fox;' yet
the nocturnal and hibernating habits and general quaintness of the
humble hedgehog, rather than his furtive propensity to prey on eggs
and chickens, must have raised him to the honours of demonhood. In
various popular fables this little animal proves more than a match
for the wolf and the serpent. It was in the form of a hedgehog that
the Devil is said to have made the attempt to let in the sea through
the Brighton Downs, which was prevented by a light being brought,
though the seriousness of the scheme is still attested in the Devil's
Dyke. There is an ancient tradition that when the Devil had smuggled
himself into Noah's Ark, he tried to sink it by boring a hole; but
this scheme was defeated, and the human race saved, by the hedgehog
stuffing himself into the hole. In the Brighton story the Devil would
appear to have remembered his former failure in drowning people,
and to have appropriated the form which defeated him.

The Fox, as incarnation of cunning, holds in the primitive belief of
the Japanese almost the same position as the Serpent in the nations
that have worshipped, until bold enough to curse it. In many of
the early pictures of Japanese demons one may generally detect amid
their human, wolfish, or other characters some traits of the kitsune
(fox). He is always the soul of the three-eyed demon of Japan
(fig. 7). He is the sagacious 'Vizier,' as the Persian Desatir
calls him, and is practically the Japanese scape-goat. If a fox
has appeared in any neighbourhood, the next trouble is attributed
to his visit; and on such occasions the sufferers and their friends
repair to some ancient gnarled tree in which the fox is theoretically
resident and propitiate him, just as would be done to a serpent in
other regions. In Japan the fox is not regarded as always harmful,
but generally so. He is not to be killed on any account. Being thus
spared through superstition, the foxes increase sufficiently to supply
abundant material for the continuance of its demonic character. 'Take
us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines,' [89] is an
admonition reversed in Japan. The correspondence between the cunning
respected in this animal and that of the serpent, reverenced elsewhere,
is confirmed by Mr. Fitz Cunliffe Owen, who observed, as he informs
me, that the Japanese will not kill even the poisonous snakes which
crawl freely amid the decaying Buddhist temples of Nikko, one of the
most sacred places in Japan, where once as many as eight thousand
monastic Buddhists were harboured. It is the red fox that abounds
in Japan, and its human-like cry at night near human habitations is
such as might easily encourage these superstitions. But, furthermore,
mythology supplies many illustrations of a creditable tendency among
rude tribes to mark out for special veneration or fear any force in
nature finer than mere strength. Emerson says, 'Foxes are so cunning
because they are not strong.' In our Japanese demon, whose three
eyes alone connect it with the præternatural vision ascribed by that
race to the fox, the harelip is very pronounced. That little animal,
the Hare, is associated with a large mythology, perhaps because
out of its weakness proceeds its main forces of survival--timidity,
vigilance, and swiftness. The superstition concerning the hare is found
in Africa. The same animal is the much-venerated good genius of the
Calmucs, who call him Sákya-muni (Buddha), and say that on earth he
submitted himself to be eaten by a starving man, for which gracious
deed he was raised to dominion over the moon, where they profess to
see him. The legend is probably traceable back to the Sanskrit word
sasin, moon, which means literally 'the hare-marked.' Sasa means
'hare.' Pausanias relates the story of the moon-goddess instructing
exiles to build their city where they shall see a hare take refuge in
a myrtle-grove. [90] In the demonic fauna of Japan another cunning
animal figures--the Weasel. The name of this demon is 'the sickle
weasel,' and it also seems to occupy the position of a scape-goat. In
the language of a Japanese report, 'When a person's clogs slip from
under his feet, and he falls and cuts his face on the gravel, or when
a person, who is out at night when he ought to have been at home,
presents himself to his family with a freshly-scarred face, the wound
is referred to the agency of the malignant invisible weasel and his
sharp sickle.' In an aboriginal legend of America, also, two sister
demons commonly take the form of weasels.

The popular feeling which underlay much of the animal-worship in
ancient times was probably that which is reflected in the Japanese
notions of to-day, as told in the subjoined sketch from an amusing
book.

'One of these visitors was an old man, who himself was at the time a
victim of a popular superstition that the departed revisit the scenes
of their life in this world in shapes of different animals. We noticed
that he was not in his usual spirits, and pressed him to unburden his
mind to us. He said he had lost his little son Chiosin, but that was
not so much the cause of his grief as the absurd way in which his
wife, backed up by a whole conclave of old women who had taken up
their abode in his house to comfort her, was going on. 'What do they
all do?' we asked sympathetically. 'Why,' he replied, 'every beastly
animal that comes to my house, there is a cry amongst them all,
'Chiosin, Chiosin has come back!' and the whole house swarms with
cats and dogs and bats--for they say they are not quite sure which
is Chiosin, and that they had better be kind to the lot than run the
chance of treating him badly; the consequence is, all these brutes are
fed on my rice and meat, and now I am driven out of doors and called
an unnatural parent because I killed a mosquito which bit me!' [91]

The strange and inexplicable behaviour of animals in cases of fear,
panic, or pain has been generally attributed by ignorant races to
their possession by demons. Of this nature is the story of the devil
entering the herd of swine and carrying them into the sea, related
in the New Testament. It is said that even yet in some parts of
Scotland the milkmaid carries a switch of the magical rowan to expel
the demon that sometimes enters the cow. Professor Monier Williams
writes from Southern India--'When my fellow-travellers and myself
were nearly dashed to pieces over a precipice the other day by some
restive horses on a ghat near Poona, we were told that the road at
this particular point was haunted by devils who often caused similar
accidents, and we were given to understand that we should have done
well to conciliate Ganesa, son of the god Siva, and all his troops
of evil spirits, before starting.' The same writer also tells us
that the guardian spirits or 'mothers' who haunt most regions of
the Peninsula are believed to ride about on horses, and if they are
angry, scatter blight and disease. Hence the traveller just arrived
from Europe is startled and puzzled by apparitions of rudely-formed
terra-cotta horses, often as large as life, placed by the peasantry
round shrines in the middle of fields as acceptable propitiatory
offerings, or in the fulfilment of vows in periods of sickness. [92]

This was the belief of the Corinthians in the Taraxippos, or shade
of Glaucus, who, having been torn in pieces by the horses with which
he had been racing, and which he had fed on human flesh to make more
spirited, remained to haunt the Isthmus and frighten horses during
the races.

There is a modern legend in the Far West (America) of a horse called
'The White Devil,' which, in revenge for some harm to its comrades,
slew men by biting and trampling them, and was itself slain after
defying many attempts at its capture; but among the many ancient
legends of demon-horses there are few which suggest anything about
that animal hostile to man. His occasional evil character is simply
derived from his association with man, and is therefore postponed. For
a similar reason the Goat also must be dealt with hereafter, and
as a symbolical animal. A few myths are met with which relate to
its unpleasant characteristics. In South Guinea the odour of goats
is accounted for by the Saga that their ancestor having had the
presumption to ask a goddess for her aromatic ointment, she angrily
rubbed him with ointment of a reverse kind. It has also been said that
it was regarded as a demon by the worshippers of Bacchus, because
it cropped the vines; and that it thus originated the Trageluphoi,
or goat-stag monsters mentioned by Plato, [93] and gave us also the
word tragedy. [94] But such traits of the Goat can have very little
to do with its important relations to Mythology and Demonology. To
the list of animals demonised by association must also be added the
Stag. No doubt the anxious mothers, wives, or sweethearts of rash
young huntsmen utilised the old fables of beautiful hinds which
in the deep forests changed to demons and devoured their pursuers,
[95] for admonition; but the fact that such stags had to transform
themselves for evil work is a sufficient certificate of character to
prevent their being included among the animal demons proper, that is,
such as have in whole or part supplied in their disposition to harm
man the basis of a demonic representation.

It will not be deemed wonderful that Rats bear a venerable rank in
Demonology. The shudder which some nervous persons feel at sight
of even a harmless mouse is a survival from the time when it was
believed that in this form unshriven souls or unbaptized children
haunted their former homes; and probably it would be difficult to
estimate the number of ghost-stories which have originated in their
nocturnal scamperings. Many legends report the departure of unhallowed
souls from human mouths in the shape of a Mouse. During the earlier
Napoleonic wars mice were used in Southern Germany as diviners,
by being set with inked feet on the map of Europe to show where the
fatal Frenchmen would march. They gained this sanctity by a series of
associations with force stretching back to the Hindu fable of a mouse
delivering the elephant and the lion by gnawing the cords that bound
them. The battle of the Frogs and Mice is ascribed to Homer. Mice are
said to have foretold the first civil war in Rome by gnawing the gold
in the temple. Rats appear in various legends as avengers. The uncles
of King Popelus II., murdered by him and his wife and thrown into a
lake, reappear as rats and gnaw the king and queen to death. The same
fate overtakes Miskilaus of Poland, through the transformed widows and
orphans he had wronged. Mouse Tower, standing in the middle of the
Rhine, is the haunted monument of cruel Archbishop Hatto, of Mainz,
who (anno 970) bade the famine-stricken people repair to his barn,
wherein he shut them fast and burned them. But next morning an army
of rats, having eaten all the corn in his granaries, darkened the
roads to the palace. The prelate sought refuge from them in the Tower,
but they swam after, gnawed through the walls and devoured him. [96]

St. Gertrude, wearing the funereal mantle of Holda, commands an army
of mice. In this respect she succeeds to the Pied Piper of Hamelin,
who also leads off children; and my ingenious friend Mr. John
Fiske suggests that this may be the reason why Irish servant-maids
often show such frantic terror at sight of a mouse. [97] The care
of children is often intrusted to them, and the appearance of mice
prognosticated of old the appearance of the præternatural rat-catcher
and psychopomp. Pliny says that in his time it was considered
fortunate to meet a white rat. The people of Bassorah always bow to
these revered animals when seen, no doubt to propitiate them.

The Lion is a symbol of majesty and of the sun in his glory (reached
in the zodiacal Leo), though here and there his original demonic
character appears,--as in the combats of Indra, Samson, and Herakles
with terrible lions. Euphemism, in one sense, fulfils the conditions
of Samson's riddle--Sweetness coming out of the Strong--and has
brought honey out of the Lion. His cruel character has subtly fallen
to Sirius the Dog-star, to whom are ascribed the drought and malaria
of 'dog-days' (when the sun is in Leo); but the primitive fact is
intimated in several fables like that of Aristæus, who, born after
his mother had been rescued from the Lybian lion, was worshipped in
Ceos as a saviour from both droughts and lions. The Lion couching at
the feet of beautiful Doorga in India, reappears drawing the chariot
of Aphrodite, and typifies the potency of beauty rather than, as
Emerson interprets, that beauty depends on strength. The chariot
of the Norse Venus, Freyja, was drawn by Cats, diminished forms of
her Southern sister's steeds. It was partly by these routes the Cat
came to play the sometimes beneficent rôle in Russian, and to some
extent in German, French, and English folklore,--e.g., Puss in Boots,
Whittington and his Cat, and Madame D'Aulnoy's La Chatte Blanche. The
demonic characteristics of the destructive cats have been inherited
by the black,--or, as in Macbeth, the brindled,--cat. In Germany the
approach of a cat to a sick-bed announces death; to dream of one is
an evil omen. In Hungary it is said every black cat becomes a witch
at the age of seven. It is the witch's favourite riding-horse, but
may sometimes be saved from such servitude by incision of the sign of
the cross. A scratch from a black cat is thought to be the beginning
of a fatal spell.

De Gubernatis [98] has a very curious speculation concerning the origin
of our familiar fable the Kilkenny Cats, which he traces to the German
superstition which dreads the combat between cats as presaging death to
one who witnesses it; and this belief he finds reflected in the Tuscan
child's 'game of souls,' in which the devil and angel are supposed
to contend for the soul. The author thinks this may be one outcome
of the contest between Night and Twilight in Mythology; but, if the
connection can be traced, it would probably prove to be derived from
the struggle between the two angels of Death, one variation of which
is associated with the legend of the strife for the body of Moses. The
Book of Enoch says that Gabriel was sent, before the Flood, to excite
the man-devouring giants to destroy one another. In an ancient Persian
picture in my possession, animal monsters are shown devouring each
other, while their proffered victim, like Daniel, is unharmed. The
idea is a natural one, and hardly requires comparative tracing.

Dr. Dennys tells us that in China there exists precisely the same
superstition as in Scotland as to the evil omen of a cat (or dog)
passing over a corpse. Brand and Pennant both mention this, the
latter stating that the cat or dog that has so done is killed without
mercy. This fact would seem to show that the fear is for the living,
lest the soul of the deceased should enter the animal and become one
of the innumerable werewolf or vampyre class of demons. But the origin
of the superstition is no doubt told in the Slavonic belief that if
a cat leap over a corpse the deceased person will become a vampyre.

In Russia the cat enjoys a somewhat better reputation than it does
in most other countries. Several peasants in the neighbourhood of
Moscow assured me that while they would never be willing to remain in
a church where a dog had entered, they would esteem it a good sign if
a cat came to church. One aged woman near Moscow told me that when the
Devil once tried to creep into Paradise he took the form of a mouse:
the Dog and Cat were on guard at the gates, and the Dog allowed the
evil one to pass, but the Cat pounced on him, and so defeated another
treacherous attempt against human felicity.

The Cat superstition has always been strong in Great Britain. It is,
indeed, in one sense true, as old Howell wrote (1647)--'We need not
cross the sea for examples of this kind, we have too many (God wot)
at home: King James a great while was loath to believe there were
witches; but that which happened to my Lord Francis of Rutland's
children convinced him, who were bewitched by an old woman that was
a servant of Belvoir Castle, but, being displeased, she contracted
with the Devil, who conversed with her in the form of a Cat, whom she
called Rutterkin, to make away those children out of mere malignity
and thirst of revenge.' It is to be feared that many a poor woman
has been burned as a witch against whom her cherished cat was the
chief witness. It would be a curious psychological study to trace how
far the superstition owns a survival in even scientific minds,--as
in Buffon's vituperation of the cat, and in the astonishing story,
told by Mr. Wood, of a cat which saw a ghost (anno 1877)!

The Dog, so long the faithful friend of man, and even, possibly,
because of the degree to which he has caught his master's manners,
has a large demonic history. In the Semitic stories there are many
that indicate the path by which 'dog' became the Mussulman synonym
of infidel; and the one dog Katmir who in Arabic legend was admitted
to Paradise for his faithful watching three hundred and nine years
before the cave of the Seven Sleepers, [99] must have drifted among
the Moslems from India as the Ephesian Sleepers did from the christian
world. In the beautiful episode of the 'Mahábhárata,' Yudhisthira
having journeyed to the door of heaven, refuses to enter into that
happy abode unless his faithful dog is admitted also. He is told
by Indra, 'My heaven hath no place for dogs; they steal away our
offerings on earth;' and again, 'If a dog but behold a sacrifice,
men esteem it unholy and void.'  This difficulty was solved by the
Dog--Yama in disguise--revealing himself and praising his friend's
fidelity. It is tolerably clear that it is to his connection with Yama,
god of Death, and under the evolution of that dualism which divided the
universe into upper and nether, that the Dog was degraded among our
Aryan ancestors; at the same time his sometimes wolfish disposition
and some other natural characters supplied the basis of his demonic
character. He was at once a dangerous and a corruptible guard.

In the early Vedic Mythology it is the abode of the gods that is
guarded by the two dogs, identified by solar mythologists as the
morning and evening twilight: a later phase shows them in the
service of Yama, and they reappear in the guardian of the Greek
Hades, Cerberus, and Orthros. The first of these has been traced
to the Vedic Sarvara, the latter to the monster Vritra. 'Orthros'
is the phonetical equivalent of Vritra. The bitch Sarama, mother
of the two Vedic dogs, proved a treacherous guard, and was slain by
Indra. Hence the Russian peasant comes fairly by another version of
how the Dog, while on guard, admitted the Devil into heaven on being
thrown a bone. But the two watch-dogs of the Hindu myth do not seem to
bear an evil character. In a funeral hymn of the 'Rig-Veda' (x. 14),
addressed to Yama, King of Death, we read:--'By an auspicious path
do thou hasten past the two four-eyed brindled dogs, the offspring
of Sarama; then approach the beautiful Pitris who rejoice together
with Yama. Intrust him, O Yama, to thy two watch-dogs, four-eyed,
road-guarding, and man-observing. The two brown messengers of Yama,
broad of nostril and insatiable, wander about among men; may they give
us again to-day the auspicious breath of life that we may see the sun!'

And now thousands of years after this was said we find the Dog still
regarded as the seer of ghosts, and watcher at the gates of death, of
whose opening his howl forewarns. The howling of a dog on the night of
December 9, 1871, at Sandringham, where the Prince of Wales lay ill,
was thought important enough for newspapers to report to a shuddering
country. I read lately of a dog in a German village which was supposed
to have announced so many deaths that he became an object of general
terror, and was put to death. In that country belief in the demonic
character of the dog seems to have been strong enough to transmit an
influence even to the powerful brain of Goethe.

In Goethe's poem, it was when Faust was walking with the student
Wagner that the black Dog appeared, rushing around them in spiral
curves--spreading, as Faust said, 'a magic coil as a snare around
them;' [100] that after this dog had followed Faust into his study,
it assumed a monstrous shape, until changed to a mist, from which
Mephistopheles steps forth--'the kernel of the brute'--in guise of a
travelling scholar. This is in notable coincidence with the archaic
symbolism of the Dog as the most frequent form of the 'Lares' (fig. 9),
or household genii, originally because of its vigilance. The form here
presented is nearly identical with the Cynocephalus, whom the learned
author of 'Mankind: their Origin and Destiny,' identifies as the Adamic
being set as a watch and instructor in Eden (Gen. xvi. 15), an example
of which, holding pen and tablet (as described by Horapollo), is given
in that work from Philæ. Chrysippus says that these were afterwards
represented as young men clothed with dog-skins. Remnants of the
tutelary character of the dog are scattered through German folklore:
he is regarded as oracle, ghost-seer, and gifted with second sight;
in Bohemia he is sometimes made to lick an infant's face that it may
see well.

The passage in 'Faust' has been traced to Goethe's antipathy to
dogs, as expressed in his conversation with Falk at the time of
Wieland's death. 'Annihilation is utterly out of the question; but
the possibility of being caught on the way by some more powerful
and yet baser monas, and subordinated to it; this is unquestionably
a very serious consideration; and I, for my part, have never been
able entirely to divest myself of the fear of it, in the way of a
mere observation of nature.' At this moment, says Falk, a dog was
heard repeatedly barking in the street. Goethe, sprang hastily to the
window and called to it: 'Take what form you will, vile larva, you
shall not subjugate me!' After some pause, he resumed with the remark:
'This rabble of creation is extremely offensive. It is a perfect pack
of monades with which we are thrown together in this planetary nook;
their company will do us little honour with the inhabitants of other
planets, if they happen to hear anything about them.'

In visiting the house where Goethe once resided in Weimar, I
was startled to find as the chief ornament of the hall a large
bronze dog, of full size, and very dark, looking proudly forth,
as if he possessed the Goethean monas after all. However, it is not
probable that the poet's real dislike of dogs arose solely from that
speculation about monades. It is more probable that in observing the
old wall-picture in Auerbach's cellar, wherein a dog stands beside
Mephistopheles, Goethe was led to consider carefully the causes of
that intimacy. Unfortunately, and notwithstanding the fables and
the sentiment which invest that animal, there are some very repulsive
things about him, such as his tendency to madness and the infliction on
man of a frightful death. The Greek Mania's 'fleet hounds' (Bacchæ 977)
have spread terrors far and wide.

Those who carefully peruse the account given by Mr. Lewes of the
quarrel between Karl August and Goethe, on account of the opposition
of the latter to the introduction of a performing dog on the Weimar
stage--an incident which led to his resignation of his position of
intendant of the theatre--may detect this aversion mingling with
his disgust as an artist; and it may be also suspected that it was
not the mere noise which caused the tortures he described himself as
having once endured at Göttingen from the barking of dogs.

It is, however, not improbable that in the wild notion of Goethe,
joined with his cynophobia, we find a survival of the belief of the
Parsees of Surat, who venerate the Dog above all other animals,
and who, when one is dying, place a dog's muzzle near his mouth,
and make it bark twice, so that it may catch the departing soul,
and bear it to the waiting angel.

The devil-worshippers of Travancore to this day declare that the
evil power approaches them in the form of a Dog, as Mephistopheles
approached Faust. But before the superstition reached Goethe's poem
it had undergone many modifications; and especially its keen scent
had influenced the Norse imagination to ascribe to it præternatural
wisdom. Thus we read in the Saga of Hakon the Good, that when Eystein
the Bad had conquered Drontheim, he offered the people choice of
his slave Thorer or his dog Sauer to be their king. They chose the
Dog. 'Now the dog was by witchcraft gifted with three men's wisdom;
and when he barked he spoke one word and barked two.' This Dog wore
a collar of gold, and sat on a throne, but, for all his wisdom and
power, seems to have been a dog still; for when some wolves invaded
the cattle, he attacked and was torn to pieces by them.

Among the negroes of the Southern States in America I have found the
belief that the most frequent form of a diabolical apparition is that
of a large Dog with fiery eyes, which may be among them an original
superstition attributable to their horror of the bloodhound, by which,
in some regions, they were pursued when attempting to escape. Among
the whites of the same region I have never been able to find any
instance of the same belief, though belief in the presage of the
howling dog is frequent; and it is possible that this is a survival
from some region in Africa, where the Dog has an evil name of the
same kind as the scape-goat. Among some tribes in Fazogl there is
an annual carnival at which every one does as he likes. The king
is then seated in the open air, a dog tied to the leg of his chair,
and the animal is then stoned to death.

Mark Twain [101] records the folklore of a village of Missouri,
where we find lads quaking with fear at the howling of a 'stray dog'
in the night, but indifferent to the howling of a dog they recognise,
which may be a form of the common English belief that it is unlucky
to be followed by a 'strange' dog. From the same book it appears
also that the dog will always have his head in the direction of the
person whose doom is signified: the lads are entirely relieved when
they find the howling animal has his back turned to them.

It is remarkable that these fragments of European superstition should
meet in the Far West a plentiful crop of their like which has sprung up
among the aborigines, as the following extract from Mr. Brinton's work,
'Myths of the New World,' will show: 'Dogs were supposed to stand
in some peculiar relation to the moon, probably because they howl
at it and run at night, uncanny practices which have cost them dear
in reputation. The custom prevailed among tribes so widely asunder
as Peruvians, Tupis, Creeks, Iroquois, Algonquins, and Greenland
Eskimos to thrash the curs most soundly during an eclipse. The Creeks
explained this by saying that the big Dog was swallowing the sun, and
that by whipping the little ones they could make him desist. What
the big Dog was they were not prepared to say. We know. It was
the night goddess, represented by the Dog, who was thus shrouding
the world at mid-day. In a better sense, they represented the more
agreeable characteristics of the lunar goddess. Xochiquetzal, most
fecund of Aztec divinities, patroness of love, of sexual pleasure,
and of child-birth, was likewise called Itzcuinan, which, literally
translated, is 'bitch-mother.' This strange and to us so repugnant
title for a goddess was not without parallel elsewhere. When in his
wars the Inca Pachacutec carried his arms into the province of Huanca,
he found its inhabitants had installed in their temples the figure of
a Dog as their highest deity.... This canine canonisation explains why
in some parts of Peru a priest was called, by way of honour, allco,
Dog!... Many tribes on the Pacific coast united in the adoration of
a wild species, the coyote, the Canis latrans of naturalists.' Of
the Dog-demon Chantico the legend of the Nahuas was, 'that he made a
sacrifice to the gods without observing a preparatory fast, for which
he was punished by being changed into a Dog. He then invoked the god
of death to deliver him, which attempt to evade a just punishment so
enraged the divinities that they immersed the world in water.'

The common phrase 'hell-hounds' has come to us by various routes. Diana
being degraded to Hecate, the dogs of Hades, Orthros and Cerberus,
multiplied into a pack of hounds for her chase, were degraded with her
into infernal howlers and hunters. A like degradation of Odin's hunt
took place at a later date. The Wild Huntsman, being a diabolical
character, is considered elsewhere. Concerning the Dog, it may be
further said here, that there are probably various characteristics
of that animal reflected in his demonic character. His liability
to become rabid, and to afflict human beings with hydrophobia,
appears to have had some part in it. Spinoza alludes to the custom
in his time of destroying persons suffering from this canine rabies
by suffocation; and his English biographer and editor, Dr. Willis,
tells me that in his boyhood in Scotland he always heard this spoken
of as the old custom. That such treatment could have prevailed can
hardly be ascribed to anything but a belief in the demonic character
of the rabid dog, cognate with the unconscious superstition which
still causes rural magistrates to order a dog which has bitten any
one to be slain. The notion is, that if the dog goes mad thereafter,
the man will also. Of course it would be rational to preserve the
dog's life carefully, in order that, if it continues healthy, the
bitten may feel reassured, as he cannot be if it be dead.

But the degradation of the dog had a cause even in his fidelity
as a watch. For this, as we have just seen, made him a common form
among Lares or domestic demons. The teraphim also were often in this
shape. Christianity had therefore a special reason for ascribing an
infernal character to these little idols, which interfered with the
popular dependence on the saints. It will thus be seen that there
were many causes operating to create that formidable class of demons
which were called in the Middle Ages Cynocephaloi. The ancient holy
pictures of Russia especially abound in these dog-headed devils; in
the sixteenth century they were frequently represented rending souls
in hell; and sometimes the dragon of the Apocalypse is represented
with seven horrible canine heads.

M. Toussenel, in his transcendental interpretations, has identified
the Wolf as the bandit and outlaw. [102] The proverbial mediæval
phrase for an outlaw--one who wears a teste loeve, caput lupinum,
wulfesheofod, which the ingenious author perhaps remembered--is
of good antiquity. The wolf is called robber in the 'Rig-Veda,'
and he is there also demonised, since we find him fleeing before a
devotee. (In the Zend 'Vendidad' the souls of the pious fear to meet
the wolf on the way to heaven.) The god Pushan is invoked against the
evil wolf, the malignant spirit. [103] Cardano says that to dream of
a wolf announces a robber. There is in the wolf, at the same time,
that always attractive love of liberty which, in the well-known fable,
makes him prefer leanness to the comfort of the collar-wearing dog,
which makes him among demonic animals sometimes the same as the mighty
huntsmen Nimrod and shaggy Esau among humanised demons. One is not
surprised to find occasionally good stories about the wolf. Thus the
Nez Perces tribe in America trace the origin of the human race to a
wolf. They say that originally, when there were nothing but animals,
there was a huge monster which devoured them whole and alive. This
monster swallowed a wolf, who, when he entered its belly, found
the animals therein snarling at and biting one another as they had
done on the earth outside. The wolf exhorted them that their common
sufferings should teach them friendliness, and finally he induced them
to a system of co-operation by which they made their way out through
the side of the monster, which instantly perished. The animals so
released were at once transformed to men, how and why the advocates
of co-operation will readily understand, and founded the Nez Perces
Indians. The myths of Asia and Europe are unhappily antipodal to this
in spirit and form, telling of human beings transformed to wolves. In
the Norse Mythology, however, there stands a demon wolf whose story
bears a touch of feeling, though perhaps it was originally the mere
expression for physical law. This is the wolf Fenris, which, from being
at first the pet of the gods and lapdog of the goddesses, became so
huge and formidable that Asgard itself was endangered. All the skill
and power of the gods could not forge chains which might chain him;
he snapped them like straws and toppled over the mountains to which
he was fastened.  But the little Elves working underground made that
chain so fine that none could see or feel it,--fashioned it out of
the beards of women, the breath of fish, noise of the cat's footfall,
spittle of birds, sinews of bears, roots of stones,--by which are meant
things non-existent. This held him. Fenris is chained till the final
destruction, when he shall break loose and devour Odin. The fine chain
that binds ferocity,--is it the love that can tame all creatures? Is
it the sunbeam that defines to the strongest creature its habitat?

The two monsters formed when Ráhu was cloven in twain, in Hindu
Mythology, reappear in Eddaic fable as the wolves Sköll and Hati,
who pursue the sun and moon. As it is said in the Völuspá:--


                Eastward in the Iron-wood
                The old one sitteth,
                And there bringeth forth
                Fenrir's fell kindred.
                Of these one, the mightiest,
                The moon's devourer,
                In form most fiend-like,
                And filled with the life-blood
                Of the dead and the dying,
                Reddens with ruddy gore
                The seats of the high gods.


Euphemism attending propitiation of such monsters may partly explain
the many good things told of wolves in popular legend. The stories of
the she-wolf nourishing children, as Romulus and Remus, are found in
many lands. They must, indeed, have had some prestige, to have been
so largely adopted in saintly tradition. Like the bears that Elisha
called to devour the children, the wolves do not lose their natural
ferocity by becoming pious. They devour heretics and sacrilegious
people. One guarded the head of St. Edmund the Martyr of England;
another escorted St. Oddo, Abbot of Cluny, as his ancestors did the
priests of Cluny. The skin of the wolf appears in folklore as a charm
against hydrophobia; its teeth are best for cutting children's gums,
and its bite, if survived, is an assurance against any future wound
or pain.

The tragedy which is so foolishly sprung upon the nerves of children,
Little Red Riding-Hood, shows the wolf as a crafty animal. There are
many legends of a like character which have made it a favourite figure
in which to represent pious impostors. In our figure 10, the wolf
appears as the 'dangerous confessor;' it was intended, as Mr. Wright
thought, for Mary of Modena, Queen of James II., and Father Petre. At
the top of the original are the words 'Converte Angliam' and beneath,
'It is a foolish sheep that makes the wolf her confessor.' The craft
of the wolf is represented in a partly political partly social turn
given by an American fabulist to one of Æsop's fables. The wolf
having accused the lamb he means to devour of fouling the stream, and
receiving answer that the lamb was drinking farther down the current,
alters the charge and says, 'You opposed my candidature at the caucus
two years ago.' 'I was not then born,' replies the lamb. The wolf then
says, 'Any one hearing my accusations would testify that I am insane
and not responsible for my actions,' and thereupon devours the lamb
with full faith in a jury of his countrymen. M. Toussenel says the wolf
is a terrible strategist, albeit the less observant have found little
in his character to warrant this attribute of craft, his physiognomy
and habits showing him a rather transparent highwayman. It is probable
that the fables of this character have derived that trait from his
association with demons and devils supposed to take on his shape.

In a beautiful hymn to the Earth in the 'Atharva Veda' it is said, 'The
Earth, which endureth the burden of the oppressor, beareth up the abode
of the lofty and of the lowly, suffereth the hog, and giveth entrance
to the wild boar.' Boar-hounds in Brittany and some other regions
are still kept at Government expense. There are many indications of
this kind that in early times men had to defend themselves vigorously
against the ravages of the wild boar, and, as De Gubernatis remarks,
[104] its character is generally demoniacal. The contests of Hercules
with the Erymanthian, and of Meleager with the Calydonian, Boar,
are enough to show that it was through its dangerous character that
he became sacred to the gods of war, Mars and Odin. But it is also
to be remembered that the third incarnation of Vishnu was as a Wild
Boar; and as the fearless exterminator of snakes the pig merited
this association with the Preserver. Provided with a thick coat of
fat, no venom can harm him unless it be on the lip. It may be this
ability to defy the snake-ordeal which, after its uncleanliness had
excepted the hog from human voracity in some regions, assigned it a
diabolical character. In rabbinical fable the hog and rat were created
by Noah to clear the Ark of filth; but the rats becoming a nuisance,
he evoked a cat from the lion's nose.

It is clear that our Asiatic and Norse ancestors never had such a
ferocious beast to encounter as the Grisly Bear (Ursus horribilis)
of America, else the appearances of this animal in Demonology could
never have been so respectable. The comparatively timid Asiatic
Bear (U. labiatus), the small and almost harmless Thibetan species
(U. Thibetanus), would appear to have preponderated over the fiercer
but rarer Bears of the North in giving us the Indo-Germanic fables,
in which this animal is, on the whole, a favourite. Emerson finds in
the fondness of the English for their national legend of 'Beauty and
the Beast' a sign of the Englishman's own nature. 'He is a bear with
a soft place in his heart; he says No, and helps you.' The old legend
found place in the heart of a particularly representative American
also--Theodore Parker, who loved to call his dearest friend 'Bear,' and
who, on arriving in Europe, went to Berne to see his favourites, from
which its name is derived. The fondness of the Bear for honey--whence
its Russian name, medv-jed, 'honey-eater'--had probably something to do
with its dainty taste for roses and its admiration for female beauty,
as told in many myths. In his comparative treatment of the mythology
of the Bear, De Gubernatis [105] mentions the transformation of King
Trisankus into a bear, and connects this with the constellation of the
Great Bear; but it may with equal probability be related to the many
fables of princes who remain under the form of a bear until the spell
is broken by the kiss of some maiden. It is worthy of note that in the
Russian legends the Bear is by no means so amiable as in those of our
Western folklore. In one, the Bear-prince lurking in his fountain holds
by the beard the king who, while hunting, tries to quench his thirst,
and releases him only after a promise to deliver up whatever he has
at home without his knowledge; the twins, Ivan and Maria, born during
his absence, are thus doomed--are concealed, but discovered by the
bear, who carries them away. They are saved by help of the bull. When
escaping the bear Ivan throws down a comb, which becomes a tangled
forest, which, however, the bear penetrates; but the spread-out
towel which becomes a lake of fire sends the bear back. [106] It
is thus the ferocious Arctic Bear which gives the story its sombre
character. Such also is the Russian tale of the Bear with iron hairs,
which devastates the kingdom, devouring the inhabitants until Ivan
and Helena alone remain; after the two in various ways try to escape,
their success is secured by the Bull, which, more kindly than Elisha,
blinds the Bear with his horns. [107] (The Bear retires in winter.) In
Norwegian story the Bear becomes milder,--a beautiful youth by night,
whose wife loses him because she wishes to see him by lamplight: her
place is taken by a long-nosed princess, until, by aid of the golden
apple and the rose, she recovers her husband. In the Pentameron,
[108] Pretiosa, to escape the persecutions of her father, goes into
the forest disguised as a she-bear; she nurses and cures the prince,
who is enamoured of her, and at his kiss becomes a beautiful maid. The
Bear thus has a twofold development in folklore. He used to be killed
(13th century) at the end of the Carnival in Rome, as the Devil. [109]
The Siberians, if they have killed a bear, hang his skin on a tree and
apologise humbly to it, declaring that they did not forge the metal
that pierced it, and they meant the arrow for a bird; from which it
is plain that they rely more on its stupidity than its good heart. In
Canada, when the hunters kill a bear, one of them approaches it and
places between his teeth the stem of his pipe, breathes in the bowl,
and thus, filling with smoke the animal's mouth, conjures its soul not
to be offended at his death. As the bear's ghost makes no reply, the
huntsman, in order to know if his prayer is granted, cuts the thread
under the bear's tongue, and keeps it until the end of the hunt, when
a large fire is kindled, and all the band solemnly throw in it what
threads of this kind they have; if these sparkle and vanish, as is
natural, it is a sign that the bears are appeased. [110] In Greenland
the great demon, at once feared and invoked, especially by fishermen,
is Torngarsuk, a huge Bear with a human arm. He is invisible to all
except his priests, the Anguekkoks, who are the only physicians of
that people.

The extreme point of demonic power has always been held by the
Serpent. So much, however, will have to be said of the destructiveness
and other characteristics of this animal when we come to consider
at length its unique position in Mythology, that I content myself
here with a pictorial representation of the Singhalese Demon of
Serpents. If any one find himself shuddering at sight of a snake,
even in a country where they are few and comparatively harmless,
perhaps this figure (11) may suggest the final cause of the shudder.

In conclusion, it may be said that not only every animal ferocity,
but every force which can be exerted injuriously, has had its
demonic representations. Every claw, fang, sting, hoof, horn,
has been as certain to be catalogued and labelled in demonology
as in physical science. It is remarkable also how superstition
rationalises. Thus the horn in the animal world, though sometimes
dangerous to man, was more dangerous to animals, which, as foes of
the horned animals, were foes to man's interests. The early herdsman
knew the value of the horn as a defence against dog and wolf, besides
its other utilities. Consequently, although it was necessary that the
horn-principle, so to say, in nature must be regarded as one of its
retractile and cruel features, man never demonised the animals whose
butt was most dangerous, but for such purpose transferred the horns
to the head of some nondescript creature. The horn has thus become
a natural weapon of man-demons. The same evolution has taken place
in America; for, although among its aboriginal legends we may meet
with an occasional demon-buffalo, such are rare and of apocryphal
antiquity. The accompanying American figure (12) is from a photograph
sent me by the President of Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, who
found it in an old mound (Red Indian) in the State of Georgia. It is
probably as ancient as any example of a human head with horns in the
world; and as it could not have been influenced by European notions,
it supplies striking evidence that the demonisation of the forces and
dangers of nature belongs to the structural action of the human mind.



CHAPTER VI.

ENEMIES.


    Aryas, Dasyus, Nagas--Yakkhos--Lycians--Ethiopians--Hirpini--
    Polites--Sosipolis--Were-wolves--Goths and Scythians--Giants and
    Dwarfs--Berserkers--Britons--Iceland--Mimacs--Gog and Magog.


We paint the Devil black, says George Herbert. On the other hand the
negro paints him white, with reason enough. The name of the Devil
at Mozambique is Muzungu Maya, or Wicked White Man. Of this demon
they make little images of extreme hideousness, which are kept by
people on the coast, and occasionally displayed, in the belief that
if the White Devil is lurking near them he will vanish out of sheer
disgust with a glimpse of his own ugliness. The hereditary horror of
the kidnapper displayed in this droll superstition may possibly have
been assisted by the familiarity with all things infernal represented
in the language of the white sailors visiting the coast. Captain
Basil Hall, on visiting Mozambique about fifty years ago, found
that the native dignitaries had appropriated the titles of English
noblemen, and a dumpy little Duke of Devonshire met him with his whole
vocabulary of English,--'How do you do, sir. Very glad see you. Damn
your eyes. Johanna man like English very much. God damn. That very
good? Eh? Devilish hot, sir. What news? Hope your ship stay too long
while very. Damn my eye. Very fine day.'

In most parts of India Siva also is painted white, which would indicate
that there too was found reason to associate diabolism with the white
face. It is said the Thugs spared Englishmen because their white faces
suggested relationship to Siva. In some of the ancient Indian books
the monster whom Indra slew, Vritra, is called Dasyu (enemy), a name
which in the Vedas designates the Aborigines as contrasted with the
Aryans of the North. 'In the old Sanskrit, in the hymns of the Veda,
ârya occurs frequently as a national name and as a name of honour,
comprising the worshippers of the gods of the Brahmans, as opposed to
their enemies, who are called in the Veda Dasyus. Thus one of the gods,
Indra, who in some respects answers to the Greek Zeus, is invoked
in the following words (Rigveda, i. 57, 8):--'Know thou the Aryas,
O Indra, and those who are Dasyus; punish the lawless, and deliver
them unto thy servant! Be thou the mighty helper of the worshippers,
and I will praise all these thy deeds at the festivals.' [111]

Naglok (snakeland) was at an early period a Hindu name for hell. But
the Nagas were not real snakes,--in that case they might have fared
better,--but an aboriginal tribe in Ceylon, believed by the Hindus to
be of serpent origin,--'naga' being an epithet for 'native.' [112] The
Singhalese, on the other hand, have adapted the popular name for demons
in India, 'Rakshasa,' in their Rakseyo, a tribe of invisible cannibals
without supernatural powers (except invisibility), who no doubt merely
embody the traditions of some early race. The dreaded powers were
from another tribe designated Yakkhos (demons), and believed to have
the power of rendering themselves invisible. Buddha's victories over
these demonic beings are related in the 'Mahawanso.' 'It was known
(by inspiration) by the vanquishers that in Lanka, filled by yakkhos,
... would be the place where his religion would be glorified. In
like manner, knowing that in the centre of Lanka, on the delightful
bank of a river, ... in the agreeable Mahanaga garden, ... there
was a great assembly of the principal yakkhos, ... the deity of
happy advent, approaching that great congregation, ... immediately
over their heads hovering in the air, ... struck terror into them
by rains, tempests, and darkness. The yakkhos, overwhelmed with awe,
supplicated of the vanquisher to be released from their terror.... The
consoling vanquisher thus replied: 'I will release ye yakkhos from
this your terror and affliction: give ye unto me here by unanimous
consent a place for me to alight on.' All these yakkhos replied:
'Lord, we confer on thee the whole of Lanka, grant thou comfort
to us.' The vanquisher thereupon dispelling their terror and cold
shivering, and spreading his carpet of skin on the spot bestowed on
him, he there seated himself. He then caused the aforesaid carpet,
refulgent with a fringe of flames, to extend itself on all sides:
they, scorched by the flames, (receding) stood around on the shores
(of the island) terrified. The Saviour then caused the delightful isle
of Giri to approach for them. As soon as they transferred themselves
thereto (to escape the conflagration), he restored it to its former
position.' [113]

This legend, which reminds one irresistibly of the expulsion of
reptiles by saints from Ireland, and other Western regions, is
the more interesting if it be considered that these Yakkhos are the
Sanskrit Yakshas, attendants on Kuvera, the god of wealth, employed in
the care of his garden and treasures. They are regarded as generally
inoffensive. The transfer by English authorities of the Tasmanians from
their native island to another, with the result of their extermination,
may suggest the possible origin of the story of Giri.

Buddha's dealings with the serpent-men or nagas is related as follows
in the same volume:--

'The vanquisher (i.e., of the five deadly sins), ... in the fifth
year of his buddhahood, while residing at the garden of (the prince)
Jeto, observing that, on account of a disputed claim for a gem-set
throne between the naga Mahodaro and a similar Chalodaro, a maternal
uncle and nephew, a conflict was at hand, ... taking with him his
sacred dish and robes, out of compassion to the nagas, visited
Nagadipo.... These mountain nagas were, moreover, gifted with
supernatural powers.... The Saviour and dispeller of the darkness
of sin, poising himself in the air over the centre of the assembly,
caused a terrifying darkness to these nagas. Attending to the prayer
of the dismayed nagas, he again called forth the light of day. They,
overjoyed at having seen the deity of felicitous advent, bowed down
at the feet of the divine teacher. To them the vanquisher preached
a sermon of reconciliation. Both parties rejoicing thereat, made an
offering of the gem-throne to the divine sage. The divine teacher,
alighting on the earth, seated himself on the throne, and was served
by the naga kings with celestial food and beverage. The lord of the
universe procured for eighty kotis of nagas, dwelling on land and in
the waters, the salvation of the faith and the state of piety.'

At every step in the conversion of the native Singhalese,--the demons
and serpent-men,--Buddha and his apostles are represented as being
attended by the devas,--the deities of India,--who are spoken of as
if glad to become menials of the new religion. But we find Zoroaster
using this term in a demonic sense, and describing alien worshippers
as children of the Devas (a Semite would say, Sons of Belial). And
in the conventional Persian pictures of the Last Judgment (moslem),
the archfiend has the Hindu complexion. A similar phenomenon may
be observed in various regions. In the mediæval frescoes of Moscow,
representing infernal tortures, it is not very difficult to pick out
devils representing the physical characteristics of most of the races
with which the Muscovite has struggled in early times. There are also
black Ethiopians among them, which may be a result of devils being
considered the brood of Tchernibog, god of Darkness; but may also, not
impossibly, have come of such apocryphal narratives as that ascribed
to St. Augustine. 'I was already Bishop of Hippo when I went into
Ethiopia with some servants of Christ, there to preach the gospel. In
this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two
great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southerly
we saw a people who had but one eye in their foreheads.' [114]

In considering animal demons, the primitive demonisation of the Wolf
has been discussed. But it is mainly as a transformation of man and
a type of savage foes that this animal has been a prominent figure
in Mythology.

Professor Max Müller has made it tolerably clear that Bellerophon
means Slayer of the Hairy; and that Belleros is the transliteration
of Sanskrit varvara, a term applied to the dark Aborigines by their
Aryan invaders, equivalent to barbarians. [115] This points us for the
origin of the title rather to Bellerophon's conquest of the Lycians,
or Wolf-men, than to his victory over the Chimæra. The story of
Lycaon and his sons--barbarians defying the gods and devouring human
flesh--turned into wolves by Zeus, connects itself with the Lycians
(hairy, wolfish barbarians), whom Bellerophon conquered.

It was not always, however, the deity that conquered in such
encounters. In the myth of Soracte, the Wolf is seen able to hold
his own against the gods. Soranus, worshipped on Mount Soracte,
was at Rome the god of Light, and is identified with Apollo by
Virgil. [116] A legend states that he became associated with the
infernal gods, though called Diespiter, because of the sulphurous
exhalations from the side of Mount Soracte. It is said that once when
some shepherds were performing a sacrifice, some wolves seized the
flesh; the shepherds, following them, were killed by the poisonous
vapours of the mountain to which the wolves retreated. An oracle gave
out that this was a punishment for their pursuing the sacred animals;
and a general pestilence also having followed, it was declared that it
could only cease if the people were all changed to wolves and lived by
prey. Hence the Hirpini, from the Sabine 'hirpus,' a wolf. The story
is a variant of that of the Hirpinian Samnites, who were said to have
received their name from their ancestors having followed a sacred wolf
when seeking their new home. The Wolf ceremonies were, like the Roman
Lupercalia, for purposes of purification. The worshippers ran naked
through blazing fires. The annual festival, which Strabo describes
as occurring in the grove of Feronia, goddess of Nature, became at
last a sort of fair. Its history, however, is very significant of
the formidable character of the Hirpini, or Wolf-tribe, which could
alone have given rise to such euphemistic celebrations of the wolf.

It is interesting to note that in some regions this wolf of
superstition was domesticated into a dog. Pierius says there was a
temple of Vulcan in Mount Ætna, in whose grove were dogs that fawned
on the pious, but rent the polluted worshippers. It will be seen by
the left form of Fig. 13 that the wolf had a diminution, in pictorial
representation similar to that which the canine Lares underwent
(p. 135). This picture is referred by John Beaumont [117] to Cartarius'
work on 'The Images of the Gods of the Ancients;' the form wearing
a wolf's skin and head is that of the demon Polites, who infested
Temesa in Italy, according to a story related by Pausanias. Ulysses,
in his wanderings, having come to this town, one of his companions
was stoned to death for having ravished a virgin; after which his
ghost appeared in form of this demon, which had to be appeased, by
the direction of the oracle of Apollo, by the annual sacrifice to
him of the most beautiful virgin in the place. Euthymus, enamoured
of a virgin about to be so offered, gave battle to this demon, and,
having expelled him from the country, married the virgin. However,
since the infernal powers cannot be deprived of their rights without
substitution, this saviour of Temesa disappeared in the river Cæcinus.

The form on the right in Fig. 13 represents the genius of the
city of Rome, and is found on some of Hadrian's coins; he holds
the cornucopia and the sacrificial dish. The child and the serpent
in the same picture represent the origin of the demonic character
attributed to the Eleans by the Arcadians. This child-and-serpent
symbol, which bears resemblance to certain variants of Bel and the
Dragon, no doubt was brought to Elea, or Velia in Italy, by the
Phocæans, when they abandoned their Ionian homes rather than submit
to Cyrus, and founded that town, B.C. 544. The two forms were jointly
worshipped with annual sacrifices in the temple of Lucina, under the
name Sosipolis. The legend of this title is related by Pausanias. When
the Arcadians invaded the Eleans, a woman came to the Elean commander
with an infant at her breast, and said that she had been admonished
in a dream to place her child in front of the army. This was done;
as the Arcadians approached the child was changed to a serpent, and,
astounded at the prodigy, they fled without giving battle. The child
was represented by the Eleans decorated with stars, and holding the
cornucopia; by the Arcadians, no doubt, in a less celestial way. It
is not uncommon in Mythology to find the most dangerous demons
represented under some guise of weakness, as, for instance, among
the South Africans, some of whom recently informed English officers
that the Galeikas were led against them by a terrible sorcerer in
the form of a hare. The most fearful traditional demon ever slain
by hero in Japan was Shuden Dozi--the Child-faced Drinker. In Ceylon
the apparition of a demon is said to be frequently under the form of
a woman with a child in her arms.

Many animal demons are mere fables for the ferocity of human
tribes. The Were-wolf superstition, which exists still in Russia, where
the transformed monster is called volkodlák (volk, a wolf, and dlak,
hair), might even have originated in the costume of Norse barbarians
and huntsmen. The belief was always more or less rationalised,
resembling that held by Verstegan three hundred years ago, and which
may be regarded as prevalent among both the English and Flemish people
of his day. 'These Were-wolves,' he says, 'are certain sorcerers,
who, having anointed their bodies with an ointment they make by the
instinct of the devil, and putting on a certain enchanted girdle,
do not only unto the view of others seem as wolves, but to their own
thinking have both the nature and shape of wolves so long as they
wear the said girdle; and they do dispose themselves as very wolves,
in worrying and killing, and waste of human creatures.' During the
Franco-German war of 1870-71, a family of ladies on the German side
of the Rhine, sitting up all night in apprehension, related to me
such stories of the 'Turcos' that I have since found no difficulty
in understanding the belief in weird and præternatural wolves which
once filled Europe with horror. The facility with which the old Lycian
wolf-girdle, so to say, was caught up and worn in so many countries
where race-wars were chronic for many ages, renders it nearly certain
that this superstition (Lycanthropy), however it may have originated,
was continued through the custom of ascribing demonic characteristics
to hostile and fierce races. It has been, indeed, a general opinion
that the theoretical belief originated in the Pythagorean doctrine
of metempsychosis. Thus Shakspere:--


        Thou almost makest me waver in my faith,
        To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
        That souls of animals infuse themselves
        Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
        Governed a wolf, who, hanged for human slaughter,
        Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
        And whilst thou layest in thy unhallowed dam
        Infused itself in thee; for thy desires
        Are wolfish, bloody, starved, and ravenous.


But the superstition is much older than Pythagoras, who, no doubt,
tried to turn it into a moral theory of retributions,--as indeed did
Plato in his story of the Vision of Er the Armenian.

Professor Weber and others have adduced evidence indicating that
although belief in the transformation of men into beasts was not
developed in the Vedic age of India, the matrix of it was there. But
of our main fact--the association of demonic characters with certain
tribes--India has presented many examples. In the mountains of
Travancore there are tribes which are still generally believed to
be on terms of especial familiarity with the devils of that region;
and the dwellers on the plains relate that on these mountains gigantic
demons, sixteen or seventeen feet high, may sometimes be seen hurling
firebrands at each other.

Professor Monier Williams contributes an interesting note concerning
this general phase of South-Indian demonology. 'Furthermore, it
must not be forgotten that although a belief in devils and homage
to bhutas, or spirits, of all kinds is common all over India, yet
what is called devil-worship is far more systematically practised
in the South of India and Ceylon than in the North. And the reason
may be that as the invading Aryans advanced towards Southern India,
they found portions of it peopled by wild aboriginal savages, whose
behaviour and aspect appeared to them to resemble that of devils. The
Aryan mind, therefore, naturally pictured to itself the regions of the
South as the chief resort and stronghold of the demon race, and the
dread of demonical agency became more deeply rooted in Southern India
than in the North. Curiously enough, too, it is commonly believed in
Southern India that every wicked man contributes by his death to swell
the ever-increasing ranks of devil legions. His evil passions do not
die with him; they are intensified, concentrated, and perpetuated in
the form of a malignant and mischievous spirit.' [118]

It is obvious that this principle may be extended from individuals
to entire tribes. The Cimmerians were regarded as dwelling in a land
allied with hell. In the legend of the Alhambra, as told by Washington
Irving, the astrologer warns the Moorish king that the beautiful
damsel is no doubt one of those Gothic sorceresses of whom they have
heard so much. Although, as we have seen, England was regarded on the
Continent as an island of demons because of its northern latitude,
probably some of its tribes were of a character dangerous enough to
prolong the superstition. The nightmare elves were believed to come
from England, and to hurry away through the keyholes at daybreak,
saying 'The bells are calling in England.' [119] Visigoth probably
left us our word bigot; and 'Goths and Vandals' sometimes designate
English roughs, as 'Turks' those of Constantinople. Herodotus says
the Scythians of the Black Sea regarded the Neurians as wizards,
who transformed themselves into wolves for a few days annually; but
the Scythians themselves are said by Herodotus to have sprung from a
monster, half-woman half-serpent; and possibly the association of the
Scotch with the Scythians by the Germans, who called them both Scutten,
had something to do with the uncanny character ascribed to the British
Isles. Sir Walter Raleigh described the Red Men of America as gigantic
monsters. 'Red Devils' is still the pioneer's epithet for them in the
Far West. The hairy Dukes of Esau were connected with the goat, and
demonised as Edom; and Ishmael was not believed much better by the
more peaceful Semitic tribes. Such notions are akin to those which
many now have of the Thugs and Bashi-Bazouks, and are too uniform
and natural to tax much the ingenuity of Comparative Mythology.

Underlying many of the legends of giants and dwarfs may be found a
similar demonologic formation. A principle of natural selection would
explain the existence of tribes, which, though of small stature,
are able to hold their own against the larger and more powerful by
their superior cunning. That such equalisation of apparently unequal
forces has been known in pre-historic ages may be gathered from many
fables. Before Bali, the monarch already mentioned, whose power alarmed
the gods themselves, Vishnu appeared as a dwarf, asking only so much
land as he could measure with three steps; the apparently ridiculous
request granted, the god strode over the whole earth with two steps
and brought his third on the head of Bali. In Scandinavian fable
we have the young giantess coming to her mother with the plough and
ploughman in her apron, which she had picked up in the field. To her
child's inquiry, 'What sort of beetle is this I found wriggling in
the sand?' the giantess replies, 'Go put it back in the place where
thou hast found it.  We must be gone out of this land, for these
little people will dwell in it.'

The Sagas contain many stories which, while written in glorification
of the 'giant' race, relate the destruction of their chiefs by
the magical powers of the dwarfs. I must limit myself to a few
notes on the Ynglinga Saga. 'In Swithiod,' we are told, 'are many
great domains, and many wonderful races of men, and many kinds of
languages. There are giants, and there are dwarfs, and there are also
blue men. There are wild beasts, and dreadfully large dragons.' We
learn that in Asaland was a great chief, Odin, who went out to conquer
Vanaland. The Vanalanders are declared to have magic arts,--such as
are ascribed to Finns and Lapps to this day by the more ignorant of
their neighbours. But that the people of Asaland learned their magic
charms. 'Odin was the cleverest of them all, and from him all the
others learned their magic arts.' 'Odin could make his enemies in
battle blind, or deaf, or terror-struck, and their weapons so blunt
that they could no more cut than a willow twig; on the other hand, his
men rushed forward without armour, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit
their shields, and were as strong as bears or wild bulls, and killed
people at a blow, and neither fire nor iron told upon them. These
were called Berserkers.' (From ber, bear, and serkr, sark or coat;
the word being probably, as Maurer says, a survival of an earlier
belief in the transformation of men into bears.) But the successors of
Odin did not preserve his occult power. Svegdir, for instance, saw a
large stone and a dwarf at the door entering in it. The dwarf called
him to come in and he should see Odin. 'Swedger ran into the stone,
which instantly closed behind him, and Swedger never came back.' The
witchcraft of the Finn people is said to have led Vanlandi (Svegdir's
son) to his death by Mara (night-mare). Vanlandi's son too, Visbur,
fell a victim to sorcery. Such legends as these, and many others which
may be found in Sturleson's Heimskringla, have influenced our popular
stories whose interest turns on the skill with which some little Jack
or Thumbling overcomes his adversary by superior cunning.

Superstitions concerning dwarf-powers are especially rife in
Northumberland, where they used to be called Duergar, and they were
thought to abound on the hills between Rothbury and Elsdon. They
mislead with torches. One story relates that a traveller, beguiled at
night into a hut where a dwarf prepared a comfortable fire for him,
found himself when daylight returned sitting upon the edge of a deep
rugged precipice, where the slightest movement had caused him to be
dashed to pieces. [120] The Northumbrian stories generally, however,
do not bear the emphasis of having grown out of aboriginal conditions,
or even of having been borrowed for such. The legends of Scotland,
and of the South-West of England, appear to me much more suggestive of
original struggles between large races and small. They are recalled by
the superstitions which still linger in Norway concerning the Lapps,
who are said to carry on unholy dealings with gnomes.

In the last century the 'Brownie' was commonly spoken of in Scotland
as appearing in shape of 'a tall man,' and the name seems to refer
to the brown complexion of that bogey, and its long brown hair,
hardly Scottish. [121] It is generally the case that Second Sight,
which once attained the dignity of being called 'Deuteroscopia,'
sees a doomed man or woman shrink to the size of a dwarf. The 'tall
man' is not far off in such cases. 'In some age of the world more
remote than even that of Alypos,' says Hugh Miller, 'the whole of
Britain was peopled by giants--a fact amply supported by early English
historians and the traditions of the North of Scotland. Diocletian,
king of Syria, say the historians, had thirty-three daughters, who,
like the daughters of Danaus, killed their husbands on their wedding
night. The king, their father, in abhorrence of the crime, crowded
them all into a ship, which he abandoned to the mercy of the waves,
and which was drifted by tides and winds till it arrived on the coast
of Britain, then an uninhabited island. There they lived solitary,
subsisting on roots and berries, the natural produce of the soil,
until an order of demons, becoming enamoured of them, took them for
their wives; and a tribe of giants, who must be regarded as the true
aborigines of the country, if indeed the demons have not a prior claim,
were the fruit of these marriages. Less fortunate, however, than even
their prototypes the Cyclops, the whole tribe was extirpated a few ages
after by Brutus the parricide, who, with a valour to which mere bulk
could offer no effectual resistance, overthrew Gog-Magog and Termagol,
and a whole host of others with names equally terrible. Tradition
is less explicit than the historians in what relates to the origin
and extinction of the race, but its narratives of their prowess are
more minute. There is a large and ponderous stone in the parish
of Edderston which a giantess of the tribe is said to have flung
from the point of a spindle across the Dornoch Firth; and another,
within a few miles of Dingwall, still larger and more ponderous,
which was thrown by a person of the same family, and which still
bears the marks of a gigantic finger and thumb.' [122]

Perhaps we may find the mythological descendants of these Titans,
and also of the Druids, in the so-called 'Great Men' once dreaded
by Highlanders. The natives of South Uist believed that a valley,
called Glenslyte, situated between two mountains on the east side
of the island, was haunted by these Great Men, and that if any one
entered the valley without formally resigning themselves to the
conduct of those beings, they would infallibly become mad. Martin,
having remonstrated with the people against this superstition, was told
of a woman's having come out of the valley a lunatic because she had
not uttered the spell of three sentences. They also told him of voices
heard in the air. The Brownie ('a tall man with very long brown hair'),
who has cow's milk poured out for him on a hill in the same region,
probably of this giant tribe, might easily have been demonised at
the time when the Druids were giving St. Columba so much trouble,
and trying to retain their influence over the people by professing
supernatural powers. [123]

The man of the smaller stature, making up for his inferiority by
invention, perhaps first forged the sword, the coat of mail, and the
shield, and so confronted the giant with success. The god with the
Hammer might thus supersede the god of the Flint Spear. Magic art
seemed to have rendered invulnerable the man from whom the arrow
rebounded.

It would appear from King Olaf Tryggvason's Saga that nine hundred
years ago the Icelanders and the Danes reciprocally regarded each
other as giants and dwarfs. The Icelanders indited lampoons against
the Danes which allude to their diminutive size:--


            The gallant Harald in the field
            Between his legs lets drop his shield,
            Into a pony he was changed, &c.


On the other hand, the Danes had by no means a contemptuous idea of
their Icelandic enemies, as the following narrative from Heimskringla
proves. 'King Harald told a warlock to hie to Iceland in some altered
shape, and to try what he could learn there to tell him: and he set
out in the shape of a whale. And when he came near to the land he
went to the west side of Iceland, north around the land, when he
saw all the mountains and hills full of land-serpents, some great,
some small. When he came to Vapnafiord he went in towards the land,
intending to go on shore; but a huge dragon rushed down the dale
against him, with a train of serpents, paddocks, and toads, that blew
poison towards him. Then he turned to go westward around the land as
far as Eyafiord, and he went into the fiord. Then a bird flew against
him, which was so great that its wings stretched over the mountains
on either side of the fiord, and many birds, great and small, with
it. Then he swam further west, and then south into Breidafiord. When
he came into the fiord a large grey bull ran against him, wading into
the sea, and bellowing fearfully, and he was followed by a crowd of
land-serpents. From thence he went round by Reikaness and wanted to
land at Vikarsted, but there came down a hill-giant against him with
an iron staff in his hands. He was a head higher than the mountains,
and many other giants followed him.' The most seductive Hesperian
gardens of the South and East do not appear to have been so thoroughly
guarded or defended as Iceland, and one can hardly call it cowardice
when (after the wizard-whale brought back the log of its voyage)
it is recorded: 'Then the Danish king turned about with his fleet
and sailed back to Denmark.'

It is a sufficiently curious fact that the Mimacs, aborigines of
Nova Scotia, [124] were found with a whale-story, already referred to
(p. 46), so much like this. They also have the legend of an ancient
warrior named Booin, who possessed the præternatural powers especially
ascribed to Odin, those of raising storms, causing excessive cold,
increasing or diminishing his size, and assuming any shape. Besides
the fearful race of gigantic ice-demons dreaded by this tribe, as
elsewhere stated (p. 84), they dread also a yellow-horned dragon called
Cheepichealm, (whose form the great Booin sometimes assumes). They
make offerings to the new moon. They believe in pixies, calling them
Wigguladum-moochkik, 'very little people.' They anciently believed in
two great spirits, good and evil, both called Manitoos; since their
contact with christians only the evil one has been so called.

The entire motif of the Mimac Demonology is, to my mind, that of
early conflicts with some formidable races. It is to be hoped that
travellers will pay more attention to this unique race before it
has ceased to exist. The Chinese theory of genii is almost exactly
that of the Mimacs. The Chinese genii are now small as a moth, now
fill the world; can assume any form; they command demons; they never
die, but, at the end of some centuries, ride to heaven on a dragon's
back. [125] Ordinarily the Chinese genii use the yellow heron as an
aerial courser. The Mimacs believe in a large præternatural water-bird,
Culloo, which devours ordinary people, but bears on its back those
who can tame it by magic.

Mr. Mayers, in his 'Chinese Reader's Manual,' suggests that the
designation of Formosa as 'Isles of the Genii' (San Shén Shan) by the
Chinese, has some reference to their early attempts at colonisation
in Japan. Su Fuh, a necromancer, who lived B.C. 219, is said to have
announced their discovery, and at the head of a troop of young men
and maidens, voyaged with an expedition towards them, but, when within
sight of the magic islands, were driven back by contrary winds.

Gog and Magog stand in London Guildhall, though much diminished
in stature, to suit the English muscles that had to bear them in
processions, monuments of the præternatural size attributed to
the enemies which the Aryan race encountered in its great westward
migrations. Even to-day, when the progress of civilisation is harassed
by untamed Scythian hordes, how strangely fall upon our ears the
ancient legends and prophecies concerning them!


    Thus saith the Lord Jehovah:
    Behold I am against thee, O Gog,
    Prince of Rosh, of Meshech, and of Tubul:
    And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee;
    And I will cause thee to come up from the north parts,
    And will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
    And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand,
    And will cause thine arrows to fall from thy right hand.
    Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel,
    Thou and all thy bands. [126]


In the Koran it is related of Dhulkarnein:--'He journeyed from south to
north until he came between the two mountains, beneath which he found
a people who could scarce understand what was said. And they said, O
Dhulkarnein, verily Gog and Magog waste the land; shall we, therefore,
pay thee tribute, on condition that thou build a rampart between us
and them? He answered, The power wherewith my Lord hath strengthened
me is better than your tribute; but assist me strenuously and I will
set a strong wall between you and them.... Wherefore when this wall
was finished, Gog and Magog could not scale it, neither could they
dig through it. And Dhulkarnein said, This is a mercy from my Lord;
but when the prediction of my Lord shall come to be fulfilled, he
will reduce the wall to dust.'

The terror inspired by these barbarians is reflected in the prophecies
of their certain irruption from their supernaturally-built fastnesses;
as in Ezekiel:--


        Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm,
        Thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land,
        Thou and all thy bands,
        And many people with thee;


and in the Koran, 'Gog and Magog shall have a passage open for them,
and they shall hasten from every high hill;' and in the Apocalypse,
'Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive
the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog,
to gather them in battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the
sea.' Five centuries ago Sir John Maundeville was telling in England
the legend he had heard in the East. 'In that same regioun ben the
mountaynes of Caspye, that men clepen Uber in the contree. Betwene the
mountaynes the Jews of 10 lynages ben enclosed, that men clepen Gothe
and Magothe: and they mowe not gon out on no syde. There weren enclosed
22 kynges, with hire peple, that dwelleden betwene the mountayns
of Sythe. There King Alisandre chacede hem betwene the mountaynes,
and there he thought for to enclose hem thorghe work of his men. But
when he saughe that he might not doon it, ne bringe it to an ende,
he preyed to God of Nature, that he wolde performe that that he had
begoune. And all were it so, that he was a Payneme, and not worthi to
ben herd, zit God of his grace closed the mountaynes to gydre: so that
thei dwellen there, all fast ylokked and enclosed with highe mountaynes
all aboute, saf only on o syde; and on that syde is the See of Caspye.'



CHAPTER VII.

BARRENNESS.

    Indian famine and Sun-spots--Sun-worship--Demon of the Desert--The
    Sphinx--Egyptian plagues described by Lepsius: Locusts, Hurricane,
    Flood, Mice, Flies--The Sheikh's ride--Abaddon--Set--Typhon--The
    Cain wind--Seth--Mirage--The Desert Eden--Azazel--Tawiscara and
    the Wild Rose.


In their adoration of rain-giving Indra as also a solar majesty,
the ancient Hindus seem to have been fully aware of his inconsistent
habits. 'Thy inebriety is most intense,' exclaims the eulogist,
and soothingly adds, 'Thou desirest that both thy inebriety and thy
beneficence should be the means of destroying enemies and distributing
riches.' [127] Against famine is invoked the thunderbolt of Indra,
and it is likened to the terrible Tvashtri, in whose fearful shape
(pure fire) Agni once appeared to the terror of gods and men. [128]
This Tvashtri was not an evil being himself, but, as we have seen, an
artificer for the gods similar to Vulcan; he was, however, father of a
three-headed monster who has been identified with Vritra. Though these
early worshippers recognised that their chief trouble was connected
with 'glaring heat' (which Tvashtri seems to mean in the passage just
referred to), Indra's celebrants beheld him superseding his father
Dyaus, and reigning in the day's splendour as well as in the cloud's
bounty. This monopolist of parts in their theogony anticipated Jupiter
Pluvius. Vedic mythology is pervaded with stories of the demons that
arrested the rain and stole the cloud-cows of Indra--shutting them
away in caves,--and the god is endlessly praised for dealing death
to such. He slays Vritra, the 'rain-arresting,' and Dribhika, Bala,
Urana, Arbuda, 'devouring Swasna,' 'unabsorbable Súshna,' Pipru,
Namuchi, Rudhikrá, Varchin and his hundred thousand descendants; [129]
the deadly strangling serpent Ahi, especial type of Drouth as it dries
up rivers; and through all these combats with the alleged authors of
the recurring Barrenness and Famine, as most of these monsters were,
the seat of the evil was the Sun-god's adorable self!

Almost pathetic does the long and vast history appear just now,
when competent men of science are giving us good reason to believe
that right knowledge of the sun, and the relation of its spots to
the rainfall, might have covered India with ways and means which
would have adapted the entire realm to its environment, and wrested
from Indra his hostile thunderbolt--the sunstroke of famine. The
Hindus have covered their lands with temples raised to propitiate and
deprecate the demons, and to invoke the deities against such sources
of drouth and famine. Had they concluded that famine was the result of
inexactly quartered sun-dials, the land would have been covered with
perfect sun-dials; but the famine would have been more destructive,
because of the increasing withdrawal of mind and energy from the
true cause, and its implied answer. Even so were conflagrations in
London attributed to inexact city clocks; the clocks would become
perfect, the conflagrations more numerous, through misdirection
of vigilance. But how much wiser are we of Christendom than the
Hindus? They have adapted their country perfectly for propitiation of
famine-demons that do not exist, at a cost which would long ago have
rendered them secure from the famine-forces that do exist. We have
similarly covered Christendom with a complete system of securities
against hells and devils and wrathful deities that do not exist, while
around our churches, chapels, cathedrals, are the actually-existent
seething hells of pauperism, shame, and crime.

'Nothing can advance art in any district of this accursed
machine-and-devil-driven England until she changes her mind in many
things.' So wrote John Ruskin recently. Of course, so long as the
machine toils and earns wealth and other power which still goes to
support and further social and ecclesiastical forms, constituted with
reference to salvation from a devil or demons no longer believed in,
the phrase 'machine-and-devil-driven' is true. Until the invention
and enterprise of the nation are administered in the interest of right
ideas, we may still sigh, like John Sterling, for 'a dozen men to stand
up for ideas as Cobden and his friends do for machinery.' But it still
remains as true that all the machinery and wealth of England devoted
to man might make its every home happy, and educate every inhabitant,
as that every idolatrous temple in India might be commuted into a
shield against famine.

Our astronomers and economists have enabled us to see clearly how
the case is with the country whose temples offer no obstruction
to christian vision. The facts point to the conclusion that the
sun-spots reach their maximum and minimum of intensity at intervals of
eleven years, and that their high activity is attended with frequent
fluctuations of the magnetic needle, and increased rainfall. In 1811,
and since then, famines in India have, with one exception, followed
years of minimum sun-spots. [130] These facts are sufficiently well
attested to warrant the belief that English science and skill will
be able to realise in India the provision which Joseph is said to
have made for the seven lean years of which Pharaoh dreamed.

Until that happy era shall arrive, the poor Hindus will only go
on alternately adoring and propitiating the sun, as its benign or
its cruel influences shall fall upon them. The artist Turner said,
'The sun is God.' The superb effects of light in Turner's pictures
could hardly have come from any but a sun-worshipper dwelling amid
fogs. Unfamiliarity often breeds reverence. There are few countries
in which the sun, when it does shine, is so likely to be greeted with
enthusiasm, and observed in all its variations of splendour, as one
in which its appearance is rare. Yet the superstition inherited from
regions where the sun is equally a desolation was strong enough to
blot out its glory in the mind of a writer famous in his time, Tobias
Swinden, M.A., who wrote a work to prove the sun to be the abode of
the damned. [131] The speculation may now appear only curious, but,
probably, it is no more curious than a hundred years from now will
seem to all the vulgar notion of future fiery torments for mankind,
the scriptural necessity of which led the fanciful rector to his
grotesque conclusion. These two extremes--the Sun-worship of Turner,
the Sun-horror of Swinden,--survivals in England, represent the two
antagonistic aspects of the sun, which were of overwhelming import
to those who dwelt beneath its greatest potency. His ill-humour, or
his hunger and thirst, in any year transformed the earth to a desert,
and dealt death to thousands.

In countries where drouth, barrenness, and consequent famine were
occasional, as in India, it would be an inevitable result that
they would represent the varying moods of a powerful will, and
in such regions we naturally find the most extensive appliances
for propitiation. The preponderant number of fat years would
tell powerfully on the popular imagination in favour of priestly
intercession, and the advantage of sacrifices to the great Hunger-demon
who sometimes consumed the seeds of the earth. But in countries
where barrenness was an ever-present, visible, unvarying fact,
the Demon of the Desert would represent Necessity, a power not to
be coaxed or changed. People dwelling in distant lands might invent
theoretical myths to account for the desert. It might be an accident
resulting from the Sun-god having given up his chariot one day to an
inexperienced driver who came too close to the earth. But to those
who lived beside the desert it could only seem an infernal realm,
quite irrecoverable. The ancient civilisation of Egypt, so full of
grandeur, might, in good part, have been due to the lesson taught
them by the desert, that they could not change the conditions around
them by any entreaties, but must make the best of what was left. If
such, indeed, was the force that built the ancient civilisation
whose monuments remain so magnificent in their ruins, its decay
might be equally accounted for when that primitive faith passed into
a theological phase. For as Necessity is the mother of invention,
Fate is fatal to the same. Belief in facts, and laws fixed in the
organic nature of things, stimulates man to study them and constitute
his life with reference to them; but belief that things are fixed by
the arbitrary decree of an individual power is the final sentence
of enterprise. Fate might thus steadily bring to ruin the grandest
achievements of Necessity.

Had we only the true history of the Sphinx--the Binder--we
might find it a landmark between the rise and decline of Egyptian
civilisation. When the great Limitation surrounding the powers of man
was first personified with that mystical grandeur, it would stand
in the desert not as the riddle but its solution. No such monument
was ever raised by Doubt. But once personified and outwardly shaped,
the external Binder must bind thought as well; nay, will throttle
thought if it cannot pierce through the stone and discover the
meaning of it. 'How true is that old fable of the Sphinx who sat by
the wayside propounding her riddle to the passengers, which if they
could not answer she destroyed them! Such a Sphinx is this Life of
ours to all men and societies of men. Nature, like the Sphinx, is of
womanly celestial loveliness and tenderness; the face and bosom of
a goddess, but ending in claws and the body of a lioness. There is
in her a celestial beauty,--which means celestial order, pliancy
to wisdom; but there is also a darkness, a ferocity, fatality,
which are infernal. She is a goddess, but one not yet disimprisoned;
one still half-imprisoned,--the articulate, lovely still encased in
the inarticulate, chaotic. How true! And does she not propound her
riddles to us? Of each man she asks daily, in mild voice, yet with
a terrible significance, 'Knowest thou the meaning of this Day? What
thou canst do To-day, wisely attempt to do.' Nature, Universe, Destiny,
Existence, howsoever we name this grand unnameable Fact, in the midst
of which we live and struggle, is as a heavenly bride and conquest to
the wise and brave, to them who can discern her behests and do them; a
destroying fiend to them who cannot. Answer her riddle, it is well with
thee. Answer it not, pass on regarding it not, it will answer itself;
the solution for thee is a thing of teeth and claws; Nature to thee
is a dumb lioness, deaf to thy pleadings, fiercely devouring. Thou
art not now her victorious bridegroom; thou art her mangled victim,
scattered on the precipices, as a slave found treacherous, recreant,
ought to be, and must.' [132]

On the verge of the Desert, Prime Minister to the Necropolis at
whose gateway it stands, the Sphinx reposes amid the silence of
science and the centuries. Who built it? None can answer, so far as
the human artist, or the king under whom he worked, is concerned. But
the ideas and natural forces which built the Sphinx surround even now
the archæologist who tries to discover its history and chronology. As
fittest appendage to Carlyle's interpretation, let us read some
passages from Lepsius.

'The Oedipus for this king of the Sphinxes is yet wanting. Whoever
would drain the immeasurable sand-flood which buries the tombs
themselves, and lay open the base of the Sphinx, the ancient
temple-path, and the surrounding hills, could easily decide it. But
with the enigmas of history there are joined many riddles and wonders
of nature, which I must not leave quite unnoticed. The newest of all,
at least, I must describe.

'I had descended with Abeken into a mummy-pit, to open some
newly discovered sarcophagi, and was not a little astonished, upon
descending, to find myself in a regular snow-drift of locusts, which,
almost darkening the heavens, flew over our heads from the south-west
from the desert in hundreds of thousands to the valley. I took it
for a single flight, and called my companions from the tombs, where
they were busy, that they might see this Egyptian wonder ere it was
over. But the flight continued; indeed the work-people said it had
begun an hour before. Then we first observed that the whole region,
near and far, was covered with locusts. I sent an attendant into the
desert to discover the breadth of the flock. He ran for the distance
of a quarter of an hour, then returned and told us that, as far as
he could see, there was no end to them. I rode home in the midst of
the locust shower. At the edge of the fruitful plain they fell down
in showers; and so it went on the whole day until the evening, and
so the next day from morning till evening, and the third; in short to
the sixth day, indeed in weaker flights much longer. Yesterday it did
seem that a storm of rain in the desert had knocked down and destroyed
the last of them. The Arabs are now lighting great smoke-fires in the
fields, and clattering and making loud noises all day long to preserve
their crops from the unexpected invasion. It will, however, do little
good. Like a new animated vegetation, these millions of winged spoilers
cover even the neighbouring sand-hills, so that scarcely anything
is to be seen of the ground; and when they rise from one place they
immediately fall down somewhere in the neighbourhood; they are tired
with their long journey, and seem to have lost all fear of their
natural enemies, men, animals, smoke, and noise, in their furious
wish to fill their stomachs, and in the feeding of their immense
number. The most wonderful thing, in my estimation, is their flight
over the naked wilderness, and the instinct which has guided them from
some oasis over the inhospitable desert to the fat soil of the Nile
vale. Fourteen years ago, it seems, this Egyptian plague last visited
Egypt with the same force. The popular idea is that they are sent by
the comet which we have observed for twelve days in the South-west,
and which, as it is now no longer obscured by the rays of the moon,
stretches forth its stately tail across the heavens in the hours
of the night. The Zodiacal light, too, so seldom seen in the north,
has lately been visible for several nights in succession.'

Other plagues of Egypt are described by Lepsius:--

'Suddenly the storm grew to a tremendous hurricane, such as I have
never seen in Europe, and hail fell upon us in such masses as almost
to turn day into night.... Our tents lie in a valley, whither the
plateau of the pyramids inclines, and are sheltered from the worst
winds from the north and west. Presently I saw a dashing mountain
flood hurrying down upon our prostrate and sand-covered tents, like
a giant serpent upon its certain prey. The principal stream rolled
on to the great tent; another arm threatened mine without reaching
it. But everything that had been washed from our tents by the shower
was torn away by the two streams, which joined behind the tents, and
carried into a pool behind the Sphinx, where a great lake immediately
formed, which fortunately had no outlet. Just picture this scene
to yourself! Our tents, dashed down by the storm and heavy rain,
lying between two mountain torrents, thrusting themselves in several
places to the depth of six feet in the sand, and depositing our books,
drawings, sketches, shirts, and instruments--yes, even our levers and
iron crow-bars; in short, everything they could seize, in the dark
foaming mud-ocean. Besides this, ourselves wet to the skin, without
hats, fastening up the weightier things, rushing after the lighter
ones, wading into the lake to the waist to fish out what the sand had
not yet swallowed; and all this was the work of a quarter of an hour,
at the end of which the sun shone radiantly again, and announced the
end of this flood by a bright and glorious rainbow.

'Now comes the plague of mice, with which we were not formerly
acquainted; in my tent they grow, play, and whistle, as if they
had been at home here all their lives, and quite regardless of my
presence. At night they have already run across my bed and face,
and yesterday I started terrified from my slumbers, as I suddenly
felt the sharp tooth of such a daring guest at my foot.

'Above me a canopy of gauze is spread, in order to keep off the flies,
these most shameless of the plagues of Egypt, during the day, and the
mosquitos at night.... Scorpions and serpents have not bitten us yet,
but there are very malicious wasps, which have often stung us.

'The dale (in the Desert) was wild and monotonous, nothing but
sandstone rock, the surfaces of which were burned as black as coals,
but turned into burning golden yellow at every crack, and every ravine,
whence a number of sand-rivulets, like fire-streams from black dross,
ran and filled the valleys. No tree, no tuft of grass had we yet seen,
also no animals, except a few vultures and crows feeding on the carcase
of the latest fallen camel.... Over a wild and broken path, and cutting
stones, we came deeper and deeper into the gorge. The first wide
basins were empty, we therefore left the camels and donkeys behind,
climbed up the smooth granite wall, and thus proceeded amidst these
grand rocks from one basin to another; they were all empty. Behind
there, in the farthest ravine, the guide said there must be water,
for it was never empty; but there proved to be not a single drop. We
were obliged to return dry.... We saw the most beautiful mirages very
early in the day; they most minutely resemble seas and lakes, in which
mountains, rocks, and everything in their vicinity, are reflected
as in the clearest water. They form a remarkable contrast with the
staring dry desert, and have probably deceived many a poor wanderer,
as the legend goes. If one be not aware that no water is there, it is
quite impossible to distinguish the appearance from the reality. A
few days ago I felt quite sure that I perceived an overflowing of
the Nile, or a branch near El Mechêref, and rode towards it, but only
found Bahr Sheitan, Satan's water, as the Arabs call it.' [133]

Amid such scenery the Sphinx arose. Egypt was able to recognise the
problem of blended barrenness and beauty--alternation of Nature's
flowing breast and leonine claw--but could she return the right
answer? The primitive Egyptian answer may, indeed, as I have guessed,
be the great monuments of her civilisation, but her historic solution
has been another world. This world a desert, with here and there a
momentary oasis, where man may dance and feast a little, stimulated
by the corpse borne round the banquet, ere he passes to paradise. So
thought they and were deceived; from generation to generation have
they been destroyed, even unto this day. How destroyed, Lepsius may
again be our witness.

'The Sheîkh of the Saadîch-derwishes rides to the chief Sheîkh of all
the derwishes of Egypt, El Bekri. On the way thither, a great number
of these holy folk, and others, too, who fancy themselves not a whit
behind-hand in piety, throw themselves flat on the ground, with their
faces downward, and so that the feet of one lie close to the head of
the next; over this living carpet the sheîkh rides on his horse, which
is led on each side by an attendant, in order to compel the animal to
the unnatural march. Each body receives two treads of the horse; most
of them jump up again without hurt, but whoever suffers serious, or as
it occasionally happens, mortal injury, has the additional ignominy
to bear of not having pronounced, or not being able to pronounce,
the proper prayers and magical charms that alone could save him.'

'What a fearful barbarous worship' (the Sikr, in which the derwishes
dance until exhausted, howling 'No God but Allah') 'which the astounded
multitude, great and small, gentle and simple, gaze upon seriously,
and with stupid respect, and in which it not unfrequently takes a
part! The invoked deity is manifestly much less an object of reverence
than the fanatic saints who invoke him; for mad, idiotic, or other
psychologically-diseased persons are very generally looked upon as
holy by the Mohammedans, and treated with great respect. It is the
demoniacal, incomprehensibly-acting, and therefore fearfully-observed,
power of nature that the natural man always reveres when he perceives
it, because he is sensible of some connection between it and his
intellectual power, without being able to command it; first in the
mighty elements, then in the wondrous but obscure law-governed
instincts of animals, and at last in the yet more overpowering
ecstatical or generally abnormal mental condition of his own race.'

The right answer to the enigma of the Sphinx is Man. But this creature
prostrating himself under the Sheîkh's horse, or under the invisible
Sheîkh called Allah, and ascribing sanctity to the half-witted, is not
Man at all. Those hard-worked slaves who escaped into the wilderness,
and set up for worship an anthropomorphic Supreme Will, and sought
their promised milk and honey in this world alone, carried with them
the only force that could rightly answer the Sphinx. Their Allah or
Elohim they heard say,--'Why howlest thou to me? Go forward.' Somewhat
more significant than his usual jests was that cartoon of Punch which
represented the Sphinx with relaxed face smiling recognition on the
most eminent of contemporary Israelites returning to the land of his
race's ancient bondage, to buy the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal half
answers the Sphinx; when man has subdued the Great Desert to a sea,
the solution will be complete, and the Sphinx may cast herself into it.

Far and wide through the Southern world have swarmed the
locusts described by Lepsius, and with them have migrated many
superstitions. The writer of this well remembers the visit of the
so-called 'Seventeen-year locusts,' to the region of Virginia where he
was born, and across many years can hear the terrible never-ceasing
roar coming up from the woods, uttering, as all agreed, the ominous
word 'Pharaoh.' On each wing every eye could see the letter W,
signifying War. With that modern bit of ancient Egypt in my memory,
I find the old Locust-mythology sufficiently impressive.

By an old tradition the Egyptians, as described by Lepsius, connected
the locusts with the comet. In the Apocalypse (ix.) a falling star
is the token of the descent of the Locust-demon to unlock the pit
that his swarms may issue forth for their work of destruction. Their
king Abaddon, in Greek Apollyon,--Destroyer,--has had an evolution
from being the angel of the two (rabbinical) divisions of Hades to the
successive Chiefs of Saracenic hordes. It is interesting to compare the
graphic description of a locust-storm in Joel, with its adaptation to
an army of human destroyers in the Apocalypse. And again the curious
description of these hosts of Abaddon in the latter book, partly repeat
the strange notions of the Bedouins concerning the locust,--one of
whom, says Niebuhr, 'compared the head of the locust to that of the
horse; its breast to that of a lion; its feet to those of a camel;
its body to that of the serpent; its tail to that of the scorpion;
its horns (antennæ) to the locks of hair of a virgin.' The present
generation has little reason to deny the appropriateness of the
biblical descriptions of Scythian hordes as locusts. 'The land is as
the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.'

The ancient seeming contest between apparent Good and Evil in Egypt,
was represented in the wars of Ra and Set. It is said (Gen. iv. 26),
'And to Seth, to him also was born a son; and he called his name
Enos; then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.' Aquila
reads this--'Then Seth began to be called by the name of the
Lord.' Mr. Baring-Gould remarks on this that Seth was at first regarded
by the Egyptians as the deity of light and civilisation, but that
they afterwards identified as Typhon, because he was the chief god of
the Hyksos or shepherd kings; and in their hatred of these oppressors
the name of Seth was everywhere obliterated from their monuments, and
he was represented as an ass, or with an ass's head. [134] But the
earliest date assigned to the Hyksos dominion in Egypt, B.C. 2000,
coincides with that of the Egyptian planisphere in Kircher, [135]
where Seth is found identified with Sirius, or the dog-headed Mercury,
in Capricorn. This is the Sothiac Period, or Cycle of the Dog-star. He
was thus associated with the goat and the winter solstice, to which
(B.C. 2000) Capricorn was adjacent. That Seth or Set became the
name for the demon of disorder and violence among the Egyptians is,
indeed, probably due to his being a chief god, among some tribes
Baal himself, among the Asiatics, before the time of the Hyksos. It
was already an old story to put their neighbours' Light for their own
Darkness. The Ass's ears they gave him referred not to his stupidity,
but to his hearing everything, as in the case of the Ass of Apuleius,
and the ass Nicon of Plutarch, or, indeed, the many examples of the
same kind which preceeded the appearance of this much misunderstood
animal as the steed of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In
Egyptian symbolism those long ears were as much dreaded as devils'
horns. From the eyes of Ra all beneficent things, from the eyes of Set
all noxious things, were produced. Amen-Ra, as the former was called,
slew the son of Set, the great serpent Naka, which in one hymn is
perhaps tauntingly said to have 'saved his feet.' Amen-Ra becomes
Horus and Set becomes Typhon. The Typhonian myth is very complex,
and includes the conflict between the Nile and all its enemies--the
crocodiles that lurk in it, the sea that swallows it, the drouth that
dries it, the burning heat that brings malaria from it, the floods
that render it destructive--and Set was through it evolved to a point
where he became identified with Saturn, Sheitan, or Satan. Plutarch,
identifying Set with Typho, says that those powers of the universal
Soul, which are subject to the influences of passions, and in the
material system whatever is noxious, as bad air, irregular seasons,
eclipses of the sun and moon, are ascribed to Typho. The name Set,
according to him, means 'violent' and 'hostile;' and he was described
as 'double-headed,' 'he who has two countenances,' and 'the Lord of
the World.' Not the least significant fact, in a moral sense, is that
Set or Typho is represented as the brother of Osiris whom he slew.

Without here going into the question of relationship between Typhaon
and Typhoeus, we may feel tolerably certain that the fire-breathing
hurricane-monster Typhaon of Homer, and the hundred-headed,
fierce-eyed roarer Typhoeus--son of Tartarus, father of Winds and
Harpies--represent the same ferocities of Nature. No fitter place
was ever assigned him than the African desert, and the story of
the gods and goddesses fleeing before Typhon into Egypt, and there
transforming themselves into animals, from terror, is a transparent
tribute to the dominion over the wilderness of sand exercised by the
typhoon in its many moods. The vulture-harpy tearing the dead is his
child. He is many-headed; now hot, stifling, tainted; now tempestuous;
here sciroc, there hurricane, and often tornado. It may be indeed that
as at once coiled in the whirlwind and blistering, he is the fiery
serpent to appease whom Moses lifted the brasen serpent for the worship
of Israel. I have often seen snakes hung up by negroes in Virginia,
to bring rain in time of drouth. Typhon, as may easily be seen by the
accompanying figure (14), is a hungry and thirsty demon. His tongue is
lolling out with thirst. [136] His later connection with the underworld
is shown in various myths, one of which seems to suggest a popular
belief that Typhon is not pleased with the mummies withheld from him,
and that he can enjoy his human viands only through burials of the
dead. In Egypt, after the Coptic Easter Monday--called Shemmen-Nesseem
(smelling the zephyr)--come the fifty-days' hot wind, called Khamseen
or Cain wind. After slaying Abel, Cain wandered amid such a wind,
tortured with fever and thirst. Then he saw two birds fight in the
air; one having killed the other scratched a hole in the desert sand
and buried it. Cain then did the like by his brother's body, when a
zephyr sprang up and cooled his fever. But still, say the Alexandrians,
the fifty-days' hot Cain wind return annually.

In pictures of the mirage, or in cloud-shapes faintly illumined by
the afterglow, the dwellers beside the plains of sand saw, as in
phantasmagoria, the gorgeous palaces, the air-castles, and mysterious
cities, which make the romance of the desert. Unwilling to believe
that such realms of barrenness had ever been created by any good god,
they beheld in dreams, which answer to nature's own mirage-dreaming,
visions of dynasties passed away, of magnificent palaces and monarchs
on whose pomp and heaven-defying pride the fatal sand-storm had fallen,
and buried their glories in the dust for ever. The desert became the
emblem of immeasurable all-devouring Time. In many of these legends
there are intimations of a belief that Eden itself lay where now all is
unbroken desert. In the beautiful legend in the Midrash of Solomon's
voyage on the Wind, the monarch alighted near a lofty palace of gold,
'and the scent there was like the scent of the garden of Eden.' The
dust had so surrounded this palace that Solomon and his companions only
learned that there had been an entrance from an eagle in it thirteen
centuries old, which had heard from its father the tradition of an
entrance on the western side. The obedient Wind having cleared away
the sand, a door was found on whose lock was written, 'Be it known to
you, ye sons of men, that we dwelt in this palace in prosperity and
delight many years. When the famine came upon us we ground pearls
in the mill instead of wheat, but it profited us nothing.' Amid
marvellous splendours, from chamber to chamber garnished with ruby,
topaz, emerald, Solomon passed to a mansion on whose three gates
were written admonitions of the transitory nature of all things
but--Death. 'Let not fortune deceive thee.' 'The world is given from
one to another.' On the third gate was written, 'Take provision for
thy journey, and make ready food for thyself while it is yet day;
for thou shalt not be left on the earth, and thou knowest not the day
of thy Death.' This gate Solomon opened and saw within a life-like
image seated: as the monarch approached, this image cried with a
loud voice, 'Come hither, ye children of Satan; see! King Solomon is
come to destroy you.' Then fire and smoke issued from the nostrils of
the image; and there were loud and bitter cries, with earthquake and
thunder. But Solomon uttered against them the Ineffable Name, and all
the images fell on their faces, and the sons of Satan fled and cast
themselves into the sea, that they might not fall into the hands of
Solomon. The king then took from the neck of the image a silver tablet,
with an inscription which he could not read, until the Almighty sent
a youth to assist him. It said:--'I, Sheddad, son of Ad, reigned over
a thousand thousand provinces, and rode on a thousand thousand horses;
a thousand thousand kings were subject to me, and a thousand thousand
warriors I slew. Yet in the hour that the Angel of Death came against
me, I could not withstand him. Whoso shall read this writing let him
not trouble himself greatly about this world, for the end of all men
is to die, and nothing remains to man but a good name.' [137]

Azazel--'of doubtful meaning'--is the biblical name of the Demon of the
Desert (Lev. xvi.). 'Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot
for Jehovah, and the other for Azazel. And Aaron shall bring the goat
upon which the lot for Jehovah fell, and offer him for a sin-offering:
But the goat, on which the lot for Azazel fell, shall be presented
alive before Jehovah, to make an atonement with him, to let him go to
Azazel in the wilderness.... And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon
the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of
the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,
putting them upon the head of the goat, and send him away by the hand
of a fit man into the desert. And the goat shall bear upon him all
their iniquities unto a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the
goat in the desert.' Of the moral elements here involved much will
have to be said hereafter. This demon ultimately turned to a devil;
and persisting through both forms is the familiar principle that it
is 'well enough to have friends on both sides' so plainly at work in
the levitical custom; but it is particularly interesting to observe
that the same animal should be used as offerings to the antagonistic
deities. In Egyptian Mythology we find that the goat had precisely
this two-fold consecration. It was sacred to Chem, the Egyptian Pan,
god of orchards and of all fruitful lands; and it became also sacred
to Mendes, the 'Destroyer,' or 'Avenging Power' of Ra. It will thus
be seen that the same principle which from the sun detached the
fructifying from the desert-making power, and made Typhon and Osiris
hostile brothers, prevailed to send the same animal to Azazel in the
Desert and Jehovah of the milk and honey land. Originally the goat was
supreme. The Samaritan Pentateuch, according to Aben Ezra (Preface to
Esther), opens, 'In the beginning Ashima created the heaven and the
earth.' In the Hebrew culture-myth of Cain and Abel, also brothers,
there may be represented, as Goldziher supposes, the victory of the
agriculturist over the nomad or shepherd; but there is also traceable
in it the supremacy of the Goat, Mendez or Azima. 'Abel brought the
firstling of the goats.'

Very striking is the American (Iroquois) myth of the conflict between
Joskeha and Tawiscara,--the White One and the Dark One. They were
twins, born of a virgin who died in giving them life. Their grandmother
was the moon (Ataensic, she who bathes). These brothers fought, Joskeha
using as weapon the horns of a stag, Tawiscara the wild-rose. The
latter fled sorely wounded, and the blood gushing from him turned to
flint-stones. The victor, who used the stag-horns (the same weapon
that Frey uses against Beli, in the Prose Edda, and denoting perhaps a
primitive bone-age art), destroyed a monster frog which swallowed all
the waters, and guided the torrents into smooth streams and lakes. He
stocked the woods with game, invented fire, watched and watered crops,
and without him, says the old missionary Brebeuf, 'they think they
could not boil a pot.' The use by the desert-demon Tawiscara of a
wild rose as his weapon is a beautiful touch in this myth. So much
loveliness grew even amid the hard flints. One is reminded of the
closing scene in the second part of Goethe's Faust. There, when Faust
has realised the perfect hour to which he can say, 'Stay, thou art
fair!' by causing by his labour a wilderness to blossom as a rose,
he lies down in happy death; and when the demons come for his soul,
angels pelt them with roses, which sting them like flames. Not wild
roses were these, such as gave the Dark One such poor succour. The
defence of Faust is the roses he has evoked from briars.



CHAPTER VIII.

OBSTACLES.

    Mephistopheles on Crags--Emerson on Monadnoc--Ruskin on
    Alpine peasants--Holy and Unholy Mountains--The Devil's
    Pulpit--Montagnards--Tarns--Tenjo--T'ai-shan--Apocatequil--Tyrolese
    Legends--Rock Ordeal--Scylla and Charybdis--Scottish
    Giants--Pontifex--Devil's Bridges--Le géant Yéous.


Related to the demons of Barrenness, and to the hostile human demons,
but still possessing characteristics of their own, are the demons
supposed to haunt gorges, mountain ranges, ridges of rocks, streams
which cannot be forded and are yet unbridged, rocks that wreck the
raft or boat. Each and every obstruction that stood in the way of man's
plough, or of his first frail ship, or his migration, has been assigned
its demon. The reader of Goethe's page has only to turn to the opening
lines of Walpurgisnacht in Faust to behold the real pandemonium of
the Northern man, as in Milton he may find that of the dweller amid
fiery deserts and volcanoes. That labyrinth of vales, crossed with
wild crag and furious torrent, is the natural scenery to surround
the orgies of the phantoms which flit from the uncultured brain to
uncultured nature. Elsewhere in Goethe's great poem, Mephistopheles
pits against the philosophers the popular theory of the rugged remnants
of chaos in nature, and the obstacles before which man is powerless.


    FAUST. For me this mountain mass rests nobly dumb;
        I ask not whence it is, nor why 'tis come?
        Herself when Nature in herself did found
        This globe of earth, she then did purely round;
        The summit and abyss her pleasure made,
        Mountain to mountain, rock to rock she laid;
        The hillocks down she neatly fashion'd then,
        To valleys soften'd them with gentle train.
        Then all grew green and bloom'd, and in her joy
        She needs no foolish spoutings to employ.

    MEPHISTOPHELES. So say ye! It seems clear as noon to ye,
        Yet he knows who was there the contrary.
        I was hard by below, when seething flame
        Swelled the abyss, and streaming fire forth came;
        When Moloch's hammer forging rock to rock,
        Far flew the fragment-cliffs beneath the shock:
        Of masses strange and huge the land was full;
        Who clears away such piles of hurl'd misrule?
        Philosophers the reason cannot see;
        There lies the rock, and they must let it be.
        We have reflected till ashamed we've grown;
        The common folk can thus conceive alone,
        And in conception no disturbance know,
        Their wisdom ripen'd has long while ago:
        A miracle it is, they Satan honour show.
        My wanderer on faith's crutches hobbles on
        Towards the devil's bridge and devil's stone. [138]


The great American poet made his pilgrimage to the mountain so
beautiful in the distance, thinking to find there the men of equal
elevation. Did not Milton describe Freedom as 'a mountain nymph?'


            To myself I oft recount
            The tale of many a famous mount,--
            Wales, Scotland, Uri, Hungary's dells;
            Roys, and Scanderbergs, and Tells.
            Here Nature shall condense her powers,
            Her music, and her meteors,
            And lifting man to the blue deep
            Where stars their perfect courses keep,
            Like wise preceptor, lure his eye.
            To sound the science of the sky.


But instead of finding there the man using those crags as a fastness
to fight pollution of the mind, he


                    searched the region round
            And in low hut my monarch found:
            He was no eagle, and no earl;--
            Alas! my foundling was a churl,
            With heart of cat and eyes of bug,
            Dull victim of his pipe and mug. [139]


Ruskin has the same gloomy report to make of the mountaineers of
Europe. 'The wild goats that leap along those rocks have as much
passion of joy in all that fair work of God as the men that toil
among them. Perhaps more.' 'Is it not strange to reflect that hardly
an evening passes in London or Paris but one of those cottages is
painted for the better amusement of the fair and idle, and shaded
with pasteboard pines by the scene-shifter; and that good and kind
people,--poetically minded,--delight themselves in imagining the
happy life led by peasants who dwell by Alpine fountains, and kneel
to crosses upon peaks of rock? that nightly we lay down our gold to
fashion forth simulacra of peasants, in gay ribbons and white bodices,
singing sweet songs and bowing gracefully to the picturesque crosses;
and all the while the veritable peasants are kneeling, songlessly, to
veritable crosses in another temper than the kind and fair audiences
dream of, and assuredly with another kind of answer than is got out
of the opera catastrophe.' [140]

The writer remembers well the emphasis with which a poor woman at whose
cottage he asked the path to the Natural Bridge in Virginia said,
'I don't know why so many people come to these rocks; for my part,
give me a level country.' Many ages lay between that aged crone and
Emerson or Ruskin, and they were ages of heavy war with the fortresses
of nature. The fabled ordeals of water and fire through which the human
race passed were associated with Ararat and Sinai, because to migrating
or farming man the mountain was always an ordeal, irrespective even of
its torrents or its occasional lava-streams. A terrible vista is opened
by the cry of Lot, 'I cannot escape to the mountain lest some evil take
me!' Not even the fire consuming Sodom in the plains could nerve him
to dare cope with the demons of the steep places. As time went on,
devotees proved to the awe-stricken peasantries their sanctity and
authority by combating those mountain demons, and erecting their altars
in the 'high places.' So many summits became sacred. But this very
sanctity was the means of bringing on successive demoniac hordes to
haunt them; for every new religion saw in those altars in 'high places'
not victories over demons, but demon-shrines. And thus mountains became
the very battlefields between rival deities, each demon to his or her
rival; and the conflict lasts from the cursing of the 'high places'
by the priests of Israel [141] to the Devil's Pulpits of the Alps
and Apennines. Among the beautiful frescoes at Baden is that of the
Angel's and the Devil's Pulpit, by Götzenberger. Near Gernsbach,
appropriately at the point where the cultivable valley meets the
unconquerable crests of rock, stand the two pulpits from which Satan
and an Angel contended, when the first Christian missionaries had
failed to convert the rude foresters. When, by the Angel's eloquence,
all were won from the Devil's side except a few witches and usurers,
the fiend tore up great masses of rock and built the 'Devil's Mill'
on the mountain-top; and he was hurled down by the Almighty on the
rocks near 'Lord's Meadow,' where the marks of his claws may still
be seen, and where, by a diminishing number of undiminished ears,
his groans are still heard when a storm rages through the valley.

Such conflicts as these have been in some degree associated with every
mountain of holy or unholy fame. Each was in its time a prosaic Hill
Difficulty, with lions by no means chained, to affright the hearts
of Mistrust and Timorous, till Dervish or Christian impressed there
his holy footprint, visible from Adam's Peak to Olivet, or built
there his convents, discernible from Meru and Olympus to Pontyprydd
and St. Catharine's Hill. By necessary truces the demons and deities
repair gradually to their respective summits,--Seir and Sinai hold
each their own. But the Holy Hills have never equalled the number of
Dark Mountains [142] dreaded by man. These obstructive demons made
the mountains Moul-ge and Nin-ge, names for the King and Queen of
the Accadian Hell; they made the Finnish Mount Kippumaki the abode
of all Pests. They have identified their name (Elf) with the Alps,
given nearly every tarn an evil fame, and indeed created a special
class of demons, 'Montagnards,' much dreaded by mediæval miners,
whose faces they sometimes twisted so that they must look backward
physically, as they were much in the habit of doing mentally, for ever
afterward. Gervais of Tilbury, in his Chronicle, declares that on the
top of Mount Canigon in France, which has a very inaccessible summit,
there is a black lake of unknown depth, at whose bottom the demons
have a palace, and that if any one drops a stone into that water,
the wrath of the mountain demons is shown in sudden and frightful
tempests. From a like tarn in Cornwall, as Cornish Folklore claims,
on an accessible but very tedious hill, came up the hand which received
the brand Escalibore when its master could wield it no more,--as told
in the Morte D'Arthur, with, however, clear reference to the sea.

I cannot forbear enlivening my page with the following sketch of a
visit of English officers to the realm of Ten-jo, the long-nosed
Mountain-demon of Japan, which is very suggestive of the mental
atmosphere amid which such spectres exist. The mountains and forests
of Japan are, say these writers, inhabited as thickly by good and
evil spirits as the Hartz and Black Forest, and chief among them,
in horrible sanctity, is O-yama,--the word echoes the Hindu Yama,
Japanese Amma, kings of Hades,--whose demon is Ten-jo. 'Abdul and
Mulney once started, on three days' leave, with the intention of
climbing to the summit--not of Ten-jo's nose, but of the mountain;
their principal reason for so doing being simply that they were told
by every one that they had better not. They first tried the ascent on
the most accessible side, but fierce two-sworded yakomins jealously
guarded it; and they were obliged to make the attempt on the other,
which was almost inaccessible, and was Ten-jo's region. The villagers
at the base of the mountain begged them to give up the project; and
one old man, a species of patriarch, reasoned with them. 'What are
you going to do when you get to the top?' he asked. Our two friends
were forced to admit that their course, then, would be very similar
to that of the king of France and his men--come down again.

The old man laughed pityingly, and said, 'Well, go if you like; but,
take my word for it, Ten-jo will do you an injury.'

They asked who Ten-jo was.

'Why Ten-jo,' said the old man, 'is an evil spirit, with a long nose,
who will dislocate your limbs if you persist in going up the mountain
on this side.'

'How do you know he has got a long nose?' they asked, 'Have you ever
seen him?'

'Because all evil spirits have long noses'--here Mulney hung his
head,--'and,' continued the old man, not noticing how dreadfully
personal he was becoming to one of the party, 'Ten-jo has the longest
of the lot. Did you ever know a man with a long nose who was good?'

'Come on,' said Mulney hurriedly to Abdul, 'or the old fool will make
me out an evil spirit.'

'Syonara,' said the old man as they walked away, 'but look out for
Ten-jo!'

After climbing hard for some hours, and not meeting a single human
being,--not even the wood-cutter could be tempted by the fine timber
to encroach on Ten-jo's precincts,--they reached the top, and enjoyed
a magnificent view. After a rest they started on their descent,
the worst part of which they had accomplished, when, as they were
walking quietly along a good path, Abdul's ankle turned under him,
and he went down as if he had been shot, with his leg broken in two
places. With difficulty Mulney managed to get him to the village
they had started from, and the news ran like wild-fire that Ten-jo
had broken the leg of one of the adventurous tojins.

'I told you how it would be,' exclaimed the old man, 'but you would
go. Ah, Ten-jo is a dreadful fellow!'

All the villagers, clustering round, took up the cry, and shook
their heads. Ten-jo's reputation had increased wonderfully by this
accident. Poor Abdul was on his back for eleven weeks, and numbers of
Japanese--for he was a general favourite amongst them--went to see him,
and to express their regret and horror at Ten-jo's behaviour. [143]

It is obvious that to a demon dwelling in a high mountain a
long nose would be variously useful to poke into the affairs of
people dwelling in the plains, and also to enjoy the scent of
their sacrifices offered at a respectful distance. That feature
of the face which Napoleon I. regarded as of martial importance,
and which is prominent in the warriors marked on the Mycenæ pottery,
has generally been a physiognomical characteristic of European ogres,
who are blood-smellers. That the significance of Ten-jo's long nose
is this, appears probable when we compare him with the Calmuck
demon Erlik, whose long nose is for smelling out the dying. The
Cossacks believed that the protector of the earth was a many-headed
elephant. The snouted demon (figure 15) is from a picture of Christ
delivering Adam and Eve from hell, by Lucas Van Leyden, 1521.

The Chinese Mountains also have their demons. The demon of the mountain
T'ai-shan, in Shantung, is believed to regulate the punishments
of men in this world and the next. Four other demon princes rule
over the principal mountain chains of the Empire. Mr. Dennys remarks
that mountainous localities are so regularly the homes of fairies in
Chinese superstition that some connection between the fact and the
relation of 'Elf' to 'Alp' in Europe is suggested. [144] But this
coincidence is by no means so remarkable as the appearance among
these Chinese mountain sprites of the magical 'Sesame,' so familiar
to us in Arabian legend. The celebrated mountain Ku'en Lun (usually
identified with the Hindoo Kush) is said to be peopled with fairies,
who cultivate upon its terraces the 'fields of sesamum and gardens
of coriander seeds,' which are eaten as ordinary food by those who
possess the gift of longevity.

In the superstitions of the American Aborigines we find gigantic demons
who with their hands piled up mountain-chains as their castles, from
whose peak-towers they hurled stones on their enemies in the plains,
and slung them to the four corners of the earth. [145] Such was the
terrible Apocatequil, whose statue was erected on the mountains, with
that of his mother on the one hand and his brother on the other. He
was Prince of Evil and the chief god of the Peruvians. From Quito
to Cuzco every Indian would give all he possessed to conciliate
him. Five priests, two stewards, and a crowd of slaves served his
image. His principal temple was surrounded by a considerable village,
whose inhabitants had no other occupation than to wait on him. [146]

The plaudits which welcomed the first railway train that sped beneath
the Alps, echoing amid their crags and gorges, struck with death
the old phantasms which had so long held sway in the imagination of
the Southern peasantry. The great tunnel was hewn straight through
the stony hearts of giants whom Christianity had tried to slay, and,
failing that, baptised and adopted. It is in the Tyrol that we find
the clearest survivals of the old demons of obstruction, the mountain
monarchs. Such is Jordan the Giant of Kohlhütte chasm, near Ungarkopf,
whose story, along with others, is so prettily told by the Countess Von
Gunther. This giant is something of a Ten-jo as to nose, for he smells
'human meat' where his pursued victims are hidden, and his snort makes
things tremble as before a tempest; but he has not the intelligence
ascribed to large noses, for the boys ultimately persuade him that
the way to cross a stream is to tie a stone around his neck, and he
is drowned. One of the giants of Albach could carry a rock weighing
10,000 pounds, and his comrades, while carrying others of 700 pounds,
could leap from stone to stone across rivers, and stoop to catch
the trout with their hands as they leaped. The ferocious Orco, the
mountain-ghost who never ages, fulfils the tradition of his classic
name by often appearing as a monstrous black dog, from whose side
stones rebound, and fills the air with a bad smell (like Mephisto). His
employment is hurling wayfarers down precipices. In her story of the
'Unholdenhof'--or 'monster farm' in the Stubeithal--the Countess Von
Gunther describes the natural character of the mountain demons.

'It was on this self-same spot that the forester and his son took up
their abode, and they became the dread and abomination of the whole
surrounding country, for they practised, partly openly and partly in
secret, the most manifold iniquities, so that their nature and bearing
grew into something demoniacal. As quarrellers very strong, and as
enemies dreadfully revengeful, they showed their diabolical nature by
the most inhuman deeds, which brought down injury not only on those
against whom their wrath was directed, but also upon their families for
centuries. In the heights of the mountains they turned the beds of the
torrents, and devastated by this means the most flourishing tracts of
land; on other places the Unholde set on fire whole mountain forests,
to allow free room for the avalanches to rush down and overwhelm the
farms. Through certain means they cut holes and fissures in the rocks,
in which, during the summer, quantities of water collected, which froze
in the winter, and then in the spring the thawing ice split the rocks,
which then rolled down into the valleys, destroying everything before
them.... But at last Heaven's vengeance reached them. An earthquake
threw the forester's house into ruins, wild torrents tore over it,
and thunderbolts set all around it in a blaze; and by fire and water,
with which they had sinned, father and son perished, and were condemned
to everlasting torments. Up to the present day they are to be seen
at nightfall on the mountain in the form of two fiery boars.' [147]

Some of these giants, as has been intimated, were converted. Such was
the case with Heimo, who owned and devastated a vast tract of country
on the river Inn, which, however, he bridged--whence Innsbruck--when
he became a christian and a monk. This conversion was a terrible
disappointment to the devil, who sent a huge dragon to stop the
building of the monastery; but Heimo attacked the dragon, killed him,
and cut out his tongue. With this tongue, a yard and a half long, in
his hand, he is represented in his statue, and the tongue is still
preserved in the cloister. Heimo became a monk at Wilten, lived
a pious life, and on his death was buried near the monastery. The
stone coffin in which the gigantic bones repose is shown there,
and measures over twenty-eight feet.

Of nearly the same character as the Mountain Demons, and possessing
even more features of the Demons of Barrenness, are the monsters
guarding rocky passes. They are distributed through land, sea,
and rivers. The famous rocks between Italy and Sicily bore the
names of dangerous monsters, Scylla and Charybdis, which have now
become proverbial expressions for alternative perils besetting any
enterprise. According to Homer, Scylla was a kind of canine monster
with six long necks, the mouths paved each with three rows of sharp
teeth; while Charybdis, sitting under her fig-tree, daily swallowed
the waters and vomited them up again. [148] Distantly related to these
fabulous monsters, probably, are many of the old notions of ordeals
undergone between rocks standing close together, or sometimes through
holes in rocks, of which examples are found in Great Britain. An
ordeal of this kind exists at Pera, where the holy well is reached
through a narrow slit. Visitors going there recently on New Year's
Day were warned by the dervish in charge--'Look through it at the
water if you please, but do not essay to enter unless your consciences
are completely free from sin, for as sure as you try to pass through
with a taint upon your soul, you will be gripped by the rock and held
there for ever.' [149] The 'Bocca della Verità'--a great stone face
like a huge millstone--stands in the portico of the church S. Maria
in Cosmedin at Rome, and its legend is that a suspected person was
required to place his hand through the open mouth; if he swore falsely
it would bite off the hand--the explanation now given being that a
swordsman was concealed behind to make good the judicial shrewdness
of the stone in case the oath were displeasing to the authorities.

The myth of Scylla, which relates that she was a beautiful maiden,
beloved by Glaucus, whom Circe through jealousy transformed to a
monster by throwing magic herbs into the well where she was wont to
bathe, is recalled by various European legends. In Thuringia, on the
road to Oberhof, stands the Red Stone, with its rosebush, and a stream
issuing from beneath it, where a beautiful maid is imprisoned. Every
seven years she may be seen bathing in the stream. On one occasion
a peasant passing by heard a sneeze in the rock, and called out,
'God help thee!' The sneeze and the benediction were repeated,
until at the seventh time the man cried, 'Oh, thou cursed witch,
deceive not honest people!' As he then walked off, a wailing voice
came out of the stone, 'Oh, hadst thou but only wished the last time
that God would help me. He would have helped me, and thou wouldst
have delivered me; now I must tarry till the Day of Judgment!' The
voice once cried out to a wedding procession passing by the stone,
'To-day wed, next year dead;' and the bride having died a year after,
wedding processions dread the spot.

The legends of giants and giantesses, so numerous in Great Britain,
are equally associated with rocky mountain-passes, or the boulders
they were supposed to have tossed thence when sportively stoning each
other. They are the Tor of the South and Ben of the North. The hills of
Ross-shire in Scotland are mythological monuments of Cailliachmore,
great woman, who, while carrying a pannier filled with earth and
stones on her back, paused for a moment on a level spot, now the site
of Ben-Vaishard, when the bottom of the pannier gave way, forming the
hills. The recurrence of the names Gog and Magog in Scotland suggests
that in mountainous regions the demons were especially derived from the
hordes of robbers and savages, among whom, in their uncultivable hills,
the ploughshare could never conquer the spear and club. Richard Doyle
enriched the first Exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery in London, 1877,
with many beautiful pictures inspired by European Folklore. They were
a pretty garniture for the cemetery of dead religions. The witch once
seen on her broom departing from the high crags of Cuhillan, cheered
by her faithful dwarf, is no longer unlovely as in the days when she
was burned by proxy in some poor human hag; obedient to art--a more
potent wand than her own--she reascends to the clouds from which she
was borne, and is hardly distinguishable from them. Slowly man came
to learn with the poet--


            It was the mountain streams that fed
            The fair green plain's amenities. [150]


Then the giants became fairies, and not a few of these wore at last
the mantles of saints. A similar process has been undergone by another
subject, which finds its pretty epitaph in the artist's treatment. We
saw in two pictures the Dame Blanche of Normandy, lurking in the ravine
beside a stream under the dusk, awaiting yon rustic wood-cutter who is
presently horizontal in the air in that mad dance, after which he will
be found exhausted. As her mountain-sister is faintly shaped out of
the clouds that cap Cuhillan, this one is an imaginative outgrowth of
the twilight shadows, the silvery glintings of moving clouds mirrored
in pools, and her tresses are long luxuriant grasses. She is of a
sisterhood which passes by hardly perceptible gradations into others,
elsewhere described--the creations of Illusion and Night. She is not
altogether one of these, however, but a type of more direct danger--the
peril of fords, torrents, thickets, marshes, and treacherous pools,
which may seem shallow, but are deep.

The water-demons have been already described in their obvious aspects,
but it is necessary to mention here the simple obstructive river-demons
haunting fords and burns, and hating bridges. Many tragedies, and
many personifications of the forces which caused them, preceded the
sanctity of the title Pontifex. The torrent that roared across man's
path seemed the vomit of a demon: the sacred power was he who could
bridge it. In one of the most beautiful celebrations of Indra it is
said: 'He tranquillised this great river so that it might be crossed;
he conveyed across it in safety the sages who had been unable to pass
over it, and who, having crossed, proceeded to realise the wealth
they sought; in the exhilaration of the soma, Indra has done these
deeds.' [151] In Ceylon, the demon Tota still casts malignant spells
about fords and ferries.

Many are the legends of the opposition offered by demons to
bridge-building, and of the sacrifices which had to be made to them
before such works could be accomplished. A few specimens must suffice
us. Mr. Dennys relates a very interesting one of the 'Loh-family
bridge' at Shanghai. Difficulty having been found in laying the
foundations, the builder vowed to Heaven two thousand children if the
stones could be placed properly. The goddess addressed said she would
not require their lives, but that the number named would be attacked by
small-pox, which took place, and half the number died. A Chinese author
says, 'If bridges are not placed in proper positions, such as the
laws of geomancy indicate, they may endanger the lives of thousands,
by bringing about a visitation of small-pox or sore eyes.' At Hang-Chow
a tea-merchant cast himself into the river Tsien-tang as a sacrifice
to the Spirit of the dikes, which were constantly being washed away.

The 'Devil's Bridges,' to which Mephistopheles alludes so proudly, are
frequent in Germany, and most of them, whether natural or artificial,
have diabolical associations. The oldest structures often have legends
in which are reflected the conditions exacted by evil powers, of
those who spanned the fords in which men had often been drowned. Of
this class is the Montafon Bridge in the Tyrol, and another is the
bridge at Ratisbon. The legend of the latter is a fair specimen of
those which generally haunt these ancient structures. Its architect
was apprentice to a master who was building the cathedral, and laid
a wager that he would bridge the Danube before the other laid the
coping-stone of the sacred edifice. But the work of bridging the river
was hard, and after repeated failures the apprentice began to swear,
and wished the devil had charge of the business! Whereupon he of the
cloven foot appeared in guise of a friar, and agreed to build the
fifteen arches--for a consideration. The fee was to be the first three
that crossed the bridge. The cunning apprentice contrived that these
three should not be human, but a dog, a cock, and a hen. The devil,
in wrath at the fraud, tore the animals to pieces and disappeared;
a procession of monks passed over the bridge and made it safe;
and thereon are carved figures of the three animals. In most of the
stories it is a goat which is sent over and mangled, that poor animal
having preserved its character as scape-goat in a great deal of the
Folklore of Christendom. The Danube was of old regarded as under the
special guardianship of the Prince of Darkness, who used to make great
efforts to obstruct the Crusaders voyaging down it to rescue the Holy
Land from pagans. On one occasion, near the confluence of the Vilz
and Danube, he began hurling huge rocks into the river-bed from the
cliffs; the holy warriors resisted successfully by signing the cross
and singing an anthem, but the huge stone first thrown caused a whirl
and swell in that part of the river, which were very dangerous until
it was removed by engineers.

It is obvious, especially to the English, who have so long found a
defensive advantage in the silver streak of sea that separates them
from the Continent, that an obstacle, whether of mountain-range
or sea, would, at a certain point in the formation of a nation,
become as valuable as at another it might be obstructive. Euphemism
is credited with having given the friendly name 'Euxine' to the
rough 'Axine' Sea,--'terrible to foreigners.' But this is not so
certain. Many a tribe has found the Black Sea a protection and a
friend. In the case of mountains, their protective advantages would
account at once for Milton's celebration of Freedom as a mountain
nymph, and for the stupidity of the people that dwell amid them,
so often remarked; the very means of their independence would also
be the cause of their insulation and barbarity. It is for those who
go to and fro that knowledge is increased. The curious and inquiring
are most apt to migrate; the enterprising will not submit to be shut
away behind rocks and mountains; by their departure there would be
instituted, behind the barriers of rock and hill, a survival of the
stupidest. These might ultimately come to worship their chains and
cover their craggy prison-walls with convents and crosses. The demons
of aliens would be their gods. The climbing Hannibals would be their
devils. It might have been expected, after the passages quoted from
Mr. Ruskin concerning the bovine condition of Alpine peasantries,
that he would salute the tunnel through Mont Cenis. The peasantries
who would see in the sub-alpine engine a demon are extinct. Admiration
of the genii of obstruction, and horror of the demons that vanquished
them, are discoverable only in folk-tales distant enough to be pretty,
such as the interesting Serbian story of 'Satan's jugglings and God's
might,' in which fairies hiding in successively opened nuts vainly
try to oppose with fire and flood a she-demon pursuing a prince and
his bride, to whose aid at last comes a flash of lightning which
strikes the fiend dead.

One of the beautiful 'Contes d'une Grand'mère,' by George Sand,
Le géant Yéous, has in it the sense of many fables born of man's
struggle with obstructive nature. With her wonted felicity she
places the scene of this true human drama near the mountain Yéous,
in the Pyrenees, whose name is a far-off echo of Zeus. The summit
bore an enormous rock which, seen from a distance, appeared somewhat
like a statue. The peasant Miquelon, who had his little farm at the
mountain's base, whenever he passed made the sign of the cross and
taught his little son Miquel to do the same, telling him that the
great form was that of a pagan god, an enemy of the human race. An
avalanche fell upon the home and garden of Miquelon; the poor man
himself was disabled for life, his house and farm turned in a moment
into a wild mass of stones. Miquel looked up to the summit of Yéous;
the giant had disappeared; henceforth it was the mighty form of an
organic monster which the boy saw stretched over what had once been
their happy home and smiling acres. The family went about begging,
Miquelon repeating his strange appeal, 'Le géant s'est couché sur
moi.' But when at last the old man dies, the son resolves to fulfil the
silent dream of his life; he will encounter the giant Yéous still in
possession of his paternal acres. With eyes of the young world this
boy sees starting up here and there amid the vast debris, the head
of the demon he wishes to crush. He hurls stones hither and thither
where some fearful feature or limb appears. He is filled with rage;
his dreams are filled with attacks on the giant, in which the colossal
head tumbles only to reappear on the shoulders; every broken limb has
the self-repairing power. There is no progress. But as the boy grows,
and the contest grows, and need comes, there gathers in Miquel a
desire to clear the ground. When he begins to think, it is no longer
the passion to avenge his father on the stony giant which possesses
him, but to recover their lost garden. Thus, indeed, the giant himself
could alone be conquered. The huge rocks are split by gunpowder, some
fragments are made into fences, others into a comfortable mansion
for Miquel's mother and sisters. When the garden smiles again, and
all are happy the demon form is no longer discoverable. [152]

This little tale interprets with fine insight the demonology of
barrenness and obstruction. The boy's wrath against the unconscious
cause of his troubles is the rage often observed in children
who retaliate upon the table or chair on which they have been
bruised, and it repeats embryologically the rage of the world's
boyhood inspired by ascription of personal motives to inanimate
obstructions. Possibly such wrath might have added something to
the force with which man entered upon his combat with nature; but
George Sand's tale reminds us that whatever was gained in force was
lost in its misdirection. Success came in the proportion that fury
was replaced by the youth's growing recognition that he was dealing
with facts that could not be raged out of existence. It is crowned
when he makes friends with the unconquerable remnant of the giant,
and sees that he is not altogether evil.

It is at this stage that the higher Art, conversant with Beauty, enters
to relieve man of many moral wounds received in the struggle. Clothed
with moss and clematis, Yéous appears not so hideous after all. Further
invested by the genius of a Turner, he would be beautiful. Yéous is
a fair giant after all, only he needed finish. He is a type of nature.

The boyhood of the world has not passed away with Miquel. We find a
fictitious dualism cherished by the lovers of nature in their belief or
feeling that nature exerts upon man some spiritual influence. Ruskin
has said that in looking from the Campanile at Venice to the circle
of snow which crowns the Adriatic, and then to the buildings which
contain the works of Titian and Tintoret, he has felt unable to
answer the question of his own heart, By which of these--the nature
or the manhood--has God given mightier evidence of Himself? So nature
may teach the already taught. While Ruskin looks from the Campanile,
the peasant is fighting the mountain and calling its rocky grandeurs
by the devil's name; before the pictures he kneels. Untaught by art
and science, the mind can derive no elevation from nature, can find no
sympathy in it. It is a false notion that there is any compensation for
the ignorant, denied access to art-galleries, in ability to pass their
Sundays amid natural scenery. Health that may bring them, but mentally
they are still inside the prison-walls from which look the stony eyes
of Fates and Furies. Natural sublimities cannot refine minds crude
as themselves; they must pass through thought before they can feed
thought; it is nature transfigured in art that changes the snow-clad
mountain from a heartless giant to a saviour in snow-pure raiment.



CHAPTER IX.

ILLUSION.

    Maya--Natural Treacheries--Misleaders--Glamour--Lorelei--Chinese
    Mermaid--Transformations--Swan Maidens--Pigeon Maidens--The
    Seal-skin--Nudity--Teufelsee--Gohlitsee--Japanese Siren--Dropping
    Cave--Venusberg--Godiva--Will-o'-Wisp--Holy Fräulein--The Forsaken
    Merman--The Water-Man--Sea Phantom--Sunken Treasures--Suicide.


Most beautiful of all the goddesses of India is Maya, Illusion. In
Hindu iconography she is portrayed in drapery of beautiful colours,
with decoration of richest gems and broidery of flowers. From above
her crown falls a veil which, curving above her knees, returns on
the other side, making, as it were, also an apron in which are held
fair animal forms--prototypes of the creation over which she has
dominion. The youthful yet serious beauty of her face and head is
surrounded with a semi-aureole, fringed with soft lightning, striated
with luminous sparks; and these are background for a cruciform nimbus
made of three clusters of rays. Maya presses her full breasts, from
which flow fountains of milk which fall in graceful streams to mingle
with the sea on which she stands.

So to our Aryan ancestors appeared the spirit that paints the universe,
flushing with tints so strangely impartial fruits forbidden and
unforbidden for man and beast. Mankind are slandered by the priest's
creed, Populus vult decipi; they are justly vindicated in Plato's
aphorism, 'Unwillingly is the soul deprived of truth;' but still
they are deceived. Large numbers are truly described by Swedenborg,
who found hells whose occupants believed themselves in heaven and
sang praises therefor. Such praises we may hear in the loud laughter
proceeding from dens where paradise has been gained by the cheap charm
of a glass of gin or a prostitute's caress. Serpent finds its ideal
in serpent. In heaven, says Swedenborg, we shall see things as they
are. But it is the adage of those who have lost their paradise, and
eat still the dry dust of reality not raised by science; the general
world has not felt that divine curse, or it has been wiped away so that
the most sensual fool may rejoice in feeling himself God's darling,
and pities the paganism of Plato. Man and beast are certain that they
do see things as they are. Maya's milk is tinctured from the poppies
of her robe; untold millions of misgivings have been put to sleep by
her tender bounty; the waters that sustain her are those of Lethe.

But beneath every illusive heaven Nature stretches also an illusive
hell. The poppies lose their force at last, and under the scourge
of necessity man wakes to find all his paradise of roses turned to
briars. Maya's breast-fountains pass deeper than the surface--from
one flows soft Lethe, the other issues at last in Phlegethon. Fear is
even a more potent painter than Hope, and out of the manifold menaces
of Nature can at last overlay the fairest illusions. It is a pathetic
fact, that so soon as man begins to think his first theory infers a
will at work wherever he sees no cause; his second, to suppose that
it will harm him!

Harriet Martineau's account of her childish terror caused by seeing
some prismatic colours dancing on the wall of a vacant room she was
entering--'imps' that had no worse origin than a tremulous candelabrum,
but which haunted her nerves through life--is an experience which may
be traced in the haunted childhood of every nation. There are other
phenomena besides these prismatic colours, which have had an evil name
in popular superstition, despite their beauty. Strange it might seem to
a Buddhist that yon exquisite tree with its blood-red buds should be
called the Judas-tree, as to us that the graceful swan which might be
the natural emblem of purity should be associated with witchcraft! But
the student of mythology will at every moment be impressed by the fact
that myths oftener represent a primitive science than mere fancies
and conceits. The sinuous neck of the swan, its passionate jealousy,
and the uncanny whistle, or else dumbness, found where, from so snowy
an outside, melody might have been looked for, may have made this
animal the type of a double nature. The treacherous brilliants of
the serpent, or honey protected by stings, or the bright blossoms of
poisons, would have trained the instinct which apprehends evil under
the apparition of beauty. This, as we shall have occasion to see,
has had a controlling influence upon the ethical constitution of our
nature. But it is at present necessary to observe that the primitive
science generally reversed the induction of our later philosophy; for
where an evil or pain was discovered in anything, it concluded that
such was its raison d'être, and its attractive qualities were simply
a demon's treacherous bait. However, here are the first stimulants
to self-control in the lessons that taught distrust of appearances.

Because many a pilgrim perished through a confidence in the
lake-pictures of the mirage which led to carelessness about economising
his skin of water, the mirage gained its present name--Bahr Sheitan,
or Devil's Water. The 'Will o' wisp,' which appeared to promise the
night-wanderer warmth or guidance, but led him into a bog, had its
excellent directions as to the place to avoid perverted by an unhappy
misunderstanding into a wilful falsehood, and has been branded ignis
fatuus. Most of the mimicries in nature gradually became as suspicious
to the primitive observer as aliases to a magistrate. The thing
that seemed to be fire, or water, but was not; the insect or animal
which took its hue or form from some other, from the leaf-spotted
or stem-striped cats to that innocent insect whose vegetal disguise
has gained for it the familiar name of 'Devil's Walking-stick;'
the humanlike hiss, laugh, or cry of animals; the vibratory sound or
movement which so often is felt as if near when it really is far; the
sand which seems hard but sinks; the sward which proves a bog;--all
these have their representation in the demonology of delusion. The
Coroados of Brazil says that the Evil One 'sometimes transforms
(himself) into a swamp, &c., leads him astray, vexes him, brings him
into danger, and even kills him.' [153] It is like an echo of Burton's
account. 'Terrestrial devils are those lares, genii, faunes, satyrs,
wood-nymphs, foliots, fairies, Robin Good-fellows, trulli, &c., which,
as they are most conversant with men, so they do them most harm. These
are they that dance on heaths and greens, as Lavater thinks with
Trithemius, and, as Olaus Magnus adds, leave that green circle which
we commonly find in plain fields. They are sometimes seen by old women
and children. Hieron. Pauli, in his description of the city of Bercino,
Spain, relates how they have been familiarly seen near that town, about
fountains and hills. 'Sometimes,' saith Trithemius, 'they lead simple
people into the recesses of mountains and show them wonderful sights,'
&c. Giraldus Cambrensis gives an instance of a monk of Wales that was
so deluded. Paracelsus reckons up many places in Germany where they
do usually walk about in little coats, some two feet long. [154] Real
dangers beset the woods and mountain passes, the swamp and quicksand;
in such forms did they haunt the untamed jungles of imagination!

Over that sea on which Maya stands extends the silvery wand of
Glamour. It descended to the immortal Old Man of the Sea, favourite
of the nymphs, oracle of the coasts, patron of fishermen, friend of
Proteus, who could see through all the sea's depths and assume all
shapes. How many witcheries could proceed from the many-tinted sea to
affect the eyes and enable them to see Triton with his wreathed horn,
and mermaids combing their hair, and marine monsters, and Aphrodite
poised on the white foam! Glaucoma it may be to the physicians;
but Glaucus it is in the scheme of Maya, who has never left land
or sea without her witness. Beside the Polar Sea a Samoyed sailor,
asked by Castrén 'where is Num' (i.e., Jumala, his god), pointed to
the dark distant sea, and said, He is there.

To the ancients there were two seas,--the azure above, and that
beneath. The imaginative child in its development passes all those
dreamy coasts; sees in clouds mountains of snow on the horizon, and in
the sunset luminous seas laving golden isles. When as yet to the young
world the shining sun was Berchta, the white fleecy clouds were her
swans. When she descended to the sea, as a thousand stories related,
it was to repeat the course of the sun for all tribes looking on a
westward sea. No one who has read that charming little book, 'The
Gods in Exile,' [155] will wonder at the happy instinct of learning
shown in Heine's little poem, 'Sonnenuntergang,' [156] wherein we
see shining solar Beauty compelled to become the spinning housewife,
or reluctant spouse of Poseidon:--


            A lovely dame whom the old ocean-god
            For convenience once had married;
            And in the day-time she wanders gaily
            Through the high heaven, purple-arrayed,
            And all in diamonds gleaming,
            And all beloved, and all amazing
            To every worldly being,
            And every worldly being rejoicing
            With warmth and splendour from her glances.
            Alas! at evening, sad and unwilling,
            Back must she bend her slow steps
            To the dripping house, to the barren embrace
            Of grisly old age.


This of course is Heinesque, and has no relation to any legend of
Bertha, but is a fair specimen of mythology in the making, and is
quite in the spirit of many of the myths that have flitted around
sunset on the sea. Whatever the explanation of their descent, the
Shining One and her fleecy retinue were transformed. When to sea or
lake came Berchta (or Perchta), it was as Bertha of the Large Foot
(i.e., webbed), or of the Long Nose (beak), and her troop were
Swan-maidens. Their celestial character was changed with that of
their mistress. They became familiars of sorcerers and sorceresses. To
'wear yellow slippers' became the designation of a witch.

How did these fleecy white cloud-phantoms become demonised? What
connection is there between them and the enticing Lorelei and the
dangerous Rhine-daughters watching over golden treasures, once,
perhaps, metaphors of moonlight ripples? They who have listened to
the wild laughter of these in Wagner's opera, Das Rheingold, and
their weird 'Heiayaheia!' can hardly fail to suspect that they became
associated with the real human nymphs whom the summer sun still finds
freely sporting in the bright streams of Russia, Hungary, Austria,
and East Germany, naked and not ashamed. Many a warning voice against
these careless Phrynes, who may have left tattered raiment on the shore
to be transfigured in the silvery waves, must have gone forth from
priests and anxious mothers. Nor would there be wanting traditions
enough to impress such warnings. Few regions have been without such
stories as those which the traveller Hiouen-Thsang (7th century)
found in Buddhist chronicles of the Rakshasis of Ceylon. 'They waylay
the merchants who land in the isle, and, changing themselves to women
of great beauty, come before them with fragrant flowers and music;
attracting them with kind words to the town of Iron, they offer them
a feast, and give themselves up to pleasure with them; then shut them
in an iron prison, and eat them one after the other.'

There is a strong accent of human nature in the usual plot of the
Swan-maiden legend, her garments stolen while she bathes, and her
willingness to pay wondrous prices for them--since they are her
feathers and her swanhood, without which she must remain for ever
captive of the thief. The stories are told in regions so widely
sundered, and their minor details are so different, that we may at
any rate be certain that they are not all traceable solely to fleecy
clouds. Sometimes the garments of the demoness--and these beings
are always feminine--are not feathery, as in the German stories, but
seal-skins, or of nondescript red tissue. Thus, the Envoy Li Ting-yuan
(1801) records a Chinese legend of a man named Ming-ling-tzu, a poor
and worthy farmer without family, who, on going to draw water from
a spring near his house, saw a woman bathing in it. She had hung
her clothes on a pine tree, and, in punishment for her 'shameless
ways' and for her fouling the well, he carried off the dress. The
clothing was unlike the familiar Lewchewan in style, and 'of a ruddy
sunset colour.' The woman, having finished her bath, cried out in
great anger, 'What thief has been here in broad day? Bring back my
clothes, quick.' She then perceived Ming-ling-tzu, and threw herself
on the ground before him. He began to scold her, and asked why she
came and fouled his water; to which she replied that both the pine
tree and the well were made by the Creator for the use of all. The
farmer entered into conversation with her, and pointed out that fate
evidently intended her to be his wife, as he absolutely refused to
give up her clothes, while without them she could not get away. The
result was that they were married. She lived with him for ten years,
and bore him a son and a daughter. At the end of that time her fate
was fulfilled: she ascended a tree during the absence of her husband,
and having bidden his children farewell, glided off on a cloud and
disappeared. [157]

In South Africa a parallel myth, in its demonological aspect, bears
no trace of a cloud origin. In this case a Hottentot, travelling with
a Bushwoman and her child, met a troop of wild horses. They were all
hungry; and the woman, taking off a petticoat made of human skin,
was instantly changed into a lioness. She struck down a horse, and
lapped its blood; then, at the request of the Hottentot, who in his
terror had climbed a tree, she resumed her petticoat and womanhood, and
the friends, after a meal of horseflesh, resumed their journey. [158]
Among the Minussinian Tartars these demons partake of the nature of
the Greek Harpies; they are bloodthirsty vampyre-demons who drink
the blood of men slain in battle, darken the air in their flight,
and house themselves in one great black fiend. [159] As we go East
the portrait of the Swan-maiden becomes less dark, and she is not
associated with the sea or the under-world. Such is one among the
Malays, related by Mr. Tylor. In the island of Celebes it is said
that seven nymphs came down from the sky to bathe, and were seen by
Kasimbaha, who at first thought them white doves, but in the bath
perceived they were women. He stole the robe of one of them, Utahagi,
and as she could not fly without it, she became his wife and bare him
a son. She was called Utahagi because of a single magic white hair
she had; this her husband pulled out, when immediately a storm arose,
and she flew to heaven. The child was in great grief, and the husband
cast about how he should follow her up into the sky.

The Swan-maiden appears somewhat in the character of a Nemesis in
a Siberian myth told by Mr. Baring-Gould. A certain Samoyed who had
stolen a Swan-maiden's robe, refused to return it unless she secured
for him the heart of seven demon robbers, one of whom had killed
the Samoyed's mother. The robbers were in the habit of hanging
up their hearts on pegs in their tent. The Swan-maiden procured
them. The Samoyed smashed six of the hearts; made the seventh robber
resuscitate his mother, whose soul, kept in a purse, had only to be
shaken over the old woman's grave for that feat to be accomplished,
and the Swan-maiden got back her plumage and flew away rejoicing. [160]

In Slavonic Folklore the Swan-maiden is generally of a dangerous
character, and if a swan is killed they are careful not to show it to
children for fear they will die. When they appear as ducks, geese,
and other water-fowl, they are apt to be more mischievous than when
they come as pigeons; and it is deemed perilous to kill a pigeon,
as among sailors it was once held to kill an albatross. Afanasief
relates a legend which shows that, even when associated with the
water-king, the Tsar Morskoi or Slavonic Neptune, the pigeon preserves
its beneficent character. A king out hunting lies down to drink from
a lake (as in the story related on p. 146), when Tsar Morskoi seizes
him by the beard, and will not release him until he agrees to give
him his infant son. The infant prince, deserted on the edge of the
fatal lake, by advice of a sorceress hides in some bushes, whence he
presently sees twelve pigeons arrive, which, having thrown off their
feathers, disport themselves in the lake. At length a thirteenth,
more beautiful than the rest, arrives, and her sorochka (shift) Ivan
seizes. To recover it she agrees to be his wife, and, having told
him he will find her beneath the waters, resumes her pigeon-shape and
flies away. Beneath the lake he finds a beautiful realm, and though
the Tsar Morskoi treats him roughly and imposes heavy tasks on him,
the pigeon-maiden (Vassilissa) assists him, and they dwell together
happily. [161]

In Norse Mythology the vesture of the uncanny maid is oftenest a
seal-skin, and a vein of pathos enters the legends. Of the many
legends of this kind, still believed in Sweden and Norway, one has
been pleasantly versified by Miss Eliza Keary. A fisherman having
found a pretty white seal-skin, took it home with him. At night there
was a wailing at his door; the maid enters, becomes his wife, and
bears him three children. But after seven years she finds the skin,
and with it ran to the shore. The eldest child tells the story to
the father on his return home.


              Then we three, Daddy,
            Ran after, crying, 'Take us to the sea!

            Wait for us, Mammy, we are coming too!
            Here's Alice, Willie can't keep up with you!
            Mammy, stop--just for a minute or two!'
              At last we came to where the hill
            Slopes straight down to the beach,
            And there we stood all breathless, still
            Fast clinging each to each.
                We saw her sitting upon a stone,
                Putting the little seal-skin on.
                  O Mammy! Mammy!
                She never said goodbye, Daddy,
                  She didn't kiss us three;
                She just put the little seal-skin on
                  And slipt into the sea!


Some of the legends of this character are nearly as realistic as
Mr. Swinburne's 'Morality' of David and Bathsheba. To imagine
the scarcity of wives in regions to which the primitive Aryan
race migrated, we have only to remember the ben trovato story of
Californians holding a ball in honour of a bonnet, in the days before
women had followed them in migration. To steal Bathsheba's clothes,
and so capture her, might at one period have been sufficiently common
in Europe to require all the terrors contained in the armoury of
tradition concerning the demonesses that might so be taken in, and
might so tempt men to take them in. In the end they might disappear,
carrying off treasures in the most prosaic fashion, or perhaps they
might bring to one's doors a small Trojan war. It is probable that
the sentiment of modesty, so far as it is represented in the shame
of nudity, was the result of prudential agencies. Though the dread
of nudity has become in some regions a superstition in the female
mind strong enough to have its martyrs--as was seen at the sinking
of the Northfleet and the burning hotel in St. Louis--it is one
that has been fostered by men in distrust of their own animalism. In
barbarous regions, where civilisation introduces clothes, the women
are generally the last to adopt them; and though Mr. Herbert Spencer
attributes this to female conservatism, it appears more probable
that it is because the men are the first to lose their innocence and
the women last to receive anything expensive. It is noticeable how
generally the Swan-maidens are said in the myths to be captured by
violence or stratagem. At the same time the most unconscious temptress
might be the means of breaking up homes and misleading workmen, and
thus become invested with all the wild legends told of the illusory
phenomena of nature in popular mythology.

It is marvellous to observe how all the insinuations of the bane were
followed by equal dexterities in the antedote. The fair tempters might
disguise their intent in an appeal to the wayfarer's humanity; and,
behold, there were a thousand well-attested narratives ready for the
lips of wife and mother showing the demoness appealing for succour
to be fatalest of all!

There is a stone on the Müggelsberger, in Altmark, which is said to
cover a treasure; this stone is sometimes called 'Devil's Altar,'
and sometimes it is said a fire is seen there which disappears when
approached. It lies on the verge of Teufelsee,--a lake dark and small,
and believed to be fathomless. Where the stone lies a castle once
stood which sank into the ground with its fair princess. But from the
underground castle there is a subterranean avenue to a neighbouring
hill, and from this hill of an evening sometimes comes an old woman,
bent over her staff. Next day there will be seen a most beautiful lady
combing her long golden hair. To all who pass she makes her entreaties
that they will set her free, her pathetic appeals being backed by offer
of a jewelled casket which she holds. The only means of liberating her
is, she announces, that some one shall bear her on his shoulders three
times round Teufelsee church without looking back. The experiment
has several times been made. One villager at his first round saw a
large hay-waggon drawn past him by four mice, and following it with
his eyes received blows on the ears. Another saw a waggon drawn by
four coal-black fire-breathing horses coming straight against him,
started back, and all disappeared with the cry 'Lost again for ever!' A
third tried and almost got through. He was found senseless, and on
recovering related that when he took the princess on his shoulders
she was light as a feather, but she grew heavier and heavier as he
bore her round. Snakes, toads, and all horrible animals with fiery
eyes surrounded him; dwarfs hurled blocks of wood and stones at him;
yet he did not look back, and had nearly completed the third round,
when he saw his village burst into flames; then he looked behind--a
blow felled him--and he seems to have only lived long enough to tell
this story. The youth of Köpernick are warned to steel their hearts
against any fair maid combing her hair near Teufelsee. But the folklore
of the same neighbourhood admits that it is by no means so dangerous
for dames to listen to appeals of this kind. In the Gohlitzsee, for
example, a midwife was induced to plunge in response to a call for aid;
having aided a little Merwoman in travail, she was given an apronful of
dust, which appeared odd until on shore it proved to be many thalers.

In countries where the popular imagination, instead of being
scientific, is trained to be religiously retrospective, it relapses
at the slightest touch into the infantine speculations of the human
race. Not long ago, standing at a shop-window in Ostend where a
'Japanese Siren' was on view, the clever imposture interested me
less than the comments of the passing and pausing observers. The
most frequent wonders seriously expressed were, whether she sang,
or combed her hair, or was under a doom, or had a soul to be
saved. Every question related to Circe, Ulysses and the Sirens, and
other conceptions of antiquity. The Japanese artists rightly concluded
they could float their Siren in any intellectual waters where Jonah
in his whale could pass, or a fish appear with its penny. Nay, even
in their primitive form the Sirens find their kith and kin still
haunting all the coasts of northern Europe. A type of the Irish and
Scottish Siren may be found in the very complete legend of one seen
by John Reid, shipmaster of Cromarty. With long flowing yellow hair
she sat half on a rock, half in water, nude and beautiful, half woman
half fish, and John managed to catch and hold her tight till she had
promised to fulfil three wishes; then, released, she sprang into the
sea. The wishes were all fulfilled, and to one of them (though John
would never reveal it) the good-luck of the Reids was for a century
after ascribed. [162]

The scene of this legend is the 'Dropping Cave,' and significantly
near the Lover's Leap. One of John's wishes included the success of
his courtship. These Caves run parallel with that of Venusberg, where
the minstrel Tannhäuser is tempted by Venus and her nymphs. Heine
finishes off his description of this Frau Venus by saying he fancied
he met her one day in the Place Bréda. 'What do you take this lady
to be?' asked he of Balzac, who was with him. 'She is a mistress,'
replied Balzac. 'A duchess rather,' returned Heine. But the friends
found on further explanation that they were both quite right. Venus'
doves, soiled for a time, were spiritualised at last and made white,
while the snowy swan grew darker. An old German word for swan,
elbiz, originally denoting its whiteness (albus), furthered its
connection with all 'elfish' beings--elf being from the same word,
meaning white; but, as in Goethe's 'Erl König,' often disguising a
dark character. The Swan and the Pigeon meet (with some modifications)
as symbols of the Good and Evil powers in the legend of Lohengrin. The
witch transforms the boy into a Swan, which, however, draws to save his
sister, falsely accused of his murder, the Knight of the Sangreal, who,
when the mystery of his holy name is inquired into by his too curious
bride, is borne away by white doves. These legends all bear in them,
however faintly, the accent of the early conflict of religion with
the wild passions of mankind. Their religious bearings bring us to
inquiries which must be considered at a later phase of our work. But
apart from purely moral considerations, it is evident that there must
have been practical dangers surrounding the early social chaos amid
which the first immigrants in Europe found themselves.

Although the legend of Lady Godiva includes elements of another origin,
it is probable that in the fate of Peeping Tom there is a distant
reflection of the punishment sometimes said to overtake those who
gazed too curiously upon the Swan-maiden without her feathers. The
devotion of the nude lady of Coventry would not be out of keeping
with one class of these mermaiden myths. There is a superstition, now
particularly strong in Iceland, that all fairies are children of Eve,
whom she hid away on an occasion when the Lord came to visit her,
because they were not washed and presentable. So he condemned them
to be for ever invisible. This superstition seems to be related to
an old debate whether these præternatural beings are the children of
Adam and Eve or not. A Scotch story bears against that conclusion. A
beautiful nymph, with a slight robe of green, came from the sea and
approached a fisherman while he was reading his Bible. She asked him if
it contained any promise of mercy for her. He replied that it contained
an offer of salvation to 'all the children of Adam;' whereupon with a
loud shriek she dashed into the sea again. Euphemism would co-operate
with natural compassion in saying a good word for 'the good little
people,' whether hiding in earth or sea. In Altmark, 'Will-o'-wisps'
are believed to be the souls of unbaptized children--sometimes of
lunatics--unable to rest in their graves; they are called 'Light-men,'
and it is said that though they may sometimes mislead they often guide
rightly, especially if a small coin be thrown them,--this being also
an African plan of breaking a sorcerer's spell. Christianity long
after its advent in Germany had to contend seriously with customs and
beliefs found in some lakeside villages where the fishermen regarded
themselves as in friendly relations with the præternatural guardians
of the waters, and unto this day speak of their presiding sea-maiden
as a Holy Fräulein. They hear her bells chiming up from the depths in
holy seasons to mingle with those whose sounds are wafted from church
towers; and it seems to have required many fables, told by prints of
fishermen found sitting lifeless on their boats while listening to
them, to gradually transfer reverence to the new christian fairy.

It may be they heard some such melody as that which has found its
finest expression in Mr. Matthew Arnold's 'Forsaken Merman:'--


            Children dear, was it yesterday
            (Call yet once) that she went away?
            Once she sate with you and me,
            On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea,
            And the youngest sate on her knee.
        She comb'd its bright hair, and she tended it well,
        When down swung the sound of the far-off bell.
        She sigh'd, she look'd up through the clear green sea;
        She said: 'I must go, for my kinsfolk pray
        In the little grey church on the shore to-day.
        'Twill be Easter-time in the world--ah me!
        And I lose my poor soul, Merman, here with thee.'
        I said, 'Go up, dear heart, through the waves,
        Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-caves.'
        She smil'd, she went up through the surf in the bay.
            Children dear, was it yesterday?


Perhaps we should find the antecedents of this Merman's lost Margaret,
whom he called back in vain, in the Danish ballad of 'The Merman and
the Marstig's Daughter,' who, in Goethe's version, sought the winsome
May in church, thither riding as a gay knight on


                          horse of the water clear,
        The saddle and bridle of sea-sand were.

        They went from the church with the bridal train,
        They danced in glee, and they danced full fain;
        They danced them down to the salt-sea strand,
        And they left them standing there, hand in hand.

        'Now wait thee, love, with my steed so free,
        And the bonniest bark I'll bring for thee.'
        And when they passed to the white, white sand,
        The ships came sailing on to the land;

        But when they were out in the midst of the sound,
        Down went they all in the deep profound!
        Long, long on the shore, when the winds were high,
        They heard from the waters the maiden's cry.

        I rede ye, damsels, as best I can--
        Tread not the dance with the Water-Man!


According to other legends, however, the realm under-sea was not a
place for weeping. Child-eyes beheld all that the Erl-king promised,
in Goethe's ballad--


        Wilt thou go, bonny boy? wilt thou go with me?
        My daughters shall wait on thee daintily;
        My daughters around thee in dance shall sweep,
        And rock thee and kiss thee, and sing thee to sleep!


Or perhaps child-eyes, lingering in the burning glow of manhood's
passion, might see in the peaceful sea some picture of lost love like
that so sweetly described in Heine's 'Sea Phantom:'--


        But I still leaned o'er the side of the vessel,
        Gazing with sad-dreaming glances
        Down at the water, clear as a mirror,
        Looking yet deeper and deeper,--
        Till far in the sea's abysses,
        At first like dim wavering vapours,
        Then slowly--slowly--deeper in colour,
        Domes of churches and towers seemed rising,
        And then, as clear as day, a city grand....
        Infinite longing, wondrous sorrow,
        Steal through my heart,--
        My heart as yet scarce healed;
        It seems as though its wounds, forgotten,
        By loving lips again were kissed,
        And once again were bleeding
        Drops of burning crimson,
        Which long and slowly trickle down
        Upon an ancient house below there
        In the deep, deep sea-town,
        On an ancient, high-roofed, curious house,
        Where, lone and melancholy,
        Below by the window a maiden sits,
        Her head on her arm reclined,--
        Like a poor and uncared-for child;
        And I know thee, thou poor and long-sorrowing child!

        ... I meanwhile, my spirit all grief,
        Over the whole broad world have sought thee,
        And ever have sought thee,
        Thou dearly beloved,
        Thou long, long lost one,
        Thou finally found one,--
        At last I have found thee, and now am gazing
        Upon thy sweet face,
        With earnest, faithful glances,
        Still sweetly smiling;
        And never will I again on earth leave thee.
        I am coming adown to thee,
        And with longing, wide-reaching embraces,
        Love, I leap down to thy heart!


The temptations of fishermen to secure objects seen at the bottom of
transparent lakes, sometimes appearing like boxes or lumps of gold,
and even more reflections of objects in the upper world or air, must
have been sources of danger; there are many tales of their being so
beguiled to destruction. These things were believed treasures of the
little folk who live under water, and would not part with them except
on payment. In Blumenthal lake, 'tis said, there is an iron-bound
yellow coffer which fishermen often have tried to raise, but their
cords are cut as it nears the surface. At the bottom of the same
lake valuable clothing is seen, and a woman who once tried to secure
it was so nearly drowned that it is thought safer to leave it. The
legends of sunken towns (as in Lake Paarsteinchen and Lough Neagh),
and bells (whose chimes may be heard on certain sacred days), are
probably variants of this class of delusions. They are often said to
have been sunk by some final vindictive stroke of a magician or witch
resolved to destroy the city no longer trusting them. Landslides,
engulfing seaside homes, might originate legends like that of King
Gradlon's daughter Dahut, whom the Breton peasant sees in rough weather
on rocks around Poul-Dahut, where she unlocked the sluice-gates on
the city Is in obedience to her fiend-lover.

If it be remembered that less than fifty years ago Dr. Belon [163]
thought it desirable to anatomise gold fishes, and prove in various
ways that it is a fallacy to suppose they feed on pure gold (as
many a peasant near Lyons declares of the laurets sold daily in the
market), it will hardly be thought wonderful that perilous visions of
precious things were seen by early fishermen in pellucid depths, and
that these should at last be regarded as seductive arts of Lorelei,
who have given many lakes and rivers the reputation of requiring one
or more annual victims.

Possibly it was through accumulation of many dreams about beautiful
realms beneath the sea or above the clouds that suicide became among
the Norse folk so common. It was a proverb that the worst end was to
die in bed, and to die by suicide was to be like Egil, and Omund, and
King Hake, like nearly all the heroes who so passed to Valhalla. The
Northman had no doubt concerning the paradise to which he was going,
and did not wish to reach it enfeebled by age. But the time would come
when the earth and human affection must assert their claims, and the
watery tribes be pictured as cruel devourers of the living. Even so
would the wood-nymphs and mountain-nymphs be degraded, and fearful
legends of those lost and wandering in dark forests be repeated to
shuddering childhood. The actual dangers would mask themselves in
the endless disguises of illusion, the wold and wave be peopled with
cruel and treacherous seducers. Thus suicide might gradually lose
its charms, and a dismal underworld of heartless gnomes replace the
grottoes and fairies.

We may close this chapter with a Scottish legend relating to the
'Shi'ichs,' or Men of Peace, in which there is a strange intimation
of a human mind dreaming that it dreams, and so far on its way to
waking. A woman was carried away by these shadowy beings in order that
she might suckle her child which they had previously stolen. During her
retention she once observed the Shi'ichs anointing their eyes from a
caldron, and seizing an opportunity, she managed to anoint one of her
own eyes with the ointment. With that one eye she now saw the secret
abode and all in it 'as they really were.' The deceptive splendour
had vanished. The gaudy ornaments of a fairy grot had become the
naked walls of a gloomy cavern. When this woman had returned to live
among human beings again, her anointed eye saw much that others saw
not; among other things she once saw a 'man of peace,' invisible to
others, and asked him about her child. Astonished at being recognised,
he demanded how she had been able to discover him; and when she had
confessed, he spit in her eye and extinguished it for ever.



CHAPTER X.

DARKNESS.

    Shadows--Night Deities--Kobolds--Walpurgisnacht--Night as
    Abettor of Evil-doers--Nightmare--Dreams--Invisible Foes--Jacob
    and his Phantom--Nott--The Prince of Darkness--The Brood of
    Midnight--Second-Sight--Spectres of Souter Fell--The Moonshine
    Vampyre--Glamour--Glam and Grettir--A Story of Dartmoor.


From the little night which clings to man even by day--his own
shadow--to the world's great shade of darkness, innumerable are the
coverts from which have emerged the black procession of phantoms which
have haunted the slumbers of the world, and betrayed the enterprise
of man.

How strange to the first man seemed that shadow walking beside him,
from the time when he saw it as a ghost tracking its steps and giving
him his name for a ghost, on to the period in which it seemed the
emanation of an occult power, as to them who brought their sick into
the streets to be healed by the passing shadow of Peter; and still
on to the day when Beaumont wrote--


            Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
            Our fatal shadows that walk by us still;


or that in which Goethe found therein the mystical symbol of the
inward arrest of our moral development, and said 'No man can jump
off of his shadow.' And then from the culture of Europe we pass to
the Feejee-Islanders, and find them believing that every man has
two spirits. One is his shadow, which goes to Hades; the other is
his image as reflected in water, and it is supposed to stay near the
place where the man dies. [164] But, like the giants of the Brocken,
these demons of the Shadow are trembled at long after they are known
to be the tremblers themselves mirrored on air. Have we not priests
in England still fostering the belief that the baptized child goes
attended by a white spirit, the unbaptized by a dark one? Why then
need we apologise for the Fijians?

But little need be said here of demons of the Dark, for they are
closely related to the phantasms of Delusion, of Winter, and others
already described. Yet have they distinctive characters. As many as
were the sunbeams were the shadows; every goddess of the Dawn (Ushas)
cast her shadow; every Day was swallowed up by Night. This is the
cavern where hide the treacherous Panis (fog) in Vedic mythology,
they who steal and hide Indra's cows; this is the realm of Hades (the
invisible); this is the cavern of the hag Thökk (dark) in Scandinavian
mythology,--she who alone of all in the universe refused to weep
for Baldur when he was shut up in Helheim, where he had been sent
by the dart of his blind brother Hödr (darkness). In the cavern of
Night sleep the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, and Barbarossa, and all
slumbering phantoms whose genius is the night-winged raven. Thorr,
the Norse Hercules, once tried to lift a cat--as it seemed to him--from
the ground; but it was the great mid-earth serpent which encircles the
whole earth. Impossible feat as it was for Thorr--who got only one paw
of the seeming cat off the ground--in that glassless and gasless era,
invention has accomplished much in that direction; but the black Cat
is still domiciled securely among idols of the mental cave.

There is an Anglo-Saxon word, cof-godas (lit. cove-gods), employed as
the equivalent of the Latin lares (the Penates, too, are interpreted as
cof-godu, cofa signifying the inner recess of a house, penetrale). The
word in German corresponding to this cofa, is koben; and from this
Hildebrand conjectures kob-old to be derived. The latter part of
the word he supposes to be walt (one who 'presides over,' e.g.,
Walter); so that the original form would be kob-walt. [165] Here,
then, in the recesses of the household, among the least enlightened
of its members--the menials, who still often neutralise the efforts
of rational people to dispel the delusions of their children--the
discredited deities and demons of the past found refuge, and through
a little baptismal change of names are familiars of millions unto
this day. In the words of the ancient Hebrew, 'they lay in their
own houses prisoners of darkness, fettered with the bonds of a long
night.' 'No power of the fire might give them light, neither could
the bright flames of the stars lighten that horrible night.' [166]
Well is it added, 'Fear is nothing else but a betraying of the succours
which reason offereth,' a truth which finds ample illustration in the
Kobolds. These imaginary beings were naturally associated with the dark
recesses of mines. There they gave the name to our metal Cobalt. The
value of Cobalt was not understood until the 17th century, and the
metal was first obtained by the Swedish chemist Brandt in 1733. The
miners had believed that the silver was stolen away by Kobolds, and
these 'worthless' ores left in its place. Nickel had the like history,
and is named after Old Nick. So long did those Beauties slumber in
the cavern of Ignorance till Science kissed them with its sunbeam,
and led them forth to decorate the world!

How passed this (mental) cave-dweller even amid the upper splendours
and vastnesses of his unlit world? A Faust guided by his Mephistopheles
only amid interminable Hartz labyrinths.


            How sadly rises, incomplete and ruddy,
            The moon's lone disk, with its belated glow,
            And lights so dimly, that, as one advances,
            At every step one strikes a rock or tree!
            Let us then use a Jack-o'-lantern's glances:
            I see one yonder, burning merrily.
            Ho, there! my friend! I'll levy thine attendance:
            Why waste so vainly thy resplendence?
            Be kind enough to light us up the steep!

            Tell me, if we still are standing,
            Or if further we're ascending?
            All is turning, whirling, blending,
            Trees and rocks with grinning faces,
            Wandering lights that spin in mazes,
            Still increasing and expanding. [167]


It could only have been at a comparatively late period of social
development that Sancho's benediction on the inventor of sleep could
have found general response. The Red Indian found its helplessness
fatal when the 'Nick of the Woods' was abroad; the Scotch sailor found
in it a demon's opiate when the 'Nigg of the Sea' was gathering his
storms above the sleeping watchman. It was among the problems of Job,
the coöperation of darkness with evil-doers.


            The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight;
            He saith, No eye will see me,
            And putteth a mask upon his face.
            In the dark men break into houses;
            In the day-time they shut themselves up;
            They are strangers to the light.
            The morning to them is the shadow of death;
            They are familiar with the dark terrors of midnight.


Besides this fact that the night befriends and masks every treacherous
foe, it is also to be remembered that man is weakest at night. Not
only is he weaker than by day in the veil drawn over his senses,
but physiologically also. When the body is wearied out by the toils
or combats of the day, and the mind haunted by dreams of danger,
there are present all the terrors which Byron portrays around the
restless pillow of Sardanapalus. The war-horse of the day becomes
a night-mare in the darkness. In the Heimskringla it is recorded:
'Vanland, Svegdir's son, succeeded his father and ruled over the
Upsal domain. He was a great warrior, and went far around in different
lands. Once he took up his winter abode in Finland with Snio the Old,
and got his daughter Drisa in marriage; but in spring he set out
leaving Drisa behind, and although he had promised to return within
three years he did not come back for ten. Then Drisa sent a message to
the witch Hulda; and sent Visbur, her son by Vanland, to Sweden. Drisa
bribed the witch-wife Hulda, either that she should bewitch Vanland
to return to Finland or kill him. When this witch-work was going
on Vanland was at Upsal, and a great desire came over him to go to
Finland, but his friends and counsellors advised him against it, and
said the witchcraft of the Fin people showed itself in this desire of
his to go there.  He then became very drowsy, and laid himself down to
sleep; but when he had slept but a little while he cried out, saying,
'Mara was treading on him.' His men hastened to help him; but when they
took hold of his head she trod on his legs, and when they laid hold
of his legs she pressed upon his head; and it was his death.' [168]

This witch is, no doubt, Hildur, a Walkyr of the Edda, leading heroes
to Walhalla. Indeed, in Westphalia, nightmare is called Walriderske. It
is a curious fact that 'Mara' should be preserved in the French
word for nightmare, Cauche-mar, 'cauche' being from Latin calcare,
to tread. Through Teutonic folklore this Night-demon of many names,
having floated from England in a sieve paddled with cow-ribs, rides to
the distress of an increasingly unheroic part of the population. Nearly
always still the 'Mahrt' is said to be a pretty woman,--sometimes,
indeed, a sweetheart is involuntarily transformed to one,--every
rustic settlement abounding with tales of how the demoness has been
captured by stopping the keyhole, calling the ridden sleeper by his
baptismal name, and making the sign of the cross; by such process the
wicked beauty appears in human form, and is apt to marry the sleeper,
with usually evil results. The fondness of cats for getting on the
breasts of sleepers, or near their breath, for warmth, has made that
animal a common form of the 'Mahrt.' Sometimes it is a black fly with
red ring around its neck. This demoness is believed to suffer more
pain than it inflicts, and vainly endeavours to destroy herself.

In savage and nomadic times sound sleep being an element of danger, the
security which required men to sleep on their arms demanded also that
they should sleep as it were with one eye open. Thus there might have
arisen both the intense vividness which demons acquired by blending
subjective and objective impressions, and the curious inability, so
frequent among barbarians and not unknown among the men civilised, to
distinguish dream from fact. The habit of day-dreaming seems, indeed,
more general than is usually supposed. Dreams haunt all the region of
our intellectual twilight,--the borderland of mystery, where rise the
sources of the occult and the mystical which environ our lives. The
daily terrors of barbarous life avail to haunt the nerves of civilised
people, now many generations after they have passed away, with special
and irrational shudders at certain objects or noises: how then must
they have haunted the dreams of humanity when, like the daughter of
Nathan the Wise, rescued from flames, it passed the intervals of strife


                  With nerves unstrung through fear,
        And fire and flame in all she sees or fancies;
        Her soul awake in sleep, asleep when wide awake?


Among the sources of demoniac beliefs few indeed are more prolific than
Dreams. 'The witchcraft of sleep,' says Emerson, 'divides with truth
the empire of our lives. This soft enchantress visits two children
lying locked in each other's arms, and carries them asunder by wide
spans of land and sea, wide intervals of time. 'Tis superfluous to
think of the dreams of multitudes; the astonishment remains that
one should dream; that we should resign so quietly this deifying
reason and become the theatre of delusions, shows, wherein time,
space, persons, cities, animals, should dance before us in merry and
mad confusion, a delicate creation outdoing the prime and flower of
actual nature, antic comedy alternating with horrid spectres. Or we
seem busied for hours and days in peregrinations over seas and lands,
in earnest dialogues, strenuous actions for nothings and absurdities,
cheated by spectral jokes, and waking suddenly with ghostly laughter,
to be rebuked by the cold lonely silent midnight, and to rake with
confusion in memory among the gibbering nonsense to find the motive
of this contemptible cachinnation.' [169]

It has always been the worst of periods of religious excitement that
they shape the dreams of old and young, and find there a fearful
and distorted, but vivid and realistic, embodiment of their feverish
experiences. In the days of witchcraft thousands visited the Witches'
Sabbaths, as they believed and danced in the Walpurgis orgies,
borne (by hereditary orthodox canon) on their own brooms up their own
chimneys; and to-day, by the same morbid imaginations, the victims are
able to see themselves or others elongated, levitated, floating through
the air. If people only knew how few are ever really wide-awake,
these spiritual nightmares would soon reach their termination. The
natural terrors before which helpless man once cowered, have been
prolonged past all his real victories over his demons by a succession
of such nightmares, so that the vulgar religion might be portrayed
somewhat as Richard Wagner described his first tragedy, in which,
having killed off forty-two of his characters, he had to bring them
back as ghosts to carry on the fifth act!

The perils of darkness, as ambush of foes human and animal,
concealer of pitfalls, misguider of footsteps, misdirector of aims,
were more real than men can well imagine in an age of gaslight plus
the policeman. The myth of Joshua commanding the sun to stand still;
the cry of Ajax when darkness fell on the combat, 'Grant me but to
see!' refer us to the region from which come all childish shudders
at going into the dark. The limit of human courage is reached where
its foe is beyond the reach of its force. Fighting in the dark may
even be suicidal. A German fable of blindfold zeal--the awakened
sleeper demolishing his furniture and knocking out his own teeth in
the attempt to punish cats--has its tragical illustrations also. But
none of these actual dangers have been of more real evil to man than
the demonisation of them. This rendered his very skill a blunder, his
energy weakness. If it was bad to retreat in the dusk from an innocent
bush into an unrecognised well, it was worse to meet the ghost with
rune or crucifix and find it an assassin. When man fights with his
shadow, he instantly makes it the demon he fears; ghoul-like it preys
upon his paralysed strength, vampyre-like it sucks his blood, and he is
consigned disarmed to the evil that is no shadow. The Scottish Sinclair
marching through Norway, in the 16th century, owes his monument at
Wiblungen rather to the magpie believed to precede him as a spy,
with night and day upon its wings, than to his own prowess or power.

In a sense all demons, whatever their shapes, are the ancient
brood of night. Mental darkness, even more moral darkness within,
supply the phantasmagoria in which unknown things shape themselves as
demons. Esau is already reconciled, but guilty Jacob must still wrestle
with him as a phantom of Fear till daybreak. A work has already been
written on 'The Night-side of Nature,' but it would require many
volumes to tell the story of what monsters have been conjured out
of the kind protecting darkness. How great is the darkness which
man makes for himself out of the imagination which should be his
light and vision! Much of the so-called 'religion' of our time is
but elaborate demoniculture and artificial preservation of mental
Walpurgis-nights. Nott (Night) says the Edda rides first on her horse
called Hrimfaxi (frost-maned), which every morning as he ends his
course bedews the earth with the foam that falls from his bit. Though
the horse of Day--Skinfaxi, or Shining-mane--follows hard after her,
yet the foam is by no means drunk up by his fires. Foam of the old
phantasms still lingers in our mediæval liturgies, and even falls
afresh where the daylight is shut out that altar-candles may burn,
or for other dark seances are prepared the conditions necessary for
whatsoever loves not the light.

What we call the Dark Ages were indeed spiritually a perpetual seance
with lights lowered. Nay, human superstition was able to turn the
very moon and stars into mere bluish night-tapers, giving just light
enough to make the darkness visible in fantastic shapes fluttering
around the Prince of Darkness,--or Non-existence in Chief! How much
of the theosophic speculation of our time is the mere artificial
conservation of that darkness? How much that still flits bat-winged
from universities, will, in the future, be read with the same wonder
as that with which even the more respectable bats can now read account
of the midnight brood which now for the most part sleep tranquilly in
such books as Burton's 'Anatomy of Melancholy'? 'There are,' he says,
'certain spirits which Miraldus calls Ambulones, that walk about
midnight on great heaths and desert places, which (saith Lavater)
draw men out of their way, and lead them all night by a byway, or
quite bar them of their way. These have several names in several
places. We commonly call them Pucks. In the deserts of Lop, in Asia,
such illusions of walking spirits are often perceived, as you may read
in M. Paulus, the Venetian, his travels. If one lose his company by
chance, these devils will call him by his name, and counterfeit voices
of his companions to seduce him. Lavater and Cicogna have a variety of
examples of spirits and walking devils in this kind. Sometimes they
sit by the wayside to give men falls, and make their horses stumble
and start as they ride (according to the narration of that holy man
Ketellus in Nubrigensis, that had an especial grace to see devils);
and if a man curse and spur his horse for stumbling, they do heartily
rejoice at it.'

While observing a spirited and imaginative picture by Macallum of
the Siege of Jerusalem, it much interested me to observe the greater
or less ease with which other visitors discovered the portents in
the air which, following the narrative of Josephus, the artist had
vaguely portrayed. The chariots and horsemen said to have been seen
before that event were here faintly blent with indefinite outlines
of clouds; and while some of the artist's friends saw them with a
distinctness greater, perhaps, than that with which they impressed
the eye of the artist himself, others could hardly be made to see
anything except shapeless vapour, though of course they all agreed
that they were there and remarkably fine.

It would seem that thus, in a London studio, there were present all
the mental pigments for frescoing the air and sky with those visions
of aërial armies or huntsmen which have become so normal in history
as to be, in a subjective sense, natural. In the year 1763, an author,
styling himself Theophilus Insulanus, published at Edinburgh a book on
Second-Sight, in which he related more than a hundred instances of the
power he believed to exist of seeing events before they had occurred,
and whilst, of course, they did not exist. It is not difficult in
reading them to see that they are all substantially one and the
same story, and that the sight in operation was indeed second; for
man or woman, at once imaginative and illiterate, have a second and
supernumerary pair of eyes inherited from the traditional superstitions
and ghost stories which fill all the air they breathe from the cradle
to the grave. While the mind is in this condition, that same nature
whose apparitions and illusions originally evoked and fostered the
glamoury, still moves on with her minglings of light and shade, cloud
and mirage, giving no word of explanation. There are never wanting the
shadowy forms without that cast their shuttles to the dark idols of the
mental cave, together weaving subtle spells round the half-waking mind.

In the year 1743 all the North of England and Scotland was in alarm
on account of some spectres which were seen on the mountain of Souter
Fell in Cumberland. The mountain is about half-a-mile high. On a summer
evening a farmer and his servant, looking from Wilton Hall, half a
mile off, saw the figures of a man and a dog pursuing some horses
along the mountain-side, which is very steep; and on the following
morning they repaired to the place, expecting to find dead bodies, but
finding none. About one year later a troop of horsemen were seen riding
along the same mountain-side by one of the same persons, the servant,
who then called others who also saw the aërial troopers. After a year
had elapsed the above vision was attested before a magistrate by two
of those who saw it. The event occurred on the eve of the Rebellion,
when horsemen were exercising, and when also the popular mind along
the Border may be supposed to have been in a highly excited condition.

What was seen on this strongly-authenticated occasion? Was anything
seen? None can tell. It is open to us to believe that there may have
been some play of mirage. As there are purely aërial echoes, so are
there aërial reflectors for the eye. On the other hand, the vision so
nearly resembles the spectral processions which have passed through
the mythology of the world, that we can never be sure that it was
not the troop of King Arthur, emerging from Avallon to announce
the approaching strife. A few fleecy, strangely-shaped clouds,
chasing each other along the hillside in the evening's dusk would
have amply sufficed to create the latter vision, and the danger of
the time would easily have supplied all the Second-Sight required to
reveal it to considerable numbers. In questions of this kind a very
small circumstance--a phrase, a name, perhaps--may turn the balance
of probabilities. Thus it may be noted that, in the instance just
related, the vision was seen on the steep side of Souter Fell. Fell
means a hill or a steep rock, as in Drachenfels. But as to Souter,
although, as Mr. Robert Ferguson says, the word may originally
have meant sheep, [170] it is found in Scotland used as 'shoemaker'
in connection with the fabulous giants of that region. Sir Thomas
Urquhart, in the seventeenth century, relates it as the tradition
of the two promontories of Cromarty, called 'Soutars,' that they
were the work-stools of two giants who supplied their comrades with
shoes and buskins. Possessing but one set of implements, they used
to fling these to each other across the opening of the firth, where
the promontories are only two miles apart. In process of time the name
Soutar, shoemaker, was bequeathed by the craftsmen to their stools. It
is not improbable that the name gradually connected itself with other
places bearing traditions connecting them with the fabulous race,
and that in this way the Souter Fell, from meaning in early times
much the same as Giants' Hill, preserved even in 1743-44 enough of the
earlier uncanny associations to awaken the awe of Borderers in a time
of rebellion. The vision may therefore have been seen by light which
had journeyed all the way from the mythologic heavens of ancient India:
substantially subjective--such stuff as dreams and dreamers are made
of--no doubt there were outer clouds, shapes and afterglows enough,
even in the absence of any fata morgana to supply canvas and pigment
to the cunning artist that hides in the eye.

In an old tale, the often-slain Vampyre-bat only requests, with
pathos, that his body may be laid where no sunlight, but only the
moonlight, will fall on it--only that! But it is under the moonshine
that it always gains new life. No demon requires absolute darkness,
but half-darkness, in which to live: enough light to disclose a
Somewhat, but not enough to define and reveal its nature, is just
what has been required for the bat-eyes of fable and phantasy, which
can make vampyre of a sparrow or giant out of a windmill.

Glamour! A marvellous history has this word of the artists and
poets,--sometimes meaning the charm with which the eye invests any
object; or, in Wordsworth's phrase, 'the light that never was on
land or sea.' But no artist or poet ever rose to the full height
of the simple term itself, which well illustrates Emerson's saying,
'Words are fossil poetry.' Professor Cowell of Cambridge says: 'Glám,
or in the nominative Glámr, is also a poetical name for the Moon. It
does not actually occur in the ancient literature, but it is given in
the glossary in the Prose Edda in the list of the very old words for
the Moon.' Vigfusson in his dictionary says, 'The word is interesting
on account of its identity with Scot. Glamour, which shows that the
tale of Glam was common to Scotland and Iceland, and this much older
than Grettir (in the year 1014).' The Ghost or Goblin Glam seems
evidently to have arisen from a personification of the delusive and
treacherous effects of moonlight on the benighted traveller,


        Quale per incertam lunam sub luce malignâ,
        Est iter in sylvis.


Now, there is a curious old Sanskrit word, glau or gláv, which is
explained in all the old native lexicons as meaning 'the moon.' It
might either be taken as 'waning,' or in a casual sense 'obscuring.'

The following lines from an early mediæval poet, Bhása (seventh
century), will illustrate the deceptive character of moonlight from
a Hindu point of view. The strong and wild Norse imagination delights
in what is terrible and gloomy: the Hindu loves to dwell on the milder
and quieter aspects of human life.

'The cat laps the moonbeams in the bowl of water, thinking them to
be milk: the elephant thinks that the moonbeams, threaded through
the intervals of the trees, are the fibres of the lotus-stalk. The
woman snatches at the moonbeams as they lie on the bed, taking them
for her muslin garment: oh, how the moon, intoxicated with radiance,
bewilders all the world!'

A similar passage, no doubt imitated from this, is also quoted:

'The bewildered herdsmen place the pails under the cows, thinking
that the milk is flowing; the maidens also put the blue lotus blossom
in their ears, thinking that it is the white; the mountaineer's wife
snatches up the jujube fruit, avaricious for pearls. Whose mind is
not led astray by the thickly clustering moonbeams?' [171]

In the Icelandic legend of the struggle between the hero Grettir,
translated by Magnússen and Morris (London, 1869), the saga
supplies a scenery as archæological as if the philologists had been
consulted. 'Bright moonlight was there without, and the drift was
broken, now drawn over the moon, now driven off from her; and even as
Glam fell, a cloud was driven from the moon, and Glam glared up against
her.' When the hero beheld these glaring eyes of the giant Ghost, he
felt some fiendish craft in them, and could not draw his short sword,
and 'lay well nigh 'twixt home and hell.' This half-light of the moon,
which robs the Strong of half his power, is repeated in Glam's curse:
'Exceedingly eager hast thou sought to meet me, Grettir, but no
wonder will it be deemed, though thou gettest no good hap of me;
and this I must tell thee, that thou now hast got half the strength
and manhood which was thy lot if thou hadst not met me: now I may
not take from thee the strength which thou hast got before this;
but that may I rule, that thou shalt never be mightier than now thou
art ... therefore this weird I lay on thee, ever in those days to
see these eyes with thine eyes, and thou wilt find it hard to be
alone--and that shalt drag thee unto death.'

The Moon-demon's power is limited to the spell of illusion he can
cast. Presently he is laid low; the 'short sword' of a sunbeam pales,
decapitates him. But after Glam is burned to cold coals, and his
ashes buried in skin of a beast 'where sheep-pastures were fewest,
or the ways of men,' the spell lay upon the hero's eyes. 'Grettir
said that his temper had been nowise bettered by this, that he was
worse to quiet than before, and that he deemed all trouble worse than
it was; but that herein he found the greatest change, in that he was
become so fearsome a man in the dark, that he durst go nowhither alone
after nightfall, for then he seemed to see all kinds of horrors. And
that has fallen since into a proverb, that Glam lends eyes, or gives
Glamsight to those who see things nowise as they are.'

In reading which one may wonder how this world would look if for
a little moment one's eyes could be purged of glamour. Even at the
moon's self one tries vainly to look: where Hindu and Zulu see a hare,
the Arab sees coils of a serpent, and the Englishman sees a man; and
the most intelligent of these several races will find it hard to see in
the moon aught save what their primitive ancestors saw. And this small
hint of the degree to which the wisest, like Merlin, are bound fast
in an air-prison by a Vivien whose spells are spun from themselves,
would carry us far could we only venture to follow it out. 'The Moon,'
observed Dr. Johnson unconsciously, 'has great influence in vulgar
philosophy.' How much lunar theology have we around us, so that
many from the cradle to the grave get no clear sight of nature or of
themselves! Very closely did Carlyle come to the fable of Glam when
speaking of Coleridge's 'prophetic moonshine,' and its effect on poor
John Sterling. 'If the bottled moonshine beactually substance? Ah,
could one but believe in a church while finding it incredible!... The
bereaved young lady has taken the veil then!... To such lengths can
transcendental moonshine, cast by some morbidly radiating Coleridge
into the chaos of a fermenting life, act magically there, and produce
divulsions and convulsions and diseased developments.' One can almost
fancy Carlyle had ringing in his memory the old Scottish ballad of
the Rev. Robert Kirk, translator of the Psalms into Gaelic, who,
while walking in his night-gown at Aberfoyle, was 'snatched away to
the joyless Elfin bower.'


            It was between the night and day
            When the fairy-king has power.


The item of the night-gown might have already prepared us for the
couplet; and it has perhaps even a mystical connection with the
vestment of the 'black dragoon' which Sterling once saw patrolling
in every parish, to whom, however, he surrendered at last.

A story is told of a man wandering on a dark night over Dartmoor,
whose feet slipped over the edge of a pit. He caught the branch of
a tree suspended over the terrible chasm, but unable to regain the
ground, shrieked for help. None came, though he cried out till his
voice was gone; and there he remained dangling in agony until the grey
light revealed that his feet were only a few inches from the solid
ground. Such are the chief demons that bind man till cockcrow. Such are
the apprehensions that waste also the moral and intellectual strength
of man, and murder his peace as he regards the necessary science of his
time to be cutting some frail tenure sustaining him over a bottomless
pit, instead of a release from real terror to the solid ground.



CHAPTER XI.

DISEASE.

    The Plague Phantom--Devil-dances--Destroying Angels--Ahriman in
    Astrology---Saturn--Satan and Job--Set--The Fatal Seven--Yakseyo
    --The Singhalese Pretraya--Reeri--Maha Sohon--Morotoo--Luther on
    Disease-demons--Gopolu--Madan--Cattle-demon in Russia--Bihlweisen
    --The Plough.


A familiar fable in the East tells of one who met a fearful phantom,
which in reply to his questioning answered--'I am Plague: I have come
from yon city where ten thousand lie dead: one thousand were slain by
me, the rest by Fear.' Perhaps even this story does not fully report
the alliance between the plague and fear; for it is hardly doubtful
that epidemics retain their power in the East largely because they have
gained personification through fear as demons whose fatal power man
can neither prevent nor cure, before which he can only cower and pray.

In the missionary school at Canterbury the young men prepare themselves
to help the 'heathen' medically, and so they go forth with materia
medica in one hand, and in the other an infallible revelation from
heaven reporting plagues as the inflictions of Jehovah, or the
destroying angel, or Satan, and the healing of disease the jealously
reserved monopoly of God. [172]

The demonisation of diseases is not wonderful. To thoughtful
minds not even science has dispelled the mystery which surrounds
many of the ailments that afflict mankind, especially the normal
diseases besetting children, hereditary complaints, and the strange
liabilities to infection and contagion. A genuine, however partial,
observation would suggest to primitive man some connection between
the symptoms of many diseases and the mysterious universe of which he
could not yet recognise himself an epitome. There were indications
that certain troubles of this kind were related to the seasons,
consequently to the celestial rulers of the seasons,--to the sun
that smote by day, and the moon at night. Professor Monier Williams,
describing the Devil-dances of Southern India, says that there seems
to be an idea among them that when pestilences are rife exceptional
measures must be taken to draw off the malignant spirits, supposed
to cause them, by tempting them to enter into these wild dancers,
and so become dissipated. He witnessed in Ceylon a dance performed by
three men who personated the forms and phases of typhus fever. [173]
These dances probably belong to the same class of ideas as those of
the dervishes in Persia, whose manifold contortions are supposed
to repeat the movements of planets. They are invocations of the
souls of good stars, and propitiations of such as are evil. Belief
in such stellar and planetary influences has pervaded every part of
the world, and gave rise to astrological dances. 'Gebelin says that
the minuet was the danse oblique of the ancient priests of Apollo,
performed in their temples. The diagonal line and the two parallels
described in this dance were intended to be symbolical of the zodiac,
and the twelve steps of which it is composed were meant for the twelve
signs and the months of the year. The dance round the Maypole and the
Cotillon has the same origin. Diodorus tells us that Apollo was adored
with dances, and in the island of Iona the god danced all night. The
Christians of St. Thomas till a very late day celebrated their worship
with dances and songs. Calmet says there were dancing-girls in the
temple at Jerusalem.' [174]

The influence of the Moon upon tides, the sleeplessness it causes,
the restlessness of the insane under its occasional light, and such
treacheries of moonshine as we have already considered, have populated
our uninhabited satellite with demons. Lunar legends have decorated
some well-founded suspicions of moonlight. The mother draws the
curtain between the moonshine and her little Endymion, though not
because she sees in the waning moon a pining Selene whose kiss may
waste away the beauty of youth. A mere survival is the 'bowing to
the new moon:' a euphonism traceable to many myths about 'lunacy,'
among them, as I think, to Delilah ('languishing'), in whose lap
the solar Samson is shorn of his locks, leaving him only the blind
destructive strength of the 'moonstruck.'

In the purely Semitic theories of the Jews we find diseases ascribed
to the wrath of Jehovah, and their cure to his merciful mood. 'Jehovah
will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed; ... he
will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt whereof thou wast
afraid.' [175] The emerods which smote the worshippers of Dagon were
ascribed directly to the hand of Jehovah. [176] In that vague degree
of natural dualistic development which preceded the full Iranian
influence upon the Jews, the infliction of diseases was delegated to
an angel of Jehovah, as in the narratives of smiting the firstborn
of Egypt, wasting the army of Sennacherib, and the pestilence sent
upon Israel for David's sin. In the progress of this angel to be
a demon of disease we find a phase of ambiguity, as shown in the
hypochondria of Saul. 'The spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul,
and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.' [177]

All such ambiguities disappeared under the influence of Iranian
dualism. In the Book of Job we find the infliction of diseases and
plagues completely transferred to a powerful spirit, a fully formed
opposing potentate. The 'sons of God,' who in the first chapter
of Job are said to have presented themselves before Jehovah, may
be identified in the thirty-eighth as the stars which shouted for
joy at the creation. Satan is the wandering or malign planet which
leads in the Ahrimanic side of the Persian planisphere. In the
cosmographical theology of that country Ormuzd was to reign for
six thousand years, and then Ahriman was to reign for a similar
period. The moral associations of this speculation are discussed
elsewhere; it is necessary here only to point out the bearing of the
planispheric conception upon the ills that flesh is heir to. Ahriman
is the 'star-serpent' of the Zendavasta. 'When the pâris rendered
this world desolate, and overran the universe; when the star-serpent
made a path for himself between heaven and earth,' &c.; 'when Ahriman
rambles on the earth, let him who takes the form of a serpent glide
on the earth; let him who takes the form of the wolf run on the earth,
and let the violent north wind bring weakness.' [178]

The dawn of Ormuzd corresponds with April. The sun returns from
winter's death by sign of the lamb (our Aries), and thenceforth
every month corresponds with a thousand years of the reign of the
Beneficent. September is denoted by the Virgin and Child. To the dark
domain of Ahriman the prefecture of the universe passes by Libra,--the
same balances which appear in the hand of Satan. The star-serpent
prevails over the Virgin and Child. Then follow the months of the
scorpion, the centaur, goat, &c., every month corresponding to a
thousand years of the reign of Ahriman.

While this scheme corresponds in one direction with the demons of
cold, and in another with the entrance and reign of moral evil in
the world, beginnings of disease on earth were also ascribed to this
seventh thousand of years when the Golden Age had passed. The depth of
winter is reached in domicile of the goat, or of Sirius, Seth, Saturn,
Satan--according to the many variants. And these, under their several
names, make the great 'infortune' of astrology, wherein old Culpepper
amply instructed our fathers. 'In the general, consider that Saturn
is an old worn-out planet, weary, and of little estimation in this
world; he causeth long and tedious sicknesses, abundance of sadness,
and a Cartload of doubts and fears; his nature is cold, and dry,
and melancholy. And take special notice of this, that when Saturn is
Lord of an Eclipse (as he is one of the Lords of this), he governs all
the rest of the planets, but none can govern him. Melancholy is made
of all the humors in the body of man, but no humor of melancholy. He
is envious, and keeps his anger long, and speaks but few words, but
when he speaks he speaks to purpose. A man of deep cogitations; he
will plot mischief when men are asleep; he hath an admirable memory,
and remembers to this day how William the Bastard abused him; he
cannot endure to be a slave; he is poor with the poor, fearful with
the fearful; he plots mischief against the Superiours, with them that
plot mischief against them; have a care of him, Kings and Magistrates
of Europe; he will show you what he can do in the effects of this
Eclipse; he is old, and therefore hath large experience, and will
give perilous counsel; he moves but slowly, and therefore doth the
more mischief; all the planets contribute their natures and strength
to him, and when he sets on doing mischief he will do it to purpose;
he doth not regard the company of the rest of the Planets, neither
do any of the rest of the Planets regard his; he is a barren Planet,
and therefore delights not in women; he brings the Pestilence; he is
destructive to the fruits of the earth; he receives his light from
the Sun, and yet he hates the Sun that gives it him.' [179]

Many ages anterior to this began in India the dread of Ketu,
astronomically the ninth planet, mythologically the tail of the
demon Rahu, cut in twain as already told (p. 46), supposed to be
the prolific source of comets, meteors, and falling stars, also of
diseases. From this Ketu or dragon's tail were born the Arunah Ketavah
(Red Ketus or apparitions), and Ketu has become almost another word
for disease. [180]

Strongly influenced as were the Jews by the exact division of the
duodecimal period between Good and Evil, affirmed by the Persians,
they never lost sight of the ultimate supremacy of Jehovah. Though
Satan had gradually become a voluntary genius of evil, he still had
to receive permission to afflict, as in the case of Job, and during
the lifetime of Paul appears to have been still denied that 'power of
death' which is first asserted by the unknown author of the Epistle
to the Hebrews. [181] Satan's especial office was regarded as the
infliction of disease. Paul delivers the incestuous Corinthian to
Satan 'for the destruction of the flesh,' and he also attributed the
sickness and death of many to their communicating unworthily. [182]
He also recognises his own 'thorn in the flesh' as 'an angel from
Satan,' though meant for his moral advantage. [183]

A penitential Psalm (Assyrian) reads as follows:--

O my Lord! my sins are many, my trespasses are great; and the wrath
of the gods has plagued me with disease, and with sickness and sorrow.


    I fainted, but no one stretched forth his hand!
    I groaned, but no one drew nigh!
    I cried aloud, but no one heard!
    O Lord, do not abandon thy servant!
    In the waters of the great storm seize his hand!
    The sins which he has committed turn them to righteousness. [184]


This Psalm would hardly be out of place in the English burial-service,
which deplores death as a visitation of divine wrath. Wherever such
an idea prevails, the natural outcome of it is a belief in demons of
disease. In ancient Egypt--following the belief in Ra the Sun, from
whose eyes all pleasing things proceeded, and Set, from whose eyes came
all noxious things,--from the baleful light of Set's eyes were born the
Seven Hathors, or Fates, whose names are recorded in the Book of the
Dead. Mr. Fox Talbot has translated 'the Song of the Seven Spirits:'--


    They are seven! they are seven!
    In the depths of ocean they are seven!
    In the heights of heaven they are seven!
    In the ocean-stream in a palace they were born!
    Male they are not: female they are not!
    Wives they have not: children are not born to them!
    Rule they have not: government they know not!
    Prayers they hear not!
    They are seven! they are seven! twice over they are seven! [185]


These demons have a way of herding together; the Assyrian tablets
abundantly show that their occupation was manifested by diseases,
physical and mental. One prescription runs thus:--


    The god (...) shall stand by his bedside:
    Those seven evil spirits he shall root out, and shall expel them
                                                          from his body:
    And those seven shall never return to the sick man again!


It is hardly doubtful that these were the seven said to have been
cast out of Mary Magdalen; for their father Set is Shedîm (devils)
of Deut. xxxii. 17, and Shaddai (God) of Gen. xvi. 1. But the fatal
Seven turn to the seven fruits that charm away evil influences at
parturition in Persia, also the Seven Wise Women of the same country
traditionally present on holy occasions. When Ardá Viráf was sent
to Paradise by a sacred narcotic to obtain intelligence of the true
faith, seven fires were kept burning for seven days around him,
and the seven wise women chanted hymns of the Avesta. [186]

The entrance of the seven evil powers into a dwelling was believed by
the Assyrians to be preventible by setting in the doorway small images,
such as those of the sun-god (Hea) and the moon-goddess, but especially
of Marduk, corresponding to Serapis the Egyptian Esculapius. These
powers were reinforced by writing holy texts over and on each side
of the threshold. 'In the night time bind around the sick man's head
a sentence taken from a good book.' The phylacteries of the Jews were
originally worn for the same purpose. They were called Tefila, and were
related to teraphim, the little idols [187] used by the Jews to keep
out demons--such as those of Laban, which his daughter Rachel stole.

The resemblance of teraphim to the Tarasca (connected by some with
G. teras, a monster) of Spain may be noted,--the serpent figures
carried about in Corpus Christi processions. The latter word is
known in the south of France also, and gave its name to the town
Tarascon. The legend is that an amphibious monster haunted the Rhone,
preventing navigation and committing terrible ravages, until sixteen
of the boldest inhabitants of the district resolved to encounter
it. Eight lost their lives, but the others, having destroyed the
monster, founded the town of Tarascon, where the 'Fête de la tarasque'
is still kept up. [188] Calmet, Sedley, and others, however, believe
that teraphim is merely a modification of seraphim, and the Tefila,
or phylacteries, of the same origin.

The phylactery was tied into a knot. Justin Martyr says that the
Jewish exorcists used 'magic ties or knots.' The origin of this
custom among the Jews and Babylonians may be found in the Assyrian
Talismans preserved in the British Museum, of which the following
has been translated by Mr. Fox Talbot:--


Hea says: Go, my son!
Take a woman's kerchief,
Bind it round thy right hand, loose it from the left hand!
Knot it with seven knots: do so twice:
Sprinkle it with bright wine:
Bind it round the head of the sick man:
Bind it round his hands and feet, like manacles and fetters.
Sit down on his bed:
Sprinkle holy water over him.
He shall hear the voice of Hea,
Darkness shall protect him!
And Marduk, eldest son of Heaven, shall find him a happy
habitation. [189]


The number seven holds an equally high degree of potency in Singhalese
demonolatry, which is mainly occupied with diseases. The Capuas or
conjurors of that island enumerate 240,000 magic spells, of which all
except one are for evil, which implies a tolerably large preponderance
of the emergencies in which their countervailing efforts are required
by their neighbours. That of course can be easily appreciated by
those who have been taught that all human beings are included under a
primal curse. The words of Micah, 'Thou wilt cast all their sins into
the depths of the sea,' [190] are recalled by the legend of these
evil spells of Ceylon. The king of Oude came to marry one of seven
princesses, all possessing præternatural powers, and questioned each
as to her art. Each declared her skill in doing harm, except one who
asserted her power to heal all ills which the others could inflict. The
king having chosen this one as his bride, the rest were angry, and
for revenge collected all the charms in the world, enclosed them in a
pumpkin--the only thing that can contain spells without being reduced
to ashes--and sent this infernal machine to their sister. It would
consume everything for sixteen hundred miles round; but the messenger
dropped it in the sea. A god picked it up and presented it to the King
of Ceylon, and these, with the healing charm known to his own Queen,
make the 240,000 spells known to the Capuas of that island, who have
no doubt deified the rescuer of the spells on the same principle that
inspires some seaside populations to worship Providence more devoutly
on the Sunday after a valuable wreck in their neighbourhood.

The astrological origin of the evils ascribed to the Yakseyo (Demons)
of Ceylon, and the horoscope which is a necessary preliminary to
any dealing with their influences; the constant recurrence of the
number seven, denoting origin with races holding the seven-planet
theories of the universe; and the fact that all demons are said, on
every Saturday evening, to attend an assemblage called Yaksa Sabawa
(Witches' Sabbath), are facts that may well engage the attention
of Comparative Mythologists. [191] In Dardistan the evil spirits are
called Yatsh; they dwell 'in the regions of snow,' and the overthrow of
their reign over the country is celebrated at the new moon of Daykio,
the month preceding winter.

The largest proportion of the Disease Demons of Ceylon are descended
from its Hunger Demons. The Preta there is much the same phantom
as in Siam, only they are not quite so tall. [192] They range from
two to four hundred feet in height, and are so numerous that a Pali
Buddhist book exhorts people not to throw stones, lest they should
harm one of these harmless starveling ghosts, who die many times
of hunger, and revive to suffer on in expiation of their sins in a
previous existence. They are harmless in one sense, but filthy; and
bad smells are personified in them. The great mass of demons resemble
the Pretraya, in that their king (Wessamony) has forbidden them to
satisfy themselves directly upon their victims, but by inflicting
diseases they are supposed to receive an imaginative satisfaction
somewhat like that of eating people.

Reeri is the Demon of Blood-disease. His form is that of a man with
face of a monkey; he is fiery red, rides on a red bull, and all
hemorrhages and diseases of the blood are attributed to him. Reeri
has eighteen different disguises or avatars. One of these recalls his
earlier position as a demon of death, before Vishnu revealed to Capuas
the means of binding him: he is now supposed to be present at every
death-bed in the form of a delighted pigmy, one span and six inches
high. On such occasions he bears a cock in one hand, a club in the
other, and in his mouth a corpse. In the same country Maha Sohon is the
'great graveyard demon.' He resides in a hill where he is supposed to
surround himself with carcases. He is 122 feet high, has four hands
and three eyes, and a red skin. He has the head of a bear; the legend
being that while quarrelling with another giant his head was knocked
off, and the god Senasura was gracious enough to tear off the head
of a bear and clap it on the decapitated giant. His capua threatens
him with a repetition of this catastrophe if he does not spare any
threatened victim who has called in his priestly aid. Except for this
timidity about his head, Maha is formidable, being chief of 30,000
demons. But curiously enough he is said to choose for his steeds the
more innocent animals,--goat, deer, horse, elephant, and hog.

One of the demons most dreaded in Ceylon is the 'Foreign Demon'
Morotoo, said to have come from the coast of Malabar, and from
his residence in a tree disseminated diseases which could not be
cured until, the queen being afflicted, one capua was found able
to master him. Seven-eighths of the charms used in restraining the
disease-demons of Ceylon, of which I have mentioned but a few, are
in the Tamil tongue. In various parts of India are found very nearly
the same systematic demonolatry and 'devil-dancing;' for example in
Travancore, to whose superstitions of this character the Rev. Samuel
Mateer has devoted two chapters in his work 'The Land of Charity.'

The great demon of diseases in Ceylon is entitled Maha Cola Sanni
Yakseya. His father, a king, ordered his queen to be put to death in
the belief that she had been faithless to him. Her body was to be cut
in two pieces, one of which was to be hung upon a tree (Ukberiya),
the other to be thrown at its foot to the dogs. The queen before
her execution said, 'If this charge be false, may the child in my
womb be born this instant a demon, and may that demon destroy the
whole of this city and its unjust king.' So soon as the executioners
had finished their work, the two severed parts of the queen's body
reunited, a child was born who completely devoured his mother,
and then repaired to the graveyard (Sohon), where for a time he
fattened on corpses. Then he proceeded to inflict mortal diseases
upon the city, and had nearly depopulated it when the gods Iswara
and Sekkra interfered, descending to subdue him in the disguise of
mendicants. Possibly the great Maha Sohon mentioned above, and the
Sohon (graveyard) from which Sanni dealt out deadliness, may be best
understood by the statement of the learned writer from whom these facts
are quoted, that, 'excepting the Buddhist priests, and the aristocrats
of the land, whose bodies were burnt in regular funeral-piles after
death, the corpses of the rest of the people were neither burned nor
buried, but thrown into a place called Sohona, which was an open piece
of ground in the jungle, generally a hollow among the hills, at the
distance of three or four miles from any inhabited place, where they
were left in the open air to be decomposed or devoured by dogs and
wild beasts.' [193] There would appear to be even more ground for
the dread of the Great Graveyard Demon in many parts of Christendom,
where, through desire to preserve corpses for a happy resurrection,
they are made to steal through the water-veins of the earth, and find
their resurrection as fell diseases. Iswara and Sekkra were probably
two reformers who persuaded the citizens to bury the poor deep in
the earth; had they been wise enough to place the dead where nature
would give them speedy resurrection and life in grass and flowers,
it would not have been further recorded that 'they ordered him (the
demon) to abstain from eating men, but gave him Wurrun or permission
to inflict disease on mankind, and to obtain offerings.' This is very
much the same as the privilege given our Western funeral agencies and
cemeteries also; and when the Modliar adds that Sanni 'has eighteen
principal attendants,' one can hardly help thinking of the mummers,
gravediggers, chaplains, all engaged unconsciously in the work of
making the earth less habitable.

The first of the attendants of this formidable avenger of his mother's
wrongs is named Bhoota Sanni Yakseya, Demon of Madness. The whole
demonolatry and devil-dancing of that island are so insane that one is
not surprised that this Bhoota had but little special development. It
is amid clear senses we might naturally look for full horror of
madness, and there indeed do we find it. One of the most horrible
forms of the disease-demon was the personification of madness among
the Greeks, as Mania. [194] In the Hercules Furens of Euripides,
where Madness, 'the unwedded daughter of black Night,' and sprung of
'the blood of Coelus,' is evoked from Tartarus for the express purpose
of imbreeding in Hercules 'child-slaying disturbances of reason,'
there is a suggestion of the hereditary nature of insanity. Obedient
to the vindictive order of Juno, 'in her chariot hath gone forth the
marble-visaged, all-mournful Madness, the Gorgon of Night, and with
the hissing of hundred heads of snakes, she gives the goad to her
chariot, on mischief bent.' We may plainly see that the religion
which embodied such a form was itself ending in madness. Already
ancient were the words mantikê (prophecy) and manikê (madness) when
Plato cited their identity to prove one kind of madness the special
gift of Heaven: [195] the notion lingers in Dryden's line, 'Great
wits to madness sure are near allied;' and survive in regions where
deference is paid to lunatics and idiots. Other diseases preserve in
their names indications of similar association: e.g., Nympholepsy,
St. Vitus's Dance, St. Anthony's Fire. Wesley attributes still epilepsy
to 'possession.' This was in pursuance of ancient beliefs. Typhus, a
name anciently given to every malady accompanied with stupor (typhos),
seemed the breath of feverish Typhon. Max Müller connects the word
quinsy with Sanskrit amh, 'to throttle,' and Ahi the throttling
serpent, its medium being angina; and this again is kynanchê,
dog-throttling, the Greek for quinsy. [196]

The genius of William Blake, steeped in Hebraism, never showed
greater power than in his picture of Plague. A gigantic hideous form,
pale-green, with the slime of stagnant pools, reeking with vegetable
decays and gangrene, the face livid with the motley tints of pallor
and putrescence, strides onward with extended arms like a sower sowing
his seeds, only in this case the germs of his horrible harvest are not
cast from the hands, but emanate from the fingers as being of their
essence. Such, to the savage mind, was the embodiment of malaria,
sultriness, rottenness, the putrid Pretraya, invisible, but smelt
and felt. Such, to the ignorant imagination, is the Destroying Angel
to which rationalistic artists and poets have tried to add wings
and majesty; but which in the popular mind was no doubt pictured
more like this form found at Ostia (fig. 16), and now passing in
the Vatican for a Satan,--probably a demon of the Pontine Marshes,
and of the fever that still has victims of its fatal cup (p. 291). In
these fearful forms the poor savage believed with such an intensity
that he was able to shape the brain of man to his phantasy; bringing
about the anomaly that the great reformer, Luther, should affirm,
even while fighting superstition, that a Christian ought to know
that he lives in the midst of devils, and that the devil is nearer
to him than his coat or his shirt. The devils, he tells us, are
all around us, and are at every moment seeking to ensnare our lives,
salvation, and happiness. There are many of them in the woods, waters,
deserts, and in damp muddy places, for the purpose of doing folk a
mischief. They also house in the dense black clouds, and send storms,
hail, thunder and lightning, and poison the air with their infernal
stench. In one place, Luther tells us that the devil has more vessels
and boxes full of poison, with which he kills people, than all the
apothecaries in the whole world. He sends all plagues and diseases
among men. We may be sure that when any one dies of the pestilence,
is drowned, or drops suddenly dead, the devil does it.

Knowing nothing of Zoology, the primitive man easily falls into the
belief that his cattle--the means of life--may be the subjects of
sorcery. Jesus sending devils into a herd of swine may have become
by artificial process a divine benefactor in the eye of Christendom,
but the myth makes Him bear an exact resemblance to the dangerous
sorcerer that fills the savage mind with dread. It is probable that the
covetous eye denounced in the decalogue means the evil eye, which was
supposed to blight an object intensely desired but not to be obtained.

Gopolu, already referred to (p. 136) as the Singhalese demon of
hydrophobia, bears the general name of the 'Cattle Demon.' He
is said to have been the twin of the demigod Mangara by a queen
on the Coromandel coast. The mother died, and a cow suckled the
twins, but afterwards they quarrelled, and Gopolu being slain was
transformed into a demon. He repaired to Arangodde, and fixed his
abode in a Banyan where there is a large bee-hive, whence proceed
many evils. The population around this Banyan for many miles being
prostrated by diseases, the demigod Mangara and Pattini (goddess of
chastity) admonished the villagers to sacrifice a cow regularly,
and thus they were all resuscitated. Gopolu now sends all cattle
diseases. India is full of the like superstitions. The people of
Travancore especially dread the demon Madan, 'he who is like a cow,'
believed to strike oxen with sudden illness,--sometimes men also.

In Russia we find superstition sometimes modified by common
sense. Though the peasant hopes that Zegory (St. George) will defend
his cattle, he begins to see the chief foes of his cattle. As in
the folk-song--


            We have gone around the field,
            We have called Zegory....
            O thou, our brave Zegory,
            Save our cattle,
            In the field and beyond the field,
            In the forest and beyond the forest,
            Under the bright moon,
            Under the red sun,
            From the rapacious wolf,
            From the cruel bear,
            From the cunning beast. [197]


Nevertheless when a cattle plague occurs many villages relapse into a
normally extinct state of mind. Thus, a few years ago, in a village
near Moscow, all the women, having warned the men away, stripped
themselves entirely naked and drew a plough so as to make a furrow
entirely around the village. At the point of juncture in this circle
they buried alive a cock, a cat, and a dog. Then they filled the
air with lamentations, crying--'Cattle Plague! Cattle Plague! spare
our cattle! Behold, we offer thee cock, cat, and dog!' The dog is
a demonic character in Russia, while the cat is sacred; for once
when the devil tried to get into Paradise in the form of a mouse,
the dog allowed him to pass, but the cat pounced on him--the two
animals being set on guard at the door. The offering of both seems to
represent a desire to conciliate both sides. The nudity of the women
may have been to represent to the hungry gods their utter poverty,
and inability to give more; but it was told me in Moscow, where I
happened to be staying at the time, that it would be dangerous for
any man to draw near during the performance.

In Altmark [198] the demons who bewitch cattle are called 'Bihlweisen,'
and are believed to bury certain diabolical charms under thresholds
over which the animals are to pass, causing them to wither away, the
milk to cease, etc. The prevention is to wash the cattle with a lotion
of sea cabbage boiled with infusion of wine. In the same province it
is related that once there appeared in a harvest-field at one time
fifteen, at another twelve men (apparently), the latter headless.
They all laboured with scythes, but though the rustling could be
heard no grain fell. When questioned they said nothing, and when
the people tried to seize them they ran away, cutting fruitlessly as
they ran. The priests found in this a presage of the coming cattle
plague. The Russian superstition of the plough, above mentioned, is
found in fragmentary survivals in Altmark. Thus, it is said that to
plough around a village and then sit under the plough (placed upright),
will enable any one to see the witches; and in some villages, some
bit of a plough is hung up over a doorway through which cattle pass,
as no devil can then approach them. The demons have a natural horror
of honest work, and especially the culture of the earth. Goethe,
as we have seen, notes their fear of roses: perhaps he remembered
the legend of Aspasia, who, being disfigured by a tumour on the chin,
was warned by a dove-maiden to dismiss her physicians and try a rose
from the garland of Venus; so she recovered health and beauty.



CHAPTER XII.

DEATH.

    The Vendetta of Death--Teoyaomiqui--Demon of Serpents--Death on
    the Pale Horse--Kali--War-gods--Satan as Death--Death-beds--
    Thanatos--Yama--Yimi--Towers of Silence--Alcestis--Hercules,
    Christ, and Death--Hel--Salt--Azraël--Death and the Cobbler--
    Dance of Death--Death as Foe, and as Friend.


Savage races believe that no man dies except by sorcery. Therefore
every death must be avenged. The Actas of the Philippines regard the
'Indians' as the cause of the deaths among them; and when one of them
loses a relative, he lurks and watches until he has spied an 'Indian'
and killed him. [199] It is a progress from this when primitive man
advances to the belief that the fatal sorcerer is an invisible man--a
demon. When this doctrine is taught in the form of a belief that death
entered the world through the machinations of Satan, and was not in the
original scheme of creation, it is civilised; but when it is inculcated
under a set of African or other non-christian names, it is barbarian.

The following sketch, by Mr. Gideon Lang, will show the intensity of
this conviction among the natives of New South Wales:--

'While at Nanima I constantly saw one of these, named Jemmy, a
remarkably fine man, about twenty-eight years of age, who was the
'model Christian' of the missionaries, and who had been over and
over again described in their reports as a living proof that, taken
in infancy, the natives were as capable of being truly christianised
as a people who had had eighteen centuries of civilisation. I confess
that I strongly doubted, but still there was no disputing the apparent
facts. Jemmy was not only familiar with the Bible, which he could
read remarkably well, but he was even better acquainted with the more
abstruse tenets of christianity; and so far as the whites could see,
his behaviour was in accordance with his religious acquirements. One
Sunday morning I walked down to the black fellows' camp, to have
a talk with Jemmy, as usual. I found him sitting in his gunyah,
overlooking a valley of the Macquarrie, whose waters glanced brightly
in the sunshine of the delicious spring morning. He was sitting in a
state of nudity, excepting his waistcloth, very earnestly reading the
Bible, which indeed was his constant practice; and I could see that
he was perusing the Sermon on the Mount. I seated myself, and waited
till he concluded the chapter, when he laid down the Bible, folded
his hands, and sat with his eyes fixed abstractedly on his fire. I
bade him 'good morning,' which he acknowledged without looking up. I
then said, 'Jemmy, what is the meaning of your spears being stuck
in a circle round you?' He looked me steadily in the eyes, and said
solemnly and with suppressed fierceness, 'Mother's dead!' I said that
I was very sorry to hear it; 'but what had her death to do with the
spears being stuck around so?' 'Bogan black-fellow killed her!' was
the fierce and gloomy reply. 'Killed by a Bogan black!' I exclaimed:
'why, your mother has been dying a fortnight, and Dr. Curtis did not
expect her to outlive last night, which you know as well as I do.' His
only reply was a dogged repetition of the words: 'A Bogan black-fellow
killed her!' I appealed to him as a Christian--to the Sermon on the
Mount, that he had just been reading; but he absolutely refused to
promise that he would not avenge his mother's death. In the afternoon
of that day we were startled by a yell which can never be mistaken by
any person who has once heard the wild war-whoop of the blacks when
in battle array. On marching out we saw all the black fellows of the
neighbourhood formed into a line, and following Jemmy in an imaginary
attack upon an enemy. Jemmy himself disappeared that evening. On the
following Wednesday morning I found him sitting complacently in his
gunyah, plaiting a rope of human hair, which I at once knew to be that
of his victim. Neither of us spoke; I stood for some time watching him
as he worked with a look of mocking defiance of the anger he knew I
felt. I pointed to a hole in the middle of his fire, and said, 'Jemmy,
the proper place for your Bible is there.' He looked up with his eyes
flashing as I turned away, and I never saw him again. I afterwards
learned that he had gone to the district of the Bogan tribe, where
the first black he met happened to be an old friend and companion of
his own. This man had just made the first cut in the bark of a tree,
which he was about to climb for an opossum; but on hearing footsteps
he leaped down and faced round, as all blacks do, and whites also,
when blacks are in question. Seeing that it was only Jemmy, however,
he resumed his occupation, but had no sooner set to work than Jemmy
sent a spear through his back and nailed him to the tree. [200]

Perhaps if Jemmy could have been cross-examined by the non-missionary
mind, he might have replied with some effect to Mr. Lang's suggestion
that he ought to part with his Bible. Surely he must have found
in that volume a sufficient number of instances to justify his
faith in the power of demons over human health and life. Might he
not have pondered the command, 'thou shalt not suffer a witch to
live,' and imagined that he was impaling another Manasseh, who 'used
enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit,
and with wizards (and) wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord to
provoke Him to anger.' [201] Those who hope that the Bible may carry
light into the dark places of superstition and habitations of cruelty
might, one would say, reflect upon the long contest which European
science had with bibliolators in trying to relieve the popular mind
from the terrors of witchcraft, whose genuineness it was (justly)
declared contrary to the Scriptures to deny. There are districts in
Great Britain and America, and many more on the continent of Europe,
where the spells that waste and destroy are still believed in; where
effigies of wax or even onions are labelled with some hated name,
and stuck over with pins, and set near fires to be melted or dried
up, in full belief that some subject of the charm will be consumed by
disease along with the object used. Under every roof where such coarse
superstitions dwell the Bible dwells beside them, and experience proves
that the infallibility of all such talismans diminishes pari passu.

What the savage is really trying to slay when he goes forth to avenge
his relative's death on the first alien he finds may be seen in the
accompanying figure (17), which represents the Mexican goddess of
death--Teoyaomiqui. The image is nine feet high, and is kept in
a museum in the city of Mexico. Mr. Edward B. Tylor, from whose
excellent book of travels in that country the figure is copied,
says of it:--'The stone known as the statue of the war-goddess is a
huge block of basalt covered with sculptures. The antiquaries think
that the figures on it stand for different personages, and that it is
three gods--Huitzilopochtli, the god of war; Teoyaomiqui, his wife; and
Mictlanteuctli, the god of hell. It has necklaces of alternate hearts
and dead men's hands, with death's heads for a central ornament. At the
bottom of the block is a strange sprawling figure, which one cannot
see now, for it is the base which rests on the ground; but there are
two shoulders projecting from the idol, which show plainly that it
did not stand on the ground, but was supported aloft on the tops of
two pillars. The figure carved upon the bottom represents a monster
holding a skull in each hand, while others hang from his knees and
elbows. His mouth is a mere oval ring, a common feature of Mexican
idols, and four tusks project just above it. The new moon laid down
like a bridge forms his forehead, and a star is placed on each side
of it. This is thought to have been the conventional representation
of Mictlanteuctli (Lord of the Land of the Dead), the god of hell,
which was a place of utter and eternal darkness. Probably each victim
as he was led to the altar could look up between the two pillars and
see the hideous god of hell staring down upon him from above. There is
little doubt that this is the famous war-idol which stood on the great
teocalli of Mexico, and before which so many thousands of human beings
were sacrificed. It lay undisturbed under ground in the great square,
close to the very site of the teocalli, until sixty years ago. For
many years after that it was kept buried, lest the sight of one of
their old deities might be too exciting for the Indians, who, as I
have mentioned before, had certainly not forgotten it, and secretly
ornamented it with garlands of flowers while it remained above ground.'

If my reader will now turn to the (fig. 11) portrait of the Demon
of Serpents, he will find a conception fundamentally similar to
the Mexican demoness of death or slaughter, but one that is not
shut up in a museum of antiquities; it still haunts and terrifies a
vast number of the people born in Ceylon. He is the principal demon
invoked in Ceylon by the malignant sorcerers in performing the 84,000
different charms that afflict evils (Hooniyan). His general title is
Oddy Cumara Hooniyan Dewatawa; but he has a special name for each of
his six several apparitions, the chief of these being Cali Oddisey,
or demon of incurable diseases, therefore of death, and Naga Oddisey,
demon of serpents--deadliest of animals. Beneath him is the Pale Horse
which has had its career so long and far,--even to the White Mare on
which, in some regions, Christ is believed to revisit the earth every
Christmas; and also the White Mare of Yorkshire Folklore which bore
its rider from Whitestone Cliff to hell. This Singhalese form also,
albeit now associated by Capuas with fatal disease, was probably at
first, like the Mexican, a war goddess and god combined, as is shown
by the uplifted sword, and reeking hand uplifted in triumph. Equally
a god of war is our 'Death on the Pale Horse,' which christian art,
following the so-called Apocalypse, has made so familiar. 'I looked,
and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and
Hell followed with him. And power was given to him over the fourth
part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death,
and with the beasts of the earth.' This is but a travesty of the Greek
Ares, the Roman Mars, or god of War. In the original Greek-form Ares
was not solely the god of war, but of destruction generally. In the
OEdipus Tyrannus of Sophocles we have the popular conception of him
as one to whom the deadly plague is ascribed. He is named as the
'god unhonoured among gods,' and it is said:--'The city is wildly
tossing, and no more can lift up her head from the waves of death;
withering the ripening grain in the husks, withering the kine in their
pastures; blighted are the babes through the failing labours of women;
the fire-bearing god, horrid Pestilence, having darted down, ravages
the city; by him the house of Cadmus is empty, and dark Hades enriched
with groans and lamentations.'

Mother of the deadliest 'Calas' of Singhalese demonolatry, sister of
the Scandinavian Hel in name and nature, is Kali. Although the Hindu
writers repudiate the idea that there is any devil among their three
hundred and thirty millions of deities, it is difficult to deny Kali
that distinction. Her wild dance of delight over bodies of the slain
would indicate pleasure taken in destruction for its own sake, so
fulfilling the definition of a devil; but, on the other hand, there
is a Deccan legend that reports her as devouring the dead, and this
would make her a hunger-demon. We may give her the benefit of the
doubt, and class her among the demons--or beings whose evil is not
gratuitous--all the more because the mysteriously protruding tongue,
as in the figure of Typhon (p. 185), probably suggests thirst. Hindu
legend does, indeed, give another interpretation, and say that when she
was dancing for joy at having slain a hundred-headed giant demigod, the
shaking of the earth was so formidable that Siva threw himself among
the slain, whom she was crushing at every step, hoping to induce her
to pause; but when, unheeding, she trod upon the body of her husband,
she paused and thrust out her tongue from surprise and shame. The
Vedic description of Agni as an ugra (ogre), with 'tongue of flame,'
may better interpret Kali's tongue. It is said Kali is pleased for
a hundred years by the blood of a tiger; for a thousand by that of
a man; for a hundred thousand by the blood of three men.

How are we to understand this dance of Death, and the further legend
of her tossing dead bodies into the air for amusement? Such a figure
found among a people who shudder at taking life even from the lowest
animals is hardly to be explained by the destructiveness of nature
personified in her spouse Siva.  Her looks and legends alike represent
slaughter by human violence. May it not be that Kali represents some
period when the abhorrence of taking life among a vegetarian people--a
people, too, believing in transmigration--might have become a public
danger? When Krishna appeared it was, according to the Bhágavat Gita,
as charioteer inciting Arjoon to war. There must have been various
periods when a peaceful people must fall victims to more savage
neighbours unless they could be stimulated to enter on the work of
destruction with a light heart. There may have been periods when the
human Kalis of India might stimulate their husbands and sons to war
with such songs as the women of Dardistan sing at the Feast of Fire
(p. 91). The amour of the Greek goddess of Beauty with the god of War,
leaving her lawful spouse the Smith, is full of meaning. The Assyrian
Venus, Istar, appeared in a vision, with wings and halo, bearing a bow
and arrow for Assurbanipal. The Thug appears to have taken some such
view of Kali, regarding her as patroness of their plan for reducing
population. They are said to have claimed that Kali left them one of
her teeth for a pickaxe, her rib for a knife, her garment's hem for
a noose, and wholesale murder for a religion. The uplifted right
hand of the demoness has been interpreted as intimating a divine
purpose in the havoc around her, and it is possible that some such
euphemism attached to the attitude before the Thug accepted it as his
own benediction from this highly decorated personage of human cruelty.

The ancient reverence for Kali has gradually passed to her mitigated
form--Durgá. Around her too are visible the symbols of destruction;
but she is supposed to be satisfied with pumpkin-animals, and the
weapons in her ten hands are believed to be directed against the
enemies of the gods, especially against the giant king Muheshu. She
is mother of the beautiful boy Kartik, and of the elephant-headed
inspirer of knowledge Ganesa. She is reverenced now as female energy,
the bestower of beauty and fruitfulness on women.

The identity of war-gods and death-demons, in the most frightful
conceptions which have haunted the human imagination, is of profound
significance. These forms do not represent peaceful and natural death,
not death by old age,--of which, alas, those who cowered before them
knew but little,--but death amid cruelty and agony, and the cutting
down of men in the vigour of life. That indeed was terrible,--even
more than these rude images could describe.

But there are other details in these hideous forms. The priest has
added to the horse and sword of war the adored serpent, and hideous
symbols of the 'Land of the Dead.' For it is not by terror of death,
but of what he can persuade men lies beyond, that the priest has
reigned over mankind. When Isabel (in 'Measure for Measure') is
trying to persuade her brother that the sense of death lies most in
apprehension, the sentenced youth still finds death 'a fearful thing.'


        Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
        To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
        This sensible warm motion to become
        A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
        To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
        In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
        To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
        And blown with violence round about
        The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
        Of these, that lawless and incertain thoughts
        Imagine howling!--'tis too horrible!
        The weariest and most loathed worldly life
        That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
        Can lay on nature, is a paradise
        To what we fear of death.


In all these apprehensions of Claudio there is no thought of
annihilation. What if he had seen death as an eternal sleep? Let
Hamlet answer:--


                        To die,--to sleep;--
        No more;--and, by a sleep, to say we end
        The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
        That flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation
        Devoutly to be wished.


The greater part of the human race still belong to religions which,
in their origin, promised eternal repose as the supreme final
bliss. Had death in itself possessed horrors for the human mind,
the priest need not have conjured up beyond it those tortures that
haunted Hamlet with the dreams of possible evils beyond which make
even the wretched rather bear the ills they have than fly to others
they know not of. It would have been sufficient sanction to promise
immortality only to the pious. But as in Claudio's shuddering lines
every hell is reflected--whether of ice, fire, or brutalisation--so
are the same mixed with the very blood and brain of mankind, even
where literally outgrown. Christianity superadded to the horrors by
importing the idea that death came by human sin, and so by gradual
development ascribing to Satan the power of death; thereby forming a
new devil who bore in him the power to make death a punishment. How
the matter stood in the mediæval belief may be seen in figure 19,
copied from a Russian Bible of the (early) seventeenth century. Lazarus
smiles to see the nondescript soul of Dives torn from him by a devil
with a hook, while another drowns the groans with a drum. Satan
squirts an infernal baptism on the departing soul, and the earnest
co-operation of the archangel justifies the satisfaction of Lazarus
and Abraham. This degraded belief is still found in the almost gleeful
pulpit-picturings of physical agonies as especially attending the
death-beds of 'infidels,'--as Voltaire and Paine,--and its fearful
result is found in the degree to which priesthoods are still able
to paralyse the common sense and heart of the masses by the barbaric
ceremonials with which they are permitted to surround death, and the
arrogant line drawn between unorthodox goats and credulous sheep by
'consecrated' ground.

Mr. Keary, in his interesting volume on 'The Dawn of History,' [202]
says that it has been suggested that the youthful winged figure
on the drum of a column from the temple of Diana at Ephesus to the
British Museum, may be a representation of Thanatos, Death. It would
be agreeable to believe that the only important representation of Death
left by Greek art is that exquisite figure, whose high tribute is that
it was at first thought to be Love! The figure is somewhat like the
tender Eros of preraphaelite art, and with the same look of gentle
melancholy. Such a sweet and simple form of Death would be worthy of
the race which, amid all the fiery or cold rivers of the underworld
which had gathered about their religion, still saw running there the
soft-flowing stream of forgetfulness. Let one study this Ephesian
Thanatos reverently--no engraving or photograph can do it even partial
justice--and then in its light read those myths of Death which seem to
bear us back beyond the savagery of war and the artifices of priests
to the simpler conceptions of humanity. In its serene light we may
especially read both Vedic and Iranian hymns and legends of Yama.

The first man to die became the powerful Yama of the Hindus, the
monarch of the dead; and he became invested with metaphors of the sun
that had set. [203] In a solemn and pathetic hymn of the Vedas he is
said to have crossed the rapid waters, to have shown the way to many,
to have first known the path on which our fathers crossed over. [204]
But in the splendours of sunset human hope found its prophetic pictures
of a heaven beyond. The Vedic Yama is ever the friend. It is one of
the most picturesque facts of mythology that, after Yama had become
in India another name for Death, the same name reappeared in Persia,
and in the Avesta, as a type at once of the Golden Age in the past
and of paradise in the future.

Such was the Iranian Yima. He was that 'flos regum' whose reign
represented 'the ideal of human happiness, when there was neither
illness nor death, neither heat nor cold,' and who has never
died. 'According to the earlier traditions of the Avesta,' says
Spiegel, 'Jima does not die, but when evil and misery began to prevail
on earth, retires to a smaller space, a kind of garden or Eden, where
he continues his happy life with those who remained true to him.' Such
have been the antecedents of our many beautiful myths which ascribe
even an earthly immortality to the great,--to Barbarossa, Arthur,
and even to the heroes of humbler races as Hiawatha and Glooscap
of North American tribes,--who are or were long believed to have
'sailed into the fiery sunset,' or sought some fair island, or to
slumber in a hidden grotto, until the world shall have grown up to
their stature and requires their return.

In Japan the (Sintoo) god of Hell is now named Amma, and one may
suspect that it is some imitation of Yama by reason of the majesty he
still retains in the popular conception. He is pictured as a grave
man, wearing a judicial cap, and no cruelties seem to be attributed
to him personally, but only to the oni or demons of whom he is lord.

The kindly characteristics of the Hindu Yama seem in Persia to have
been replaced by the bitterness of Ahriman, or Anra-mainyu, the
genius of evil. Haug interprets Anra-mainyu as 'Death-darting.' The
word is the counterpart of Speñta-mainyu, and means originally the
'throttling spirit;' being thus from anh, philologically the root of
all evil, as we shall see when we consider its dragon brood. Professor
Whitney translates the name 'Malevolent.' But, whatever may be the
meaning of the word, there is little doubt that the Twins of Vedic
Mythology--Yama and Yami--parted into genii of Day and Night, and
were ultimately spiritualised in the Spirit of Light and Spirit of
Darkness which have made the basis of all popular theology from the
time of Zoroaster until this day.

Nothing can be more remarkable than the extreme difference between
the ancient Hindu and the Persian view of death. As to the former it
was the happy introduction to Yama, to the latter it was the visible
seal of Ahriman's equality with Ormuzd. They held it in absolute
horror. The Towers of Silence stand in India to-day as monuments of
this darkest phase of the Parsî belief. The dead body belonged to
Ahriman, and was left to be devoured by wild creatures; and although
the raising of towers for the exposure of the corpse, so limiting its
consumption to birds, has probably resulted from a gradual rationalism
which has from time to time suggested that by such means souls of the
good may wing their way to Ormuzd, yet the Parsî horror of death is
strong enough to give rise to such terrible suspicions, even if they
were unfounded, as those which surrounded the Tower (Khao's Dokhma)
in June 1877. The strange behaviour of the corpse-bearers in leaving
one tower, going to another, and afterwards (as was said) secretly
repairing to the first, excited the belief that a man had been found
alive in the first and was afterwards murdered. The story seems to have
begun with certain young Parsîs themselves, and, whether it be true
or not, they have undoubtedly interpreted rightly the ancient feeling
of that sect with regard to all that had been within the kingdom of
the King of Terrors. 'As sickness and death,' says Professor Whitney,
'were supposed to be the work of the malignant powers, the dead body
itself was regarded with superstitious horror. It had been gotten by
the demons into their own peculiar possession, and became a chief
medium through which they exercised their defiling action upon the
living. Everything that came into its neighbourhood was unclean, and to
a certain extent exposed to the influences of the malevolent spirits,
until purified by the ceremonies which the law prescribed.' [205]
It is to be feared this notion has crept in among the Brahmans;
the Indian Mirror (May 26, 1878) states that a Chandernagore lady,
thrown into the Ganges, but afterwards found to be alive, was believed
to be possessed by Dano (an evil spirit), and but for interference
would have found a watery grave. The Jews also were influenced by
this belief, and to this day it is forbidden a Cohen, or descendant
of the priesthood, to touch a dead body.

The audience at the Crystal Palace which recently witnessed the
performance of Euripides' Alcestis could hardly, it is to be feared,
have realised the relation of the drama to their own religion. Apollo
induces the Fates to consent that Admetus shall not die provided he
can find a substitute for him. The pure Alcestis steps forward and
devotes herself to death to save her husband. Apollo tries to persuade
Death to give back Alcestis, but Death declares her fate demanded
by justice. While Alcestis is dying, Admetus bids her entreat the
gods for pity; but Alcestis says it is a god who has brought on the
necessity, and adds, 'Be it so!' She sees the hall of the dead, with
'the winged Pluto staring from beneath his black eyebrows.' She reminds
her husband of the palace and regal sway she might have enjoyed in
Thessaly had she not left it for him. Bitterly does Pheres reproach
Admetus for accepting life through the vicarious suffering and death
of another. Then comes Hercules; he vanquishes Death; he leads forth
Alcestis from 'beneath into the light.' With her he comes into the
presence of Admetus, who is still in grief. Admetus cannot recognise
her; but when he recognises her with joy, Hercules warns him that it
is not lawful for Alcestis to address him 'until she is unbound from
her consecration to the gods beneath, and the third day come.'

It only requires a change of names to make Alcestis a Passion-play. The
unappeasable Justice which is as a Fate binding the deity, though it
may be satisfied vicariously; 'the last enemy, Death;' the atonement
by sacrifice of a saintly human being, who from a father's palace is
brought by love freely to submit to death; the son of a god (Zeus) by a
human mother (Alcmene),--the god-man Herakles,--commissioned to destroy
earthly evils by twelve great labours,--descending to conquer Death and
deliver one of the 'spirits in prison,' the risen spirit not recognised
at first, as Jesus was not by Mary; still bearing the consecration
of the grave until the third day, which forbade intercourse with the
living ('Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father'),--all
these enable us to recognise in the theologic edifices around us the
fragments of a crumbled superstition as they lay around Euripides.

From the old pictures of Christ's triumphal pilgrimage on earth
parallels for the chief Labours of Herakles may be found; he is shown
treading on the lion, asp, dragon, and Satan; but the myths converge
in the Descent into Hades and the conquest of Death. It is remarkable
that in the old pictures of Christ delivering souls from Hades he is
generally represented closely followed by Eve, whose form so emerging
would once have been to the greater part of Europe already familiar as
that of either Alcestis, Eurydice, or Persephone. One of the earliest
examples of the familiar subject, Christ conquering Death, is that in
the ancient (tenth century) Missal of Worms,--that city whose very name
preserves the record of the same combat under the guise of Siegfried
and the Worm, or Dragon. The cross is now the sword thrust near the
monster's mouth. The picture illustrates the chant of Holy Week:
'De manu Mortis liberabo eos, de Morte redimam eos. Ero Mors tua,
O Mors; morsus tuus ero, inferne.' From the pierced mouth of Death
are vomited flames, which remind us of his ethnical origin; but it
is not likely that to the christianised pagans of Worms the picture
could ever have conveyed an impression so weirdly horrible as that
of their own goddess of Death, Hel. 'Her hall is called Elvidnir,
realm of the cold storm: Hunger is her table; Starvation, her knife;
Delay, her man; Slowness, her maid; Precipice, her threshold; Care,
her bed; burning Anguish, the hangings of her apartments. One half
of her body is livid, the other half the colour of human flesh.'

With the Scandinavian picture of the Abode of Death may be compared the
description of the Abode of Nin-ki-gal, the Assyrian Queen of Death,
from a tablet in the British Museum, translated by Mr. Fox Talbot:
[206]--


    To the House men enter--but cannot depart from:
    To the Road men go--but cannot return.
    The abode of darkness and famine
    Where Earth is their food: their nourishment Clay:
    Light is not seen; in darkness they dwell:
    Ghosts, like birds, flutter their wings there;
    On the door and the gate-posts the dust lies undisturbed.


The Semitic tribes, undisturbed, like the importers of their theology
into the age of science, by the strata in which so many perished animal
kingdoms are entombed, attributed all death, even that of animals,
to the forbidden fruit. The Rabbins say that not only Adam and Eve,
but the animals in Eden, partook of that fruit, and came under the
power of Sammaël the Violent, and of his agent Azraël, the demon of
Death. The Phoenix, having refused this food, preserved the power of
renovating itself.

It is an example of the completeness and consistency with which a
theory may organise its myth, that the fatal demons are generally
represented as abhorring salt--the preserving agent and foe of
decay. The 'Covenant of Salt' among the ancient Jews probably had
this significance, and the care with which Job salted his sacrifice
is considered elsewhere. Aubrey says, 'Toads (Saturnine animals) are
killed by putting salt upon them. I have seen the experiment.' The
devil, as heir of death-demons, appears in all European folklore
as a hater of salt. A legend, told by Heine, relates that a knight,
wandering in a wood in Italy, came upon a ruin, and in it a wondrous
statue of the goddess of Beauty. Completely fascinated, the knight
haunted the spot day after day, until one evening he was met by a
servant who invited him to enter a villa which he had not before
remarked. What was his surprise to be ushered into the presence of
the living image of his adored statue! Amid splendour and flowers
the enraptured knight is presently seated with his charmer at
a banquet. Every luxury of the world is there; but there is no
salt! When he hints this want a cloud passes over the face of his
Beauty. Presently he asks the servant to bring the salt; the servant
does so, shuddering; the knight helps himself to it. The next sip of
wine he takes elicits a cry from him: it is liquid fire. Madness seizes
upon him; caresses, burning kisses follow, until he falls asleep on the
bosom of his goddess. But what visions! Now he sees her as a wrinkled
crone, next a great bat bearing a torch as it flutters around him,
and again as a frightful monster, whose head he cuts off in an agony
of terror. When the knight awakes it is in his own villa. He hastens
to his ruin, and to the beloved statue; he finds her fallen from the
pedestal, and the beautiful head cut from the neck lying at her feet.

The Semitic Angel of Death is a figure very different from any that
we have considered. He is known in theology only in the degradation
which he suffered at the hands of the Rabbins, but originally was an
awful but by no means evil genius. The Persians probably imported him,
under the name of Asuman, for we do not find him mentioned in their
earlier books, and the name has a resemblance to the Hebrew shamad,
to exterminate, which would connect it with the biblical 'destroyer'
Abaddon. This is rendered more probable because the Zoroastrians
believed in an earlier demon, Vízaresha, who carried souls after death
to the region of Deva-worshippers (India). The Chaldaic Angel of Death,
Malk-ad Mousa, may have derived his name from the legend of his having
approached Moses with the object of forcing his soul out of his body,
but, being struck by the glory of Moses' face, and by virtue of the
divine name on his rod, was compelled to retire. The legend is not
so ancient as the name, and was possibly a Saga suggested by the
name; it is obviously the origin of the tradition of the struggle
between Michael and Satan for the body of Moses (Jude 9.). This
personification had thus declined among the Jews into being evil enough
to be identified with Samaël,--who, in the Book of the Assumption of
Moses, is named as his assailant,--and subsequently with Satan himself,
named in connection with the New Testament version. It was on account
of this degradation of a being described in the earlier books of the
Bible as the commissioner of Jehovah that there was gradually developed
among the Jews two Angels of Death, one (Samaël, or his agent Azraël)
for those who died out of the land of Israel, and the other (Gabriel)
for those who had the happier lot of dying in their own country.

This relegation of Samaël to the wandering Jews--who if they died
abroad were not supposed to reach Paradise with facility, if at
all--is significant. For Samaël is pretty certainly a conception
borrowed from outlying Semitic tribes. What that conception was we
find in Job xviii. 18, where he is 'the king of Terrors,' and still
more in the Arabic Azraël. The legend of this typical Angel of Death
is that he was promoted to his high office for special service. When
Allah was about to create man he sent the angels Gabriel, Michael,
and Israfil to the earth to bring clay of different colours for that
purpose; but the Earth warned them that the being about to be formed
would rebel against his creator and draw down a curse upon her (the
Earth), and they returned without bringing the clay. Then Azraël was
sent by Allah, and he executed his commission without fear; and for
this he was appointed the angel to separate souls from bodies. Azraël
had subordinate angels under him, and these are alluded to in the
opening lines of the Sura 79 of the Koran:


    By the angels who tear forth the souls of some with violence;
    And by those who draw forth the souls of others with gentleness.


The souls of the righteous are drawn forth with gentleness, those
of the wicked torn from them in the way shown in the Russian picture
(Fig. 19), which is indeed an illustration of the same mythology.

These terrible tasks were indeed such as were only too likely to
bring Azraël into the evil repute of an executioner in the course
of time; but no degradation of him seems to have been developed
among the Moslems. He seems to have been associated in their minds
with Fate, and similar stories were told of him. Thus it is related
that once when Azraël was passing by Solomon he gazed intently upon
a man with whom Solomon was conversing. Solomon told his companion
that it was the Angel of Death who was looking at him, and the man
replied, 'He seems to want me: order the wind to carry me from hence
into India;' when this was done Azraël approached Solomon and said,
'I looked earnestly at that man from wonder, for I was commanded to
take his soul in India.' [207]

Azraël was often represented as presenting to the lips a cup of
poison. It is probable that this image arose from the ancient ordeal
by poison, whereby draughts, however manipulated beforehand with
reference to the results, were popularly held to be divinely mingled
for retributive or beneficent effects. 'Cup' thus became among Semitic
tribes a symbol of Fate. The 'cup of consolation,' 'cup of wrath,'
'cup of trembling,' which we read of in the Old Testament; the 'cup
of blessing,' and 'cup of devils,' spoken of by Paul, have this
significance. The cup of Nestor, ornamented with the dove (Iliad,
xi. 632), was probably a 'cup of blessing,' and Mr. Schliemann has
found several of the same kind at Mycenæ. The symbol was repeatedly
used by Christ,--'Let this cup pass from me,' 'The cup that my Father
hath given me to drink shall I not drink it,' 'Are ye able to drink
of the cup that I drink of,'--and the familiar association of Azraël's
cup is expressed in the phrase 'taste of death.'

One of the most pleasing modifications of the belief in the Angel of
Death is that found by Lepsius [208] among the Mohammedan negroes of
Kordofan. Osraîn (Azraël), it is said, receives the souls of the dead,
and leads the good to their reward, the bad to punishment. 'He lives
in a tree, el segerat mohana (the tree of fulfilling), which has as
many leaves as there are inhabitants in the world. On each leaf is
a name, and when a child is born a new one grows. If any one becomes
ill his leaf fades, and should he be destined to die, Osraîn breaks
it off. Formerly he used to come visibly to those whom he was going
to carry away, and thus put them in great terror. Since the prophet's
time, however, he has become invisible; for when he came to fetch
Mohammed's soul he told him that it was not good that by his visible
appearance he should frighten mankind. They might then easily die of
terror, before praying; for he himself, although a courageous and
spirited man, was somewhat perturbed at his appearance. Therefore
the prophet begged God to make Osraîn invisible, which prayer was
granted.' Mr. Mackenzie adds on this that, among the Moravian Jews,
at new moon a branch is held in its light, and the name of a person
pronounced: his face will appear between the horns of the moon,
and should he be destined to die the leaves will fade.

Mr. John Ruskin has been very severe upon the Italians for the humour
with which they introduce Death as a person of their masque. 'When I
was in Venice in 1850,' he says, 'the most popular piece of the comic
opera was "Death and the Cobbler," in which the point of the plot was
the success of a village cobbler as a physician, in consequence of
the appearance of Death to him beside the bed of every patient who
was not to recover; and the most applauded scene in it was one in
which the physician, insolent in success, and swollen with luxury,
was himself taken down into the abode of Death, and thrown into an
agony of terror by being shown lives of men, under the form of wasting
lamps, and his own ready to expire.' On which he expresses the opinion
that 'this endurance of fearful images is partly associated with
indecency, partly with general fatuity and weakness of mind.' [209]
But may it not rather be the healthy reaction from morbid images of
terror, with which a purely natural and inevitable event has so long
been invested by priests, and portrayed in such popular pictures as
'The Dance of Death?' The mocking laughter with which the skeletons
beset the knight in our picture (Fig. 20), from the wall of La Chaise
Dieu, Auvergne, marks the priestly terrorism, which could not fail
to be vulgarised even more by the frivolous. In 1424 there was a
masquerade of the Dance of Death in the Cemetery of the Innocents
at Paris, attended by the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Burgundy,
just returned from battle. It may have been the last outcome in
the west of Kali's dance over the slain; but it is fortunate when
Fanaticism has no worse outcome than Folly. The Skeleton Death has
the advantage over earlier forms of suggesting the naturalness of
death. It is more scientific. The gradual discovery by the people
that death is not caused by sin has largely dissipated its horrors
in regions where the ignorance and impostures of priestcraft are of
daily observation; and although the reaction may not be expressed with
good taste, there would seem to be in it a certain vigour of nature,
reasserting itself in simplicity.

In the northern world we are all too sombre in the matter. It is the
ages of superstition which have moulded our brains, and too generally
given to our natural love of life the unnatural counterpart of a
terror of death. What has been artificially bred into us can be
cultivated out of us. There are indeed deaths corresponding to the
two Angels--the death that comes by lingering disease and pain, and
that which comes by old age. There are indeed Azraëls in our cities
who poison the food and drink of the people, and mingle death in the
cup of water; and of them there should be increasing horror until the
gentler angel abides with us, and death by old age becomes normal. The
departure from life being a natural condition of entering upon it,
it is melancholy indeed that it should be ideally confused with the
pains and sorrows often attending it. It is fabled that Menippus
the Cynic, travelling through Hades, knew which were the kings there
by their howling louder than the rest. They howled loudest because
they had parted from most pleasures on earth. But all the happy and
young have more reason to lament untimely death than kings. The only
tragedy of Death is the ruin of living Love. Mr. Watts, in his great
picture of Love and Death (Grosvenor Gallery, 1877), revealed the
real horror. Not that skeleton which has its right time and place,
not the winged demon (called angel), who has no right time or place,
is here, but a huge, hard, heartless form, as of man half-blocked out
of marble; a terrible emblem of the remorseless force that embodies
the incompleteness and ignorance of mankind--a force that steadily
crushes hearts where intellects are devoting their energies to alien
worlds. Poor Love has little enough science; his puny arm stretched
out to resist the colossal form is weak as the prayers of agonised
parents and lovers directed against never-swerving laws; he is almost
exhausted; his lustrous wings are broken and torn in the struggle;
the dove at his feet crouches mateless; the rose that climbed on his
door is prostrate; over his shoulder the beam-like arm has set the
stony hand against the door where the rose of joy must fall.

The aged when they die do but follow the treasures that have gone
before. One by one the old friends have left them, the sweet ties
parted, and the powers to enjoy and help become feeble. When of the
garden that once bloomed around them memory alone is left, friendly
is death to scatter also the leaves of that last rose where the loved
ones are sleeping. This is the real office of death. Nay, even when
it comes to the young and happy it is not Death but Disease that is
the real enemy; in disease there is almost no compensation at all but
learning its art of war; but Death is Nature's pity for helpless pain;
where love and knowledge can do no more it comes as a release from
sufferings which were sheer torture if prolonged. The presence of
death is recognised oftenest by the cessation of pain. Superstition
has done few heavier wrongs to humanity than by the mysterious terrors
with which it has invested that change which, to the simpler ages,
was pictured as the gentle river Lethe, flowing from the abode of
sleep, from which the shades drank oblivion alike of their woes and
of the joys from which they were torn.



PART III.

THE DRAGON.


CHAPTER I.

DECLINE OF DEMONS.

    The Holy Tree of Travancore--The growth of Demons in India and
    their decline--The Nepaul Iconoclast--Moral Man and unmoral
    Nature--Man's physical and mental migrations--Heine's 'Gods in
    Exile'--The Goban Saor--Master Smith--A Greek caricature of
    the Gods--The Carpenter v. Deity and Devil--Extermination of
    the Werewolf--Refuges of Demons--The Giants reduced to Little
    People--Deities and Demons returning to nature.


Having indicated, necessarily in mere outline and by selected
examples, the chief obstacles encountered by primitive man, and his
apprehensions, which he personified as demons, it becomes my next
task to show how and why many of these demons declined from their
terrible proportions and made way for more general forms, expressing
comparatively abstract conceptions of physical evil. This will involve
some review of the processes through which man's necessary adaptation
to his earthly environment brought him to the era of Combat with
multiform obstruction.

There was, until within a few recent years, in a mountain of
Travancore, India, an ancient, gigantic Tree, regarded by the natives
as the residence of a powerful and dangerous deity who reigned over
the mountains and the wild beasts. [210] Sacrifices were offered to
this tree, sermons preached before it, and it seems to have been the
ancient cathedral of the district. Its trunk was so large that four
men with outstretched arms could not compass it.

This tree in its early growth may symbolise the upspringing of natural
religion. Its first green leaves may be regarded as corresponding
to the first crude imaginations of man as written, for instance,
on leaves of the Vedas. Perceiving in nature, as we have seen, a
power of contrivance like his own, a might far superior to his own,
man naturally considered that all things had been created and were
controlled by invisible giants; and bowing helplessly beneath them
sang thus his hymns and supplications.

'This earth belongs to Varuna, the king, and the wide sky, with its
ends far apart: the two seas (sky and ocean) are Varuna's loins;
he is also contained in this drop of water. He who would flee far
beyond the sky even he would not be rid of Varuna. His spies proceed
from heaven towards this earth.'

'Through want of strength, thou ever strong and bright god, have I
gone wrong: have mercy, have mercy!'

'However we break thy laws from day to day, men as we are, O god
Varuna, do not deliver us to death!'

'Was it an old sin, Varuna, that thou wished to destroy the friend
who always praises thee!'

'O Indra, have mercy, give me my daily bread! Raise up wealth to the
worshipper, thou mighty Dawn!'

'Thou art the giver of horses, Indra, thou art the giver of cows,
the giver of corn, the strong lord of wealth: the old guide of
man disappointing no desires: to him we address this song. All this
wealth around here is known to be thine alone: take from it conqueror,
bring it hither!'

In these characteristic sentences from various hymns we behold
man making his first contract with the ruling powers of nature:
so much adoration and flattery on his part for so much benefit on
theirs. But even in these earliest hymns there are intimations that
the gods were not fulfilling their side of the engagement. 'Why is
it,' pleads the worshipper, 'that you wish to destroy one who always
praises you? Was it an old sin?' The simple words unconsciously report
how faithfully man was performing his part of the contract. Having
omitted no accent of the prayer, praise, or ritual, he supposes the
continued indifference of the gods must be due to an old sin, one he
has forgotten, or perhaps one committed by some ancestor.

In this state of mind the suggestion would easily take root that
words alone were too cheap to be satisfactory to the gods. There must
be offerings. Like earthly kings they must have their revenues. We
thus advance to the phase of sacrifices. But still neither in answer
to prayer, flattery, or sacrifice did the masses receive health or
wealth. Poverty, famine, death, still continued their remorseless
course with the silent machinery of sun, moon, and star.

But why, then, should man have gone on fulfilling his part of
the contract--believing and worshipping deities, who when he
begged for corn gave him famine, and when he asked for fish gave
him a serpent? The priest intervened with ready explanation. And
here we may consult the holy Tree of Travancore again? Why should
that particular Tree--of a species common in the district and not
usually very large--have grown so huge? 'Because it is holy,' said
the priest. 'Because it was believed holy,' says the fact. For ages
the blood and ashes of victims fed its roots and swelled its trunk;
until, by an argument not confined to India, the dimensions of
the superstition were assumed to prove its truth. When the people
complained that all their offerings and worship did not bring
any returns the priest replied, You stint the gods and they stint
you. The people offered the fattest of their flocks and fruits:
More yet! said the priest. They built fine altars and temples for
the gods: More yet! said the priest. They built fine houses for the
priests, and taxed themselves to support them. And when thus, fed by
popular sacrifices and toils, the religion had grown to vast power,
the priest was able to call to his side the theologian for further
explanation. The theologian and the priest said--'Of course there must
be good reasons why the gods do not answer all your prayers (if they
did not answer some you would be utterly consumed); mere mortals must
not dare to inquire into their mysteries; but that there are gods,
and that they do attend to human affairs, is made perfectly plain
by this magnificent array of temples, and by the care with which
they have supplied all the wants of us, their particular friends,
whose cheeks, as you see, hang down with fatness.'

If, after this explanation, any scepticism or rebellion arose among
the less favoured, the priest might easily add--'Furthermore, we and
our temples are now institutions; we are so strong and influential
that it is evident that the gods have appointed us to be their
representatives on earth, the dispensers of their favours. Also, of
their disfavours. We are able to make up for the seeming indifference
of the gods, rewarding you if you give us honour and wealth, but
ruining you if you turn heretical.'

So grew the holy Tree. But strong as it was there was something
stronger. Some few years ago a missionary from London went to
Travancore, and desired to build a chapel near the same tree, no
doubt to be in the way of its worshippers and to borrow some of
the immemorial sanctity of the spot. This missionary fixed a hungry
eye upon that holy timber, and reflected how much holier it would
be if ending its career in the beams of a christian chapel. So one
day--English authorities being conveniently near--he and his workmen
began to cut down the sacred Tree. The natives gradually gathered
around, and looked on with horror. While the cutting proceeded a
tiger drew near, but shouts drove him off: the natives breathed freer;
the demon had come and looked on, but could not protect the Tree from
the Englishman. They still shuddered, however, at the sacrilege, and
when at last the Holy Tree of Travancore fell, its crash was mingled
with the cries and screams of its former worshippers. The victorious
missionary may be pointing out in his chapel the cut-up planks which
reveal the impotence of the deity so long feared by the natives; and
perhaps he is telling them of the bigness of his Tree, and claiming
its flourishing condition in Europe as proof of its supernatural
character. Possibly he may omit to mention the blood and ashes which
have fattened the root and enlarged the trunk of his Holy Tree!

That Tree in Travancore could never have been so destroyed if the
primitive natural religion in which lay its deeper root had not
previously withered. The gods, the natural forces, which through
so many ages had not heeded man's daily martyrdoms, had now for a
long time been shown quite as impotent to protect their own shrines,
images, holy trees, and other interests. The priests as vainly invoked
those gods to save their own country from subjugation by other nations
with foreign gods, as the masses had invoked their personal aid. For
a long time the gods in some parts of India have received only a
formal service, coextensive with their association with a lingering
order, or as part of princely establishments; but they topple down
from time to time, as the masses realise their freedom to abandon
them with impunity. They are at the mercy of any strong heretic
who arises. The following narrative, quoted by Mr. Herbert Spencer,
presents a striking example of what some Hindoos had been doing before
the missionary cut down the Tree at Travancore:--

'A Nepaul king, Rum Bahâdur, whose beautiful queen, finding her
lovely face had been disfigured by smallpox, poisoned herself,
cursed his kingdom, her doctors, and the gods of Nepaul, vowing
vengeance on all. Having ordered the doctors to be flogged, and
the right ear and nose of each to be cut off, he then wreaked his
vengeance on the gods of Nepaul, and after abusing them in the most
gross way, he accused them of having obtained from him 12,000 goats,
some hundred-weights of sweetmeats, 2000 gallons of milk, &c., under
false pretences. He then ordered all the artillery, varying from
three to twelve-pounders, to be brought in front of the palace. All
the guns were then loaded to the muzzle, and down he marched to
the headquarters of the Nepaul deities. All the guns were drawn up
in front of the several deities, honouring the most sacred with the
heaviest metal. When the order to fire was given, many of the chiefs
and soldiers ran away panic-stricken, and others hesitated to obey
the sacrilegious order; and not till several gunners had been cut down
were the guns opened. Down came the gods and the goddesses from their
hitherto sacred positions; and after six hours' heavy cannonading,
not a vestige of the deities remained.'

However panic-stricken the Nepaulese may have been at this ferocious
manifestation, it was but a storm bred out of a more general mental and
moral condition. Rum Bahâdur only laid low in a few moments images of
gods who, passing from the popular interest, had been successively
laid to sleep on the innumerable shelves of Hindu mythology. The
early Dualism was developed into Moral Man on one side, and Unmoral
Nature on the other. Man had discovered that moral order in nature
was represented solely by his own power: by his culture or neglect the
plant or animal grew or withered, and where his control did not extend,
there sprang the noxious weed or beast. So far as good gods had been
imagined they were respected now only as incarnate in men. But the
active powers of evil still remained, hurtful and hateful to man, and
the pessimist view of nature became inevitable. To man engaged in his
life-and-death struggle with nature many a beauty which now nourishes
the theist's optimism was lost. The fragrant flower was a weed to
the man hungry for bread, and he viewed many an idle treasure with
the disappointment of Sâdi when, travelling in the desert, he found a
bag in which he hoped to discover grain, but found only pearls. Fatal
to every deity not anthropomorphic was the long pessimistic phase of
human faith. Each became more purely a demon, and passed on the road
to become a devil.

Many particular demons man conquered as he progressively carried
order amid the ruggedness and wildness of his planet. Every new weapon
or implement he invented punctured a thousand phantoms. Only in the
realms he could not yet conquer remained the hostile forces to which
he ascribed præternatural potency, because not able to pierce them and
see through them. Nevertheless, the early demonic forms had to give
way, for man had discovered that they were not his masters. He could
cut down the Upas and root up the nightshade; he had bruised many a
serpent's head and slain many a wolf. In detail innumerable enemies
had been proved his inferiors in strength and intelligence. Important
migrations took place: man passes, geographically, away from the region
of some of his worst enemies, inhabits countries more fruitful, less
malarious, his habitat exceeding that of his animal foe in range;
and, still better, he passes by mental migration out of the stone
age, out of other helpless ages, to the age of metal and the skill to
fashion and use it. He has made the fire-fiend his friend. No longer
henceforth a naked savage, with bit of stone or bone only to meet
the crushing powers of the world and win its reluctant supplies!

There is a sense far profounder than its charming play of fancy in
Heine's account of the 'Gods in Exile,' an essay which Mr. Pater
well describes as 'full of that strange blending of sentiment which
is characteristic of the traditions of the Middle Age concerning
the Pagan religions.' [211] Heine writes: 'Let me briefly remind
the reader how the gods of the older world, at the time of the
definite triumph of Christianity, that is, in the third century,
fell into painful embarrassments, which greatly resembled certain
tragical situations of their earlier life. They now found themselves
exposed to the same troublesome necessities to which they had once
before been exposed during the primitive ages, in that revolutionary
epoch when the Titans broke out of the custody of Orcus, and, piling
Pelion on Ossa, scaled Olympus. Unfortunate gods! They had, then,
to take flight ignominiously, and hide themselves among us here on
earth under all sorts of disguises. Most of them betook themselves to
Egypt, where for greater security they assumed the form of animals,
as is generally known. Just in the same way they had to take flight
again, and seek entertainment in remote hiding-places, when those
iconoclastic zealots, the black brood of monks, broke down all the
temples, and pursued the gods with fire and curses. Many of these
unfortunate emigrants, entirely deprived of shelter and ambrosia,
had now to take to vulgar handicrafts as a means of earning their
bread. In these circumstances, many, whose sacred groves had been
confiscated, let themselves out for hire as wood-cutters in Germany,
and had to drink beer instead of nectar. Apollo seems to have been
content to take service under graziers, and as he had once kept the
cows of Admetus, so he lived now as a shepherd in Lower Austria. Here,
however, having become suspected, on account of his beautiful singing,
he was recognised by a learned monk as one of the old pagan gods,
and handed over to the spiritual tribunal. On the rack he confessed
that he was the god Apollo; and before his execution he begged that
he might be suffered to play once more upon the lyre and to sing a
song. And he played so touchingly, and sang with such magic, and was
withal so beautiful in form and feature that all the women wept, and
many of them were so deeply impressed that they shortly afterwards
fell sick. And some time afterwards the people wished to drag him
from the grave again, that a stake might be driven through his body,
in the belief that he had been a vampire, and that the sick women
would by this means recover. But they found the grave empty.'

Naturally: it is hard to bury Apollo. The next time he appeared was, no
doubt, as musical director in the nearest cathedral. The young singers
and artists discovered by such severe lessons that it was dangerous
to sing Pagan ballads too realistically; that a cowl is capable of a
high degree of decoration; that Pan's pipe sounds well evolved into
an organ; that Cupids look just as well if called Cherubs. It is odd
that it should have required Robert Browning three centuries away to
detect the real form and face beneath the vestment of the Bishop who
orders his tomb at Saint Praxed's Church:--


        The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me,
        Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance
        Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so,
        The Saviour at his sermon on the mount,
        Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan
        Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off,
        And Moses with the tables....


So in one direction grew the hermitage to the Vatican; so Zeus regained
his throne by exchanging his thunderbolts for Peter's keys, and Mars
regained his steed as St. George, and Hercules as Christ wrestles with
Death once more. But while these artificial restorations were going on
in one direction, in another some of the gods were passing through many
countries, outwitting and demolishing their former selves as lowered
to demons. There are many legends which report this strange phase of
development, one of the finest being that of The Goban Saor, told by
Mr. Kennedy. The King of Munster sent for this wonderful craftsman to
build him a castle. The Goban could fashion a spear with three strokes
of his hammer--St. Patrick, who found the Trinity in the shamrock,
may have determined the number of strokes,--and when he wished to drive
in nails high up, had only to throw his hammer at them. On his way to
work for the King, Goban, accompanied by his son, passed the night at
the house of a farmer, whose daughters--one dark and industrious, the
other fair and idle--received from him (Goban) three bits of advice:
'Always have the head of an old woman by the hob; warm yourselves
with your work in the morning; and some time before I come back take
the skin of a newly-killed sheep to the market, and bring itself and
the price of it home again.' As Goban, with his son, journeyed on,
they found a poor man vainly trying to roof his house with three
joists and mud; and by simply making one end of each joist rest on
the middle of another, the other ends being on the wall, the structure
was perfect. He relieved puzzled carpenters by putting up for them the
pegless and nailless bridge described in Cæsar's Commentaries. Having
done various great things, Goban returns to the homestead of the
girls who had received his three bits of advice. The idle one had,
of course, blundered at each point, and been ridiculed in the market
for her proposition to bring back the sheep's skin and its price. The
other, by kindly taking in an aged female relative, by working till
she was warm, and by plucking and selling the wool of the sheep's
skin and bringing home the latter, had obeyed the Goban's advice,
and was selected as his daughter-in-law--the prince attending the
wedding. Now, as to building the castle, Goban knew that the King had
employed on previous castles four architects and then slain them, so
that they should never build another palace equal to his. He therefore
says he has left at home a necessary implement which his wife will
only give to himself or one of royal blood. The King sends his son,
who is kept as hostage till the husband's safe return.

This is the Master Smith of Norse fable, who has a chair from which
none can rise, and who therein binds the devil; which again is the
story of Hephaistos, and the chair in which he entrapped Hera until
she revealed the secret of his birth. The 'devil' whom the Master
Smith entraps is, in Norse mythology, simply Loki: and as Loki is a
degraded Hephaistos, fire in its demonic forms, we have in all these
legends the fire-fiend fought with fire.

This re-dualisation of the gods into demonic and saintly forms
had a long preparation. The forces that brought it about may be
seen already beginning in Hesiod's representations of the gods, in
their presentation on the stage by Euripides, in a manner certain
to demonise them to the vulgar, and to subject them to such laughter
among scholars as still rings across the ages in the divine dialogues
of Lucian. What the gods had become to the Lucians before they
reached the Heines may be gathered from the accompanying caricature
(Fig. 21). [212] Nothing can be more curious than the encounters of the
gods with their dead selves, their Manes. What unconscious ingenuity
in the combinations! St. Martin on his grey steed divides with the
beggar the cloud-cloak of Wodan on his black horse, treading down
just such paupers in his wild hunt; as saint he now shelters those
whom as storm-demon he chilled; but the identity of Junker Martin
is preserved in both titles and myths, and the Martinhorns (cakes),
twisted after fashion of the horns of goat or buck pursued by Wodan,
are deemed potent like horse-shoes to defend house or stable from
the outlawed god. [213]

The more impressive and attractive myths transferred to christian
saints--as the flowers sacred to Freyja became Our Lady's-glove,
or slipper, or smock--there remained to the old gods, in their own
name, only the repulsive and puerile, and by this means they were
doomed at once to become unmitigated knaves and fools. If Titans,
Jötunn or Jinni, they were giant humbugs, whom any small Hans or Jack
might outwit and behead. Our Fairy lore is full of stories which show
that in the North as well as in Latin countries there had already
been a long preparation for the contempt poured by Christianity
upon the Norse deities. Many of the stories, as they now stand in
Folktales, speak of the vanquished demon or giant as the devil,
but it is perfectly easy to detach the being meant from the name
so indiscriminately bestowed by christian priests upon most of the
outlawed deities. In Lithuania, where survived too much reverence for
some of the earlier deities to admit of their being identified with
the devil, we still find them triumphed over by the wit and skill of
the artisan. Such is the case in a favourite popular legend of that
country in which Perkunas--the ancient Thunder-god, corresponding to
Perun in Russia--is involved in disgrace along with the devil by the
sagacity and skill of a carpenter. The aged god, the venerable Devil,
and the young Carpenter, united for a journey. Perkun kept the beasts
off with thunder and lightning, the Devil hunted up food, the Carpenter
cooked. At length they built a hut and lived in it, and planted the
ground with vegetables. Presently a thief invaded their garden. Perkun
and the Devil successively tried to catch him, but were well thrashed;
whereas the Carpenter by playing the fiddle fascinated the thief,
who was a witch, a hag whose hand the fiddler managed to get into
a split tree (under pretence of giving her a music lesson), holding
her there till she gave up her iron waggon and the whip which she had
used on his comrades. After this the three, having decided to separate,
disputed as to which should have the hut; and they finally agreed that
it should be the possession of him who should succeed in frightening
the two others. The Devil raised a storm which frightened Perkun, and
Perkun with his thunder and lightning frightened the Devil; but the
Carpenter held out bravely, and, in the middle of the night, came in
with the witch's waggon, and, cracking her whip, the Devil and Perkun
both took flight, leaving the Carpenter in possession of the hut. [214]

So far as Perkun is concerned, and may be regarded as representative
of the gods, the hut may be symbol of Europe, and the Carpenter
type of the power which conquered all that was left of them after
their fair or noble associations had been transferred to christian
forms. Somewhat later, the devil was involved in a like fate, as we
shall have to consider in a future chapter.

The most horrible superstitions, if tracked in their popular
development, reveal with special impressiveness the progressive
emancipation of man from the phantasms of ferocity which represented
his primal helplessness. The universal werewolf superstition, for
instance, drew its unspeakable horrors from deep and wide-spreading
roots. Originating, probably, in occasional relapses to cannibalism
among tribes or villages which found themselves amid circumstances as
urgent as those which sometimes lead a wrecked crew to draw lots which
shall die to support the rest, it would necessarily become demonised
by the necessity of surrounding cannibalism with dangers worse than
starvation. But it would seem that individuals are always liable,
by arrest of development which usually takes the form of disease
or insanity, to be dragged back to the savage condition of their
race. In the course of this dark history, we note first an increasing
tendency to show the means of the transformation difficult. In the
Volsunga Saga it is by simply putting on a 'wolf-shirt' (wolfskin)
that a man may become a wolf. Then it is said it is done by a belt
made of the skin of a man who has been hung--all executed persons
being sacred to Wodan (because not dying a natural death), to whom
also the wolf was sacred. Then it is added, that the belt must be
marked with the signs of the zodiac, and have a buckle with seven
teeth. Then it is said that 'only a seventh son' is possessed of
this diabolical power; or others say one whose brows meet over his
nose. The means of detecting werewolves and retransforming them to
human shape multiplied as those of transformation diminished in number,
and such remedies reflected the advance of human skill. The werewolf
could be restored by crossing his path with a knife or polished
steel; by a sword laid on the ground with point towards him; by a
silver ball. Human skill was too much for him. In Posen mothers had
discovered that one who had bread in his or her mouth could by even
such means discover werewolves; and fathers, to this hint about keeping
'the wolf from the door,' added that no one could be attacked by any
such monster if he were in a cornfield. The Slav levelled a plough
at him. Thus by one prescription and another, and each representing a
part of man's victory over chaos, the werewolf was driven out of all
but a few 'unlucky' days in the year, and especially found his last
refuge in Twelfth Night. But even on that night the werewolf might
be generally escaped by the simple device of not speaking of him. If
a wolf had to be spoken of he was then called Vermin, and Dr. Wuttke
mentions a parish priest named Wolf in East Prussia who on Twelfth
Night was addressed as Mr. Vermin! The actual wolf being already out
of the forests in most places by art of the builder and the architect;
the phantasmal wolf driven out of fear for most of the year by man's
recognition of his own superiority to this exterminated beast; even
the proverbial 'ears' of the vanishing werewolf ceased to be visible
when on his particular fest-night his name was not mentioned.

The last execution of a man for being an occasional werewolf was,
I believe, in 1589, near Cologne, there being some evidence of
cannibalism. But nine years later, in France, where the belief in
the Loup-garou had been intense, a man so accused was simply shut
up in a mad-house. It is an indication of the revolution which has
occurred, that when next governments paid attention to werewolves
it was because certain vagabonds went about professing to be able
to transform themselves into wolves, in order to extort money from
the more weak-minded and ignorant peasants. [215] There could hardly
be conceived a more significant history: the werewolf leaves where
he entered. Of ignorance and weakness trying, too often in vain,
'to keep the wolf from the door,' was born this voracious phantom;
with the beggar and vagabond, survivals of helplessness become
inveterate, he wanders thin and crafty. He keeps out of the way of all
culture, whether of field or mind. So is it indeed with all demons
in decline--of which I can here only adduce a few characteristic
examples. So runs the rune--


                When the barley there is,
                Then the devils whistle;
                When the barley is threshed,
                Then the devils whine;
                When the barley is ground,
                Then the devils roar;
                When the flour is produced,
                Then the devils perish.


The old Scottish custom, mentioned by Sir Walter Scott, of leaving
around each cultivated field an untilled fringe, called the Gude
Man's Croft, is derived from the ancient belief that unless some
wild place is left to the sylvan spirits they will injure the grain
and vegetables; and, no doubt, some such notion leads the farmers of
Thurgau still to graft mistletoe upon their fruit-trees. Many who can
smile at such customs do yet preserve in their own minds, or those of
their servants or neighbours, crofts which the ploughshare of science
is forbidden to touch, and where the præternatural troops still hide
their shrivelled forms. But this wild girdle becomes ever narrower,
and the images within it tend to blend with rustling leaf and straw,
and the insects, and to be otherwise invisible, save to that second
sight which is received from Glam. As in some shadow-pantomime, the
deities and demons pursue each other in endless procession, dropping
down as awe-inspiring Titans, vanishing as grotesque pigmies--vanishing
beyond the lamp into Nothingness!

So came most of the monsters we have been describing--Animals,
Volcanoes, Icebergs, Deserts, though they might be--by growing culture
and mastery of nature to be called 'the little people;' and perhaps
it is rather through pity than euphemism when they were so often
called, as in Ireland (Duine Matha), 'the good little people.' [216]
At every step in time or space back of the era of mechanic arts
the little fairy gains in physical proportions. The house-spirits
(Domovoi) of Russia are full-sized, shaggy human-shaped beings. In
Lithuania the corresponding phantoms (Kaukas) average only a foot
in height. The Krosnyata, believed in by the Slavs on the Baltic
coast, are similarly small; and by way of the kobolds, elves, fays,
travelling westward, we find the size of such shapes diminishing, until
warnings are given that the teeth must never be picked with a straw,
that slender tube being a favourite residence of the elf! In Bavaria
a little red chafer with seven spots (Coccinella septempunctata) is
able to hold Thor with his lightnings, and in other regions is a form
of the goddess of Love! [217] Our English name for the tiny beetle
'Lady-bug' is derived from the latter notion; and Mr. Karl Blind has
expressed the opinion that our children's rune--


        Lady-bug, lady-bug, fly away home,
        Thy house is on fire, thy children will roam--


is last echo of the Eddaic prophecies of the destruction of the
universe by the fire-fiend Loki! [218] Such reductions of the ancient
gods, demons, and terrors to tiny dimensions would, of course, be
only an indirect result of the general cause stated. They were driven
from the great world, and sought the small world: they survived in
the hut and were adapted to the nerves of the nursery. So alone can
Tithonos live on: beyond the age for which he is born he shrinks to
a grasshopper; and it is now by only careful listening that in the
chirpings of the multitudinous immortals, of which Tithonos is type,
may be distinguished the thunders and roarings of deities and demons
that once made the earth to tremble.



CHAPTER II.

GENERALISATION OF DEMONS.

    The Demons' bequest to their conquerors--Nondescripts--
    Exaggerations of tradition--Saurian Theory of Dragons--
    The Dragon not primitive in Mythology--Monsters of Egyptian,
    Iranian, Vedic, and Jewish Mythologies--Turner's Dragon--
    Della Bella--The Conventional Dragon.


After all those brave victories of man over the first chaos, organic
and inorganic, whose effect upon his phantasms has been indicated;
after fire had slain its thousands, and iron its tens of thousands of
his demons, and the rough artisan become a Nemesis with his rudder and
wheel pursuing the hosts of darkness back into Night and Invisibility;
still stood the grim fact of manyformed pain and evil in the world,
still defying the ascending purposes of mankind. Moreover, confronting
these, he is by no means so different mentally from that man he was
before conquering many foes in detail, and laying their phantoms, as
he was morally. More courage man had gained, and more defiance; and,
intellectually, a step had been taken, if only one: he had learned
that his evils are related to each other. Hunger is of many heads
and forms. Its yawning throat may be seen in the brilliant sky that
lasts till it is as brass, in the deluge, the earthquake, in claw
and fang; and then these together do but relate the hunger-brood to
Fire and Ferocity; the summer sunbeam may be venomous as a serpent,
and the end of them all is Death. Some tendency to these more general
conceptions of an opposing principle and power in the world seems
to be represented in that phase of development at which nondescript
forms arise. These were the conquered demons' bequest.

It is, of course, impossible to measure the various forces which
combined to produce the complex symbolical forms of physical
evil. Tradition is not always a good draughtsman, and in portraying
for a distant generation in Germany a big snake killed in India might
not be exact as to the number of its heads or other details. Heroes
before Falstaff were liable to overstate their foes in buckram. The
less measurable a thing by fact, the more immense in fancy: werewolves
of especial magnitude haunted regions where there had not been actual
wolves for centuries; huge serpents play a large part in the annals
of Ireland, where not even the smallest have been found. But after all
natural influences have been considered, one can hardly look upon the
sphynx, the chimæra, or on a conventional dragon, without perceiving
that he is in presence of a higher creation than a demonic bear or a
giant ruffian. The fundamental difference between the two classes is
that one is natural, the other præternatural. Of course a werewolf is
as præternatural as a gryphon to the eye of science, but as original
expressions of human imagination the former could hardly have been a
more miraculous monster than the Siamese twins to intelligent people
to-day. The demonic forms are generally natural, albeit caricatured
or exaggerated. And this effort at a præternatural conception is,
in this early form, by no means mere superstition; rather is it
poetic and artistic,--a kind of crude effort at allgemeinheit, at
realisation of the types of evil--the claw-principle, fang-principle
in the universe, the physiognomies of venom and pain detached from
forms to which they are accidental.

Some of the particular forms we have been considering are, indeed,
by no means of the prosaic type. Such conceptions as Ráhu, Cerberus,
and several others, are transitional between the natural and mystical
conceptions; while the sphynx, however complete a combination of ideal
forms, is not all demonic. In this Part III. are included those forms
whose combination is not found in objective nature, but which are
yet travesties of nature and genuine fauna of the human mind.

Perhaps it may be thought somewhat arbitrary that I should describe
all these intermediate forms between demon and devil by the term
Dragon; but I believe there is no other fabulous form which includes
so many individual types of transition, or whose evolution may be
so satisfactorily traced from the point where it is linked with the
demon to that where it bequeathes its characters to the devil. While,
however, this term is used as the best that suggests itself, it cannot
be accepted as limiting our inquiry or excluding other abstract forms
which ideally correspond to the dragon,--the generalised expression
for an active, powerful, and intelligent enemy to mankind, a being
who is antagonism organised, and able to command every weapon in
nature for an antihuman purpose.

The opinion has steadily gained that the conventional dragon is the
traditional form of some huge Saurian. It has been suggested that some
of those extinct forms may have been contemporaneous with the earliest
men, and that the traditions of conflicts with them, transmitted orally
and pictorially, have resulted in preserving their forms in fable
(proximately). The restorations of Saurians on their islet at the
Crystal Palace show how much common sense there is in this theory. The
discoveries of Professor Marsh of Yale College have proved that the
general form of the dragon is startlingly prefigured in nature; and
Mr. Alfred Tylor, in an able paper read before the Anthropological
Society, has shown that we are very apt to be on the safe side in
sticking to the theory of an 'object-origin' for most things.

Concerning this theory, it may be said that the earliest descriptions,
both written and pictorial, which have been discovered of the
reptilian monsters around which grew the germs of our dragon-myths,
are crocodiles or serpents, and not dragons of any conventional
kind,--with a few doubtful exceptions. In an Egyptian papyrus there
is a hieroglyphic picture of San-nu Hut-ur, 'plunger of the sea;'
it is a marine, dolphin-like monster, with four feet, and a tail
ending in a serpent's head. [219] With wings, this might approach
the dragon-form. Again, Amen-Ra slew Naka, and this serpent 'saved
his feet.' Possibly the phrase is ironical, and means that the
serpent saved nothing; but apart from that, the poem is too highly
metaphorical--the victorious god himself being described in it
as a 'beautiful bull'--for the phrase to be important. On Egyptian
monuments are pictured serpents with human heads and members, and the
serpent Nahab-ka is pictured on amulets with two perfect human legs
and feet. [220] Winged serpents are found on Egyptian monuments, but
almost as frequently with the incredible number of four as with the
conceivable two wings of the pterodactyl. The forms of the serpents
thus portrayed with anthropomorphic legs and slight wings are, in
their main shapes, of ordinary species. In the Iranian tradition of the
temptation of the first man and woman, Meschia and Meschiane, by the
'two-footed serpent of lies.' And it is possible that out of this myth
of the 'two-footed' serpent grew the puzzling legend of Genesis that
the serpent of Eden was sentenced thereafter to crawl on his belly. The
snake's lack of feet, however, might with equal probability have given
rise to the explanation given in mussulman and rabbinical stories of
his feet being cut off by the avenging angel. But the antiquity of the
Iranian myth is doubtful; while the superior antiquity of the Hindu
fable of Ráhu, to which it seems related, suggests that the two legs
of the Ahriman serpent, like the four arms of serpent-tailed Ráhu,
is an anthropomorphic addition. In the ancient planispheres we find
the 'crooked serpent' mentioned in the Book of Job, but no dragon.

The two great monsters of Vedic mythology, Vritra and Ahi, are
not so distinguishable from each other in the Vedas as in more
recent fables. Vritra is very frequently called Vritra Ahi--Ahi
being explained in the St. Petersburg Dictionary as 'the Serpent
of the Heavens, the demon Vritra.' Ahi literally means 'serpent,'
answering to the Greek echi-s, echi-dna; and when anything is added
it appears to be anthropomorphic--heads, arms, eyes--as in the case
of the Egyptian serpent-monsters. The Vedic demon Urana is described
as having three heads, six eyes, and ninety-nine arms.

There would appear to be as little reason for ascribing to the
Tannin of the Old Testament the significance of dragon, though it is
generally so translated. It is used under circumstances which show it
to mean whale, serpent, and various other beasts. Jeremiah (xiv. 6)
compares them to wild asses snuffing the wind, and Micah (i. 8)
describes their 'wailing.' The fiery serpents said to have afflicted
Israel in the wilderness are called seraphim, but neither in their
natural or mythological forms do they anticipate our conventional
dragon beyond the fiery character that is blended with the serpent
character. Nor do the descriptions of Behemoth and Leviathan comport
with the dragon-form.

The serpent as an animal is a consummate development. Its feet, so
far from having been amputated, as the fables say, in punishment of
its sin, have been withdrawn beneath the skin as crutches used in a
feebler period. It is found as a tertiary fossil. Since, therefore,
the dragon form ex hypothesi is a reminiscence of the huge, now fossil,
Saurians which preceded the serpent in time, the early mythologies
could hardly have so regularly described great serpents instead of
dragons. If the realistic theory we are discussing were true, the
earliest combats--those of Indra, for instance--ought to have been
with dragons, and the serpent enemies would have multiplied as time
went on; but the reverse is the case--the (alleged) extinct forms
being comparatively modern in heroic legend.

Mr. John Ruskin once remarked upon Turner's picture of the Dragon
guarding the Hesperides, that this conception so early as 1806,
when no Saurian skeleton was within the artist's reach, presented
a singular instance of the scientific imagination. As a coincidence
with such extinct forms Turner's dragon is surpassed by the monster on
which a witch rides in one of the engravings of Della Bella, published
in 1637. In that year, on the occasion of the marriage of the grand
duke Ferdinand II. in Florence, there was a masque d'Inferno, whose
representations were engraved by Della Bella, of which this is one, so
that it may be rather to some scenic artist than to the distinguished
imitator of Callot that we owe this grotesque form, which the late
Mr. Wright said 'might have been borrowed from some distant geological
period.' If so, the fact would present a curious coincidence with the
true history of Turner's Dragon; for after Mr. Ruskin had published
his remark about the scientific imagination represented in it,
an old friend of the artist declared that Turner himself had told
him that he copied that dragon from a Christmas spectacle in Drury
Lane theatre. But Turner had shown the truest scientific instinct
in repairing to the fossil-beds of human imagination, and drawing
thence the conventional form which never had existence save as the
structure of cumulative tradition.



CHAPTER III.

THE SERPENT.

    The beauty of the Serpent--Emerson on ideal forms--Michelet's
    thoughts on the viper's head--Unique characters of the
    Serpent--The monkey's horror of Snakes--The Serpent protected
    by superstition--Human defencelessness against its subtle
    powers--Dubufe's picture of the Fall of Man.


In the accompanying picture, a medal of the ancient city of Tyre,
two of the most beautiful forms of nature are brought together,--the
Serpent and the Egg. Mr. D. R. Hay has shown the endless extent to
which the oval arches have been reproduced in the ceramic arts of
antiquity; and the same sense of symmetry which made the Greek vase
a combination of Eggs prevails in the charm which the same graceful
outline possesses wherever suggested,--as in curves of the swan,
crescent of the moon, the elongated shell,--on which Aphrodite may well
be poised, since the same contours find their consummate expression
in the flowing lines attaining their repose in the perfect form of
woman. The Serpent--model of the 'line of grace and beauty'--has had
an even larger fascination for the eye of the artist and the poet. It
is the one active form in nature which cannot be ungraceful, and to
estimate the extent of its use in decoration is impossible, because
all undulating and coiling lines are necessarily serpent forms. But
in addition to the perfections of this form--which fulfil all the
ascent of forms in Swedenborg's mystical morphology, circular, spiral,
perpetual-circular, vortical, celestial--the Serpent bears on it, as
it were, gems of the underworld that seem to find their counterpart
in galaxies.

One must conclude that Serpent-worship is mainly founded in fear. The
sacrifices offered to that animal are alone sufficient to prove
this. But as it is certain that the Serpent appears in symbolism
and poetry in many ways which have little or no relation to its
terrors, we may well doubt whether it may not have had a career in the
human imagination previous to either of the results of its reign of
terror,--worship and execration. It is the theory of Pestalozzi that
every child is born an artist, and through its pictorial sense must be
led on its first steps of education. The infant world displayed also
in its selection of sacred trees and animals a profound appreciation
of beauty. The myths in which the Serpent is represented as kakodemon
refer rather to its natural history than to its appearance; and even
when its natural history came to be observed, there was--there now
is--such a wide discrepancy between its physiology and its functions,
also between its intrinsic characters and their relation to man,
that we can only accept its various aspects in mythology without
attempting to trace their relative precedence in time.

The past may in this case be best interpreted by the present. How
different now to wise and observant men are the suggestions of this
exceptional form in nature!

Let us read a passage concerning it from Ralph Waldo Emerson:--

'In the old aphorism, nature is always self-similar. In the plant,
the eye or germinative point opens to a leaf, then to another leaf,
with a power of transforming the leaf into radicle, stamen, pistil,
petal, bract, sepal, or seed. The whole art of the plant is still to
repeat leaf on leaf without end, the more or less of heat, light,
moisture, and food, determining the form it shall assume. In the
animal, nature makes a vertebra, or a spine of vertebræ, and helps
herself still by a new spine, with a limited power of modifying its
form,--spine on spine, to the end of the world. A poetic anatomist,
in our own day, teaches that a snake being a horizontal line, and man
being an erect line, constitute a right angle; and between the lines
of this mystical quadrant, all animated beings find their place:
and he assumes the hair-worm, the span-worm, or the snake, as the
type or prediction of the spine. Manifestly, at the end of the spine,
nature puts out smaller spines, as arms; at the end of the arms, new
spines, as hands; at the other end she repeats the process, as legs
and feet. At the top of the column she puts out another spine, which
doubles or loops itself over, as a span-worm, into a ball, and forms
the skull, with extremities again: the hands being now the upper jaw,
the feet the lower jaw, the fingers and toes being represented this
time by upper and lower teeth. This new spine is destined to high
uses. It is a new man on the shoulders of the last.' [221]

As one reads this it might be asked, How could its idealism be more
profoundly pictured for the eye than in the Serpent coiled round
the egg,--the seed out of which all these spines must branch out for
their protean variations? What refrains of ancient themes subtly sound
between the lines,--from the Serpent doomed to crawl on its belly in
the dust, to the Serpent that is lifted up!

Now let us turn to the page of Jules Michelet, and read what the
Serpent signified to one mood of his sympathetic nature.

'It was one of my saddest hours when, seeking in nature a refuge from
thoughts of the age, I for the first time encountered the head of
the viper. This occurred in a valuable museum of anatomical imitations.

The head marvellously imitated and enormously enlarged, so as to
remind one of the tiger's and the jaguar's, exposed in its horrible
form a something still more horrible. You seized at once the delicate,
infinite, fearfully prescient precautions by which the deadly machine
is so potently armed. Not only is it provided with numerous keen-edged
teeth, not only are these teeth supplied with an ingenious reservoir
of poison which slays immediately, but their extreme fineness which
renders them liable to fracture is compensated by an advantage that
perhaps no other animal possesses, namely, a magazine of supernumerary
teeth, to supply at need the place of any accidentally broken. Oh,
what provisions for killing! What precautions that the victim shall
not escape! What love for this horrible creature! I stood by it
scandalised, if I may so speak, and with a sick soul. Nature, the great
mother, by whose side I had taken refuge, shocked me with a maternity
so cruelly impartial. Gloomily I walked away, bearing on my heart a
darker shadow than rested on the day itself, one of the sternest in
winter. I had come forth like a child; I returned home like an orphan,
feeling the notion of a Providence dying away within me.' [222]

Many have so gone forth and so returned; some to say, 'There is no
God;' a few to say (as is reported of a living poet), 'I believe in
God, but am against him;' but some also to discern in the viper's
head Nature's ironclad, armed with her best science to defend the
advance of form to humanity along narrow passes.

The primitive man was the child that went forth when his world was also
a child, and when the Serpent was still doing its part towards making
him and it a man. It was a long way from him to the dragon-slayer; but
it is much that he did not merely cower; he watched and observed, and
there is not one trait belonging to his deadly crawling contemporaries
that he did not note and spiritualise in such science as was possible
to him.

The last-discovered of the topes in India represents
Serpent-worshippers gathered around their deity, holding their tongues
with finger and thumb. No living form in nature could be so fitly
regarded in that attitude. Not only is the Serpent normally silent,
but in its action it has 'the quiet of perfect motion.' The maximum of
force is shown in it, relatively to its size, along with the minimum
of friction and visible effort. Footless, wingless, as a star, its
swift gliding and darting is sometimes like the lightning whose forked
tongue it seemed to incarnate. The least touch of its ingenious tooth
is more destructive than the lion's jaw. What mystery in its longevity,
in its self-subsistence, in its self-renovation! Out of the dark it
comes arrayed in jewels, a crawling magazine of death in its ire,
in its unknown purposes able to renew its youth, and fable for man
imperishable life! Wonderful also are its mimicries. It sometimes
borrows colours of the earth on which it reposes, the trees on which it
hangs, now seems covered with eyes, and the 'spectacled snake' appeared
to have artificially added to its vision. Altogether it is unique
among natural forms, and its vast history in religious speculation
and mythology does credit to the observation of primitive man.

Recent experiments have shown the monkeys stand in the greatest terror
of snakes. Such terror is more and more recognised as a survival in
the European man. The Serpent is almost the only animal which can
follow a monkey up a tree and there attack its young. Our arboreal
anthropoid progenitors could best have been developed in some place
naturally enclosed and fortified, as by precipices which quadrupeds
could not scale, but which apes might reach by swinging and leaping
from trees. But there could be no seclusion where the Serpent could
not follow. I am informed by the King of Bonny that in his region
of Africa the only serpent whose worship is fully maintained is the
Nomboh (Leaper), a small snake, white and glistening, whose bite is
fatal, and which, climbing into trees, springs thence upon its prey
beneath, and can travel far by leaping from branch to branch. The
first arboreal man who added a little to the natural defences of any
situation might stand in tradition as a god planting a garden; but even
he would not be supposed able to devise any absolute means of defence
against the subtlest of all the beasts. Among the three things Solomon
found too wonderful for him was 'the way of a serpent upon a rock'
(Prov. xxx. 19). This comparative superiority of the Serpent to any and
all devices and contrivances known to primitive men--whose proverbs
must have made most of Solomon's wisdom--would necessarily have its
effect upon the animal and mental nerves of our race in early times,
and the Serpent would find in his sanctity a condition favourable to
survival and multiplication. It is this fatal power of superstition
to change fancies into realities which we find still protecting the
Serpent in various countries. From being venerated as the arbiter of
life and death, it might thus actually become such in large districts
of country. In Dubufe's picture of the Fall of Man, the wrath of
Jehovah is represented by the lightning, which has shattered the tree
beneath which the offending pair are now crouching; beyond it Satan
is seen in human shape raising his arm in proud defiance against the
blackened sky. So would the Serpent appear. His victims were counted
by many thousands where the lightning laid low one. Transmitted along
the shuddering nerves of many generations came the confession of the
Son of Sirach, 'There is no head above the head of a serpent.'



CHAPTER IV.

THE WORM.

    An African Serpent-drama in America--The Veiled Serpent--The
    Ark of the Covenant--Aaron's Rod--The Worm--An Episode
    on the Dii Involuti--The Serapes--The Bambino at
    Rome--Serpent-transformations.


On the eve of January 1, 1863,--that historic New Year's Day on
which President Lincoln proclaimed freedom to American slaves,--I was
present at a Watchnight held by negroes in a city of that country. In
opening the meeting the preacher said,--though in words whose eloquent
shortcomings I cannot reproduce:--'Brethren and sisters, the President
of the United States has promised that, if the Confederates do not
lay down their arms, he will free all their slaves to-morrow. They
have not laid down their arms. To-morrow will be the day of liberty
to the oppressed. But we all know that evil powers are around the
President. While we sit here they are trying to make him break his
word. But we have come together to watch, and see that he does not
break his word. Brethren, the bad influences around the President
to-night are stronger than any Copperheads. [223] The Old Serpent
is abroad to-night, with all his emissaries, in great power. His
wrath is great, because he knows his hour is near. He will be in this
church this evening. As midnight comes on we shall hear his rage. But,
brethren and sisters, don't be alarmed. Our prayers will prevail. His
head will be bruised. His back will be broken. He will go raging to
hell, and God Almighty's New Year will make the United States a true
land of freedom.'

The sensation caused among the hundreds of negroes present by these
words was profound; they were frequently interrupted by cries of
'Glory!' and there were tears of joy. But the scene and excitement
which followed were indescribable. A few moments before midnight
the congregation were requested to kneel, which they did, and prayer
succeeded prayer with increasing fervour. Presently a loud, prolonged
hiss was heard. There were cries--'He's here! he's here!' Then came a
volley of hisses; they seemed to proceed from every part of the room,
hisses so entirely like those of huge serpents that the strongest
nerves were shaken; above them rose the preacher's prayer that
had become a wild incantation, and ecstatic ejaculations became so
universal that it was a marvel what voices were left to make the
hisses. Finally, from a neighbouring steeple the twelve strokes
of midnight sounded on the frosty air, and immediately the hisses
diminished, and presently died away altogether, and the New Year
that brought freedom to four millions of slaves was ushered in by
the jubilant chorus of all present singing a hymn of victory.

Far had come those hisses and that song of victory, terminating the
dragon-drama of America. In them was the burden of Ezekiel: 'Son of
man, set thy face against Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and prophesy against
him and against all Egypt, saying, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah:
Behold I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon
that lieth in the midst of the rivers ... I will put a hook in thy
jaws.' In them was the burden of Isaiah: 'In that day Jehovah with
his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the
piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent: he shall
slay the dragon that is in the sea.' In it was the cry of Zophar:
'His meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within
him. He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again:
God shall cast them out of his belly.' And these Hebrew utterances,
again, were but the distant echoes of far earlier voices of those
African slaves still seen pictured with their chains on the ruined
walls of Egypt,--voices that gathered courage at last to announce the
never-ending struggle of man with Oppression, as that combat between
god and serpent which never had a nobler event than when the dying
hiss of Slavery was heard in America, and the victorious Sun rose
upon a New World of free and equal men.

The Serpent thus exalted in America to a type of oppression is very
different from any snake that may this day be found worshipped as a
deity by the African in his native land. The swarthy snake-worshipper
in his migration took his god along with him in his chest or
basket--at once ark and altar--and in that hiding-place it underwent
transformations. He emerged as the protean emblem of both good and
evil. In a mythologic sense the serpent certainly held its tail in its
mouth. No civilisation has reached the end of its typical supremacy.

Concerning the accompanying Eleusinian form (Fig. 24), Calmet
says:--'The mysterious trunk, coffer, or basket, may be justly
reckoned among the most remarkable and sacred instruments of worship,
which formed part of the processional ceremonies in the heathen
world. This was held so sacred that it was not publicly exposed to
view, or publicly opened, but was reserved for the inspection of the
initiated, the fully initiated only. Completely to explain this symbol
would require a dissertation; and, indeed, it has been considered,
more or less, by those who have written on the nature of the Ark of
the testimony among the Hebrews. Declining the inquiry at present, we
merely call the attention of the reader to what this mystical coffer
was supposed to contain--a serpent!' The French Benedictine who wrote
this passage, though his usual candour shames the casuistry of our own
time, found it necessary to conceal the Hebrew Ark: it was precisely
so that the occupant of the Ark was originally concealed; and though
St. John exorcised it from the Chalice its genius lingers in the Pyx,
before whose Host 'lifted up' the eyes of worshippers are lowered.

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (chap. ix.), describing
the Tabernacle, says: 'After the second veil, the tabernacle which
is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the
ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was
the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the
tables of the covenant.' But this rod of Aaron, which, by budding,
had swallowed up all rival pretensions to the tribal priesthood,
was the same rod which had been changed to a serpent, and swallowed
up the rod-serpents of the sorcerers in Pharaoh's presence. So soft
and subtle is 'the way of a serpent upon a rock!'

This veiling of the Serpent, significant of a great deal, is
characteristic even of the words used to name it. Of these I have
selected one to head this chapter, because it is one of the innumerable
veils which shielded this reptile's transformation from a particular
external danger to a demonic type. This general description of things
that wind about or turn (vermes, traced by some to the Sanskrit
root hvar, 'curved'), gradually came into use to express the demon
serpents. Dante and Milton call Satan a worm. No doubt among the two
hundred names for the Serpent, said to be mentioned in an Arabic work,
we should find parallels to this old adaptation of the word 'worm.' In
countries--as Germany and England--where no large serpents are found,
the popular imagination could not be impressed by merely saying that
Siegfried or Lambton had slain a snake. The tortuous character of
the snake was preserved, but, by that unconscious dexterity which so
often appears in the making of myths, it was expanded so as to include
a power of supernatural transformation. The Lambton worm comes out of
the well very small, but it afterwards coils in nine huge folds around
its hill. The hag-ridden daughter of the King of Northumberland, who


                  crept into a hole a worm
            And out stept a fair ladye,


did but follow the legendary rule of the demonic serpent tribe.

Why was the Serpent slipped into the Ark or coffer and hid behind
veils? To answer this will require here an episode.

In the Etruscan theology and ceremonial the supreme power was lodged
with certain deities that were never seen. They were called the Dii
Involuti, the veiled gods. Not even the priests ever looked upon
them. When any dire calamity occurred, it was said these mysterious
deities had spoken their word in the council of the gods,--a word
always final and fatal.

There have been fine theories on the subject, and the Etruscans
have been complimented for having high transcendental views of the
invisible nature of the Divine Being. But a more prosaic theory is
probably true. These gods were wrapped up because they were not fit to
be seen. The rude carvings of some savage tribe, they had been seen and
adored at first: temples had been built for them, and their priesthood
had grown powerful; but as art advanced and beautiful statues arose,
these rude designs could not bear the contrast, and the only way of
preserving reverence for them, and the institutions grown up around
them, was to hide them out of sight altogether. Then it could be said
they were so divinely beautiful that the senses would be overpowered
by them.

There have been many veiled deities, and though their veils have
been rationalised, they are easily pierced. The inscription on the
temple of Isis at Sais was: 'I am that which has been, which is,
and which shall be, and no one has yet lifted the veil that hides
me.' Isis at this time had probably become a negro Madonna, like
that still worshipped in Spain as holiest of images, and called by
the same title, 'Our Immaculate Lady.' As the fair race and the dark
mingled in Egypt, the primitive Nubian complexion and features of
Isis could not inspire such reverence as more anciently, and before
her also a curtain was hung. The Ark of Moses carried this veil
into the wilderness, and concealed objects not attractive to look
at--probably two scrawled stones, some bones said to be those of
Joseph, a pot of so-called manna, and the staff said to have once
been a serpent and afterwards blossomed. Fashioned by a rude tribe,
the Ark was a fit thing to hide, and hidden it has been to this
day. When the veil of the Temple was rent,--allegorically at the
death of Christ, actually by Titus,--nothing of the kind was found;
and it would seem that the Jews must long have been worshipping before
a veil with emptiness behind it. Paul discovered that the veil said
to have covered the face of Moses when he descended from Sinai was a
myth; it meant that the people should not see to the end of what was
nevertheless transient. 'Their minds were blinded; for unto this day,
when Moses is read, that veil is on their heart.'

Kircher says the Seraphs of Egypt were images without any eminency of
limbs, rolled as it were in swaddling clothes, partly made of stone,
partly of metal, wood, or shell. Similar images, he says, were called
by the Romans 'secret gods.' As an age of scepticism advanced, it was
sometimes necessary that these 'involuti' should be slightly revealed,
lest it should be said there was no god there at all.  Such is the
case with the famous bambino of Aracoeli Church in Rome. This effigy,
said to have been carved by a pilgrim out of a tree on the Mount of
Olives, and painted by St. Luke while the pilgrim was sleeping, is now
kept in its ark, and visitors are allowed to see part of its painted
face. When the writer of this requested a sight of the whole form, or
of the head at any rate, the exhibiting priest was astounded at the
suggestion. No doubt he was right: the only wonder is that the face
is not hid also, for a more ingeniously ugly thing than the flat,
blackened, and rouged visage of the bambino it were difficult to
conceive. But it wears a very cunning veil nevertheless. The face is
set in marvellous brilliants, but these are of less effect in hiding
its ugliness than the vesture of mythology around it. The adjacent
walls are covered with pictures of the miracles it has performed,
and which have attracted to it such faith that it is said at one
time to have received more medical fees than all the physicians in
Rome together. Priests have discovered that a veil over the mind
is thicker than a veil on the god. Such is the popular veneration
for the bambino, that, in 1849, the Republicans thought it politic
to present the monks with the Pope's state coach to carry the idol
about. In the end it was proved that the Pope was securely seated
beside the bambino, and he presently emerged from behind his veil also.

There came, then, a period when the Serpent crept behind the veil,
or lid of the ark, or into a chalice,--a very small worm, but yet
able to gnaw the staff of Solomon. No wisdom could be permitted to
rise above fear itself, though its special sources might be here and
there reduced or vanquished. The snake had taught man at last its arts
of war. Man had summoned to his aid the pig, and the ibis made havoc
among the reptiles; and some of that terror which is the parent of
that kind of devotion passed away. When it next emerged, it was in
twofold guise,--as Agathodemon and Kakodemon,--but in both forms as
the familiar of some higher being. It was as the genius of Minerva,
of Esculapius, of St. Euphemia. We have already seen him (Fig. 13)
as the genius of the Eleans, the Sosopolis, where also we see the
Serpent hurrying into his cavern, leaving the mother and child to
be worshipped in the temple of Lucina. In Christian symbolism the
Seraphim--'burning (sáraf) serpents'--veiled their faces and forms
beneath their huge wings, crossed in front, and so have been able to
become 'the eminent,' and to join in the praises of modern communities
at being delivered from just such imaginary fiery worms as themselves!



CHAPTER V.

APOPHIS.

    The Naturalistic Theory of Apophis--The Serpent of Time--
    Epic of the Worm--The Asp of Melite--Vanquishers of Time--
    Nachash-Beriach--The Serpent-Spy--Treading on Serpents.


The considerations advanced in the previous chapter enable us to
dismiss with facility many of the rationalistic interpretations which
have been advanced to explain the monstrous serpents of sacred books
by reference to imaginary species supposed to be now extinct. Flying
serpents, snakes many-headed, rain-bringing, woman-hating, &c., may be
suffered to survive as the fauna of bibliolatrous imaginations. Such
forms, however, are of such mythologic importance that it is necessary
to watch carefully against this method of realistic interpretation,
especially as there are many actual characteristics of serpents
sufficiently mysterious to conspire with it. A recent instance of
this literalism may here be noticed.

Mr. W. R. Cooper [224] supposes the evil serpent of Egyptian Mythology
to have a real basis in 'a large and unidentified species of coluber,
of great strength and hideous longitude,' which 'was, even from the
earliest ages, associated as the representative of spiritual, and
occasionally physical evil, and was named Hof, Rehof, or Apophis,'
the 'destroyer, the enemy of the gods, and the devourer of the souls
of men.' That such a creature, he adds, 'once inhabited the Libyan
desert, we have the testimony of both Hanno the Carthaginian and Lucan
the Roman, and if it is now no longer an inhabitant of that region,
it is probably owing to the advance of civilisation having driven it
farther south.'

Apart from the extreme improbability that African exploration should
have brought no rumours of such a monster if it existed, it may be said
concerning Mr. Cooper's theory: (1.) If, indeed, the references cited
were to a reptile now unknown, we might be led by mythologic analogy
to expect that it would have been revered beyond either the Asp or the
Cobra. In proportion to the fear has generally been the exaltation of
its objects. Primitive peoples have generally gathered courage to pour
invective upon evil monsters when--either from their non-existence
or rarity--there was least danger of its being practically resented
as a personal affront. (2.) The regular folds of Apophis on the
sarcophagus of Seti I. and elsewhere are so evidently mystical and
conventional that, apparently, they refer to a serpent-form only as
the guilloche on a wall may refer to sea-waves. Apophis (or Apap)
would have been a decorative artist to fold himself in such order.

These impossible labyrinthine coils suggest Time, as the serpent
with its tail in its mouth signifies Eternity,--an evolution of the
same idea. This was the interpretation given by a careful scholar,
the late William Hickson, [225] to the procession of nine persons
depicted on the sarcophagus mentioned as bearing a serpent, each
holding a fold, all being regular enough for a frieze. 'The scene,'
says this author, 'appears to relate to the Last Judgment, for Osiris
is seen on his throne, passing sentence on a crowd before him; and
in the same tableaux are depicted the river that divides the living
from the dead, and the bridge of life. The death of the serpent may
possibly be intended to symbolise the end of time.' This idea of long
duration might be a general one relating to all time, or it might
refer to the duration of individual life; it involved naturally the
evils and agonies of life; but the fundamental conception is more
simple, and also more poetic, than even these implications, and it
means eternal waste and decay. One has need only to sit before a clock
to see Apophis: there coil upon coil winds the ever-moving monster,
whose tooth is remorseless, devouring little by little the strength
and majesty of man, and reducing his grandest achievements--even his
universe--to dust. Time is the undying Worm.


        God having made me worm, I make you--smoke.
        Though safe your nameless essence from my stroke,
                              Yet do I gnaw no less
        Love in the heart, stars in the livid space,--
        God jealous,--making vacant thus your place,--
                              And steal your witnesses.

        Since the star flames, man would be wrong to teach
        That the grave's worm cannot such glory reach;
                              Naught real is save me.
        Within the blue, as 'neath the marble slab I lie,
        I bite at once the star within the sky,
                              The apple on the tree.

        To gnaw yon star is not more tough to me
        Than hanging grapes on vines of Sicily;
                              I clip the rays that fall;
        Eternity yields not to splendours brave.
        Fly, ant, all creatures die, and nought can save
                              The constellations all.

        The starry ship, high in the ether sea,
        Must split and wreck in the end: this thing shall be:
                              The broad-ringed Saturn toss
        To ruin: Sirius, touched by me, decay,
        As the small boat from Ithaca away
                              That steers to Kalymnos. [226]


The natural history of Apophis, so far as he has any, is probably
suggested in the following passage cited by Mr. Cooper from
Wilkinson:--'Ælian relates many strange stories of the asp, and the
respect paid to it by the Egyptians; but we may suppose that in his
sixteen species of asps other snakes were included. He also speaks
of a dragon which was sacred in the Egyptian Melite, and another
kind of snake called Paries or Paruas, dedicated to Æsculapius. The
serpent of Melite had priests and ministers, a table and bowl. It
was kept in a tower, and fed by the priests with cakes made of flour
and honey, which they placed there in a bowl. Having done this they
retired. The next day, on returning to the apartment, the food was
found to be eaten, and the same quantity was again put into the bowl,
for it was not lawful for any one to see the sacred reptile.' [227]

It was in this concealment from the outward eye that the Serpent was
able to assume such monstrous proportions to the eye of imagination;
and, indeed, it is not beyond conjecture that this serpent of Melite,
coming in conflict with Osirian worship, was degraded and demonised
into that evil monster (Apophis) whom Horus slew to avenge his
destruction of Osiris (for he was often identified with Typhon).

Though Horus cursed and slew this terrible demon-serpent, he reappears
in all Egyptian Mythology with undiminished strength, and all evil
powers were the brood of himself or Typhon, who were sometimes
described as brothers and sometimes as the same beings. From the
'Ritual of the Dead' we learn that it was the high privilege and task
of the heroic dead to be reconstructed and go forth to encounter
and subdue the agents of Apophis, who sent out to engage them the
crocodiles Seb, Hem, and Shui, and other crocodiles from north, south,
east, and west; the hero having conquered these, acquires their might,
and next prevails over the walking viper Ru; and so on with other
demons called 'precursors of Apophis,' until their prince himself is
encountered and slain, all the hero's guardian deities attending to
fix a knife in each of the monster's folds. These are the Vanquishers
of Time,--the immortal.

In Apophis we find the Serpent fairly developed to a principle of
evil. He is an 'accuser of the sun;' the twelve gateways into Hades
are surmounted by his representatives, which the Sun must pass--twelve
hours of night. He is at once the 'Nachash beriach' and 'Nachash
aktalon'--the 'Cross-bar serpent' and the 'Tortuous serpent'--which we
meet with in Isa. xxvii. 1: 'In that day the Lord with his sore and
great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent,
even leviathan that crooked serpent.' The marginal translation in the
English version is 'crossing like a bar,' instead of piercing, and the
Vulgate has serpens vectis. This refers to the moral function of the
serpent, as barring the way, or guarding the door. No doubt this is the
'crooked serpent' of Job xxvi. 13, for the astrological sense of it
does not invalidate the terrestrial significance. Imagination could
only project into the heavens what it had learned on earth. Bochart
in identifying 'Nachash-beriach' as 'the flying Serpent,' is quite
right: the Seraph, or winged Serpent, which barred the way to the tree
of life in Eden, and in some traditions was the treacherous guard
at the gate of the garden, and which bit Israel in the wilderness,
was this same protean Apophis. For such tasks, and to soar into the
celestial planisphere, the Serpent must needs have wings; and thus
it is already far on its way to become the flying Dragon. But in one
form, as the betrayer of man, it must lose its wings and crawl upon
the ground for ever. The Serpent is thus not so much agathodemon
and kakodemon in one form, as a principle of destructiveness which
is sometimes employed by the deity to punish his enemies, as Horus
employs fiery Kheti, but sometimes requires to be himself punished.

There have been doubts whether the familiar derivation of ophis,
serpent, from ops, the eye, shall continue. Some connect the Greek
word with echis, but Curtius maintains that the old derivation from
ops is correct. [228] Even were this not the etymology, the popularity
of it would equally suggest the fact that this reptile was of old
supposed to kill with its glance; and it was also generally regarded
as gifted with præternatural vision. By a similar process to that
which developed avenging Furies out of the detective dawn--Erinyes
from Saranyu, Satan from Lucifer [229]--this subtle Spy might have
become also a retributive and finally a malignant power. The Furies
were portrayed bearing serpents in their hands, and each of these
might carry ideally the terrors of Apophis: Time also is a detective,
and the guilty heard it saying, 'Your sin will find you out.'

Through many associations of this kind the Serpent became at an
early period an agent of ordeal. Any one handling it with impunity
was regarded as in league with it, or specially hedged about by the
deity whose 'hands formed the crooked serpent.' It may have been
as snake-charmers that Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh and
influenced his imagination; or, if the story be a myth, its existence
still shows that serpent performances would then have been regarded
as credentials of divine authentication. So when Paul was shipwrecked
on Malta, where a viper is said to have fastened on his hand, the
barbarians, having at first inferred that he was a murderer, 'whom
though he hath escaped the sea, yet Vengeance suffereth not to live,'
concluded he was a god when they found him unharmed. Innumerable
traditions preceded the words ascribed to Christ (Luke x. 19),
'Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions,
and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means
hurt you.' It is instructive to compare this sentence attributed to
Christ with the notion of the barbarians concerning Paul's adventure,
whatever it may have been. Paul's familiarity with the Serpent seems
to them proof that he is a god. Such also is the idea represented
in Isa. xi. 8, 'The sucking child shall play on the hole of the
asp.' But the idea of treading on serpents marks a period more
nearly corresponding to that of the infant Hercules strangling
the serpents. Yet though these two conceptions--serpent-treading,
and serpent-slaying--approach each other, they are very different
in source and significance, both morally and historically. The word
used in Luke, pateiin, conveys the idea of walking over something in
majesty, not in hostility; it must be interpreted by the next sentence
(x. 20), 'Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are
subject unto you (ta pneumata hypotassetai).' The serpent-slayer
or dragon-slayer is not of Semitic origin. The awful supremacy of
Jehovah held all the powers of destruction chained to his hand;
and to ask man if he could draw out Leviathan with a hook was only
another form of reminding him of his own inferiority to the creator
and lord of Leviathan. How true the Semitic ideas running through the
Bible, and especially represented in the legend of Paul in Malta,
are to the barbarian nature is illustrated by an incident related
in Mr. Brinton's 'Myths of the New World.' The pious founder of the
Moravian Brotherhood, Count Zinzendorf, was visiting a missionary
station among the Shawnees in the Wyoming Valley, America. Recent
quarrels with the white people had so irritated the red men that they
resolved to make him their victim. After he had retired to his hut
several of the braves softly peered in. Count Zinzendorf was seated
before a fire, lost in perusal of the Scriptures; and while the
red men gazed they saw what he did not--a huge rattlesnake trailing
across his feet to gather itself in a coil before the comfortable
warmth of the fire. Immediately they forsook their murderous purpose,
and retired noiselessly, convinced that this was indeed a divine man.



CHAPTER VI.

THE SERPENT IN INDIA.

    The Kankato na--The Vedic Serpents not worshipful--Ananta and
    Sesha--The Healing Serpent--The guardian of treasures--Miss
    Buckland's theory--Primitive rationalism--Underworld
    plutocracy--Rain and lightning--Vritra--History of the word
    'Ahi'--The Adder--Zohák--A Teutonic Laokoon.


That Serpent-worship in India was developed by euphemism seems
sufficiently shown in the famous Vedic hymn called Kankato na,
recited as an antidote against all venom, of which the following is
a translation:--

'1. Some creature of little venom; some creature of great venom;
or some venomous aquatic reptile; creatures of two kinds, both
destructive of life, or poisonous, unseen creatures, have anointed
me with their poison.

'2. The antidote coming to the bitten person destroys the unseen
venomous creatures; departing it destroys them; deprived of substance
it destroys them by its odour; being ground it pulverises them.

'3. Blades of sara grass, of kusara, of darhba, of sairya, of munja,
of virana, all the haunt of unseen venomous creatures, have together
anointed me with their venom.

'4. The cows had lain down in their stalls; the wild beasts had
retreated to their lairs; the senses of men were at rest; when the
unseen venomous creatures anointed me with their venom.

'5. Or they may be discovered in the dark, as thieves in the dusk
of evening; for although they be unseen yet all are seen by them;
therefore, men be vigilant.

'6. Heaven, serpents, is your father; Earth, your mother; Soma, your
brother; Aditi, your sister; unseen, all-seeing, abide in your holes;
enjoy your own good pleasure.

'7. Those who move with their shoulders, those who move with their
bodies, those who sting with sharp fangs, those who are virulently
venomous; what do ye here, ye unseen, depart together far from us.

'8. The all-seeing Sun rises in the East, the destroyer of the unseen,
driving away all the unseen venomous creatures, and all evil spirits.

'9. The Sun has risen on high, destroying all the many poisons;
Aditya, the all-seeing, the destroyer of the unseen, rises for the
good of living beings.

'10. I deposit the poison in the solar orb, like a leathern bottle
in the house of a vendor of spirits; verily that adorable Sun never
dies; nor through his favour shall we die of the venom; for, though
afar off, yet drawn by his coursers he will overtake the poison:
the science of antidotes converted thee, Poison, to ambrosia.

'11. That insignificant little bird has swallowed thy venom; she does
not die; nor shall we die; for although afar off, yet, drawn by his
coursers, the Sun will overtake the poison: the science of antidotes
has converted thee, Poison, to ambrosia.

'12. May the thrice-seven sparks of Agni consume the influence of
the venom; they verily do not perish; nor shall we die; for although
afar off, the Sun, drawn by his coursers, will overtake the poison:
the science of antidotes has converted thee, Poison, to ambrosia.

'13. I recite the names of ninety and nine rivers, the destroyers
of poison: although afar off, the Sun, drawn by his coursers, will
overtake the poison: the science of antidotes will convert thee,
Poison, to ambrosia.

'14. May the thrice-seven peahens, the seven-sister rivers, carry off,
O Body, thy poison, as maidens with pitchers carry away water.

'15. May the insignificant mungoose carry off thy venom, Poison: if
not, I will crush the vile creature with a stone: so may the poison
depart from my body, and go to distant regions.

'16. Hastening forth at the command of Agastya, thus spake the
mungoose: The venom of the scorpion is innocuous; Scorpion, thy venom
is innocuous.' [230]

Though, in the sixth verse of this hymn, the serpents are said to
be born of Heaven and Earth, the context does not warrant the idea
that any homage to them is intended; they are associated with the
evil Rakshasas, the Sun and Agni being represented as their haters
and destroyers. The seven-sister rivers (streams of the sacred
Ganges) supply an antidote to their venom, and certain animals,
the partridge and the mungoose, are said, though insignificant,
to be their superiors. The science of antidotes alluded to is that
which Indra taught to Dadhyanch, who lost his head for communicating
it to the Aswins. It is notable, however, that in the Vedic period
there is nothing which represents the serpent as medicinal, unless by
a roundabout process we connect the expression in the Rig-Veda that
the wrath of the Maruts, or storm-gods, is 'as the ire of serpents,'
with the fact that their chief, Rudra, is celebrated as the bestower of
'healing herbs,' and they themselves solicited for 'medicaments.' This
would be stretching the sense of the hymns too far. It is quite
possible, however, that at a later day, when serpent-worship was fully
developed in India, what is said in the sixth verse of the hymn may
have been adduced to confirm the superstition.

It seems clear, then, that at the time the Kankato na was written,
the serpent was regarded with simple abhorrence. And we may remember,
also, that even now, when the Indian cobra is revered as a Brahman
of the highest caste, there is a reminiscence of his previous ill
repute preserved in the common Hindu belief that a certain mark
on his head was left there by the heel of Vishnu, Lord of Life,
who trod on it when, in one of his avatars, he first stepped upon
the earth. Although in the later mythology we find Vishnu, in the
intervals between his avatars or incarnations, reposing on a serpent
(Sesha), this might originally have signified only his lordship over
it, though Sesha is also called Ananta, the Infinite. The idea of
the Infinite is a late one, however, and the symbolisation of it
by Sesha is consistent with a lower significance at first. In Hindu
popular fables the snake appears in its simple character. Such is the
fable of which so many variants are found, the most familiar in the
West being that of Bethgelert, and which is the thirteenth of the 4th
Hitopadesa. The Brahman having left his child alone, while he performs
a rite to his ancestors, on his return finds a pet mungoose (nakula)
smeared with blood. Supposing the mungoose has devoured his child,
he slays it, and then discovers that the poor animal had killed a
serpent which had crept upon the infant. In the Kankato na the word
interpreted by Sáyana as mungoose (Viverra Mungo, or ichneumon) is
not the same (nakula), but it evidently means some animal sufficiently
unimportant to cast contempt upon the Serpent.

The universality of the Serpent as emblem of the healing art--found
as such among the Egyptians, Greeks, Germans, Aztecs, and natives
of Brazil--suggests that its longevity and power of casting its old
skin, apparently renewing its youth, may have been the basis of this
reputation. No doubt, also, they would have been men of scientific
tendencies and of close observation who first learned the snake's
susceptibilities to music, and how its poison might be drawn, or even
its fangs, and who so gained reputation as partakers of its supposed
powers. Through such primitive rationalism the Serpent might gain an
important alliance and climb to make the asp-crown of Isis as goddess
of health (the Thermuthis), to twine round the staff of Esculapius,
to be emblem of Hippocrates, and ultimately survive to be the sign of
the European leech, twining at last as a red stripe round the barber's
pole. The primitive zoologist and snake-charmer would not only, in all
likelihood, be a man cunning in the secrets of nature, but he would
study to meet as far as he could the popular demand for palliatives
and antidotes against snake-bites; all who escaped death after such
wounds would increase his credit as a practitioner; and even were his
mitigations necessarily few, his knowledge of the Serpent's habits
and of its varieties might be the source of valuable precautions.

Such probable facts as these must, of course, be referred to a
period long anterior to the poetic serpent-symbolism of Egypt,
and the elaborate Serpent mythology of Greece and Scandinavia. How
simple ideas, having once gained popular prestige, may be caught up
by theologians, poets, metaphysicians, and quacks, and modified into
manifold forms, requires no proof in an age when we are witnessing the
rationalistic interpretations by which the cross, the sacraments, and
the other plain symbols are invested with all manner of philosophical
meanings. The Serpent having been adopted as the sign-post of Egyptian
and Assyrian doctors--and it may have been something of that kind
that was set up by Moses in the wilderness--would naturally become
the symbol of life, and after that it would do duty in any capacity
whatever.

An ingenious anthropologist, Mr. C. Staniland Wake, [231] supposes the
Serpent in India to have been there also the symbol of præternatural
and occult knowledge. Possibly this may have been so to a limited
extent, and in post-Vedic times, but to me the accent of Hindu
serpent-mythology appears to be emphatically in the homage paid to
it as the guardian of the treasures. I may mention here also the
theory propounded by Miss A. W. Buckland in a paper submitted to the
Anthropological Institute in London, March 10, 1874, on 'The Serpent in
connection with Primitive Metallurgy.' In this learned monograph the
writer maintains that a connection may be observed between the early
serpent-worship and a knowledge of metals, and indeed that the Serpent
was the sign of Turanian metallurgists in the same way as I have
suggested that in Egypt and Assyria it was the sign of physicians. She
believes that the Serpent must have played some part in the original
discovery of the metals and precious stones by man, in recognition
of which that animal was first assumed as a totem and thence became
an emblem. She states that traditional and ornamentational evidences
show that the Turanian races were the first workers in metals, and
that they migrated westward, probably from India to Egypt and Chaldæa,
and thence to Europe, and even to America, bearing their art and its
sign; and that they fled before the Aryans, who had the further art
of smelting, and that the Aryan myths of serpent-slaying record the
overthrow of the Turanian serpent-worshippers.

I cannot think that Miss Buckland has made out a case for crediting
nomadic Turanians with being the original metallurgists; though it
is not impossible that it may have been a Scythian tribe in Southern
India who gave its fame to 'the gold of Ophir,' which Max Müller has
shown to have been probably an Indian region. [232] But that these
early jewellers may have had the Serpent as their sign or emblem is
highly probable, and in explanation of it there seems little reason
to resort to the hypothesis of aid having been given by the Serpent
to man in his discovery of metals. Surely the jewelled decoration of
the serpent would in itself have been an obvious suggestion of it
as the emblem of gems. Where a reptile for some reasons associated
with the snake--the toad--had not the like bright spots, the cognate
superstition might arise that its jewel is concealed in its head. And,
finally, when these reptiles had been connected with gems, the eye
of either would easily receive added rays from manifold eye-beams
of superstition.

We might also credit the primitive people with sufficient logical power
to understand why they should infer that an animal so wonderfully
and elaborately provided with deadliness as the Serpent should have
tasks of corresponding importance. The medicine which healed man
(therefore possibly gods), the treasures valued most by men (therefore
by anthropomorphic deities), the fruit of immortality (which the gods
might wish to monopolise),--might seem the supreme things of value,
which the supreme perfection of the serpent's fang might be created
to guard. This might be so in the heavens as well as in the world
or the underworld. The rainbow was called the 'Celestial Serpent'
in Persia, and the old notion that there is a bag of gold at the end
of it is known to many an English and American child.

Whatever may have been the nature of the original suggestion, there
are definite reasons why, when the Serpent was caught up to be part
of combinations representing a Principle of Evil, his character as
guardian of treasures should become of great importance. Wealth is
the characteristic of the gods of the Hades, or unseen world beneath
the surface of the earth.

In the vast Sinhalese demonology we find the highest class of demons
(dewatawas) described as resident in golden palaces, glittering with
gems, themselves with skins of golden hue, wearing cobras as ornaments,
their king, Wessamony seated on a gem-throne and wielding a golden
sword. Pluto is from the word for wealth (ploutos), as also is his
Latin name Dis (dives). For such are lords of all beneath the sod,
or the sea's surface. Therefore, it is important to observe, they own
all the seeds in the earth so long as they remain seeds. So soon as
they spring to flower, grain, fruitage, they belong not to the gods
of Hades but to man: an idea which originated the myth of Persephone,
and seems to survive in a school of extreme vegetarians, who refuse
to eat vegetables not ripened in the sun.

These considerations may enable us the better to apprehend the
earlier characters of Ahi, the Throttler, and Vritra, the Coverer. As
guardians of such hidden treasures as metals and drugs the Serpent
might be baroneted and invoked to bestow favours; but those particular
serpents which by hiding away the cloud-cows withheld the rain,
or choked the rivers with drought, all to keep under-world garners
fat and those of the upper world lean, were to be combated. Against
them man invoked the celestial deities, reminding them that their own
altars must lack offerings if they did not vanquish these thievish
Binders and Concealers.

The Serpent with its jewelled raiment, its self-renovating power, and
its matchless accomplishments for lurking, hiding, fatally striking,
was gradually associated with undulations of rivers and sea-waves on
the earth, with the Milky-way, with 'coverers' of the sky--night and
cloud--above all, with the darting, crooked, fork-tongued lightning. It
may have been the lightning that was the Amrita churned out of the
azure sea in the myth of the 'Mahábhárata,' when the gods and demons
turned the mountain with a huge serpent for cord (p. 59), meaning
the descent of fire, or its discovery; but other fair and fruitful
things emerged also,--the goddess of wine, the cow of plenty, the
tree of heaven. The inhabitants of Burmah still have a custom of
pulling at a rope to produce rain. A rain party and a drought party
tug against each other, the rain party being allowed the victory,
which, in the popular notion is generally followed by rain. I have
often seen snakes hung up after being killed to bring rain, in the
State of Virginia. For there also rain means wealth. It is there
believed also that, however much it may be crushed, a snake will
not die entirely until it thunders. These are distant echoes of the
Vedic sentences. 'Friend Vishnu,' says Indra, 'stride vastly; sky give
room for the thunderbolt to strike; let us slay Vritra and let loose
the waters.' 'When, Thunderer, thou didst by thy might slay Vritra,
who stopped up the streams, then thy dear steeds grew.'

Vritra, though from the same root as Varuna (the sky), means at first
a coverer of the sky--cloud or darkness; hence eventually he becomes
the hider, the thief, who steals and conceals the bounties of heaven--a
rainless cloud, a suffocating night; and eventually Vritra coalesces
with the most fearful phantasm of the Aryan mind--the serpent Ahi.

The Greek word for Adder, echis, is a modification of Ahi. Perhaps
there exists no more wonderful example of the unconscious idealism of
human nature than the history of the name of the great Throttler, as it
has been traced by Professor Max Müller. The Serpent was also called
ahi in Sanskrit, in Greece echis or echidna, in Latin anguis. The
root is ah in Sanskrit, or amh, which means to press together,
to choke, to throttle. It is a curious root this amh, and it still
lives in several modern words, In Latin it appears as ango, anxi,
anctum, to strangle; in angina, quinsy; in angor, suffocation. But
angor meant not only quinsy or compression of the neck: it assumed
a moral import, and signifies anguish or anxiety. The two adjectives
angustus, narrow, and anxius, uneasy, both came from the same root. In
Greek the root retained its natural and material meaning; in eggys,
near, and echis, serpent, throttler. But in Sanskrit it was chosen
with great truth as the proper name of sin. Evil no doubt presented
itself under various aspects to the human mind, and its names are
many; but none so expressive as those derived from our root amh, to
throttle. Amhas in Sanskrit means sin, but it does so only because
it meant originally throttling--the consciousness of sin being
like the grasp of the assassin on the throat of the victim. All
who have seen and contemplated the statue of Laokoon and his sons,
with the serpent coiled around them from head to foot, may realise
what those ancients felt and saw when they called sin amhas, or the
throttler. This amhas is the same as the Greek agos, sin. In Gothic
the same root has produced agis, in the sense of fear, and from the
same source we have awe, in awful, i.e., fearful, and ug in ugly. The
English anguish is from the French angoise, a corruption of the Latin
angustitæ, a strait. [233] In this wonderful history of a word, whose
biography, as Max Müller in his Hibbert Lectures said of Deva, might
fill a volume, may also be included our ogre, and also the German unke,
which means a 'frog' or 'toad,' but originally a 'snake'--especially
the little house-snake which plays a large part in Teutonic folklore,
and was supposed to bring good luck. [234]

This euphemistic variant is, however, the only exception I can find
to the baleful branches into which the root ah has grown through
the world; one of its fearful fruits being the accompanying figure,
copied from one of the ornamental bosses of Wells Cathedral.

The Adder demon has been universal. Herodotus relates that from a
monster, half-woman, half-serpent, sprang the Scythians, and the fable
has often been remembered in the history of the Turks. The 'Zohák'
of Firdusi is the Iranian form of Ahi. The name is the Arabicised form
of the 'Azhi Daháka' of the Avesta, the 'baneful serpent' vanquished
by Thraêtaono (Traitana of the Vedas), and this Iranian name again
(Dásaka) is Ahi. The name reappears in the Median Astyages. [235] Zohák
is represented as having two serpents growing out of his shoulders,
which the late Professor Wilson supposed might have been suggested by
a phrase in the Kankato na (ye ansyá ye angyáh) which he translates,
'Those who move with their shoulders, those who move with their
bodies,' which, however, may mean 'those produced on the shoulders,
biting with them,' and 'might furnish those who seek for analogies
between Iranian and Indian legends with a parallel in the story of
Zohák.' The legend alluded to is a favourite one in Persia, where it
is used to point a moral, as in the instruction of the learned Saib to
the Prince, his pupil. Saib related to the boy the story of King Zohák,
to whom a magician came, and, breathing on him, caused two serpents to
come forth from the region of his breast, and told him they would bring
him great glory and pleasure, provided he would feed these serpents
with the poorest of his subjects. This Zohák did; and he had great
pleasure and wealth until his subjects revolted and shut the King up
in a cavern where he became himself a prey to the two serpents. The
young Prince to whom this legend was related was filled with horror,
and begged Saib to tell him a pleasanter one. The teacher then related
that a young Sultan placed his confidence in an artful courtier
who filled his mind with false notions of greatness and happiness,
and introduced into his heart Pride and Voluptuousness. To those two
passions the young Sultan sacrificed the interests of his kingdom,
until his subjects banished him; but his Pride and Voluptuousness
remained in him, and, unable to gratify them in his exile, he died
of rage and despair. The prince-pupil said, 'I like this story better
than the other.' 'And yet,' said Saib, 'it is the same.'

It is curious that this old Persian fable should have survived in
the witch-lore of America, and at last supplied Nathaniel Hawthorne
with the theme of one of his beautiful allegorical romances,--that,
namely, of the man with a snake in his bosom which ever threatened to
throttle him if he did not feed it. It came to the American fabulist
through many a mythical skin, so to say. One of the most beautiful it
has worn is a story which is still told by mothers to their children
in some districts of Germany. It relates that a little boy and girl
went into the fields to gather strawberries. After they had gathered
they met an aged woman, who asked for some of the fruit. The little
girl emptied her basket into the old woman's lap; but the boy clutched
his, and said he wanted his berries for himself. When they had passed
on the old woman called them back, and presented to each a little
box. The girl opened hers, and found in it two white caterpillars which
speedily became butterflies, then grew to be angels with golden wings,
and bore her away to Paradise. The boy opened his box, and from it
issued two tiny black worms; these swiftly swelled to huge serpents,
which, twining all about the boy's limbs, drew him away into the dark
forest; where this Teutonic Laokoon still remains to illustrate in
his helplessness the mighty power of little faults to grow into bad
habits and bind the whole man.



CHAPTER VII.

THE BASILISK.

    The Serpent's gem--The Basilisk's eye--Basiliscus mitratus--
    House-snakes in Russia and Germany--King-snakes--Heraldic
    dragon--Henry III.--Melusina--The Laidley Worm--Victorious
    dragons--Pendragon--Merlin and Vortigern--Medicinal dragons.


A Dragoon once presented himself before Frederick the Great and offered
the king a small pebble, which, he said, had been cut from the head
of a king-snake, and would no doubt preserve the throne. Frederick
probably trusted more to dragoons than dragons, but he kept the little
curiosity, little knowing, perhaps, that it would be as prolific
of legends as the cock's egg, to which it is popularly traceable,
in cockatrices (whose name may have given rise to the cock-fables)
or basilisks. It has now taken its place in German folklore that
Frederick owed his greatness to a familiar kept near him in the form
of a basilisk. But there are few parts of the world where similar
legends might not spring up and coil round any famous reputation. An
Indian newspaper, the Lawrence Gazette, having mentioned that the
ex-king of Oudh is a collector of snakes, adds--'Perhaps he wishes to
become possessed of the precious jewel which some serpents are said
to contain, or of that species of snake by whose means, it is said,
a person can fly in the air.' Dr. Dennys, in whose work on Chinese
Folklore this is quoted, finds the same notion in China. In one
story a foreigner repeatedly tries to purchase a butcher's bench,
but the butcher refuses to sell it, suspecting there must be some
hidden value in the article; for this reason he puts the bench by,
and when the foreigner returns a year afterwards, learns from him
that lodged in the bench was a snake, kept alive by the blood soaking
through it, which held a precious gem in its mouth--quite worthless
after the snake was dead. Cursing his stupidity at having put the
bench out of use, the butcher cut it open and found the serpent dead,
holding in its mouth something like the eye of a dried fish.

Here we have two items which may only be accidental, and yet, on the
other hand, possibly possess significance. The superior knowledge
about the serpent attributed to a 'foreigner' may indicate that such
stories in China are traditionally alien, imported with the Buddhists;
and the comparison of the dead gem to an eye may add a little to
the probabilities that this magical jewel, whether in head of toad or
serpent, is the reptile's eye as seen by the glamour of human eyes. The
eye of the basilisk is at once its wealth-producing, its fascinating,
and its paralysing talisman, though all these beliefs have their
various sources and their several representations in mythology. That
it was seen as a gem was due, as I think, to the jewelled skin of most
serpents, which gradually made them symbols of riches; that it was
believed able to fascinate may be attributed to the general principles
of illusion already considered; but its paralysing power, its evil
eye, connects it with a notion, found alike in Egypt and India, that
the serpent kills with its eye. Among Sanskrit words for serpent are
'drig-visha' and 'drishti-visha'--literally 'having poison in the eye.'

While all serpents were lords and guardians of wealth, certain of
them were crested, or had small horns, which conveyed the idea of a
crowned and imperial snake, the basiliskos. Naturalists have recognised
this origin of the name by giving the same (Basiliscus mitratus)
to a genus of Iguanidæ, remarkable for a membranous crest not only
on the occiput but also along the back, which this lizard can raise
and depress at pleasure. But folklore, the science of the ignorant,
had established the same connection by alleging that the basilisk
is hatched from the egg of a black cock,--which was the peasant's
explanation of the word cockatrice. De Plancy traces one part of
the belief to a disease which causes the cock to produce a small
egg-like substance; but the resemblance between its comb and the
crests of serpent and frog [236] was the probable link between them;
while the ancient eminence of the cock as the bird of dawn relegated
the origin of the basilisk to a very exceptional member of the
family--a black cock in its seventh year. The useful fowl would seem,
however, to have suffered even so slightly mainly through a phonetic
misconception. The word 'cockatrice' is 'crocodile' transformed. We
have it in the Old French 'cocatrix,' which again is from the Spanish
'cocotriz,' meaning 'crocodile,'--krokodeilos; which Herodotus, by the
way, uses to denote a kind of lizard, and whose sanctity has extended
from the Nile to the Danube, where folklore declares that the skeleton
of the lizard presents an image of the passion of Christ, and it must
never be harmed. Thus 'cockatrice' has nothing to do with 'cock' or
'coq,' though possibly the coincidence of the sound has marred the
ancient fame of the 'Bird of Dawn.' Indeed black cocks have been so
generally slain on this account that they were for a long time rare,
and so the basilisks had a chance of becoming extinct. There were
fabulous creatures enough, however, to perpetuate the basilisk's
imaginary powers, some of which will be hereafter considered. We
may devote the remainder of this chapter to the consideration of a
variant of dragon-mythology, which must be cleared out of our way in
apprehending the Dragon. This is the agathodemonic or heraldic Dragon,
which has inherited the euphemistic characters of the treasure-guarding
and crowned serpent.

In Slavonic legend the king-serpent plays a large part, and innumerable
stories relate the glories of some peasant child that, managing to
secure a tiny gem from his crown, while the reptilian monarch was
bathing, found the jewel daily surrounded with new treasures. This is
the same serpent which, gathering up the myths of lightning and of
comets, flies through many German legends as the red Drake, Kolbuk,
Alp, or Alberflecke, dropping gold when it is red, corn if blue,
and yielding vast services and powers to those who can magically
master it. The harmless serpents of Germany were universally invested
with agathodemonic functions, though they still bear the name that
relates them to Ahi, viz., unken. Of these household-snakes Grimm
and Simrock give much information. It is said that in fields and
houses they approach solitary children and drink milk from the dish
with them. On their heads they wear golden crowns, which they lay
down before drinking, and sometimes forget when they retire. They
watch over children in the cradle, and point out to their favourites
where treasures are hidden. To kill them brings misfortune. If the
parents surprise the snake with the child and kill it, the child
wastes away. Once the snake crept into the mouth of a pregnant woman,
and when the child was born the snake was found closely coiled around
its neck, and could only be untwined by a milk-bath; but it never left
the child's side, ate and slept with it, and never did it harm. If
such serpents left a house or farm, prosperity went with them. In
some regions it is said a male and female snake appear whenever the
master or mistress of the house is about to die, and the legends of
the Unken sometimes relapse into the original fear out of which they
grew. Indeed, their vengeance is everywhere much dreaded, while their
gratitude, especially for milk, is as imperishable as might be expected
from their ancestor's quarrel with Indra about the stolen cows. In the
Gesta Romanorum it is related that a milkmaid was regularly approached
at milking-time by a large snake to which she gave milk. The maid
having left her place, her successor found on the milking-stool a
golden crown, on which was inscribed 'In Gratitude.' The crown was
sent to the milkmaid who had gone, but from that time the snake was
never seen again. [237]

In England serpents were mastered by the vows of a saintly
Christian. The Knight Bran in the Isle of Wight is said to have
picked up the cockatrice egg, to have been pursued by the serpents,
which he escaped by vowing to build St. Lawrence Church in that
island,--the egg having afterwards brought him endless wealth and
uniform success in combat. With the manifold fables concerning the
royal dragon would seem to blend traditions of the astrological,
celestial, and lightning serpents. But these would coincide with
a development arising from the terrestrial worms and their heroic
slayers. The demonic dragon with his terrible eye might discern
from afar the advent of his predestined destroyer. It might seek
to devour him in infancy. As the comet might be deemed a portent of
some powerful prince born on earth, so it might be a compliment to a
royal family, on the birth of a prince, to report that a dragon had
been seen. Nor would it be a long step from this office of the dragon
as the herald of greatness to placing that monster on banners. From
these banners would grow sagas of dragons encountered and slain. The
devices might thus multiply. Some process of this kind would account
for the entirely good reputation of the dragon in China and Japan,
where it is the emblem of all national grandeur. It would also appear
to underlie the proud titles of the Pythian Apollo and Bellerophon,
gained from the monsters they were said to have slain. The city of
Worms takes its name from the serpent instead of its slayer. [238]
Pendragon, in the past--and even our dragoon of the present--are
names in which the horrors of the monster become transformed in the
hero's fame. The dragon, says Mr. Hardwicke, was the standard of the
West Saxons, and of the English previous to the Norman Conquest. It
formed one of the supporters of the royal arms borne by all the
Tudor monarchs, with the exception of Queen Mary, who substituted the
eagle. Several of the Plantagenet kings and princes inscribed a figure
of the dragon on their banners and shields. Peter Langtoffe says,
at the battle of Lewis, fought in 1264, 'The king schewed forth his
schild, his dragon full austere.' Another authority says the said king
(Henry III.) ordered to be made 'a dragon in the manner of a banner,
of a certain red silk embroidered with gold; its tongue like a flaming
fire must always seem to be moving; its eyes must be made of sapphire,
or of some other stone suitable for that purpose.' [239]

It will thus be seen that an influence has been introduced into
dragon-lore which has no relation whatever to the demon itself. This
will explain those variants of the legend of Melusina--the famous
woman-serpent--which invest her with romance. Melusina, whose
indiscreet husband glanced at her in forbidden hours, when she was in
her serpent shape, was long the glory of the Chateau de Lusignan, where
her cries announced the approaching death of her descendants. There is
a peasant family still dwelling in Fontainebleau Forest who claim to
be descended from Melusina; and possibly some instance of this kind
may have dropped like a seed into the memory of the author of 'Elsie
Venner' to reappear in one of the finest novels of our generation. The
corresponding sentiment is found surrounding the dragon in the familiar
British legend of the Laidley [240] Worm. The king of Northumberland
brought home a new Queen, who was also a sorceress, and being envious
of the beauty of her step-daughter, changed that poor princess into
the worm which devastated all Spindleton Heugh. For seven miles every
green thing was blighted by its venom, and seven cows had to yield
their daily supplies of milk. Meanwhile the king and his son mourned
the disappearance of the princess. The young prince fitted out a ship
to go and slay the dragon. The wicked Queen tries unsuccessfully to
prevent the expedition. The prince leaps from his ship into the shallow
sea, and wades to the rock around which the worm lay coiled. But as
he drew near the monster said to him:


            Oh, quit thy sword, and bend thy bow,
              And give me kisses three;
            If I'm not won ere the sun goes down,
              Won I shall never be.

            He quitted his sword and bent his bow,
              He gave her kisses three;
            She crept into a hole a worm,
              But out stept a ladye.


In the end the prince managed to have the wicked Queen transformed
into a toad, which in memory thereof, as every Northumbrian boy knows,
spits fire to this day: but it is notable that the sorceress was not
transformed into a dragon, as the story would probably have run if the
dragon form had not already been detached from its original character,
and by many noble associations been rendered an honourable though
fearful shape for maidens like this princess and like Melusina.

In the same direction point the legends which show dragons as sometimes
victorious over their heroic assailants. Geoffrey of Monmouth so
relates of King Morvidus of Northumbria, who encountered a dragon
that came from the Irish Sea, and was last seen disappearing in
the monster's jaws 'like a small fish.' A more famous instance is
that of Beowulf, whose Anglo-Saxon saga is summed up by Professor
Morley as follows:--'Afterward the broad land came under the sway of
Beowulf. He held it well for fifty winters, until in the dark night
a dragon, which in a stone mound watched a hoard of gold and cups,
won mastery. It was a hoard heaped up in sin, its lords were long
since dead; the last earl before dying hid it in the earth-cave, and
for three hundred winters the great scather held the cave, until some
man, finding by chance a rich cup, took it to his lord. Then the den
was searched while the worm slept; again and again when the dragon
awoke there had been theft. He found not the man but wasted the whole
land with fire; nightly the fiendish air-flyer made fire grow hateful
to the sight of men. Then it was told to Beowulf.... He sought out
the dragon's den and fought with him in awful strife. One wound the
poison-worm struck in the flesh of Beowulf.' Whereof Beowulf died.

Equally significant is the legend that when King Arthur had embarked
at Southampton on his expedition against Rome, about midnight he
saw in a dream 'a bear flying in the air, at the noise of which all
the shores trembled; also a terrible dragon, flying from the west,
which enlightened the country with the brightness of its eyes. When
these two met they had a dreadful fight, but the dragon with its fiery
breath burned the bear which assaulted him, and threw him down scorched
to the earth.' This vision was taken to augur Arthur's victory. The
father of Arthur had already in a manner consecrated the symbol, being
named Uther Pendragon (dragon's head). On the death of his brother
Aurelius, it was told 'there appeared a star of wonderful magnitude
and brightness,' darting forth a ray, at the end of which was a globe
of fire, in form of a dragon, out of whose mouth issued two rays,
one of which seemed to stretch out itself towards the Irish Sea,
and ended in seven lesser rays.' Merlin interpreted this phenomenon
to mean that Uther would be made king and conquer various regions;
and after his first victory Uther had two golden dragons made, one
of which he presented to Winchester Cathedral, retaining the other
to attend him in his wars.

In the legend of Merlin and Vortigern we find the Dragon so completely
developed into a merely warrior-like symbol that its moral character
has to be determined by its colour. As in the two armies of serpents
seen by Zoroaster, in Persian legends, which fought in the air, the
victory of the white over the black foreshowing the triumph of Ormuzd
over Ahriman, the tyranny of Vortigern is represented by a red dragon,
while Aurelius and Uther are the two heads of a white dragon. Merlin,
about to be buried alive, in pursuance of the astrologer's declaration
to Vortigern that so only would his ever-falling wall stand firm,
had revealed that the recurring disaster was caused by the struggle
of these two dragons underground. When the monsters were unearthed
they fought terribly, until the white one


            Hent the red with all his might,
            And to the ground he him cast,
            And, with the fire of his blast,
            Altogether brent the red,
            That never of him was founden shred;
            But dust upon the ground he lay.


The white dragon vanished and was seen no more; but the tyrant
Vortigern fulfilled the fate of the red dragon, being burnt in his
castle near Salisbury. These two dragons met again, however, as red
and white roses.

Many developments corresponding to these might be cited. One indeed
bears a startling resemblance to our English legends. Of King Nuat
Meiamoun, whose conquest of Egypt is placed by G. Maspero about
B.C. 664-654, the Ethiopian 'Stele of the Dream' relates:--'His
Majesty beheld a dream in the night, two snakes, one to his right,
the other to his left, (and) when His Majesty awoke ... he said:
'Explain these things to me on the moment,' and lo! they explained
it to him, saying: 'Thou wilt have the Southern lands, and seize the
Northern, and the two crowns will be put on thy head, (for) there is
given unto thee the earth in all its width and its breadth.' These
two snakes were probably suggested by the uræi of the Egyptian diadem.

Beyond the glory reflected upon a monster from his conqueror,
there would be reason why the alchemist and the wizard should
encourage that aspect of the dragon. The more perilous that Gorgon
whose blood Esculapius used, the more costly such medicament; while,
that the remedy may be advantageous, the monster must not be wholly
destructive. This is so with the now destructive now preservative
forces of nature, and how they may blend in the theories, and subserve
the interests, of pretenders is well shown in a German work on Alchemy
(1625) quoted by Mr. Hardwicke. 'There is a dragon lives in the forest,
who has no want of poison; when he sees the sun or fire he spits venom,
which flies about fearfully. No living animal can be cured of it;
even the basilisk does not equal him. He who can properly kill this
serpent has overcome all his danger. His colours increase in death;
physic is produced from his poison, which he entirely consumes,
and eats his own venomous tail. This must be accomplished by him,
in order to produce the noblest balm. Such great virtue as we will
point out herein that all the learned shall rejoice.'

It will be readily understood that these traditions and fables would
combine to 'hedge about a king' by ascribing to him familiarity
with a monster so formidable to common people, and even investing
him with its attributes. The dragon's name, drakôn, derived from the
Sanskrit word for serpent (drig-visha), came to mean 'the thing that
sees.' While this gave rise to many legends of præternatural powers
of vision gained by tasting or bathing in a dragon's blood, as in
the poem of Siegfried; or from waters it guarded, as 'Eye Well,'
in which Guy's dragon dipped its tail to recover from wounds; the
Sanskrit sense of eye-poisoning was preserved in legends of occult
and dangerous powers possessed by kings,--one of the latest being the
potent evil eye popularly ascribed in Italy to the late Pius IX. But
these stories are endless; the legends adduced will show the sense
of all those which, if unexplained, might interfere with our clear
insight into the dragon itself, whose further analysis will prove it
to be wholly bad,--the concentrated terrors of nature.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE DRAGON'S EYE.

    The Eye of Evil--Turner's Dragons--Cloud-phantoms--Paradise and
    the Snake--Prometheus and Jove--Art and Nature--Dragon forms:
    Anglo-Saxon, Italian, Egyptian, Greek, German--The modern
    conventional Dragon.


The etymologies of the words Dragon and Ophis given in the preceding
chapter, ideally the same, both refer to powers of the serpent which
it does not possess in nature,--the præternatural vision and the
glance that kills. The real nature of the snake is thus overlaid;
we have now to deal with the creation of another world.

There are various conventionalised types of the Dragon, but through
them all one feature is constant,--the idealised serpent. Its presence
is the demonic or supernatural sign. The heroic dragon-slayer must not
be supposed to have wrestled with mere flesh and blood, in whatever
powerful form. The combat which immortalises him is waged with all
the pains and terrors of earth and heaven concentrated and combined
in one fearful form.

Impossible and phantasmal as was this form in nature, its mystical
meaning in the human mind was terribly real. It was this Eye of
anti-human nature which filled man with dismay, and conjured up
the typical phantom. It was this Pain, purposed and purposing, the
Agony of far-searching vision, subtlest skill, silently creeping,
winged, adapted to meet his every device with a cleverer device,
which gradually impressed mankind with belief in a general principle
of antagonism to human happiness.

It is only as a combination that any dragon form is miraculous. Every
constituent feature and factor of it is in nature, but here they are
rolled together in one pandemonic expression and terror. Yet no such
form loses its relations with nature: it is lightning and tempest,
fever-bearing malaria and fire, venom and fang, slime and jungle,
all the ferocities of the earth, air, and heavens, gathering to
their fatal artistic force, and waylaying man at every step in his
advance. In Turner's picture of Apollo slaying the Python there is
a marvellous suggestion of the natural conceptions from which the
dragon was evolved. The fearful folds of the monster, undulating
with mound and rock on which he lies, at points almost blend with
tangle of bushes and the jagged chaos amid which he stretches. The
hard, wild, cruel aspects of inanimate nature seem here and there
rankly swelling to horrible life, as yet but half-distinguishable
from the stony-hearted matrix; the crag begins to coil and quiver,
the jungle puts forth in claws; but above all appear the monstrous
EYES, in which the forces of pain, hardship, obstacle have at last
acquired purpose and direction. The god confronts them with eyes yet
keener; his arrow, feathered with eyebeams, has reached its mark,
straight between the monster's eyes; but there is no more anger in
his face than might mar the calm strength of a gardener clearing away
the stone and thicket that make the constituent parts of Python.

If we turn now to the neighbouring picture in the National Gallery
by the same artist, the Hesperian Gardens and their Guard, we behold
the Dragon on his high crag outlining and vitalising not only the
edge of rock but also the sky it meets. His breath steams up into
cloud. The heavens also have their terrors, which take on eyes and
coils. On the line of the horizon were hung the pictures of the
primitive art-gallery. Imagination painted them with brush dipped
now in blackness of the storm, now in fires of the lightning or the
sunset, but the forms were born of experience, of earthly struggle,
defeat, and victory.

As I write these words, I lay aside my pen to look across a little
lake amid the lonely hills of Wales to a sunset which is flooding the
sky with glory. Through the almost greenish sky the wind is bearing
fantastic clouds, that sometimes take the shape of chariots, in which
cloud-veiled forms are seated, and now great birds with variegated
plumage, all hastening as it were to some gathering-place of aerial
gods. Beneath a long bar of maroon-tint stretches a sea of yellow
light, on the hither side of which is set a garden of fleecy trees
touched with golden fruit. Amid them plays a fountain of changing
colours. On the left has stood, fast as a mountain range, a mass
of dark-blue cloud with uneven peaks; suddenly a pink faint glow
shines from behind that leaden mass, and next appears, sinuous with
its long indented top, the mighty folds of a fiery serpent. Nay,
its head is seen, its yawning lacertine jaws, its tinted crest. It
is sleepless Ladon on his high barrier keeping watch and ward over
the Hesperian garden.

Juno set him there, but he is the son of Ge,--the earth. The tints of
heaven invest and transform, and in a sense create him; but he would
never have been born mythologically had it not been that in this world
stings hover near all sweetness, danger environs beauty, and, as Plato
said, 'Good things come hard.' The grace and lustre of the serpent
with his fatal fang preceded him, and all the perils that lurk beneath
things fair and fascinating. So far there is nothing essentially moral
or unmoral about him. This dragon is a shape designed by primitive
meteorology and metaphysics together. Man has asked what is so, and
this is the answer: he has not yet asked why it is so, whether it ought
to be so, and whether it may not be otherwise. The challenge has not
yet been given, the era of combat not yet arrived. The panoplied guard
and ally of gods as unmoral as himself has yet to be transformed under
the touch of the religious sentiment, and expelled from the heaven of
nobler deities as a dragon cast down, deformed, and degraded for ever.

As thought goes on, such allies compromise their employers; the
creator's work reflects the creator's character; and after many
timorous ages we find the dragon-guarded deities going down with
their cruel defenders. It is not without significance that in the
Sanskrit dictionary the most ancient of all words for god, Asura,
has for its primary meaning 'demon' or 'devil:' the gods and dragons
united to churn the ocean for their own wealth, and in the end they
were tarred with one brush. I have already described in the beginning
of this work the degradation of deities, and need here barely recall
to the reader's memory the forces which operated to that result. The
bearing of that force upon the celestial or paradise-guarding Serpent
is summed up in one quatrain of Omar Khayyám:--


        O Thou who man of baser earth didst make,
          And e'en in Paradise devised the Snake;
          For all the sin wherewith the face of man
        Is blackened, man's forgiveness give--and take!


The heart of humanity anticipated its logic by many ages, and, long
before the daring genius of the Persian poet wrote this immortal
epitaph on the divine allies of the Serpent, heroes had given battle
to the whole fraternity. Nay, in their place had arisen a new race
of gods, whose theoretical omnipotence was gladly surrendered in the
interest of their righteousness; and there was now war in heaven;
the dragon and his allies were cast down, and man was now free to
fight them as enemies of the gods as well as himself. Woe henceforth
to any gods suspected of taking sides with the dragon in this man's
life-and-death struggle with the ferocities of nature, and with his
own terrors reflected from them! The legend of Prometheus was their
unconsciously-given 'notice to quit,' though it waited many centuries
for its great interpreter. It is Goethe who alone has seen how pale
and weak grow Jove's fireworks before the thought-thunderbolts of
the artist, launched far beyond the limitations that chain him in
nature. Gods are even yet going down in many lands before the sublime
sentence of Prometheus:--


        Curtain thy heavens, thou Jove, with clouds and mist,
        And, like a boy that moweth thistles down,
        Unloose thy spleen on oaks and mountain-tops;
        Yet canst thou not deprive me of my earth,
        Nor of my hut, the which thou didst not build,
        Nor of my hearth, whose little cheerful flame
        Thou enviest me!

        I know not aught within the universe
        More slight, more pitiful than you, ye gods!
        Who nurse your majesty with scant supplies
        Of offerings wrung from fear, and muttered prayers,
        And needs must starve, were't not that babes and beggars
        Are hope-besotted fools!

        When I was yet a child, and knew not whence
        My being came, nor where to turn its powers,
        Up to the sun I bent my wildered eye,
        As though above, within its glorious orb,
        There dwelt an ear to listen to my plaint,
        A heart, like mine, to pity the oppressed.

        Who gave me succour
        Against the Titans in their tyrannous might?
        Who rescued me from death--from slavery?
        Thou!--thou, my soul, burning with hallowed fire,
        Thou hast thyself alone achieved it all!
        Yet didst thou, in thy young simplicity,
        Glow with misguided thankfulness to him
        That slumbers on in idlenesse there above!

        I reverence thee?
        Wherefore? Hast thou ever
        Lightened the sorrows of the heavy laden?
        Thou ever stretch thy hand to still the tears
        Of the perplexed in spirit?
        Was it not
        Almighty Time, and ever-during Fate--
        My lords and thine--that shaped and fashioned me
        Into the MAN I am?

        Belike it was thy dream
        That I should hate life--fly to wastes and wilds,
        For that the buds of visionary thought
        Did not all ripen into goodly flowers?

        Here do I sit and mould
        Men after mine own image--
        A race that may be like unto myself,
        To suffer, weep; to enjoy, and to rejoice;
        And, like myself, unheeding all of thee!


The myth of Prometheus reveals the very dam of all dragons,--the mere
terrorism of nature which paralysed the energies of man. Man's first
combat was to be with his own quailing heart. Apollo driving back the
Argives to their ships with the image of the Gorgon's head on Jove's
shield is Homer's picture of the fears that unnerved heroes:--


        Phoebus himself the rushing battle led;
        A veil of clouds involved his radiant head:
        High held before him, Jove's enormous shield
        Portentous shone, and shaded all the field:
        Vulcan to Jove th' immortal gift consigned,
        To scatter hosts, and terrify mankind....
        Deep horror seizes ev'ry Grecian breast,
        Their force is humbled, and their fear confest.
        So flies a herd of oxen, scattered wide,
        No swain to guard them, and no day to guide,
        When two fell lions from the mountain come,
        And spread the carnage thro' the shady gloom....
        The Grecians gaze around with wild despair,
        Confused, and weary all their pow'rs with prayer. [241]


A generation whose fathers remembered the time when men educated
in universities regarded Franklin with his lightning-rod as
'heaven-defying,' can readily understand the legend of Vulcan--type of
the untamed force of fire--being sent to bind Prometheus, master of
fire. [242] How much fear of the forces of nature, as personified by
superstition, levelled against the first creative minds and hands the
epithets which Franklin heard, and which still fall upon the heads
of some scientific investigators! Storm, lightning, rock, ocean,
vulture,--these blend together with the intelligent cruelty of Jove
in the end; and behold, the Dragon! The terrors of nature, which
drive cowards to their knees, raise heroes to their height. Then
it is a flame of genius matched against mad thunderbolts. Whether
the jealous nature-god be Jehovah forbidding sculpture, demanding
an altar of unhewn stone, and refusing the fruits of Cain's garden,
or Zeus jealous of the artificer's flame, they are thrown into the
Opposition by the artist; and when the two next meet, he of the
thunderbolt with all his mob will be the Dragon, and Prometheus will
be the god, sending to its heart his arrow of light.

The dragon forms which have become familiar to us through mediæval
and modern iconography are of comparatively little importance as
illustrating the social or spiritual conditions out of which they
grew, and of which they became emblems. They long ago ceased to be
descriptive, and in the rude periods or places a very few scratches
were sometimes enough to indicate the dragon; such mere suggestions
in the end allowing large freedom to subsequent designers in varying
original types.

As to external form, the various shapes of the more primitive
dragons have been largely determined by the mythologic currents
amid which they have fallen, though their original basis in nature
may generally be traced. In the far North, where the legends of
swan-maidens, pigeon-maidens, and vampyres were paramount in the
Middle Ages, we find the bird-shaped dragon very common. Sometimes
the serpent-characteristics are pronounced, as in this ancient French
Swan-Dragon (Fig. 26); but, again, and especially in regions where
serpents are rare and comparatively innocuous, the serpent tail is
often conventionalised away, as in this initial V from the Cædmon
Manuscript, tenth century (Fig. 27), a fair example of the ornamental
Anglo-Saxon dragon. The cuttlefish seems to have suggested the
animalised form of the Hydra, which in turn helped to shape the Dragon
of the Apocalypse. Yet the Hydra in pictorial representation appears
to have been influenced by Assyrian ideas; for although the monster
had nine heads, it is often given seven (number of the Hathors, or
Fates) by the engravers, as in Fig. 6. The conflicts of Hercules with
the Hydra repeated that of Bel with Tiamat ('the Deep'), and had no
doubt its counterpart in that of Michael with the Dragon,--the finest
representation of which, perhaps, is the great fresco by Spinello
(fourteenth century) at Arezzo, a group from which is presented in
Fig. 28. In this case the wings represent those always attributed
in Semitic mythology to the Destroying Angel. The Egyptian Dragon,
of which the crocodile is the basis, at an early period entered
into christian symbolism, and gradually effaced most of the pagan
monsters. The crocodile and the alligator, besides being susceptible
of many horrible variations in pictorial treatment, were particularly
acceptable to the Christian propaganda, because of the sanctity
attached to them by African tribes,--a sanctity which continues to
this day in many parts of that country, where to kill one of these
reptiles is believed to superinduce dangerous inundations. In Semitic
traditions, also, Leviathan was generally identified as a demonic
crocodile, and the feat of destroying him was calculated to impress the
imaginations of all varieties of people in the Southern countries for
which Christianity struggled so long. This form contributed some of its
characters to the lacertine dragons which were so often painted in the
Middle Ages, with what effect may be gathered from the accompanying
design by Albert Durer (Fig. 29). In this loathsome creature, which
seeks to prevent deliverance of 'the spirits in prison,' we may remark
the sly and cruel eye: the præternatural vision of such monsters was
still strong in the traditions of the sixteenth century. In looking
at this lizard-guard at the mouth of hell we may realise that it
has been by some principle of psychological selection that the
reptilian kingdom gradually gained supremacy in these portrayals of
the repulsive. If we compare with Fig. 29 the well-known form of the
Chimæra (Fig. 30), most of us will be conscious of a sense of relief;
for though the reptilian form is present in the latter, it is but an
appendage--almost an ornament--to the lion. It is impossible to feel
any loathing towards this spirited Trisomatos, and one may recognise
in it a different animus from that which depicted the christian
dragon. One was meant to attest the boldness of the hero who dared
to assail it; the other was meant, in addition to that, to excite
hatred and horror of the monster assailed. We may, therefore, find a
very distinct line drawn between such forms as the Chimæra and such as
the Hydra, or our conventional Dragon. The hairy inhabitants of Lycia,
human or bestial, whom Bellerophon conquered, [243] were not meant to
be such an abstract expression of the evil principle in nature as the
Dragon, and while they are generalised, the elements included are also
limited. But the Dragon, with its claws, wings, scales, barbed and
coiling tail, its fiery breath, forked tongue, and frequent horns,
includes the organic, inorganic, the terrestrial and atmospheric,
and is the combination of harmful contrivances in nature.

Nearly all of the Dragon forms, whatever their original types and their
region, are represented in the conventional monster of the European
stage, which meets the popular conception. This Dragon is a masterpiece
of the popular imagination, and it required many generations to give it
artistic shape. Every Christmas he appears in some London pantomime,
with aspect similar to that which he has worn for many ages. His body
is partly green, with memories of the sea and of slime, and partly
brown or dark, with lingering shadow of storm-clouds. The lightning
flames still in his red eyes, and flashes from his fire-breathing
mouth. The thunderbolt of Jove, the spear of Wodan, are in the barbed
point of his tail. His huge wings--batlike, spiked--sum up all the
mythical life of extinct Harpies and Vampyres. Spine of crocodile
is on his neck, tail of the serpent, and all the jagged ridges of
rocks and sharp thorns of jungles bristle around him, while the ice
of glaciers and brassy glitter of sunstrokes are in his scales. He is
ideal of all that is hard, obstructive, perilous, loathsome, horrible
in nature: every detail of him has been seen through and vanquished
by man, here or there, but in selection and combination they rise
again as principles, and conspire to form one great generalisation
of the forms of Pain--the sum of every creature's worst.



CHAPTER IX.

THE COMBAT.

    The pre-Munchausenite world--The Colonial Dragon--Io's journey
    --Medusa--British Dragons--The Communal Dragon--Savage Saviours
    --A Mimac helper--The Brutal Dragon--Woman protected--The Saint
    of the Mikados.


The realm of the Unknown has now, by exploration of our planet
and by science, been pretty well pressed into annexation with the
Unknowable. In early periods, however, unexplored lands and seas
existed only in the human imagination, and men appear to have included
them within the laws of analogy as slowly as their descendants so
included the planets. The monstrous forms with which superstition
now peoples regions of space that cannot be visited could then dwell
securely in parts of the world where their existence or non-existence
could not be verified. Science had not yet shown the simplicity and
unity underlying the superficial varieties of nature; and though
Rudolf Raspe appeared many times, and related the adventures of
his Baron Munchausen in many languages, it was only a hundred years
ago that he managed to raise a laugh over them. It has taken nearly
another hundred to reveal the humour of Munchausenisms that relate
to invisible and future worlds.

The Dragon which now haunts the imagination of a few compulsory
voyagers beyond the grave originated in speculations concerning the
unseen shores of equally mythical realms, whose burning zones and
frozen seas had not yet been detached from this planet to make the
Inferno of another. In our section on Demonology we have considered
many of these imaginary forms in detail, limiting ourselves generally
to the more realistic embodiments of special obstacles. Just above that
formation comes the stratum in which we find the separate features
of the previous demonic fauna combining to forms which indicate the
new creative power which, as we have seen, makes nature over again
in its own image.

Beginning thus on the physical plane, with a view of passing to the
social, political, and metaphysical arenas where man has successively
met his Dragons, we may first consider the combination of terrors
and perils, real and imaginary, which were confronted by the early
colonist. I will venture to call this the Colonial Dragon.

This form may be represented by any of those forms against which
the Prometheus of Æschylus cautions Io on her way to the realm which
should be called Ionia. 'When thou shalt have crossed the stream that
bounds the continents to the rosy realms of the morning where the sun
sets forth, ... thou shalt reach beyond the roaring sea Cisthene's
Gorgonian plains, where dwell the Phorkides, ... and hard by are
their three winged sisters, the Snake-haired Gorgons, by mortals
abhorred, on whom none of human race can look and live.... Be on
thy guard against the Gryphons, sharp-fanged hounds of Jove that
never bark, and against the cavalry host of one-eyed Arimaspians,
dwelling on the gold-gushing fount, the stream of Pluto. Thou wilt
reach a distant land, a dark tribe, near to the fount of the sun,
where runs the river Æthiops.' [244]

One who has looked upon Leonardo da Vinci's Medusa at Florence--one of
the finest interpretations of a mythologic subject ever painted--may
comprehend what to the early explorer and colonist were the
fascinations of those rumoured regions where nature was fair but
girt round with terrors. The Gorgon's head alone is given, with
its fearful tangle of serpent tresses; her face, even in its pain,
possesses the beauty that may veil a fatal power; from her mouth is
exhaled a vapour which in its outline has brought into life vampyre,
newt, toad, and loathsome nondescript creatures. Here is the malaria
of undrained coasts, the vermin of noxious nature. The source of
these must be destroyed before man can found his city; it is the
fiery poisonous breath of the Colonial Dragon.

Most of the Dragon-myths of Great Britain appear to have been
importations of the Colonial monsters. Perhaps the most famous
of these in all Europe was the Chimæra, which came westward upon
coins, Bellerophon having become a national hero at Corinth--almost
superseding the god of war himself--and his effigy spread with
many migrations. Our conventional figure of St. George is still
Bellerophon, though the Dragon has been substituted for Chimæra,--a
change which christian tradition and national respect for the lion
rendered necessary (Fig. 31). Corresponding to this change in outward
representation, the monster-myths of Great Britain have been gradually
pressed into service as moral and religious lessons. The Lambton Worm
illustrates the duty of attending mass and sanctity of the sabbath;
the demon serpents of Ireland and Cornwall prove the potency of
holy exorcism; and this process of moralisation has extended, in the
case of the Boar, whose head graces the Christmas table at Queen's
College, Oxford, to an illustration of the value of Aristotelian
philosophy. It was with a volume of Aristotle that the monster was
slain, the mythologic affinities of the legend being quaintly preserved
in the item that it was thrust down the boar's throat.

But these modifications are very transparent, the British legends
being mainly variants of one or two original myths which appear to have
grown out of the heraldic devices imported by ancient families. These
probably acquired realistic statement through the prowess and energy
of chieftains, and were exaggerated by their descendants, perhaps also
connected with some benefit to the community, in order to strengthen
the family tenure of its estates. For this kind of duty the Colonial
Dragon was the one usually imported by the family romancer or poet. The
multiplication of these fables is, indeed, sufficiently curious. It
looks as if there were some primitive agrarian sentiment which had
to be encountered by aid of appeals to exceptional warrant. The
family which could trace its title to an estate to an ancestor who
rescued the whole district, was careful to preserve some memorial
of the feat. On account of the interests concerned in old times we
should be guarded in receiving the rationalised interpretations of
such myths, which have become traditional in some localities. The
barbaric achievements of knights did not lose in the ballads of
minstrels any marvellous splendours, but gained many; and most of
these came from the south and east. The Dragon which Guy of Warwick
slew still retained traces of Chimæra; it had 'paws as a lion.' Sir
William Dugdale thought that this was a romanticised version of a real
combat which Guy fought with a Danish chief, A.C. 926. Similarly the
Dragon of Wantley has been reduced to a fraudulent barrister.

The most characteristic of this class of legends is that of
Sockburn. Soon after the Norman conquest the Conyers family
received that manor by episcopal grant, the tradition being that
it was because Sir John Conyers, Knight, slew a huge Worm which had
devoured many people. The falchion with which this feat was achieved
is still preserved, and I believe it is still the custom, when a
new bishop visits that diocese, for the lord of Sockburn to present
this sword. The lord of the manor meets the bishop in the middle of
the river Tees, and says:--'My Lord Bishop, I here present you with
the falchion wherewith the Champion Conyers slew the Worm, Dragon,
or fiery flying Serpent, which destroyed man, woman, and child, in
memory of which the king then reigning gave him the manor of Sockburn
to hold by this tenure,--that upon the first entrance of every bishop
into the country this falchion should be presented.' The bishop
returns the sword and wishes the lord long enjoyment of the tenure,
which has been thus held since the year 1396. The family tradition
is that the Dragon was a Scotch intruder named Comyn, whom Conyers
compelled to kneel before the episcopal throne. The Conyers family
of Sockburn seem to have been at last overtaken by a Dragon which was
too much for them: the last knight was taken from a workhouse barely
in time not to die there.

In the 'Memoirs of the Somervilles' we read that one of that family
acquired a parish by slaying a 'hydeous monster in forme of a
worme.' [245]


            The wode Laird of Laristone
            Slew the Worme of Worme's Glen,
            And wan all Linton parochine.


It was 'in lenth 3 Scots yards, and somewhat bigger than an ordinary
man's leg, with a hede more proportionable to its lenth than its
greatness; its forme and collour (like) to our common muir adders.'

This was a very moderate dragon compared with others, by slaying
which many knights won their spurs: this, for example, which Sir
Dygore killed in the fourteenth century--


            ----A Dragon great and grymme,
            Full of fyre, and also of venymme:
            With a wide throte and tuskes grete,
            Uppon that knight fast gan he bete;
            And as a Lionn then was his fete,
            His tayle was long and ful unmete;
            Between his hede and his tayle
            Was xxii. fote withouten fayle;
            His body was like a wine tonne,
            He shone full bright ageynst the sunne;
            His eyes were bright as any glasse,
            His scales were hard as any brasse.


The familiar story of St. Patrick clearing the snakes out of Ireland,
and the Cornish version of it, in which the exorcist is St. Petrox,
presents some features which relate it to the colonist's combat
with his dragon, though it is more interesting in other aspects. The
Colonial Dragon includes the diseases, the wild beasts, the savages,
and all manner of obstructions which environ a new country. But
when these difficulties have been surmounted, the young settlement
has still its foes to contend with,--war-like invaders from without,
ambitious members within. We then find the Dragon taking on the form
of a public enemy, and his alleged slayer is representative of the
commune,--possibly in the end to transmit its more real devourer. Most
of the British Dragon-myths have expanded beyond the stage in which
they represent merely the struggles of immigrants with wild nature,
and include the further stage where they represent the formation of
the community. The growth of patriotism at length is measured by its
shadow. The Colonial is transformed to the Communal Dragon. Many
Dragon-myths are adaptations of the ancient symbolism to hostes
communes: such are the monsters described as desolating villages and
districts, until they are encountered by antagonists animated by public
spirit. Such antagonists are distinguishable from the heroes that go
forth to rescue the maiden in distress: their chief representative
in mythology is Herakles, most of whose labours reveal the man of
self-devotion redressing public wrongs, and raising the standard of
humanity as well as civilisation.

The age of chivalry has its legend in the Centaurs and Cheiron. The
Hippo-centaurs are mounted savages: Cheiron is the true knight,
withstanding monsters in his own shape, saving Peleus from them, and
giving hospitality to the Argonauts. The mounted man was dragon to the
man on foot until he became the chevalier; then the demonic character
passed to the strategist who had no horse. It is curious enough to
find existing among the Mormons a murderous order calling themselves
Danites, or Destroying Angels, after the text of Gen. xlix. 17,
'Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth
the horse's heel that his rider shall fall backward.' The Ritter,
however, so far as his Dragon was concerned, was as one winged, and
every horse a Pegasus when it bore him to decide the day between the
adder and its victim. It is remarkable that the Mormons should have
carried from the East a cruel superstition to find even among the Red
Men, who are disappearing before the western march of Saxon strength,
more gentle fables.

Among the Mimacs, the aborigines of Nova Scotia, there is a legend
of a young hero named Keekwajoo, who, in seeking for a wife, is
befriended by a good sage named Glooscap, who warns him against
a powerful magician disguised as a beaver, and two demon sisters,
who will waylay him in the disguise of large weasels. The youth is
admonished to beat a certain drum as his canoe passes them, and he
is saved as Orpheus in passing Cerberus and Ulysses in sailing past
the Syrens. The weasels, hearing the music, aspire to wed the stars,
but find themselves in an indescribable nest at the top of a tall
white pine. [246]

The chevalier encounters also the Brutal Dragon, whose victim is
Woman. From immemorial time man's captive, unable to hold her own
against brute force, she is at the mercy of all who are insensible to
the refined and passive powers. The rock-bound Andromeda, the pursued
Leto, or whatever fair maid it may be that the Dragon-slayer rescues,
may have begun mythologically as emblem of the Dawn, whose swallower is
the Night Cloud; but in the end she symbolises a brighter dawn,--that
of civility and magnanimity among men.

It is a notable fact that far away in Japan we should find a
Dragon-myth which would appear to represent, with rare beauty, the
social evolution we have been considering. Their great mythological
Serpent, Yamati-no-orochi, that is, the serpent of eight heads and
tails, stretching over eight valleys, would pretty certainly represent
a river annually overflowing its banks. One is reminded by this monster
of the accounts given by Mencius of the difficulties with streams
which the Chinese had to surmount before they could make the Middle
States habitable. But this Colonial Dragon, in the further evolution
of the country, reappears as the Brutal Dragon. The admirable legend
relates that, while the rest of the world were using stone implements,
there came into the possession of Sosano-o-no-Mikoto (the Prince
of Sosano) a piece of iron which was wrought into a sword. That
maiden-sword of the world was fleshed to save a maiden from the jaws
of a monster. The prince descended from heaven to a bank of the river
Hino Kawa, and the country around seemed uninhabited; but presently
he saw a chopped stick floating down the stream, and concluded that
there must be beings dwelling farther up; so he travelled until he
came to a spot where he beheld an aged man and his wife (Asinaduti
and Tenaduti), with their beautiful daughter, Himé of Inada. The three
were weeping bitterly, and the prince was informed that Himé was the
last of their daughters, seven of whom had been devoured by a terrible
serpent. This serpent had eight heads, and the condition on which it
had ceased to desolate the district was that one of these eight maidens
should be brought annually to this spot to satisfy his voracity. The
last had now been brought to complete the dreadful compact. The
Japanese are careful to distinguish this serpent from a dragon,
with them an agathodemon. It had no feet, and its heads branched by
as many necks from a single body, this body being so large that it
stretched over eight valleys. It was covered with trees and moss,
and its belly was red as blood. The prince doubted if even with his
sword he could encounter such a monster, so he resorted to stratagem;
he obtained eight vast bowls, filled them with eight different kinds
of wine, and, having built a fence with the same number of openings,
set a bowl in each. The result may be imagined: the eight heads in
passing over the bowls paused, drank deep, and were soon in a state
of beastly intoxication. In this condition the heads were severed
from their neck, and the maiden saved to wed the first Mikado Prince.



CHAPTER X.

THE DRAGON-SLAYER.

    Demigods--Alcestis--Herakles--The Ghilghit Fiend--Incarnate
    deliverer of Ghilghit--A Dardistan Madonna--The religion
    of Atheism--Resuscitation of Dragons--St. George and his
    Dragon--Emerson and Ruskin on George--Saintly allies of the Dragon.


Theology has pronounced Incarnation a mystery, but nothing is
simpler. The demigod is man's appeal from the gods. It may also
be, as Emerson says, that 'when the half-gods go the gods arrive,'
but it is equally true that their coming signals the departure of
deities which man had long invoked in vain. The great Heraklean myth
presents us the ideal of godlike force united to human sympathy. Ra
(the Sun) passing the twelve gates (Hours) of Hades (Night) [247]
is humanised in Herakles and his Twelve Labours. He is Son of Zeus
by a human mother--Alcmene--and his labours for human welfare,
as well as his miraculous conception, influenced Christianity. The
divine Man assailing the monsters of divine creation represents human
recognition of the fact that moral order in nature is co-extensive
with the control of mankind. One expression of this perception is
the Alcestis of Euripides, whose significance in relation to death
we have considered. [248]

'Alcestis,' as I have written in another work, 'is one of the few
ancient Greek melodramas.  The majority of dramas left us by the
poets of Greece turn upon religious themes, and usually they are
tragedies. It is evident that to them the popular religion around them
was itself a tragedy. Their heroes and heroines--such as Prometheus
and Macaria--were generally victims of the jealousy or caprice of the
gods; and though the poets display in their dramas the irresistible
power of the gods, they do so without reverence for that power,
and generally show the human victims to be more honourable than
the gods. But the 'Alcestis' of Euripides is not a tragedy; it ends
happily, and in the rescue of one of those victims of the gods. It
stands as about the first notice served on the gods that the human
heart had got tired of their high-handed proceedings, and they might
prepare to quit the thrones of a universe unless they could exhibit
more humanity.... Knowing that neither he nor any other deity can
legally resist the decree of another deity, Apollo is reduced to
hope for help from man. Human justice may save when divine justice
sacrifices. He prophesies to Death that although he may seize Alcestis,
a man will come who will conquer him, and deliver that woman from
the infernal realm.... Then Hercules comes on the scene. He has been
slaying lion and dragon, and he now resolves to conquer Death and
deliver Alcestis. This he does.' [249]

In this pre-christian yet christian Passion Play, the part played by
the heart of woman is equally heroic with that which represents the
honour of man. So in the religion which followed there was an effort
to set beside the incarnate vanquisher of infernal powers the pierced
heart of Mary. But among all the legends of this character it were
difficult to find one more impressive than that which Dr. Leitner
found in Dardistan, and one which, despite its length, will repay a
careful perusal. This legend of the origin of the Ghilghit tribe and
government was told by a native.

'Once upon a time there lived a race at Ghilghit whose origin is
uncertain. Whether they sprung from the soil or had immigrated from a
distant region is doubtful; so much is believed that they were Gayupí,
i.e., spontaneous, aborigines, unknown. Over them ruled a monarch who
was a descendant of the evil spirits, the Yatsh, who terrorised over
the world. His name was Shiribadatt, and he resided at a castle in
front of which was a course for the performance of the manly game of
Polo. His tastes were capricious, and in every one of his actions his
fiendish origin could be discerned. The natives bore his rule with
resignation, for what could they effect against a monarch at whose
command even magic aids were placed? However, the country was rendered
fertile, and round the capital bloomed attractive. The heavens,
or rather the virtuous Peris, at last grew tired of his tyranny,
for he had crowned his iniquities by indulging in a propensity for
cannibalism. This taste had been developed by an accident. One day
his cook brought him some mutton broth the like of which he had never
tasted. After much inquiry as to the nature of the food on which the
sheep had been brought up, it was eventually traced to an old woman,
its first owner. She stated that her child and the sheep were born
on the same day, and losing the former, she had consoled herself
by suckling the latter. This was a revelation to the tyrant. He
had discovered the secret of the palatability of the broth, and was
determined to have a never-ending supply of it. So he ordered that
his kitchen should be regularly provided with children of a tender
age, whose flesh, when converted into broth, would remind him of
the exquisite dish he had once so much relished. This cruel order was
carried out. The people of the country were dismayed at such a state of
things, and sought slightly to improve it by sacrificing, in the first
place, all orphans and children of neighbouring tribes. The tyrant,
however, was insatiable, and soon was his cruelty felt by many families
at Ghilghit, who were compelled to give up their children to slaughter.

'Relief came at last. At the top of the mountain Ko, which it takes
a day to ascend, and which overlooks the village of Doyur, below
Ghilghit, on the other side of the river, appeared three figures. They
looked like men, but much more strong and handsome. In their arms they
carried bows and arrows, and turning their eyes in the direction of
Doyur, they perceived innumerable flocks of sheep and cattle grazing
on a prairie between that village and the foot of the mountain. The
three strangers were brothers, and none of them had been born at
the same time. It was their intention to make Azru Shemsher, the
youngest, Rajah of Ghilghit, and, in order to achieve their purpose,
they hit upon the following plan. On the already noticed prairie,
which is called Didingé, a sportive calf was gambolling towards
and away from its mother. It was the pride of its owner, and its
brilliant red colour could be seen from a distance. 'Let us see who
is the best marksman,' exclaimed the eldest, and, saying this, he shot
an arrow in the direction of the calf, but missed his aim. The second
brother also tried to hit it, but also failed. At last, Azru Shemsher,
who took a deep interest in the sport, shot his arrow, which pierced
the poor animal from side to side and killed it. The brothers, whilst
descending, congratulated Azru on his sportsmanship, and on arriving at
the spot where the calf was lying, proceeded to cut its throat and to
take out from its body the titbits, namely, the kidneys and the liver.

'They then roasted these delicacies, and invited Azru to partake of
them first. He respectfully declined, on the ground of his youth,
but they urged him to do so, 'in order,' they said, 'to reward you
for such an excellent shot.' Scarcely had the meat touched the lips of
Azru than the brothers got up, and, vanishing into the air, called out,
'Brother! you have touched impure food, which Peris never should eat,
and we have made use of your ignorance of this law, because we want
to make you a human being [250] who shall rule over Ghilghit; remain,
therefore, at Doyur.' Azru, in deep grief at the separation, cried,
'Why remain at Doyur, unless it be to grind corn?' 'Then,' said the
brothers, 'go to Ghilghit.' 'Why,' was the reply, 'go to Ghilghit,
unless it be to work in the gardens?' 'No, no,' was the last and
consoling rejoinder; 'you will assuredly become the king of this
country, and deliver it from its merciless oppressor!' No more
was heard of the departing fairies, and Azru remained by himself,
endeavouring to gather consolation from the great mission which
had been bestowed on him. A villager met him, and, struck by his
appearance, offered him shelter in his house. Next morning he went
on the roof of his host's house, and calling out to him to come up,
pointed to the Ko mountain, on which, he said, he plainly discerned
a wild goat. The incredulous villager began to fear he had harboured
a maniac, if no worse character; but Azru shot off his arrow, and,
accompanied by the villager (who had assembled some friends for
protection, as he was afraid his young guest might be an associate
of robbers, and lead him into a trap), went in the direction of the
mountain. There, to be sure, at the very spot that was pointed out,
though many miles distant, was lying the wild goat, with Azru's arrow
transfixing its body. The astonished peasants at once hailed him as
their leader, but he exacted an oath of secrecy from them, for he had
come to deliver them from their tyrant, and would keep his incognito
till such time as his plans for the destruction of the monster would
be matured.

'He then took leave of the hospitable people of Doyur, and went
to Ghilghit. On reaching this place, which is scarcely four miles
distant from Doyur, he amused himself by prowling about in the
gardens adjoining the royal residence. There he met one of the
female companions of Shiribadatt's daughter fetching water for
the princess. This lady was remarkably handsome, and of a sweet
disposition. The companion rushed back, and told the young lady to look
from over the ramparts of the castle at a wonderfully handsome young
man whom she had just met. The princess placed herself in a place
from which she could observe any one approaching the fort. Her maid
then returned, and induced Azru to come with her in the Polo ground,
in front of the castle; the princess was smitten with his beauty, and
at once fell in love with him. She then sent word to the young prince
to come and see her. When he was admitted into her presence he for a
long time denied being anything more than a common labourer. At last
he confessed to being a fairy's child, and the overjoyed princess
offered him her heart and hand. It may be mentioned here that the
tyrant Shiribadatt had a wonderful horse, which could cross a mile
at every jump, and which its rider had accustomed to jump both into
and out of the fort, over its walls. So regular were the leaps which
this famous animal could take that he invariably alighted at the
distance of a mile from the fort, and at the same place. On that
very day on which the princess had admitted young Azru into the fort
King Shiribadatt was out hunting, of which he was desperately fond,
and to which he used sometimes to devote a week or two at a time.

'We must now return to Azru, whom we left conversing with the
princess. Azru remained silent when the lady confessed her love. Urged
to declare his sentiments, he said that he would not marry her unless
she bound herself to him by the most stringent oath; this she did,
and they became in the sight of God as if they were wedded man and
wife. He then announced that he had come to destroy her father, and
asked her to kill him herself. This she refused; but as she had sworn
to aid him in every way she could, he finally induced her to promise
that she would ask her father where his soul was. 'Refuse food,' said
Azru, 'for three or four days, and your father, who is devotedly fond
of you, will ask for the reason of your strange conduct; then say,
'Father, you are often staying away from me for several days at a
time, and I am getting distressed lest something should happen to
you; do reassure me by letting me know where your soul is, and let me
feel certain that your life is safe.' This the princess promised to
do, and when her father returned refused food for several days. The
anxious Shiribadatt made inquiries, to which she replied by making
the already named request. The tyrant was for a few moments thrown
into mute astonishment, and finally refused compliance with her
preposterous demand. The love-smitten lady went on starving herself,
till at last her father, fearful for his daughter's life, told her
not to fret herself about him as his soul was of snow, in the snows,
and that he could only perish by fire. The princess communicated this
information to her lover. Azru went back to Doyur and the villages
around, and assembled his faithful peasants. Them he asked to take
twigs of the fir-tree, bind them together, and light them; then to
proceed in a body with torches to the castle in a circle, keep close
together, and surround it on every side. He then went and dug out a
very deep hole, as deep as a well, in the place where Shiribadatt's
horse used to alight, and covered it with green boughs. The next
day he received information that the torches were ready. He at once
ordered the villagers gradually to draw near the fort in the manner
which he had already indicated.

King Shiribadatt was then sitting in his castle; near him his
treacherous daughter, who was so soon to lose her parent. All at
once he exclaimed, 'I feel very close; go out, dearest, and see what
has happened.' The girl went out, and saw torches approaching from a
distance; but fancying it to be something connected with the plans of
her husband, she went back and said it was nothing. The torches came
nearer and nearer, and the tyrant became exceedingly restless. 'Air,
air,' he cried, 'I feel very ill; do see, daughter, what is the
matter.' The dutiful lady went, and returned with the same answer
as before. At last the torch-bearers had fairly surrounded the fort,
and Shiribadatt, with a presentiment of impending danger, rushed out
of the room, saying, 'that he felt he was dying.' He then ran to the
stables and mounted his favourite charger, and with one blow of the
whip made him jump over the wall of the castle. Faithful to its habit
the noble animal alighted at the same place, but, alas! only to find
itself engulfed in a treacherous pit. Before the king had time to
extricate himself the villagers had run up with their torches. 'Throw
them upon him,' cried Azru. With one accord all the blazing wood was
thrown upon Shiribadatt, who miserably perished.'

Azru was then most enthusiastically proclaimed king, celebrated his
nuptials with the fair traitor, and, as sole tribute, exacted the
offering of one sheep annually, instead of the human child, from
every one of the natives.

When Azru had safely ascended the throne he ordered the tyrant's place
to be levelled to the ground. The willing peasants, manufacturing
spades of iron, flocked to accomplish a grateful task, and sang whilst
demolishing his castle:--

'My nature is of a hard metal,' said Shiri and Badatt. 'Why hard? I,
Koto, the son of the peasant Dem Singh, am alone hardy; with this iron
spade I raze to the ground thy kingly house. Behold now, although
thou art of race accursed, of Shatsho Malika, I, Dem Singh's son,
am of a hard metal; for with this iron spade I level thy very palace;
look out! look out!' [251]

An account of the Feast of Torches, instituted as a memorial of this
tradition, has already been given in another connection. [252] The
legend, the festival, and the song just quoted constitute a noble
human epic. That startling defiance of the icy-hearted god by the
human-hearted peasant, that brave cry of the long cowering wretch who
at last holds in his spade an iron weapon to wield against the hardness
of nature, are the sublime pæan of the Dragon-slayer. Look out, ye
snow-gods! Man's heart is there, and woman's heart; their courage,
plus the spade, can level your palaces; their love will melt you,
their arts and sciences kill you: so fatal may be torches!

All great religions were born in this grand atheism. As the worship
of Herakles meant the downfall of Zeus, the worship of Christ meant
the overthrow of both Jove and Jehovah. Every race adores the epoch
when their fathers grew ashamed of their gods and identified them as
dragons--the supreme cruelties of nature--welcoming the man who first
rose from his knees and defied them. But in the end the Priests of the
Dragon manage to secure a compromise, and by labelling him with the
name of his slayer, manage to resuscitate and re-enthrone him. For,
as we shall presently see, the Dragon never really dies.

Christianity did not fail to avail itself of the Dragon-slayer's
prestige, which had preceded it in Europe and in Africa. It could
not afford to offer for popular reverence saints less heroic than
pagan warriors and demigods. The old Dragon-myths, especially
those which made the fame of Herakles, were appropriated to invest
saintly forms. St. Michael, St. Andrew, St. Margaret, and many
another, were pictured subduing or treading on Dragons. Christ was
shown crushing the serpent Sin, spearing the dragon Death, or even
issuing from its impotent jaws, like Jason from the Dragon. [253]
But in this competition for the laurels of dead Dragon-slayers, and
fierce hostility to dragons already slain, the real Dragon was left
to revive and flourish in security, and in the end even inherited
the mantle and the palm of his own former conqueror.

The miscarriage of canonisation in the case of St. George is a small
and merely curious thing in itself; but it is almost mystical in its
coincidence with the great miscarriage which brought the cross of
Christ to authorise the crucifixions of the men most like him for a
thousand years.

Mr. John Ruskin has sharply challenged Ralph Waldo Emerson's
penetrating touch on the effigy that decorates the escutcheons of
England and Russia. 'George of Cappadocia,' says Emerson, 'born
at Epiphania in Cilicia, was a low parasite, who got a lucrative
contract to supply the army with bacon. A rogue and an informer,
he got rich and was forced to run from justice. He saved his money,
embraced Arianism, collected a library, and got promoted by a faction
to the episcopal throne of Alexandria. When Julian came, A.D. 361,
George was dragged to prison. The prison was burst open by the mob,
and George was lynched as he deserved. And this precious knave became
in good time Saint George of England, patron of chivalry, emblem of
victory and civility, and the pride of the best blood of the modern
world.' Whereon Emerson further remarks that 'nature trips us up when
we strut.'

It is certainly rather hard for the founder of the St. George
Association to be told that his patron was no Dragon-slayer at all,
but the Dragon's ally. Mr. Ruskin may be right in contending that
whatever may have been the facts, they who made George patron saint
of England still meant their homage for a hero, or at any rate
not for a rogue; but he is unsatisfactory in his argument that our
St. George was another who died for his faith seventy years before
the bacon-contractor. Even if the Ruskin St. George, said to have
suffered under Diocletian, could be shown historical, his was a
very commonplace martyrdom compared with that of a bishop torn in
pieces by a 'pagan' mob. The distant christian nations would never
have listened to the pagan version of the story even had it reached
them. A bishop so martyred would have been the very man to give
their armies a watchword. The martyr was portrayed as a Dragon-slayer
only as a title might be added to the name of one knighted, or the
badge of an order set upon his breast; the heraldic device grew
into a variant of the common legend which suggests the origin of the
mythical George. 'The magician Athanasius, successively an opponent
of Christianity, a convert, and a martyr, is his chief antagonist;
and the city of Alexandria appears as the Empress Alexandria, the wife
of Diocletian, and herself a convert and a martyr.' This sentence
from Smith's 'Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography' tells more
than Professor Ruskin's seventeenth-century authority. The Dragon is
the same Athanasius whose creed sends forth its anathemas in churches
dedicated to the Arian canonised for having slain him!

Though it be granted that they who made George of Cappadocia the
ideal hero of England really intended their homage for a martyr and
hero, it must equally be acknowledged that his halo was clearly drawn
from Dragon-fire. He was a man who had taken to the sword, and by it
perished; so much was known and announced in his canonisation. He
was honoured as 'the Victor' among the Greeks, therefore to-day
patron of Russia; as protector of Crusaders, therefore now patron of
England; thus is he saint of a war waged by the strong against the
weak, in interest of a church and priesthood against human freedom;
therefore George was taking the side of the Dragon against Christ,
restoring the priestly power he had assailed, and delivering up his
brave brothers in all history to be nailed to Christianity as a cross.

Let George remain! Whether naming fashionable temples or engraved on
gold coins, the fictitious Dragon-slayer will remain the right saint
in the right place so long as the real Dragon-slayer is made to name
every power he hated, and to consecrate every lie in whose mouth he
darted his spear.



CHAPTER XI.

THE DRAGON'S BREATH.

    Medusa--Phenomena of recurrence--The Brood of Echidna and their
    survival--Behemoth and Leviathan--The Mouth of Hell--The Lambton
    Worm--Ragnar--The Lambton Doom--The Worm's Orthodoxy--The Serpent,
    Superstition, and Science.


Asura has already been mentioned as the most ancient Aryan name for
deity. The meaning of it is, the Breather. It has also been remarked
that in the course of time the word came to signify both the good
and the evil spirit. What this evil breath meant in nature is told
in Leonardo da Vinci's picture of the expiring Medusa, referred to
on p. 386, from whose breath noxious creatures are produced. It may
have been that the artist meant only to interpret the Gorgon as a
personification of the malarious vapours of nature and their organic
kindred; if so, he painted better than he knew, and has suggested
that fatal vitality of the evil power which raised it to its throne
as a principle coeternal with good.

The phenomena of recurrence in things evil made for man the mystery
of iniquity. The darkness may be dispersed, but it returns; the storm
may clear away, but it gathers again; inundations, sickly seasons,
dog-days, Cain-winds, they go and return; the cancer is cut out and
grows again; the tyrant may be slain, tyranny survives. The serpent
slipping from one skin to another coils steadily into the symbol of
endlessness. In another expression it is the poisonous breath of
the Dragon. It is this breath that cannot be killed; the special
incarnations of it, any temporary brood of it, may be destroyed,
but the principle in nature which produces them cannot be exterminated.

Dragon fables have this undertone to their brave strain. In the
Rig Veda (v. 32) it is said that when Indra slew Ahi, 'another more
powerful was generated.' Isaiah (xiv. 29) cries, 'Rejoice not thou,
whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken:
for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his
fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.' Herakles struggles with the
giant robber, Antæus, only to find the demon's strength restored by
contact with the earth. He kills one head of the Hydra only to see two
grow in its place; and even when he has managed to burn away these,
the central head is found to be immortal, and he can only hide it
under a rock. That one is the self-multiplying principle of evil. The
vast brood of Echidna in mythology expresses the brood of evil in
nature. Echidna, daughter of Ge and Tartarus, Earth and Hell--phonetic
reappearance of Ahi--is half-serpent, half-woman, with black eyes,
fearful and bloodthirsty. She becomes the mother of fire-breathing
Typhon, buried beneath the earth by Jove's lightning when he aspired
to scale Olympus; of the Dragon that guarded the Hesperian garden;
of the Sphinx which puzzled and devoured; of three-headed Cerberus;
of the eagle that preyed on rock-bound Prometheus; of the Nemæan lion
which Herakles slew; of Chimæra; and of Scylla the monster whom Homer
describes sitting between two large rocks waylaying mariners on the
way from Italy to Sicily,--possessing twelve feet, six long necks
and mouths, each with three rows of rushing teeth.

The Dragon that Cadmus slew also had terrible teeth; and it will be
remembered that when these teeth were sown they sprang up as armed
men. Like them, the ancient Dragon-myths were also sown, broadcast, in
the mental and moral fields, cleared and ploughed by a new theology,
and they sprang up as dogmas more hard and cruel than the ferocious
forces of nature which gave birth to their ancestral monsters.

What the superstitious method of interpreting nature, forced as
it is to personify its painful as well as its pleasant phenomena,
inevitably results in, finds illustration in the two great lines of
tradition--the Aryan and the Semitic--which have converged to form
the christian mythology.

The Hebrew personification, Jehovah, originating in a rude period,
became invested with many savage and immoral traditions; but when his
worshippers had reached a higher moral culture, national sentiment
had become too deeply involved with the sovereign majesty of their
deity for his alleged actions to be criticised, or his absolute
supremacy and omnipotence to be questioned, even to save his moral
character. Thus, the Rabbins appear to have been at their wits'
end to account for the existence of the two great monsters which
had got into their sacred records--from an early mythology--Behemoth
and Leviathan. Unwilling to admit that Jehovah had created foes to
his own kingdom, or that creatures which had become foes to it were
beyond his power to control, they worked out a theory that Behemoth
and Leviathan were made and preserved by special order of Jehovah to
execute his decrees at the Messianic Day of Judgment. They probably
corresponded at an earlier period with the gryphon, or grabber, and
the serpent which bit, guardians at the gate of paradise; but the
need of such guards, biters, and spies by the all-powerful all-seeing
Shaddai having been recognised, the monsters had to be rationalised
into accord with his character as a retributive ruler. Hence Behemoth
and Leviathan are represented as being fattened with the wicked,
who die in order to be the food of the righteous during the unsettled
times that follow the revelation of the Messiah! Behemoth is Jehovah's
'cattle on a thousand hills' (Ps. i. 10). In Pireque de Rabbi Eliezur
he is described as feeding daily upon a thousand mountains on which
the grass grows again every night; and the Jordan supplies him with
drink, as it is said in Job (xl. 23), 'he trusteth that he can draw up
Jordan into his mouth.' In the Talmud these monsters are divided into
two pairs, but are said to have been made barren lest their progeny
should destroy the earth. They are kept in the wilderness of Dendain,
the mythical abode of the descendants of Cain, east of Eden, for the
unique purpose mentioned.

But now we may remark the steady progress of these monsters to
the bounds of their mythological habitat. There came a time when
Behemoth and Leviathan were hardly more presentable than other
personified horrors. They too must 'take the veil,'--a period in the
history of mythical, corresponding to extinction in that of actual,
monsters. The following passage in the Book of Enoch is believed by
Professor Drummond to be a later insertion, probably from the Book
of Noah, and as early as the middle of the first century:--'In that
day two monsters shall be divided; a female monster named Leviathan,
to dwell in the abyss of the sea, above the sources of the waters;
but the male is called Behemoth, which occupies with its breast a
desolate wilderness named Dendain, on the east of the garden where
the elect and righteous dwell, where my grandfather (Enoch) was
taken up, being the seventh from Adam, the first man whom the Lord
of the spirits created. And I asked that other angel to show me the
might of these monsters, how they were separated in one day, and one
was set in the depth of the sea, the other on the firm land of the
wilderness. And he spoke to me, 'Thou son of man, thou desirest in
this to know what has been concealed.' And the other angel who went
with me, and showed me what is in concealment, spake, ... 'These two
monsters are prepared conformably to the greatness of God to be fed,
in order that the penal judgment of God may not be in vain.' [254]

We may thus see that there were antecedents to the sentiment of
Aquinas,--'Beati in regno coelesti videbunt poenas damnatorum,
ut beatitudo illis magis complaceat.' Or, perhaps, one might say
rather to the logic of Aquinas; for though he saw that it would be
necessary for souls in bliss to be happy at vision of the damned or
else deficient in bliss, it is said he could hardly be happy from
thinking of the irreversible doom of Satan himself. It would appear
that only the followers of the Genevan who anticipated his god's hell
for Servetus managed to adapt their hearts to such logic, and glory
in the endless tortures of their fellow-creatures.

An eloquent minister in New York, Octavius B. Frothingham, being
requested to write out his views on the 'question' of everlasting
damnation, began with the remark that he felt somewhat as a sportsman
suddenly called upon to hunt the Iguanodon. Really it is Behemoth and
Leviathan he was called to deal with. Leviathan transmitted from Jonah
to the Middle Ages the idea of 'the belly of Hell,' and Behemoth's
jaws expanded in the 'mouth of Hell' of the Miracle-plays; and their
utility, as described in the Book of Enoch, perhaps originated
the doctrine of souls tasting heavenly joys from the agonies of
others. The dogma of Hell has followed the course of its prototype
with precision. It has arrived at just that period when, as in the
case of Enoch's inquiring, the investigator finds it has taken the
veil. Theologians shake their heads, call it a terrible question,
write about free-will and sin, but only a few, of the fatuous sort,
confess belief in the old-fashioned Hell where the worm dieth not
and the fire is not quenched.

Let us now take under consideration the outcome of the Aryan Dragon,
which has travelled far to meet Behemoth in the west. And it is
probable that we could not, with much seeking, find an example so
pregnant with instruction for our present inquiry as our little Durham
folk-tale of the Lambton Worm.

This Worm is said to have been slain by Sir Lambton, crusader, and
ancestor of the Earls of Durham. This young Lambton was a wild fellow;
he was fond of fishing in the river Wear, which runs near Durham
Castle, and he had an especial taste for fishing there on Sunday
mornings. He was profane, and on Sundays, when the people were all
going to mass, they were often shocked by hearing the loud oaths
which Lambton uttered whenever he had no rise. One Sunday morning
something got hold of his hook, pulled strong, and he made sure of a
good trout; what was his disappointment when instead thereof he found
at the end of his line a tiny black worm. He tore it off with fierce
imprecations and threw it in a well near by. However, soon after this
the young man joined the crusaders and went off to the Holy Land,
where he distinguished himself by slaying many Saracens.

But while he was off there things were going on badly around Durham
Castle. Some peasant passing that well into which the youth had cast
the tiny black worm looked into it, and beheld a creature that made him
shudder,--a diabolical big snake with nine ferocious eyes. A little
time only had elapsed before this creature had grown too large for
the well to hold it, and it came out and crawled on, making a path
of desolation, breakfasting on a village, until it came to a small
hill. Around that hill it coiled with nine coils, each weighty enough
to make a separate terrace. One may still see this hill with its nine
terraces, and be assured of the circumstances by peasants residing
near. Having taken up its headquarters on this hill, the nine-eyed
monster was in the habit of sallying forth every day and satisfying
his hunger by devouring the plumpest family he could find, until
at length the people consulted an oracle--some say a witch, others
again a priest--and were told that the monster would be satisfied
if it were given each day the milk of nine cows. So nine cows were
got together, and a plucky dairymaid was found to milk the cows and
carry it to the dragon. If a single gill of the milk was missing
the monster took a dire revenge upon the nearest village. This was
the unpleasant situation which young Lambton found when he returned
home from the crusades. He was now an altered man. He was no longer
given to fishing and profanity. He felt keenly that by raising the
demon out of the river Wear he had brought woe upon his neighbours,
and he resolved to engage the Worm in single combat. But he learned
that it had already been fought by several knights, and had slain
them, while no wounds received by itself availed anything, since,
if it were cut in twain, the pieces grew together again. The knight
then consulted the oracle, witch or priest, and was told that he could
prevail in the combat on certain conditions. He must provide himself
with special armour, all over which must be large razor-blades. He
must manage to entice the worm into the middle of the river Wear,
in whose waters the combat must take place. And, finally, he must
vow to slay as a sacrifice the first living thing he should meet
after his victory. These conditions having been fulfilled, the knight
entered the stream. The dragon, not having received his milk as usual
that morning, crawled from his hill seeking whom he might devour,
and seeing the knight in the river, went at him. Quickly he coiled
around the armour, but its big razors cut him into many sections;
and these sections could not piece themselves together again because
the current of the river washed them swiftly away.

Now, observe how this dragon was pieced together mythologically. He is
a storm cloud. He begins smaller than a man's hand and swells to huge
dimensions; that characteristic of the howling storm was represented
in the howling wolf Fenris of Norse Mythology, who was a little pet,
a sort of lapdog for the gods at first, but when full grown broke the
chains that tied him to mountains, and was only fettered at last by
the thread finer than cobweb, which was really the sunbeam conquering
winter. Then, when this worm was cut in two, the parts came together
again. This feature of recurrence is especially characteristic of
Hydras. In the Egyptian 'Tale of Setnau,' Ptah-nefer-ka saw the
river-snake twice resume its form after he had killed it with his
sword,--he succeeded the third time by placing sand between the two
parts; and what returning floods taught the ancient scribe remained
to characterise the dragon encountered by Guy of Warwick, which
recovered from every wound by dipping its tail in the well it had
guarded. The Lernean Hydra had nine heads, the Lambton Worm nine
eyes and nine folds, and drank nine cows' milk. His fondness for
the milk of cows connects him straightly with the dragon Vritra,
whom Indra slew because he stole Indra's cows (that is, the good
clouds, whose milk is gentle rain, and do no harm), and shut them up
in a cavern to enjoy their milk himself. That is the oldest Dragon
fable on record, and it is said in the Rig-Veda that beneath Indra's
thunderbolt the monster broke up into pieces, and was washed away in a
current of water. Finally, in being destroyed at last by razor blades,
the dragon is connected with that slain by Ragnar, in whose armour the
sun-darts of Apollo had turned to icicles. In the 'Death-Song of Ragnar
Lodbrach,' preserved by Olaus Wormius, it is said that King Ella of
Northumberland having captured that terror of the North (8th cent.),
ordered him to be thrown into a pit of serpents. His surname, Lodbrach,
or Hair Breeches, had been given because of his method of slaying a
Worm which devastated Gothland, whose king had promised his daughter
to the man who should slay the same. Ragnar dressed himself in hairy
skins, and threw water over the hair, which, freezing, encased him in
an armour of ice. The Worm, unable to bite through this, was impaled by
Ragnar. Another version is that Ragnar killed two serpents which the
King of Gothland had set to guard his daughter, but which had grown
to such size that they terrified the country. It may be observed that
the Lambton story christianises the Ragnar legend, showing that to be
done in atonement for sin which in the other was done for love. The
Cornish legend of St. Petrox has also taken a hint from Ragnar, and
announces the rescue of christians from the serpent-pit in which the
pagan hero perished. The icicles reappear on the slayer of the dragon
of Wantley, represented by long spikes bristling from his armour.

The Knight Lambton, remembering his vow to slay as a sacrifice the
first living thing he might meet after the combat, had arranged that
a dog should be placed where it would attract his eye. But it turned
out that his own father came rushing to him. As he could not kill
his father, he consulted the oracle again to know what would be the
penalty of non-fulfilment of his vow. It was that no representative
of the family should die in his bed for nine generations. The notion
is still found in that neighbourhood that no Earl of Durham has since
then died in his bed. The nine generations have long passed since
any crusading Lambton lived, but several peasants of the district
closed their narrative with, 'Strange to say, no Earl of Durham has
died in his bed!' At the castle I talked with a servant on the estate
while looking at the old statues of the knight, worm, and dairymaid,
all kept there, and he told me he had heard that the late Earl, as
death drew nigh, asked to sit up--insisted--and died in a chair. If
there be any truth in this, it would show that the family itself has
some morbid feeling about the legend which has been so long told them
with pride. The old well from which the little worm emerged a monster
is now much overgrown, but I was told that it was for a long time a
wishing-well, and the pins cast in by rustics may still be seen at
the bottom of it.

Pins are the last offerings at the Worm's Well; 'wishes' its last
prayers; but where go now the coins and the prayers? To propitiate a
power and commute a doom resting upon much the same principles as those
represented in the Lambton legend. A community desolated because one
man is sinful miniatures a world's doom for Adam's sin. The demand of
a human sacrifice is more clear in the Sockburn story, where Conyers
offered up his only son to the Holy Ghost in the parish church before
engaging the Dragon, that being a condition of success prescribed by
the 'Oracle' or 'Sybil.' This claim of the infernal powers represented
by the Worm--many-eyed, all-seeing--cannot be set aside; Lambton's
filial love may resist it only to have it pass as the hereditary doom
of his family, representing an imputed sin. 'For I, the Lord thy God,
am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers on the children
unto the third and fourth generation.'

There are processes of this kind in nature, hereditary evils,
transmitted diseases and disgraces, and afflictions of many
through the offences of one. But a fearful Nemesis follows the
deification and adoration of them. 'How can I be happy in heaven,'
said a tender-hearted lady to her clerical adviser, 'when I must
see others in hell?' 'You will be made to see that it is all for the
best.' 'If I am to be made so heartless, I prefer to go to hell.' This
genuine conversation reports the doom of all deities whose extension
is in dragons. Hell implies a Dragon as its representative and
ruler. Theology may induce the abject and cowardly to subject their
human hearts to the process of induration required for loyalty to such
powers, but in the end it makes atheism the only salvation of brave,
pure, and loving natures. The Dragons' breath has clouded the ancient
heavens and blighted the old gods; but the starry ideals they pursue
in vain. Behemoth has supplied sirloins to many priesthoods for a
long time, but he has at last become too tough even for their teeth,
and they feed him less carefully every year. Nay, he is encountered
now and then by his professional feeders, and has found even in
Westminster Abbey his Guy of Warwick.


            Nor could this desp'rate champion daunt
            A Dun Cow bigger than elephant;
            But he, to prove his courage sterling,
            Cut from her enormous side a sirloin.


The Worms--whether Semitic Leviathan or Aryan Dragon--are nearly
fossilised as to their ancient form. The sacrifice of Jephtha's
daughter to the one, and of young Conyers to the other, found
commutation in the case of man's rescue from Satan by Christ's descent
to Hades, and in the substitution of nine uneasy deaths for the
demanded parricide in the Lambton case; and the most direct 'survival'
of these may be found in any country lad trying to cure his warts by
providing a weed for them to adhere to. Their end in Art was in such
forms as this starveling creature of Callot's (Fig. 32), whose thin,
spectacled rider, tilting at St. Anthony, denotes as well the doom
of all powers, however lofty, whose majesty requires tali auxilio et
istis defensoribus. The Dragon passes and leaves a roar of laughter
behind him, in which even St. Anthony could now join. But Leviathan
and Lambton Worm have combined and merged their life in a Dogma; it
is a Dogma as remorseless and voracious as its prototype, and requires
to be fed with all the milk of human kindness, or it at once begins to
gnaw the foundations of Christendom itself. Christianity rests upon the
past work of the Worm in Paradise, and its present work in Hell. It
makes no real difference whether man's belief in a universe enmeshed
in serpent-coils be expressed in the Hindu's cowering adoration
of the venomous potentate, or the christian's imprecation upon it:
fundamentally it is serpent-worship in each case. Vishnu reposes on
his celestial Serpent; the god of Dogma maintains his government by
support of the infernal Serpent. Fear beheld him appearing in Durham to
vindicate the mass and the Sabbath; but the same fear still sees him
in the fiery world punishing Sabbath-breakers and blasphemers against
his Creator and chief. That fear built every cathedral in Christendom,
and they must crumble with the phantasm evoked for their creation.

The Serpent in itself is a perfect type of all evil in nature. It is
irreconcilable with the reign of a perfectly good and omnipotent man
over the universe. No amount of casuistry can explain its co-existence
with anthropomorphic Love and Wisdom, as all acknowledge when a
parallel casuistry attempts to defend any other god than their own
from deeds that are, humanly considered, evil. It is just as easy to
defend the jealousy and cruelty of Jove, on the ground that his ways
are not as our ways, as it is to defend similar tempers in Jehovah. The
monster sent by one to devour Prometheus is ethically atwin with the
snake created by the other to bite the heel of man.

Man is saved from the superstitious evolution of the venomous Serpent
into a Dragon by recognising its real evolution as seen by the eye
of Science. Science alone can tell the true story of the Serpent,
and justify its place in nature. It forbids man his superstitious
method of making a god in his own image, and his egotistic method
of judging nature according to his private likes and dislikes, his
convenience or inconvenience. Taught by Science man may, with a freedom
the barbarian cannot feel, exterminate the Serpent; with a freedom the
christian cannot know, he may see in that reptile the perfection of
that economy in nature which has ever defended the advancing forms of
life. It judges the good and evil of every form with reference to its
adaptation to its own purposes. Thus Science alone wields the spear
of Ithuriel, and beneath its touch every Dragon shrinks instantly to
its little shape in nature to be dealt with according to what it is.



CHAPTER XII.

FATE.

    Dorè's 'Love and Fate'--Moira and Moiræ--The 'Fates' of Æschylus
    --Divine absolutism surrendered--Jove and Typhon--Commutation of
    the Demon's share--Popular fatalism--Theological fatalism--Fate
    and Necessity--Deification of Will--Metaphysics, past and present.


Gustave Dorè has painted a picture of 'Love and Fate,' in which the
terrible hag is portrayed towering above the tender Eros, and while
the latter is extending the thread as far as he can, the wrinkled
hands of Destiny are the boundaries of his power, and the fatal shears
close upon the joy he has stretched to its inevitable limit. To the
ancient mind these two forms made the two great realms of the universe,
their powers meeting in the fruit with a worm at its core, in seeds
of death germinating amid the play of life, in all the limitations
of man. They are projected in myths of Elysium and Hades, Eden and
the Serpent, Heaven and Hell, and their manifold variants.

Perhaps there is no one line of mythological development which more
clearly and impressively illustrates the forces under which grew the
idea of an evil principle, than the changes which the personification
of Fate underwent in Greece and Rome. The Moira, or Fate with Homer,
is only a secondary cause, if that, and simply carries out the
decrees of her father, Zeus. Zeus is the real Fate. Nevertheless,
while this is the Homeric theory or theology, there are intimations
(see chap. xxvii. part 4) that the real awe of men was already
transferred from Zeus to the Erinnyes. This foreshadows a change of
government. With Hesiod we find, instead of one, three Moiræ. They
are no longer offspring of Zeus, but, as it were, his Cabinet. They
do not act independently of him, but when, in pursuance of their just
counsels, Zeus issues decrees, the Moiræ administer them. Next we find
the Moiræ of Hesiod developed by other writers into final Recorders;
they write the decrees of Zeus on certain indestructible tablets,
after which they are irrevocable and inevitable. With Æschylus we
find the Moiræ developed into independent and supreme powers, above
Zeus himself. The chained Prometheus looks not to Zeus but to Fate
for his final liberation.


    Chorus. Who, then, is the guide of Necessity?

    Prometheus. The tri-form Fates and the unforgetting Furies.

    Cho. Is Zeus, then, less powerful than they?

    Prom. At least 'tis certain he cannot escape his own doom.

    Cho. And what can be Zeus' doom but everlasting rule?

    Prom. This ye may not learn; press it not.

    Cho. Surely some solemn mystery thou hidest.

    Prom. Turn to some other theme: for this disclosure time has not
    ripened: it must be veiled in deep mystery, for by the keeping of
    this secret shall come my liberty from base chains and misery.


These great landmarks represent successive revolutions in the Olympian
government. Absolutism became burthensome: as irresponsible monarch,
Zeus became responsible for the woes of the world, and his priests were
satisfied to have an increasing share of that responsibility allotted
to his counsellors, until finally the whole of it is transferred. From
that time the countenance of Zeus, or Jupiter, shines out unclouded by
responsibility for human misfortunes and earthly evils; and, on the
other hand, the once beautiful Fates are proportionately blackened,
and they become hideous hags, the aged and lame crones of popular
belief in Greece and Rome, every line of whose ugliness would have
disfigured the face of Zeus had he not been subordinated to them.

Moira means 'share,' and originally, perhaps, meant simply the
power that meted out to each his share of life, and of the pains
and pleasures woven in it till the term be reached. But as the Fates
gained more definite personality they began to be regarded as having
also a 'share' of their own. They came to typify all the dark and
formidable powers as to their inevitableness. No divine power could
set them aside, or more than temporarily subdue them. Fate measured
out her share to the remorseless Gorgon as well as to the fairest
god. But where destructive power was exercised in a way friendly to
man, the Fates are put somewhat in the background, and the feat is
claimed for some god. Such, in the 'Prometheus' of Æschylus, is the
spirit of the wonderful passage concerning Typhon, rendered with
tragic depth by Theodore Buckley:--'I commiserated too,' says the
rock-bound Prometheus, 'when I beheld the earth-born inmate of the
Cilician caverns, a tremendous prodigy, the hundred-headed impetuous
Typhon, overpowered by force; who withstood all the gods, hissing
slaughter from his hungry jaws, and from his eyes there flashed a
hideous glare as if he would perforce overthrow the sovereignty
of Jove. But the sleepless shaft of Jupiter came upon him, the
descending thunderbolt breathing forth flame which scared him out of
his presumptuous bravadoes; for having been smitten to his very soul
he was crumbled to a cinder, and thunder-blasted in his prowess. And
now, a hapless and paralysed form, is he lying hard by a narrow frith,
pressed down beneath the roots of Ætna. And, seated on the topmost
peaks, Vulcan forges the molten masses whence there shall burst forth
floods, devouring with full jaws the level fields of fruitful Sicily;
with rage such as this shall Typhon boil over in hot artillery of a
never glutted fire-breathing storm; albeit he hath been reduced to
ashes by the thunderbolt of Jupiter.'

In this passage we see Jove invested with the glory of defeating
a great demon; but we also recognise the demon still under the
protection of Fate. Destiny must bear that burthen. So was it said
in the Apocalypse Satan should be loosed after being bound in the
Pit a thousand years; and so Mohammed declared Gog and Magog should
break loose with terror and destruction from the mountain-prison in
which Allah had cast them. The destructive Principle had its 'share'
as well as the creative and preservative Principles, and could not
be permanently deprived of it. Gradually the Fates of various regions
and names were identified with the deities, whose interests, gardens,
or treasures they guarded; and when some of these deities were degraded
their retainers were still more degraded, while in other cases deities
were enabled to maintain fair fame by fables of their being betrayed
and their good intentions frustrated by such subordinates. Thus we
find a certain notion of technical and official power investing such
figures as Satan, Ahriman, Iblis, and the Dragon, as if the upper
gods could not disown or reverse altogether the bad deeds done by
these commissioners.

But the large though limited degree of control necessarily claimed for
the greatest and best gods had to be represented theologically. Hence
there was devised a system of Commutation. The Demon or Dragon,
though abusing his power, could not have it violently withdrawn, but
might be compelled to accept some sacrifice in lieu of the precise
object sought by his voracity. These substitutions are found in every
theological system, and to apply them to individuals constitutes the
raison d'être of every priesthood. In the progress towards civilisation
the substitutes diminish in value, and finally they become merely
nominal and ceremonial,--an effigy of a man instead of the man,
or wine instead of blood. At first the commutation was often in the
substitution of persons of lower for others of higher rank, as when
slaves or wives were, or are, sacrificed to assure paradise to the
master or husband. Thus, Death is allowed to take Alcestis instead
of Admetus. A higher degree of civilisation substitutes animals
for human victims. In keeping with this is the legend of Christ's
sending demons out of two men into a herd of swine: [255] which,
again, is referable to the same class of ideas as the legend that
followed concerning Jesus himself as a vicarious offering; mankind
in this case being the herd, as compared with the son of a god, and
the transfer of the Satanic power from the human race to himself,
for even a little time, being accepted in theology as an equivalent,
on account of the divine dignity of the being who descended into
hell. It was some time, however, before theology worked out this
theory as it now stands, the candid fathers having rejoiced in the
belief that the contract for commutation on its face implied that
Christ was to remain for ever in hell, Satan being outwitted in this.

The ancient Babylonian charms often end with the refrain:--'May the
enchantment go forth and to its own dwelling-place betake itself,'
Every evil spirit was supposed to have an appropriate dwelling,
as in the case of Judas, into whom Satan entered, [256] and of whom
it is said he 'by transgression fell, that he might go to his own
place. [257] Very ingenious are some of the ancient speculations
concerning the habitations and congenial resorts of demons. In some
regions the colour of a disease on the skin is supposed to indicate
the tastes of the demon causing it; and the spells of exorcism end
by assigning him to something of the same hue. The demon of jaundice
is generally consigned to the yellow parrots, and inflammation to
the red or scarlet weeds. Their colours are respected. Humanity is
little considered in the Eastern formulas of this kind, and it is
pretty generally the case that in praying against plague or famine,
populations are often found selecting a tribe to which their trouble is
adjured to betake itself. 'May Nin-cigal,' says a Babylonian exorcism,
'turn her face towards another place; may the noxious spirit go
forth and seize another; may the female cherub and the female demon
settle upon his body; may the king of heaven preserve, may the king
of earth preserve!'

So is it in regions and times which we generally think of as
semi-barbarous. But every now and then communities which fancy
themselves civilised and enlightened are brought face to face with
the popular fatalism in its pagan form, and are shocked thereat, not
remembering that it is equally the dogma of vicarious satisfaction
or atonement. A lady residing in the neighbourhood of the Traunsee,
Austria, informs me that recently two men were nearly drowned in
that lake, being rescued at the last moment and brought to life with
great difficulty. But this incident, instead of causing joy among
the neighbours of the men, excited their displeasure; and this not
because the rescued were at all unpopular, but because of a widespread
notion that the Destinies required two lives, that they would have to
be presently satisfied with two others, and that since the agonies of
the drowning men had passed into unconsciousness, it would have been
better to surrender the selected victims to their fate. At Elsinore,
in Denmark, when the sea moans it is said to 'want somebody,' and
it is generally the case that some story of a person just drowned
circulates afterwards.

While the early mythological forms of the Fates diminish and pass away
as curious superstitions, they return in metaphysical disguises. They
gather their kindred in primitive sciences and cosmogonies, and
finding their old home swept free of pagan demons, and, garnished
with philosophic phrases, they enter as grave theories; but their
subtlety and their sting is with them, and the last state of the
house they occupy is worse than the first.

Yes, worse: for all that man ever won of courage or moral freedom,
by conquering his dragons in detail, he surrenders again to the
phantom-forces they typified when he gives up his mind to belief in
a power not himself that makes for evil. The terrible conclusion that
Evil is a positive and imperishable Principle in the universe carries
in it the poisonous breath of every Dragon. It lurks in all theology
which represents the universe as an arena of struggle between good
and evil Principles, and human life as a war of the soul against the
flesh. It animates all the pious horrors which identify Materialism
with wickedness. It nestles in the mind which imagines a personal
deity opposed by any part of nature. It coils around every heart
which adores absolute sovereign Will, however apotheosised.

All of these notions, most of all belief in a supreme arbitrary Will,
are modern disguises of Fate; and belief in Fate is the one thing
fatal to human culture and energy. The notion of Fate (fatum, the
word spoken) carries in it the conception of arbitrariness in the
universe, of power deliberately exerted without necessary reference
to the nature of things; and it is precisely opposed to that idea of
Necessity taught by Science, which is another name for the supremacy of
Law. Happily the notion of a universe held at the mercy of a personal
decree is suicidal in a world full of sorrows and agonies, which,
on such a theory, can only be traced to some individual caprice
or malevolence. However long abject fear may silence the lips of
the suffering, rebellion is in their hearts. Every blow inflicted,
directly or permissively, by mere Will, however omnipotent, every
agony that is consciously detached from universal organic necessity,
in order that it may be called 'providential,' can arouse no natural
feeling in man nobler than indignation. The feeling of a suitor in
a court of law, who knows that the adverse judgment that ruins him
has no root in the facts or the law, but proceeds from the prejudice
or whim of the judge, can be nowise different from that of a mother
who sees her son stricken down by death, and hears at his grave that
he was consumed by the wrath of a god who might have yielded to her
prayer, but refused it. The heart's protest may be throttled for a
time by the lingering coil of terror, but it is there, and christian
theologians will be as anxious to protect their deity from it, at
whatever cost to his sovereignty, as their predecessors who invented
the Cabinet of Women to relieve Jove from responsibility.

Metaphysics--which appear to have developed into the art of
making things look true in words when their untruth in fact
has been detected--have indeed already set about the task just
predicted. Eminent divines are found writing about matter and spirit,
freedom and natural law, as solemnly as if all this discussion were
new, and had never been carried out to its inevitable results. They
can only put in christian or modern phraseology conclusions which have
been reached again and again in the history of human speculation. The
various schools of Buddhist and Vedantist philosophy have come by every
conceivable route to their fundamental unity of belief in God, Soul,
and Matter; in a pessimist visible nature, an ideal invisible nature,
and a human soul held in matter like a frog in a snake's mouth, but
able by certain mysterious, mostly metaphysical or verbal, tactics,
to gain release, and pass into a corresponding situation in the deity.

'As a king, whose son had strayed away from him and lived in ignorance
of his father among the Veddahs (wild men), will, on discovering
his son, exclaim, 'Come to me, my darling son!' and make him a
participator of the happiness he himself enjoys, even so will the
Supreme God present himself before the soul when in distress--the
soul enmeshed in the net of the five Veddahs (senses), and, severing
that soul from Pâsam (Matter), assimilate it to himself, and bless
it at his holy feet.'

It is too late for man to be interested in an 'omnipotent' Personality,
whose power is mysteriously limited at the precise point when it
is needed, and whose moral government is another name for man's own
control of nature. Nevertheless, this Oriental pessimism is the Pauline
theory of Matter, and it is the speculative protoplasm out of which
has been evolved, in many shapes, that personification which remains
for our consideration--the Devil.



PART IV.

THE DEVIL.


CHAPTER I.

DIABOLISM.

    Dragon and Devil distinguished--Dragons' wings--War in Heaven--
    Expulsion of Serpents--Dissolution of the Dragon--Theological
    origin of the Devil--Ideal and actual--Devil Dogma--Debasement
    of ideal persons--Transmigration of phantoms.


'We are all nothing other than Wills,' says St. Augustine; and he
adds that of the good and bad angels the nature is the same, the will
different. In harmony with this John Beaumont says, 'A good desire
of mind is a good God.' [1] To which all the mythology of Evil adds,
a bad desire of mind is a Devil. Every personification of an evil
Will looks beyond the outward phenomena of pain, and conceives a
heart that loves evil, a spirit that makes for wickedness. At this
point a new element altogether enters. The physical pain incidentally
represented by the Demon, generalised and organised into a principle
of harmfulness in the Dragon, begins now to pass under the shadow cast
by the ascending light of man's moral nature. Man becomes conscious of
moral and spiritual pains: they may be still imaginatively connected
with bodily agonies, but these drop out of the immediate conception,
disappear into a distant future, and are even replaced by the notion
of an evil symbolised by pleasure.

The fundamental difference between either a Demon or Dragon and a
Devil may be recognised in this: we never find the former voluntarily
bestowing physical pleasure or happiness on man, whereas it is a
chief part of the notion of a Devil that he often confers earthly
favours in order to corrupt the moral nature.

There are, indeed, apparent exceptions to this theorem presented
in the agatho-dragons which have already been considered in our
chapter on the Basilisk; but the reader will observe that there is
no intimation in such myths of any malign ulterior purpose in the
good omens brought by those exceptional monsters, and that they are
really forms of malevolent power whose afflictive intent is supposed
to have been vanquished by the superior might of the heroes or saints
to whose glory they are reluctantly compelled to become tributary.

Undoubtedly the Dragon attended this moral and religious development of
man's inward nature very far, and still occupies, as at once prisoner
and gaoler in the underworld, a subordinate relation to it. In the long
process he has undergone certain transformations, and in particular
his attribute of wings, if not derived from the notion of his struggle
against holier beings, seems to have been largely enhanced thereby. The
exceptional wings given to serpents in Greek art, those, for instance,
which draw Demeter and Persephone in their chariot, are trifling as
compared with the fully-developed wings of our conventional Dragon of
the christian era. Such wings might have been developed occasionally
to denote the flying cloud, the fire-breathing storm, or explain how
some Ráhu was enabled to pursue the sun and moon and swallow them
temporarily in the phenomena of eclipse. But these wings grew to
more important dimensions when they were caught up into the Semitic
conception of winged genii and destroying angels, and associated with
an ambitious assault on heaven and its divine or angelic occupants.

'There was war in Heaven,' says the Apocalypse. The traditional
descriptions of this war follow pretty closely, in dramatic details,
other and more ancient struggles which reflect man's encounters with
the hardships of nature. In those encounters man imagined the gods
descending earthward to mingle in the fray; but even where the struggle
mounted highest the scenery is mainly terrestrial and the issues those
of place and power, the dominion of visible Light established above
Darkness, or of a comparatively civilised over a savage race. The
wars between the Devas and Asuras in India, the Devs and Ahuras in
Persia, Buddha and the Nagas in Ceylon, Garúra and the Serpent-men
in the north of India, gods and Frost-giants in Scandinavia, still
concern man's relation to the fruits of the earth, to heat and frost,
to darkness or storm and sunshine.

But some of these at length find versions which reveal their tendency
towards spiritualisation. The differences presented by one of these
legends which has survived among us in nearly its ancient form from
the same which remains in a partly mystical form will illustrate
the transitional phase. Thus, Garúra expelling the serpents from
his realm in India is not a saintly legend; this exterminator of
serpents is said to have compelled the reptile race to send him one
of their number daily that he might eat it, and the rationalised
tradition interprets this as the prince's cannibalism. The expulsion
of Nagas or serpents from Ceylon by Buddha, in order that he might
consecrate that island to the holy law, marks the pious accentuation
of the fable. The expulsion of snakes from Ireland by St. Patrick
is a legend conceived in the spirit of the curse pronounced upon the
serpent in Eden, but in this case the modern myth is the more primitive
morally, and more nearly represents the exploit of Garúra. St. Patrick
expels the snakes that he may make Ireland a paradise physically,
and establish his reputation as an apostle by fulfilling the signs
of one named by Christ; [2] and in this particular it slightly rises
above the Hindu story. In the case of the serpent cursed in Eden a
further moralisation of the conflict is shown. The serpent is not
present in Eden, as in the realms of Garúra and St. Patrick, for
purposes of physical devastation or pain, but to bestow a pleasure
on man with a view to success in a further issue between himself and
the deity. Yet in this Eden myth the ancient combat is not yet fairly
spiritualised; for the issue still relates, as in that between the
Devas and Asuras, to the possession of a magical fruit which by no
means confers sanctity. In the apocalyptic legend of the war in heaven,
[3] the legend has become fairly spiritualised. The issue is no longer
terrestrial, it is no longer for mere power; the Dragon is arrayed
against the woman and child, and against the spiritual 'salvation'
of mankind, of whom he is 'accuser' and 'deceiver.'

Surely nobody could be 'deceived' by 'a great fiery-red Dragon, having
seven heads and ten horns'! In this vision the Dragon is pressed as far
as the form can go in the symbolisation of evil. To devour the child is
its legitimate work, but as 'accuser of the brethren before God day and
night' the monstrous shape were surely out of place by any mythologic
analogy; and one could hardly imagine such a physiognomy capable of
deceiving 'the whole world.' It is not wonderful, therefore, that the
Dragon's presence in heaven is only mentioned in connection with his
fall from it. It is significant that the wings are lost in this fall;
for while his 'angelic' relationship suggests the previous wings,
the woman is able to escape the fallen monster by the two wings given
her. [4] Wingless now, 'the old serpent' once more, the monster's
shape has no adaptation to the moral and religious struggle which
is to ensue. For his shape is a method, and it means the perfection
of brute force. That, indeed, also remains in the sequel of this
magnificent myth. As in the legend of the Hydra two heads spring up
in place of that which falls, so in this Christian legend out of the
overthrown monster, henceforth himself concealed, two arise from his
inspiration,--the seven-headed, ten-horned Beast who continues the work
of wrath and pain; but also a lamb-like Beast, with only two horns
(far less terrible), and able to deceive by his miracles, for he is
even able to call down fire from heaven. The ancient Serpent-dragon,
the expression of natural pain, thus goes to pieces. His older part
remains to work mischief and hurt; and the cry is uttered, 'Be merry,
ye heavens, and ye that tabernacle in them: woe to the earth and the
sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath because
he knows that he has a short time.' [5] But there is a lamb-like part
of him too, and his relation to the Dragon is only known by his voice.

This subtle adaptation of the symbol of external pain to the
representation of the moral struggle, wherein the hostile power
may assume deceptive forms of beauty and pleasure, is only one
impressive illustration of the transfer of human conceptions of evil
from outward to inward nature. The transition is from a malevolent,
fatal, principle of harmfulness to the body to a malevolent, fatal,
principle of evil to the conscience. The Demon was natural; the
Dragon was both physical and metaphysical; the Devil was and is
theological. In the primitive Zoroastrian theology, where the Devil
first appears in clear definition, he is the opponent of the Good
Mind, and the combat between the two, Ormuzd and Ahriman, is the
spiritualisation of the combat between Light and Darkness, Pain and
Happiness, in the external world. As these visible antagonists were
supposed to be exactly balanced against each other, so are their
spiritual correlatives. The Two Minds are described as Twins.

'Those old Spirits, who are twins, made known what is good and what is
evil in thoughts, words, and deeds. Those who are good distinguished
between the two; not so those who are evil-doers.

'When these two Spirits came together they made first life and death,
so that there should be at last the most wretched life for the bad,
but for the good blessedness.

'Of these two Spirits the evil one chose the worst deeds; the
kind Spirit, he whose garment is the immovable sky, chose what is
right.' [6]

This metaphysical theory follows closely the primitive scientific
observations on which it is based; it is the cold of the cold,
the gloom of the darkness, the sting of death, translated into some
order for the intellect which, having passed through the Dragon, we
find appearing in this Persian Devil; and against his blackness the
glory of the personality from whom all good things proceed shines
out in a splendour no longer marred by association with the evil
side of nature. Ormuzd is celebrated as 'father of the pure world,'
who sustains 'the earth and the clouds that they do not fall,' and
'has made the kindly light and the darkness, the kindly sleep and the
awaking;' [7] at every step being suggested the father of the impure
world, the unkindly light, darkness or sleep.

The ecstasy which attended man's first vision of an ideal life defied
the contradictory facts of outward and inward nature. So soon as he
had beheld a purer image of himself rising above his own animalism,
he must not only regard that animalism as an instigation of a devil,
but also the like of it in nature; and this conception will proceed
pari passu with the creation of pure deities in the image of that
higher self. There was as yet no philosophy demanding unity in the
Cosmos, or forbidding man to hold as accursed so much of nature as
did not obviously accord with his ideals.

Mr. Edward B. Tylor has traced the growth of Animism from man's
shadow and his breathing; Sir John Lubbock has traced the influence of
dreams in forming around him a ghostly world; Mr. Herbert Spencer has
given an analysis of the probable processes by which this invisible
environment was shaped for the mental conception in accordance
with family and social conditions. But it is necessary that we
should here recognise the shadow that walked by the moral nature,
the breathings of religious aspiration, and the dreams which visited
a man whose moral sense was so generally at variance with his animal
desires. The code established for the common good, while necessarily
having a relation to every individual conscience, is a restriction
upon individual liberty. The conflict between selfishness and duty is
thus inaugurated; it continues in the struggle between the 'law in the
members and the law in the spirit,' which led Paul to beat his body
(hypopiaxomai) to keep it in subjection; it passes from the Latin
poet to the Englishman, who turns his experience to a rune--


        I see the right, and I approve it too;
        Condemn the wrong, and yet the wrong pursue.


As the light which cast it was intense, even so intense was the shadow
it cast beneath all it could not penetrate. Passionate as was the
saintliest man's love of good, even so passionate was his spiritual
enemy's love of evil. High as was the azure vault that mingled with his
dreams of purity, so deep was the abyss beneath his lower nature. The
superficial equalities of phenomena, painful and pleasurable, to his
animal nature had cast the mould into which his theories of the inward
and the moral phenomena must be cast; and thus man--in an august
moment--surrendered himself to the dreadful conception of a supreme
Principle of Wickedness: wherever good was there stood its adversary;
wherever truth, there its denier; no light shone without the dark
presence that would quench it; innocence had its official accuser,
virtue its accomplished tempter, peace its breaker, faith its disturber
and mocker. Nay, to this impersonation was added the last feature
of fiendishness, a nature which found its supreme satisfaction in
ultimately torturing human beings for the sins instigated by himself.

It is open to question how far any average of mankind really conceived
this theological dogma. Easy as it is to put into clear verbal
statement; readily as the analogies of nature supply arguments for
and illustrations of a balance between moral light and darkness, love
and hatred; yet is man limited in subjective conceptions to his own
possibilities, and it may almost be said that to genuinely believe in
an absolute Fiend a man would have to be potentially one himself. But
any human being, animated by causeless and purposeless desire to
inflict pain on others, would be universally regarded as insane,
much more one who would without motive corrupt as well as afflict.

Even theological statements of the personality of Evil, and what that
implies, are rare. The following is brave enough to be put on record,
apart from its suggestiveness.

'It cannot be denied that as there is an inspiration of holy love,
so is there an inspiration of hatred, or frantic pleasure, with which
men surrender themselves to the impulses of destructiveness; and when
the popular language speaks of possessions of Satan, of incarnate
devils, there lies at the bottom of this the grave truth that men,
by continued sinning, may pass the ordinary limit between human and
diabolic depravity, and lay open in themselves a deep abyss of hatred
which, without any mixture of self-interest, finds its gratification
in devastation and woe.' [8]

On this it may be said that the popular commentary on cases of the
kind is contained in the very phrase alluded to, 'possession,'--the
implication being that such disinterested depravity is nowise possible
within the range of simple human experience,--and, in modern times,
'possessions' are treated in asylums. Morbid conditions, however, are
of such varied degrees that it is probable many have imagined a Being
in whom their worst impulses are unrestrained, and thus there have
been sufficient popular approximations to an imaginative conception
of a Devil to enable the theological dogma, which few can analyse,
to survive.

It must not be supposed, however, that the moral and spiritual ideals,
to which allusion has just been made, are normally represented in the
various Devils which we have to consider. It is the characteristic of
personifications, whether celestial or infernal, to supersede gradually
the ideas out of which they spring. As in the fable of Agni, who is
said to have devoured his parents when he was born, a metaphor of fire
consuming the two sticks which produce it, religious history shows both
deities and devils, by the flame of personal devotion or hatred they
engender, burning up the ideas that originate them. When instead of
unconscious forces and inanimate laws working to results called good
and evil, men see great personal Wills engaged in personal conflict,
the universe becomes a government of combat; the stars of heaven, the
angels and the imps, men and women, the very plants and animals, are
caught up in the battle, to be marshalled on one side or the other;
and in the military spirit and fury of the struggle the spiritual
ideals become as insignificant beneath the phantom-hosts they evoked
as the violets and daisies which an army tramples in its march. There
is little difference at last between the moral characteristics of
the respective armies of Ormuzd and Ahriman, Michael and Satan; their
strategy and ferocity are the same. [9] Wherever the conception is that
of a universe divided into hostile camps, the appropriate passions are
kindled, and in the thick of the field, where Cruelty and Gentleness
met, is seen at last a horned Beast confronted by a horned Lamb. [10]
On both sides is exaltation of the horn.

We need only look at the outcome of the gentle and lowly Jesus through
the exigencies of the church militant to see how potent are such
forces. Although lay Christians of ordinary education are accustomed
to rationalise their dogmas as well as they can, and dwell on the
loving and patient characteristics of Jesus, the horns which were
attached to the brow of him who said, 'Love your enemies' by ages of
Christian warfare remain still in the Christ of Theology, and they
are still depended on to overawe the 'sinner.' In an orthodox family
with which I have had some acquaintance, a little boy, who had used
naughty expressions of resentment towards a playmate was admonished
that he should be more like Christ, 'who never did any harm to his
enemies.' 'No,' answered the wrathful child, 'but he's a-going to.'

As in Demonology we trace the struggles of man with external
obstructions, and the phantasms in which these were reflected until
they were understood or surmounted, we have now to consider the forms
which report human progression on a higher plane,--that of social,
moral, and religious evolution. Creations of a crude Theology, in its
attempt to interpret the moral sentiment, the Devils to which we now
turn our attention have multiplied as the various interests of mankind
have come into relations with their conscience. Every degree of ascent
of the moral nature has been marked by innumerable new shadows cast
athwart the mind and the life of man. Every new heaven of ideas
is followed by a new earth, but ere this conformity of things to
thoughts can take place struggles must come and the old demons will
be recalled for new service. As time goes on things new grow old;
the fresh issues pass away, their battlefields grow cold; then the
brood of superstition must flit away to the next field where carrion is
found. Foul and repulsive as are these vultures of the mind--organisms
of moral sewage--every one of them is a witness to the victories of
mankind over the evils they shadow, and to the steady advance of a
new earth which supplies them no habitat but the archæologist's page.



CHAPTER II.

THE SECOND BEST.

    Respect for the Devil--Primitive atheism--Idealisation--Birth of
    new gods--New gods diabolised--Compromise between new gods and
    old--Foreign deities degraded--Their utilisation.


A lady residing in Hampshire, England, recently said to a friend of
the present writer, both being mothers, 'Do you make your children
bow their heads whenever they mention the Devil's name? I do,' she
added solemnly,--'I think it's safer.'

This instance of reverence for the Devil's name, occurring in a
respectable English family, may excite a smile; but if my reader has
perused the third and fourth chapters (Part I.) of this work, in which
it was necessary to state certain facts and principles which underlie
the phenomena of degradation in both Demonology and Devil-lore, he will
already know the high significance of nearly all the names which have
invested the personifications of evil; and he will not be surprised to
find their original sanctity, though lowered, sometimes, surviving in
such imaginary forms after the battles in which they were vanquished
have passed out of all contemporary interest. If, for example, instead
of the Devil, whose name is uttered with respect in the Hampshire
household, any theological bogey of our own time were there mentioned,
such as 'Atheist,' it might hardly receive such considerate treatment.

The two chapters just referred to anticipate much that should be
considered at this point of our inquiry. It is only necessary here
to supplement them with a brief statement, and to some extent a
recapitulation, of the processes by which degraded deities are
preserved to continue through a structural development and fulfil
a necessary part in every theological scheme which includes the
conception of an eternal difference between good and evil.

Every personification when it first appears expresses a higher
and larger view. When deities representing the physical needs of
mankind have failed, as they necessarily must, to meet those needs,
atheism follows, though it cannot for a long time find philosophical
expression. It is an atheism ad hoc, so to say, and works by
degrading particular gods instead of by constructing antitheistic
theories. Successive dynasties of deities arise and flourish in this
way, each representing a less arbitrary relation to nature,--peril
lying in that direction,--and a higher moral and spiritual ideal,
this being the stronghold of deities. It is obvious that it is far
easier to maintain the theory that prayers are heard and answered
by a deity if those prayers are limited to spiritual requests, than
when they are petitions for outward benefits. By giving over the
cruel and remorseless forces of nature to the Devil,--i.e.,  to this
or that personification of them who, as gods, had been appealed to
in vain to soften such forces,--the more spiritual god that follows
gains in security as well as beauty what he surrenders of empire and
omnipotence. This law, illustrated in our chapter on Fate, operates
with tremendous effect upon the conditions under which the old combat
is spiritualised.

An eloquent preacher has said:--'Hawthorne's fine fancy of the youth
who ascribed heroic qualities to the stone face on the brow of a
cliff, thus converting the rocky profile into a man, and, by dint of
meditating on it with admiring awe, actually transferred to himself
the moral elements he worshipped, has been made fact a thousand times,
is made fact every day, by earnest spirits who by faithful longing
turn their visions into verities, and obtain live answers to their
petitions to shadows.' [11]

However imaginary may be the benedictions so derived by the worshipper
from his image, they are most real as they redound to the glory
and power of the image. The crudest personification, gathering up
the sanctities of generations, associated with the holiest hopes,
the best emotions, the profoundest aspirations of human nature,
may be at length so identified with these sentiments that they all
seem absolutely dependent upon the image they invest. Every criticism
of such a personification then seems like a blow aimed at the moral
laws. If educated men are still found in Christendom discussing whether
morality can survive the overthrow of such personifications, and
whether life were worth living without them, we may readily understand
how in times when the social, ethical, and psychological sciences
did not exist at all, all that human beings valued seemed destined
to stand or fall with the Person supposed to be their only keystone.

But no Personage, however highly throned, can arrest the sun and
moon, or the mind and life of humanity. With every advance in
physical or social conditions moral elements must be influenced;
every new combination involves a recast of experiences, and presently
of convictions. Henceforth the deified image can only remain as a
tyrant over the heart and brain which have created it,--


                          Creatura a un tempo
            E tiranno de l'uom, da cui soltanto
            Ebbe nomi ed aspetti e regno e altari. [12]


This personification, thus 'at once man's creature and his tyrant,' is
objectively a name. But as it has been invested with all that has been
most sacred, it is inevitable that any name raised against it shall be
equally associated with all that has been considered basest. This also
must be personified, for the same reason that the good is personified;
and as names are chiefly hereditary, it pretty generally happens that
the title of some fallen and discredited deity is advanced to receive
the new anathema. But what else does he receive? The new ideas; the
growing ideals and the fresh enthusiasms are associated with some
fantastic shape with anathematised name evoked from the past, and
thus a portentous situation is reached. The worshippers of the new
image will not accept the bad name and its base associations; they
even grow strong enough to claim the name and altars of the existing
order, and give battle for the same. Then occurs the demoralisation,
literally speaking, of the older theology. The personification reduced
to struggle for its existence can no longer lay emphasis upon the
moral principles it had embodied, these being equally possessed by
their opponents; nay, its partisans manage to associate with their
holy Name so much bigotry and cruelty that the innovators are at length
willing to resign it. The personal loyalty, which is found to continue
after loyalty to principles has ceased, proceeds to degrade the virtues
once reverenced when they are found connected with a rival name. 'He
casteth out devils through Beelzebub' is a very ancient cry. It was
heard again when Tertullian said, 'Satan is God's ape.' St. Augustine
recognises the similarity between the observances of Christians and
pagans as proving the subtle imitativeness of the Devil; the phenomena
referred to are considered elsewhere, but, in the present connection,
it may be remarked that this readiness to regard the same sacrament
as supremely holy or supremely diabolical as it is celebrated in
honour of one name or another, accords closely with the reverence
or detestation of things more important than sacraments, as they
are, or are not, consecrated by what each theology deems official
sanction. When sects talk of 'mere morality' we may recognise in
the phrase the last faint war-cry of a god from whom the spiritual
ideal has passed away, and whose name even can survive only through
alliance with the new claimant of his altars. While the new gods were
being called devils the old ones were becoming such.

The victory of the new ideal turns the old one to an idol. But we are
considering a phase of the world when superstition must invest the
new as well as the old, though in a weaker degree. A new religious
system prevails chiefly through its moral superiority to that it
supersedes; but when it has succeeded to the temples and altars
consecrated to previous divinities, when the ardour of battle is
over and conciliation becomes a policy as well as a virtue, the old
idol is likely to be treated with respect, and may not impossibly be
brought into friendly relation with its victorious adversary. He may
take his place as 'the second best,' to borrow Goethe's phrase, and be
assigned some function in the new theologic régime. Thus, behind the
simplicity of the Hampshire lady instructing her children to bow at
mention of the Devil's name, stretch the centuries in which Christian
divines have as warmly defended the existence of Satan as that of God
himself. With sufficient reason: that infernal being, some time God's
'ape' and rival, was necessarily developed into his present position
and office of agent and executioner under the divine government. He
is the great Second Best; and it is a strange hallucination to fancy
that, in an age of peaceful inquiry, any divine personification can
be maintained without this patient Goat, who bears blame for all
the faults of nature, and who relieves divine Love from the odium
of supplying that fear which is the mother of devotion,--at least in
the many millions of illogical eyes into which priests can still look
without laughing.

Such, in brief outline, has been the interaction of moral and
intellectual forces operating within the limits of established systems,
and of the nations governed by them. But there are added factors,
intensifying the forces on each side, when alien are brought into
rivalry and collision with national deities. In such a contest, besides
the moral and spiritual sentiments and the household sanctities, which
have become intertwined with the internal deities, national pride is
also enlisted, and patriotism. But on the other side is enlisted the
charm of novelty, and the consciousness of fault and failure in the
home system. Every system imported to a foreign land leaves behind
its practical shortcomings, puts its best foot forward--namely, its
theoretical foot--and has the advantage of suggesting a way of escape
from the existing routine which has become oppressive. Napoleon I. said
that no people profoundly attached to the institutions of their country
can be conquered; but what people are attached to the priestly system
over them? That internal dissatisfaction which, in secular government,
gives welcome to a dashing Corsican or a Prince of Orange, has been
the means of introducing many an alien religion, and giving to many a
prophet the honour denied him in his own country. Buddha was a Hindu,
but the triumph of his religion is not in India; Zoroaster was a
Persian, but there are no Parsees in Persia; Christianity is hardly
a colonist even in the native land of Christ.

These combinations and changes were not effected without fierce
controversies, ferocious wars, or persecutions, and the formation
of many devils. Nothing is more normal in ancient systems than the
belief that the gods of other nations are devils. The slaughter of
the priests of Baal corresponds with the development of their god
into Beelzebub. In proportion to the success of Olaf in crushing
the worshippers of Odin, their deity is steadily transformed to a
diabolical Wild Huntsman. But here also the forces of partial recovery,
which we have seen operating in the outcome of internal reform,
manifest themselves; the vanquished, and for a time outlawed deity, is,
in many cases, subsequently conciliated and given an inferior, and,
though hateful, a useful office in the new order. Sometimes, indeed,
as in the case of the Hindu destroyer Siva, it is found necessary
to assign a god, anathematised beyond all power of whitewash, to an
equal rank with the most virtuous deity. Political forces and the
exigencies of propagandism work many marvels of this kind, which will
meet us in the further stages of our investigation.

Every superseded god who survives in subordination to another is pretty
sure to be developed into a Devil. Euphemism may tell pleasant fables
about him, priestcraft may find it useful to perpetuate belief in his
existence, but all the evils of the universe, which it is inconvenient
to explain, are gradually laid upon him, and sink him down, until
nothing is left of his former glory but a shining name.



CHAPTER III.

AHRIMAN: THE DIVINE DEVIL.

    Mr. Irving's impersonation of Superstition--Revolution against
    pious privilege--Doctrine of 'merits'--Saintly immorality in
    India--A Pantheon turned Inferno--Zendavesta on Good and Evil--
    Parsî Mythology--The Combat of Ahriman with Ormuzd--Optimism--
    Parsî Eschatology--Final Restoration of Ahriman.


Any one who has witnessed Mr. Henry Irving's scholarly and masterly
impersonation of the character of Louis XI. has had an opportunity of
recognising a phase of superstition which happily it were now difficult
to find off the stage. Nothing could exceed the fine realism with
which that artist brought before the spectator the perfected type of a
pretended religion from which all moral features have been eliminated
by such slow processes that the final success is unconsciously reached,
and the horrible result appears unchecked by even any affectation
of actual virtue. We see the king at sound of a bell pausing in his
instructions for a treacherous assassination to mumble his prayers,
and then instantly reverting to the villany over whose prospective
success he gloats. In the secrecy of his chamber no mask falls, for
there is no mask; the face of superstition and vice on which we look
is the real face which the ages of fanaticism have transmitted to him.

Such a face has oftener been that of a nation than that of an
individual, for the healthy forces of life work amid the homes
and hearts of mankind long before their theories are reached and
influenced. Such a face it was against which the moral insurrection
which bears the name of Zoroaster arose, seeing it as physiognomy of
the Evil Mind, naming it Ahriman, and, in the name of the conscience,
aiming at it the blow which is still felt across the centuries.

Ingenious theorists have accounted for the Iranian philosophy of
a universal war between Ormuzd (Ahuramazda) the Good, and Ahriman
(Angromainyus) the Evil, by vast and terrible climatic changes,
involving extremes of heat and cold, of which geologists find traces
about Old Iran, from which a colony of Aryans migrated to New Iran,
or Persia. But although physical conditions of this character may have
supplied many of the metaphors in which the conflict between Good and
Evil is described in the Avesta, there are other characteristics of
that ancient scripture which render it more probable that the early
colonisation of Persia was, like that of New England, the result of a
religious struggle. Some of the gods most adored in India reappear as
execrated demons in the religion of Zoroaster; the Hindu word for god
is the Parsî word for devil. These antagonisms are not merely verbal;
they are accompanied in the Avesta with the most furious denunciations
of theological opponents, whom it is not difficult to identify with
the priests and adherents of the Brahman religion.

The spirit of the early scriptures of India leaves no room for
doubt as to the point at which this revolution began. It was against
pious Privilege. The saintly hierarchy of India were a caste quite
irresponsible to moral laws. The ancient gods, vague names for the
powers of nature, were strictly limited in their dispensations to
those of their priests; [13] and as to these priests the chief
necessities were ample offerings, sacrifices, and fulfilment of
the ceremonial ordinances in which their authority was organised,
these were the performances rewarded by a reciprocal recognition of
authority. To the image of this political régime, theology, always
facile, accommodated the regulations of the gods. The moral law can
only live by being supreme; and as it was not supreme in the Hindu
pantheon, it died out of it. The doctrine of 'merits,' invented by
priests purely for their own power, included nothing meritorious,
humanly considered; the merits consisted of costly sacrifices,
rich offerings to temples, tremendous penances for fictitious sins,
ingeniously devised to aggrandise the penances which disguised power,
and prolonged austerities that might be comfortably commuted by the
wealthy. When this doctrine had obtained general adherence, and was
represented by a terrestrial government corresponding to it, the
gods were necessarily subject to it. That were only to say that the
powers of nature were obedient to the 'merits' of privileged saints;
and from this it is an obvious inference that they are relieved from
moral laws binding on the vulgar.

The legends which represent this phase of priestly dominion are
curiously mixed. It would appear that under the doctrine of 'merits'
the old gods declined. Such appears to be the intimation of the
stories which report the distress of the gods through the power
of human saints. The Rajah Ravana acquired such power that he was
said to have arrested the sun and moon, and so oppressed the gods
that they temporarily transformed themselves to monkeys in order
to destroy him. Though Viswámitra murders a saint, his merits are
such that the gods are in great alarm lest they become his menials;
and the completeness, with which moral considerations are left out
of the struggle on both sides is disclosed in the item that the gods
commissioned a nymph to seduce the saintly murderer, and so reduce a
little the force of his austerities. It will be remembered that the
ancient struggle of the Devas and Asuras was not owing to any moral
differences, but to an alleged unfair distribution of the ambrosia
produced by their joint labours in churning the ocean. The fact that
the gods cheated the demons on that occasion was never supposed to
affect the supremacy they acquired by the treachery; and it could,
therefore, cause no scandal when later legends reported that the demons
were occasionally able to take gods captive by the practice of these
wonderful 'merits' which were so independent of morals. One Asura
is said to have gained such power in this way that he subjugated the
gods, and so punished them that Siva, who had originally endowed that
demon, called into being Scanda, a war-god, to defend the tortured
deities. The most ludicrous part of all is that the gods themselves
were gradually reduced to the necessity of competing like others for
these tremendous powers; thus the Bhagavat Purana states that Brahma
was enabled to create the universe by previously undergoing penance
for sixteen thousand years.

The legends just referred to are puranic, and consequently of much
later date than the revolution traceable in the Iranian religion;
but these later legends are normal growths from vedic roots. These
were the principles of ancient theology, and the foundation of
priestly government. In view of them we need not wonder that Hindu
theology devised no special devil; almost any of its gods might
answer the purposes of one. Nor need we be surprised that it had no
particular hell; any society organised by the sanctions of religion,
but irresponsible to its moral laws, would render it unnecessary to
look far for a hell.

From this cosmological chaos the more intelligent Hindus were of
course liberated; but the degree to which the fearful training had
corrupted the moral tissues of those who had been subjected to it
was revealed in the bald principle of their philosophers, that the
superstition must continue to be imposed on the vulgar, whilst the
learned might turn all the gods into a scientific terminology.

The first clear and truthful eye that touched that system would
transform it from a Heaven to an Inferno. So was it changed under
the eye of Zoroaster. That ancient pantheon which had become a refuge
for all the lies of the known world; whose gods were liars and their
supporters liars; was now turned into a realm of organised disorder, of
systematised wrong; a vast creation of wickedness, at whose centre sat
its creator and inspirer, the immoral god, the divine devil--Ahriman.

It is indeed impossible to ascertain how far the revolt against the old
Brahmanic system was political. It is, of course, highly improbable
that any merely speculative system would excite a revolution; but at
the same time it must be remembered that, in early days, an importance
was generally attached to even abstract opinions such as we still
find among the superstitious who regard an atheistic sentiment as
worse than a theft. However this may have been, the Avesta does
not leave us in any doubt as to the main fact,--namely, that at a
certain time and place man came to a point where he had to confront
antagonism to fundamental moral principles, and that he found the
so-called gods against him. In the establishment of those principles
priests recognised their own disestablishment. What those moral laws
that had become necessary to society were is also made clear. 'We
worship the Pure, the Lord of Purity!' 'We honour the good spirit,
the good kingdom, the good law,--all that is good.' 'Evil doctrine
shall not again destroy the world.' 'Good is the thought, good the
word, good the deed, of the pure Zarathustra.' 'In the beginning
the two heavenly Ones spoke--the Good to the Evil--thus: Our souls,
doctrines, words, works, do not unite together.' These sentences are
from the oldest Gâthâs of the Avesta.

The following is a very ancient Gâthâ:--'All your Devas (Hindu 'gods')
are only manifold children of the Evil Mind, and the great One who
worships the Saoma of lies and deceits; besides the treacherous acts
for which you are notorious in the Seven Regions of the earth. You have
invented all the evil that men speak and do, which is indeed pleasant
to the Devas, and is devoid of all goodness, and therefore perishes
before the insight of the truth of the wise. Thus you defraud men of
their good minds and of their immortality by your evil minds--as well
by those of the Devas as through that of the Evil Spirit--through
evil deeds and evil words, whereby the power of liars grows.

'1. Come near, and listen to the wise sayings of the omniscient,
the songs in praise of the Living One, and the prayers of the Good
Spirit, the glorious truths whose origin is seen in the flames.

'2. Listen, therefore, to the Earth spirit--Look at the flames with
reverent mind. Every one, man and woman, is to be distinguished
according to his belief. Ye ancient Powers, watch and be with us!

'3. From the beginning there were two Spirits, each active in
itself. They are the good and the bad in thought, word, and
deed. Choose ye between them: do good, not evil!

'4. And these two Spirits meet and create the first existence,
the earthy, that which is and that which is not, and the last,
the spiritual. The worst existence is for the liars, the best for
the truthful.

'5. Of these two spirits choose ye one, either the lying, the worker
of Evil, or the true holiest spirit. Whoso chooses the first chooses
the hardest fate; whoso the last, honours Ahuramazda in faith and in
truth by his deeds.

'6. Ye cannot serve both of these two. An evil spirit whom we will
destroy surprises those who deliberate, saying, Choose the Evil
Mind! Then do those spirits gather in troops to attack the two lives
of which the prophets prophesy.

'7. And to this earthly life came Armaiti with earthly power to help
the truth, and the good disposition: she, the Eternal, created the
material world, but the Spirit is with thee, O Wise One! the first
of creations in time.

'8. When any evil falls upon the spirit, thou, O Wise One, givest
temporal possessions and a good disposition; but him whose promises
are lies, and not truth, thou punishest.'

Around the hymns of the Avesta gradually grew a theology and a
mythology which were destined to exert a powerful influence on
the world. These are contained in the Bundehesch. [14] Anterior to
all things and all beings was Zeruane-Akrene ('Boundless Time'), so
exalted that he can only be worshipped in silence. From him emanated
two Ferouers, spiritual types, which took form in two beings, Ormuzd
and Ahriman. These were equally pure; but Ahriman became jealous of his
first-born brother, Ormuzd. To punish Ahriman for his evil feeling, the
Supreme Being condemned him to 12,000 years' imprisonment in an empire
of rayless Darkness. During that period must rage the conflict between
Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. As Ormuzd had his pre-existing type
or Ferouer, so by a similar power--much the same as the Platonic Logos
or Word--he created the pure or spiritual world, by means of which the
empire of Ahriman should be overthrown. On the earth (still spiritual)
he raised the exceeding high mountain Albordj, Elburz (snow mountain),
[15] on whose summit he fixed his throne; whence he stretched the
bridge Chinevat, which, passing directly over Duzhak, the abyss of
Ahriman (or hell), reaches to the portal of Gorodman, or heaven. All
this was but a Ferouer world--a prototype of the material world. In
anticipation of its incorporation in a material creation, Ormuzd
(by emanations) created in his own image six Amshaspands, or agents,
of both sexes, to be models of perfection to lower spirits--and to
mankind, when they should be created--and offer up their prayers to
himself. The second series of emanations were the Izeds, benevolent
genii and guardians of the world, twenty-eight in number, of whom the
chief is Mithras, the Mediator. The third series of emanations were the
innumerable Ferouers of things and men--for each must have its soul,
which shall purify them in the day of resurrection. In antagonism to
all these, Ahriman produced an exactly similar host of dark and evil
powers. These Devas rise, rank on rank, to their Arch-Devs--each
of whom is chained to his planet--and their head is Ash-Mogh, the
'two-footed serpent of lies,' who seems to correspond to Mithras,
the divine Mediator.

After a reign of 3000 years Ormuzd entered on the work of realising
his spiritual emanations in a material universe. He formed the sun
as commander-in-chief, the moon as his lieutenant, the planets as
captains of a great host--the stars--who were soldiers in his war
against Ahriman. The dog Sirius he set to watch at the bridge Chinevat
(the Milky Way), lest thereby Ahriman should scale the heavens. Ormuzd
then created earth and water, which Ahriman did not try to prevent,
knowing that darkness was inherent in these. But he struck a blow
when life was produced. This was in form of a Bull, and Ahriman
entered it and it perished; but on its destruction there came out
of its left shoulder the seed of all clean and gentle animals, and,
out of its right shoulder--Man.

Ahriman had matched every creation thus far; but to make man was
beyond his power, and he had no recourse but to destroy him. However,
when the original man was destroyed, there sprang from his body a tree
which bore the first human pair, whom Ahriman, however, corrupted in
the manner elsewhere described.

It is a very notable characteristic of this Iranian theology, that
although the forces of good and evil are co-extensive and formally
balanced, in potency they are not quite equal. The balance of force
is just a little on the side of the Good Spirit. And this advantage
appears in man. Zoroaster said, 'No earthly man with a hundredfold
strength does so much evil as Mithra with heavenly strength does good;'
and this thought reappears in the Parsî belief that the one part
of paradisiac purity, which man retained after his fall, balances
the ninety-nine parts won by Ahriman, and in the end will redeem
him. For this one divine ray preserved enables him to receive and
obey the Avesta, and to climb to heaven by the stairway of three
vast steps--pure thought, pure word, pure deed. The optimistic
essence of the mythology is further shown in the belief that every
destructive effort of Ahriman resulted in a larger benefit than Ormuzd
had created. The Bull (Life) destroyed, man and animal sprang into
being; the man destroyed, man and woman appeared. And so on to the
end. In the last quarter of the 12,000 years for which Ahriman was
condemned, he rises to greater power even than Ormuzd, and finally
he will, by a fiery comet, set the visible universe in conflagration;
but while this scheme is waxing to consummation Ormuzd will send his
holy Prophet Sosioch, who will convert mankind to the true law, [16]
so that when Ahriman's comet consumes the earth he will really be
purifying it. Through the vast stream of melted metals and minerals
the righteous shall pass, and to them it will be as a bath of warm
milk: the wicked in attempting to pass shall be swept into the abyss
of Duzhak; having then suffered three days and nights, they shall be
raised by Ormuzd refined and purified. Duzhak itself shall be purified
by this fire, and last of all Ahriman himself shall ascend to his
original purity and happiness. Then from the ashes of the former
world shall bloom a paradise that shall remain for ever.

In this system it is notable that we find the monster serpent
of vedic mythology, Ahi, transformed into an infernal region,
Duzhak. The dragon, being a type of physical suffering, passes away
in Iranian as in the later Semitic mythology before the new form,
which represents the stings of conscience though it may be beneath
external pleasure. In this respect, therefore, Ahriman fulfils the
definition of a devil already given. In the Avesta he fulfils also
another condition essential to a devil, the love of evil in and for
itself. But in the later theology it will be observed that evil
in Ahriman is not organic. The war being over and its fury past,
the hostile chief is seen not so black as he had been painted;
the belief obtains that he does not actually love darkness and
evil. He was thrust into them as a punishment for his jealousy,
pride, and destructive ambition. And because that dark kingdom was a
punishment--therefore not congenial--it was at length (the danger past)
held to be disciplinary. Growing faith in the real supremacy of Good
discovers the immoral god to be an exaggerated anthropomorphic egoist;
this divine devil is a self-centred potentate who had attempted to
subordinate moral law and human welfare to his personal ascendancy. His
fate having sealed the sentence on all ambitions of that character,
humanity is able to pardon the individual offender, and find a hope
that Ahriman, having learned that no real satisfaction for a divine
nature can be found in mere power detached from rectitude, will join
in the harmony of love and loyalty at last.



CHAPTER IV.

VISWÁMITRA: THE THEOCRATIC DEVIL.

    Priestcraft and Pessimism--An Aryan Tetzel and his Luther--Brahman
    Frogs--Evolution of the sacerdotal Saint--Viswámitra the Accuser
    of Virtue--The Tamil Passion-play 'Harischandra'--Ordeal of
    Goblins--The Martyr of Truth--Virtue triumphant over ceremonial
    'merits'--Harischandra and Job.


Priestcraft in government means pessimism in the creed and despair in
the heart. Under sacerdotal rule in India it seemed paradise enough to
leave the world, and the only hell dreaded was a return to it. 'The
twice-born man,' says Manu, 'who shall without intermission have
passed the time of his studentship, shall ascend after death to the
most exalted of regions, and no more spring to birth again in this
lower world.' Some clause was necessary to keep the twice-born man
from suicide. Buddha invented a plan of suicide-in-life combined with
annihilation of the gods, which was driven out of India because it put
into the minds of the people the philosophy of the schools. Thought
could only be trusted among classes interested to conceal it.

The power and authority of a priesthood can only be maintained on
the doctrine that man is 'saved' by the deeds of a ceremonial law;
any general belief that morality is more acceptable to gods than
ceremonies must be fatal to those occult and fictitious virtues which
hedge about every pious impostor. Sacerdotal power in India depended on
superstitions carefully fostered concerning the mystical properties of
a stimulating juice (soma), litanies, invocations, and benedictions
by priests; upon sacrifices to the gods, including their priests,
austerities, penances, pilgrimages, and the like; one characteristic
running through all the performances--their utter worthlessness to any
being in the universe except the priest. An artificial system of this
kind has to create its own materials, and evoke forces of evolution
from many regions of nature. It is a process requiring much more
than the wisdom of the serpent and more than its harmfulness; and
there is a bit of nature's irony in the fact that when the Brahman
Rishi gained supremacy, the Cobra was also worshipped as belonging
to precisely the same caste and sanctity.

There are traces of long and fierce struggles preceding this
consummation. Even in the Vedic age--in the very dawn of religious
history--Tetzel appears with his indulgences and Luther confronts
him. The names they bore in ancient India were Viswámitra and
Vasishtha. Both of these were among the seven powerful Rishis who
made the hierarchy of India in the earliest age known to us. Both were
composers of some of the chief hymns of the Vedas, and their respective
hymns bear the stamp of the sacerdotal and the anti-sacerdotal parties
which contended before the priestly sway had reached its complete
triumph. Viswámitra was champion of the high priestly party and its
political pretensions. In the Rig-Veda there are forty hymns ascribed
to him and his family, nearly all of which celebrate the divine
virtues of Soma-juice and the Soma-sacrifice. As the exaltation of
the priestly caste in Israel was connected with a miracle, in which
the Jordan stopped flowing till the ark had been carried over, so
the rivers Sutledge and Reyah were said to have rested from their
course when Viswámitra wished to cross them in seeking the Soma. This
Rishi became identified in the Hindu mind for all time with political
priestcraft. On the other hand, Vasishtha became equally famous for
his hostility to that power, as well as for his profoundly religious
character,--the finest hymns of the Vedas, as to moral feeling, being
those that bear his name. The anti-sacerdotal spirit of Vasishtha is
especially revealed in a strange satirical hymn in which he ridicules
the ceremonial Bráhmans under the guise of a panegyric on frogs. In
this composition occur such verses as these:--

'Like Bráhmans at the Soma-sacrifice of Atirâtra, sitting round a
full pond and talking, you, O frogs, celebrate this day of the year
when the rainy season begins.

'These Bráhmans, with their Soma, have had their say, performing the
annual rite. These Adhwaryus, sweating while they carry the hot pots,
pop out like hermits.

'They have always observed the order of the gods as they are to
be worshipped in the twelvemonth; these men do not neglect their
season....

'Cow-noise gave, Goat-noise gave, the Brown gave, and the Green gave
us treasures. The frogs, who give us hundreds of cows, lengthened
our life in the rich autumn.' [17]

Viswámitra and Vasishtha appear to have been powerful rivals in
seeking the confidence of King Sudás, and from their varying fortunes
came the tremendous feud between them which plays so large a part
in the traditions of India. The men were both priests, as are both
ritualists and broad-churchmen in the present day. They were borne
on the stream of mythologic evolution to representative regions
very different from any they could have contemplated. Vasishtha,
ennobled by the moral sentiment of ages, appears as the genius of
truth and justice, maintaining these as of more 'merit' than any
ceremonial perfections. The Bráhmans, whom he once ridiculed, were
glad enough in the end to make him their patron saint, though they
did not equally honour his principles. On the other hand, Viswámitra
became the type of that immoral divinity which received its Iranian
anathema in Ahriman. The murder he commits is nothing in a personage
whose Soma-celebrations have raised him so high above the trivialities
of morality.

It is easy to see what must be the further development of such a
type as Viswámitra when he shall have passed from the guarded pages
of puranic tradition to the terrible simplicities of folklore. The
saint whose majesty is built on 'merits,' which have no relation
to what the humble deem virtues, naturally holds such virtues in
cynical contempt; naturally also he is indignant if any one dares
to suggest that the height he has reached by costly and prolonged
observances may be attained by poor and common people through the
practice of virtue. The next step is equally necessary. Since it is
hard to argue down the facts of human nature, Vasishtha is pretty
sure to have a strong, if sometimes silent, support for his heretical
theory of a priesthood representing virtue; consequently Viswámitra
will be reduced at length to deny the existence of virtue, and will
become the Accuser of those to whom virtues are attributed. Finally,
from the Accuser to the Tempter the transition is inevitable. The
public Accuser must try and make good his case, and if the facts do
not support it, he must create other facts which will, or else bear
the last brand of his tribe--Slanderer.

Leaving out of sight all historical or probable facts concerning
Viswámitra and Vasishtha, but remembering the spirit of them, let us
read the great Passion-play of the East, in which their respective
parts are performed again as intervening ages have interpreted
them. The hero of this drama is an ancient king named Harischandra,
who, being childless, and consequently unable to gain immortality,
promised the god Varuna to sacrifice to him a son if one were granted
him. The son having been born, the father beseeches Varuna for respite,
which is granted again and again, but stands firmly by his promise,
although it is finally commuted. The repulsive features of the ancient
legend are eliminated in the drama, the promise now being for a vast
sum of money which the king cannot pay, but which Viswámitra would
tempt him to escape by a technical fiction. Sir Mutu Cumára Swámy,
whose translation I follow, presents many evidences of the near
relation in which this drama stands to the religious faith of the
people in Southern India and parts of Ceylon, where its representation
never fails to draw vast crowds from every part of the district in
which it may occur, the impression made by it being most profound. [18]

We are first introduced to Harischandra, King of Ayòdiah (Oude),
in his palace, surrounded by every splendour, and by the devotion
of his prosperous people. His first word is an ascription to the
'God of gods.' His ministers come forward and recount the wealth
and welfare of the nation. The first Act witnesses the marriage of
Harischandra with the beautiful princess Chandravatí, and it closes
with the birth of a son.

The second Act brings us into the presence of Indra in the Abode of
the Gods. The Chief enters the Audience Hall of his palace, where an
assembly of deities and sages has awaited him. These sages are holy men
who have acquired supernatural power by their tremendous austerities;
and of these the most august is Viswámitra. By the magnitude and
extent of his austerities he has gained a power beyond even that of
the Triad, and can reduce the worlds to cinders. All the gods court
his favour. As the Council proceeds, Indra addresses the sages--'Holy
men! as gifted with supernatural attributes, you roam the universe
with marvellous speed, there is no place unknown to you. I am curious
to learn who, in the present times, is the most virtuous sovereign on
the earth below. What chief of mortals is there who has never told a
lie--who has never swerved from the course of justice?' Vasishtha,
a powerful sage and family-priest of Harischandra, declares that
his royal disciple is such a man. But the more powerful Viswámitra
denounces Harischandra as cruel and a liar. The quarrel between the
two Rishis waxes fierce, until Indra puts a stop to it by deciding
that an experiment shall be made on Harischandra. Vasishtha agrees
that if his disciple can be shown to have told a lie, or can be made
to tell one, the fruit of his life-long austerities, and all the power
so gained, shall be added to Viswámitra; while the latter must present
his opponent with half of his 'merits' if Harischandra be not made
to swerve from the truth. Viswámitra is to employ any means whatever,
neither Indra or any other interfering.

Viswámitra sets about his task of trying and tempting Harischandra by
informing that king that, in order to perform a sacrifice of special
importance, he has need of a mound of gold as high as a missile
slung by a man standing on an elephant's back. With the demand
of so sacred a being Harischandra has no hesitation in complying,
and is about to deliver the gold when Viswámitra requests him to be
custodian of the money for a time, but perform the customary ceremony
of transfer. Holding Harischandra's written promise to deliver the
gold whensoever demanded, Viswámitra retires with compliments. Then
wild beasts ravage Harischandra's territory; these being expelled,
a demon boar is sent, but is vanquished by the monarch. Viswámitra
then sends unchaste dancing-girls to tempt Harischandra; and when he
has ordered their removal, Viswámitra returns with them, and, feigning
rage, accuses him of slaying innocent beasts and of cruelty to the
girls. He declares that unless Harischandra yields to the Pariah
damsels, he himself shall be reduced to a Pariah slave. Harischandra
offers all his kingdom and possessions if the demand is withdrawn,
absolutely refusing to swerve from his virtue. This Viswámitra accepts,
is proclaimed sovereign of Ayòdiah, and the king goes forth a beggar
with his wife and child. But now, as these are departing, Viswámitra
demands that mound of gold which was to be paid when called for. In
vain Harischandra pleads that he has already delivered up all he
possesses, the gold included; the last concession is declared to
have nothing to do with the first. Yet Viswámitra says he will
be charitable; if Harischandra will simply declare that he never
pledged the gold, or, having done so, does not feel bound to pay it,
he will cancel that debt. 'Such a declaration I can never make,'
replies Harischandra. 'I owe thee the gold, and pay it I shall. Let a
messenger accompany me and leave me not till I have given him thy due.'

From this time the efforts of Viswámitra are directed to induce
Harischandra to declare the money not due. Amid his heartbroken
people--who cry, 'Where are the gods? Can they tolerate this?'--he who
was just now the greatest and happiest monarch in the world goes forth
on the highway a wanderer with his Chandravatí and their son Devaráta
dressed in coarsest garments. His last royal deed is to set the crown
on his tempter's head. The people and officers follow, and beg his
permission to slay Viswámitra, but he rebukes them, and counsels
submission. Viswámitra orders a messenger, Nakshatra, to accompany
the three wretched ones, and inflict the severest sufferings on them
until the gold is paid, and amid each ordeal to offer Harischandra
all his former wealth and happiness if he will utter a falsehood.

They come to a desert whose sands are so hot that the wife
faints. Harischandra bears his son in his arms, but in addition
is compelled to bear Nakshatra (the Bráhman and tormentor) on his
shoulders. They so pass amid snakes and scorpions, and receive
terrible stings; they pass through storm and flood, and yet vainly
does Nakshatra suggest the desired falsehood.

Then follows the ordeal of Demons, which gives an interesting insight
into Tamil Demonology. One of the company exclaims--'How frightful
they look! Who can face them? They come in battalions, young and old,
small and great--all welcome us. They disport themselves with a wild
dance; flames shoot from their mouths; their feet touch not the earth;
they move in the air. Observe you the bleeding corpses of human
beings in their hands. They crunch them and feed on the flesh. The
place is one mass of gore and filth. Wolves and hyænas bark at them;
jackals and dogs follow them. They are near. May Siva protect us!'

Nakshatra. How dreadful! Harischandra, what is this? Look! evil demons
stare at me--I tremble for my life. Protect me now, and I ask you no
more for the gold.

Harischandra. Have no fear, Nakshatra. Come, place thyself in the
midst of us.

Chief of the Goblins. Men! little men! human vermin! intrude ye thus
into my presence? Know that, save only the Bráhman standing in the
midst of you, you are all my prey to-night.

Harischandra. Goblin! certainly thou art not an evil-doer, for thou
hast excepted this holy Bráhman. As for ourselves, we know that the
bodies which begin to exist upon earth must also cease to exist on
it. What matters it when death comes? If he spares us now he reserves
us only for another season. Good, kind demon! destroy us then together;
here we await our doom.

Nakshatra. Harischandra! before you thus desert me, make the goblin
promise you that he will not hurt me.

Harischandra. Thou hast no cause for alarm; thou art safe.

Chief of the Goblins. Listen! I find that all four of you are very
thin; it is not worth my while to kill you. On examining closely, I
perceive that the young Bráhman is plump and fat as a wild boar. Give
him up to me--I want not the rest.

Nakshatra. O Gods! O Harischandra! you are a great monarch! Have
mercy on me! Save me, save me! I will never trouble you for the gold,
but treat you considerately hereafter.

Harischandra. Sir, thy life is safe, stand still.

Nakshatra. Allow me, sirs, to come closer to you, and to hold you by
the hand (He grasps their hands.)

Harischandra. King of the Goblins! I address thee in all sincerity;
thou wilt confer on us a great favour indeed by despatching us
speedily to the Judgment Hall of the God of Death. The Bráhman must
not be touched; devour us.

The Goblin (grinding his teeth in great fury). What! dare you disobey
me? Will you not deliver the Bráhman?

Harischandra. No, we cannot. We alone are thy victims.

[Day breaks, and the goblins disappear.]

Having thus withstood all temptation to harm his enemy, or to break
a promise he had given to treat him kindly, Harischandra is again
pressed for the gold or the lie, and, still holding out, an ordeal of
fire follows. Trusting the God of Fire will cease to afflict if one is
sacrificed, Harischandra prepares to enter the conflagration first,
and a pathetic contention occurs between him and his wife and son
as to which shall be sacrificed. In the end Harischandra rushes in,
but does not perish.

Harischandra is hoping to reach the temple of Vis Wanàth [19] at Kasi
and invoke his aid to pay the gold. To the temple he comes only to
plead in vain, and Nakshatra tortures him with instruments. Finally
Harischandra, his wife and child, are sold as slaves to pay
the debt. But Viswámitra, invisibly present, only redoubles his
persecutions. Harischandra is subjected to the peculiar degradation
of having to burn dead bodies in a cemetery. Chandravatí and her son
are subjected to cruelties. The boy is one day sent to the forest,
is bitten by a snake, and dies. Chandravatí goes out in the night to
find the body. She repairs with it to the cemetery. In the darkness
she does not recognise her husband, the burner of the bodies, nor he
his wife. He has strictly promised his master that every fee shall be
paid, and reproaches the woman for coming in the darkness to avoid
payment. Chandravatí offers in payment a sacred chain which Siva
had thrown round her neck at birth, invisible to all but a perfect
man. Harischandra alone has ever seen it, and now recognises his
wife. But even now he will not perform the last rites over his dead
child unless the fee can be obtained as promised. Chandravatí goes
out into the city to beg the money, leaving Harischandra seated beside
the dead body of Devaráta. In the street she stumbles over the corpse
of another child, and takes it up; it proves to be the infant Prince,
who has been murdered. Chandravatí--arrested and dragged before the
king--in a state of frenzy declares she has killed the child. She is
condemned to death, and her husband must be her executioner. But the
last scene must be quoted nearly in full.

Verakvoo (Harischandra's master, leading on Chandravatí). Slave! this
woman has been sentenced by our king to be executed without delay. Draw
your sword and cut her head off. (Exit.)

Harischandra. I obey, master. (Draws the sword and approaches her.)

Chandravatí (coming to consciousness again). My husband! What! do I
see thee again? I applaud thy resolution, my lord. Yes; let me die
by thy sword. Be not unnerved, but be prompt, and perform thy duty
unflinchingly.

Harischandra. My beloved wife! the days allotted to you in
this world are numbered; you have run through the span of your
existence. Convicted as you are of this crime, there is no hope for
your life; I must presently fulfil my instructions. I can only allow
you a few seconds; pray to your tutelary deities, prepare yourself
to meet your doom.

Viswámitra (who has suddenly appeared). Harischandra! what, are you
going to slaughter this poor woman? Wicked man, spare her! Tell a
lie even now and be restored to your former state!

Harischandra. I pray, my lord, attempt not to beguile me from the path
of rectitude. Nothing shall shake my resolution; even though thou didst
offer to me the throne of Indra I would not tell a lie. Pollute not thy
sacred person by entering such unholy grounds. Depart! I dread not thy
wrath; I no longer court thy favour. Depart. (Viswámitra disappears.)

My love! lo I am thy executioner; come, lay thy head gently on this
block with thy sweet face turned towards the east. Chandravatí,
my wife, be firm, be happy! The last moment of our sufferings has
at length come; for to sufferings too there is happily an end. Here
cease our woes, our griefs, our pleasures. Mark! yet awhile, and thou
wilt be as free as the vultures that now soar in the skies.

This keen sabre will do its duty. Thou dead, thy husband dies too--this
self-same sword shall pierce my breast. First the child--then the
wife--last the husband--all victims of a sage's wrath. I the martyr of
Truth--thou and thy son martyrs for me, the martyr of Truth. Yes; let
us die cheerfully and bear our ills meekly. Yes; let all men perish,
let all gods cease to exist, let the stars that shine above grow dim,
let all seas be dried up, let all mountains be levelled to the ground,
let wars rage, blood flow in streams, let millions of millions of
Harischandras be thus persecuted; yet let Truth be maintained--let
Truth ride victorious over all--let Truth be the light--Truth the
guide--Truth alone the lasting solace of mortals and immortals. Die,
then, O goddess of Chastity! Die, at this the shrine of thy sister
goddess of Truth!

[Strikes the neck of Chandravatí with great force; the sword, instead
of harming her, is transformed into a string of superb pearls, which
winds itself around her: the gods of heaven, all sages, and all kings
appear suddenly to the view of Harischandra.]

Siva (the first of the gods). Harischandra, be ever blessed! You have
borne your severe trials most heroically, and have proved to all men
that virtue is of greater worth than all the vanities of a fleeting
world. Be you the model of mortals. Return to your land, resume your
authority, and rule your state. Devaráta, victim of Viswámitra's wrath,
rise! (He is restored to life.)

Rise you, also, son of the King of Kasi, with whose murder you,
Chandravatí, were charged through the machinations of Viswámitra. (He
comes to life also.)

Harischandra. All my misfortunes are of little consequence, since thou,
O God of gods, hast deigned to favour me with thy divine presence. No
longer care I for kingdom, or power, or glory. I value not children, or
wives, or relations. To thy service, to thy worship, to the redemption
of my erring soul, I devote myself uninterruptedly hereafter. Let me
not become the sport of men. The slave of a Pariah cannot become a
king; the slave-girl of a Bráhman cannot become a queen. When once the
milk has been drawn from the udder of a cow nothing can restore the
self-same milk to it. Our degradation, O God, is now beyond redemption.

Viswámitra. I pray, O Siva, that thou wouldst pardon my folly. Anxious
to gain the wager laid by me before the gods, I have most mercilessly
tormented this virtuous king; yet he has proved himself the most
truthful of all earthly sovereigns, triumphing victoriously over
me and my efforts to divert him from his constancy. Harischandra,
king of kings! I crave your forgiveness.

Verakvoo (throwing off his disguise). King Harischandra, think not
that I am a Pariah, for you behold in me even Yáma, the God of Death.

Kalakanda (Chandravatí's cruel master, throwing off his
disguise). Queen! rest not in the belief that you were the slave
of a Bráhman. He to whom you devoted yourself am even I--the God of
Fire, Agni.

Vasishtha. Harischandra, no disgrace attaches to thee nor to the Solar
race, of which thou art the incomparable gem. Even this cemetery
is in reality no cemetery: see! the illusion lasts not, and thou
beholdest here a holy grove the abode of hermits and ascetics. Like
the gold which has passed through successive crucibles, devoid of all
impurities, thou, O King of Ayòdiah, shinest in greater splendour than
even yon god of light now rising to our view on the orient hills. (It
is morning.)

Siva. Harischandra, let not the world learn that Virtue is vanquished,
and that its enemy, Vice, has become the victor. Go, mount yon throne
again--proclaim to all that we, the gods, are the guardians of the
good and the true. Indra! chief of the gods, accompany this sovereign
with all your retinue, and recrown him emperor of Ayòdiah. May his
reign be long--may all bliss await him in the other world!



The plot of this drama has probably done as much and as various duty
as any in the world. It has spread like a spiritual banyan, whose
branches, taking root, have swelled to such size that it is difficult
now to say which is the original trunk. It may even be that the only
root they all had in common is an invisible one in the human heart,
developed in its necessary struggles amid nature after the pure and
perfect life.

But neither in the Book of Job, which we are yet to consider, nor in
any other variation of the theme, does it rise so high as in this drama
of Harischandra. In Job it represents man loyal to his deity amid the
terrible afflictions which that deity permits; but in Harischandra
it shows man loyal to a moral principle even against divine orders
to the contrary. Despite the hand of the licenser, and the priestly
manipulations, visible here and there in it--especially towards the
close--sacerdotalism stands confronted by its reaction at last, and
receives its sentence in the joy with which the Hindu sees the potent
Rishis with all their pretentious 'merits,' and the gods themselves,
kneeling at the feet of the man who stands by Truth.

It is amusing to find the wincings of the priests through many
centuries embodied in a legend about Harischandra after he went to
heaven. It is related that he was induced by Nárada to relate his
actions with such unbecoming pride that he was lowered from Svarga
(heaven) one stage after each sentence; but having stopped in time,
and paid homage to the gods, he was placed with his capital in mid-air,
where eyes sacerdotally actinised may still see the aerial city at
certain times. The doctrine of 'merits' will no doubt be able for
some time yet to charge 'good deeds' with their own sin--pride; but,
after all, the priest must follow the people far enough to confess that
one must look upward to find the martyr of Truth. In what direction
one must look to find his accuser requires no further intimation than
the popular legend of Viswámitra.



CHAPTER V.

ELOHIM AND JEHOVAH.

    Deified power--Giants and Jehovah--Jehovah's manifesto--The various
    Elohim--Two Jehovahs and two Tables--Contradictions--Detachment
    of the Elohim from Jehovah.


The sacred books of the Hebrews bring us into the presence
of the gods (Elohim) supposed to have created all things out
of nothing--nature-gods--just as they are in transition to the
conception of a single Will and Personality. Though the plural is
used ('gods') a singular verb follows: the tendency is already to
that concentration which resulted in the enthronement of one supreme
sovereign--Jehovah. The long process of evolution which must have
preceded this conception is but slightly traceable in the Bible. It
is, however, written on the face of the whole world, and the same
process is going on now in its every phase. Whether with Gesenius
[20] we take the sense of the word Elohim to be 'the revered,' or,
with Fürst, [21] 'the mighty,' makes little difference; the fact
remains that the word is applied elsewhere to gods in general,
including such as were afterwards deemed false gods by the Jews;
and it is more important still that the actions ascribed to the
Elohim, who created the heavens and the earth, generally reflect
the powerful and un-moral forces of nature. The work of creation in
Genesis (i. and ii. 1-3) is that of giants without any moral quality
whatever. Whether or not we take in their obvious sense the words,
'Elohim created man in his own image, ... male and female created
he them,' there can be no question of the meaning of Gen. vi. 1, 2:
'The sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were beautiful,
and they took to themselves for wives whomsoever they chose.' When
good and evil come to be spoken of, the name Jehovah [22] at once
appears. The Elohim appear again in the Flood, the wind that assuaged
it, the injunction to be fruitful and multiply, the cloud and rainbow;
and gradually the germs of a moral government begin to appear in their
assigning the violence of mankind as reason for the deluge, and in
the covenant with Noah. But even after the name Jehovah had generally
blended with, or even superseded, the other, we find Elohim often
used where strength and wonder-working are thought of--e.g., 'Thou
art the god that doest wonders' (Ps. lxxvii.). 'Thy way is in the sea,
and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.'

Against the primitive nature-deities the personality and jealous
supremacy of Jehovah was defined. The golden calf built by Aaron was
called Elohim (plural, though there was but one calf). Solomon was
denounced for building altars to the same; and when Jeroboam built
altars to two calves, they are still so called. Other rivals--Dagon
(Judges xvi.), Astaroth, Chemosh, Milcom (1 Kings xi.)--are called
by the once-honoured name. The English Bible translates Elohim, God;
Jehovah, the Lord; Jehovah Elohim, the Lord God; and the critical
reader will find much that is significant in the varied use of these
names. Thus (Gen. xxii.) it is Elohim that demands the sacrifice
of Isaac, Jehovah that interferes to save him. At the same time, in
editing the story, it is plainly felt to be inadmissible that Abraham
should be supposed loyal to any other god than Jehovah; so Jehovah
adopts the sacrifice as meant for himself, and the place where the
ram was provided in place of Isaac is called Jehovah-Jireh. However,
when we can no longer distinguish the two antagonistic conceptions
by different names their actual incongruity is even more salient,
and, as we shall see, develops a surprising result.

Jehovah inaugurates his reign by a manifesto against these giants,
the Elohim, for whom the special claim--clamorously asserted when
Aaron built the Golden Calf, and continued as the plea for the same
deity--was that they (Elohim) had brought Israel out of Egypt. 'I,'
cries Jehovah, 'am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: thou shalt have no other
gods but me;' and the first four commandments of the law are devoted
entirely to a declaration of his majesty, his power (claiming credit
for the creation), his jealous determination to punish his opponents
and reward his friends, to vindicate the slightest disrespect to his
name. The narrative of the Golden Calf was plainly connected with
Sinai in order to illustrate the first commandment. The punishment of
the believers in another divine emancipator, even though they had not
yet received the proclamation, must be signal. Jehovah is so enraged
that by his order human victims are offered up to the number of three
thousand, and even after that, it is said, Jehovah plagued Israel on
account of their Elohim-worship. In the same direction is the command
to keep holy the Sabbath day, because on it he rested from the work
of creation (Gen. xx.), or because on that day he delivered Israel
from Egypt (Deut. v.), the editors do not seem to remember exactly
which, but it is well enough to say both, for it is taking the two
picked laurels from the brow of Elohim and laying them on that of
Jehovah. In all of which it is observable that there is no moral
quality whatever. Nero might equally command the Romans to have no
other gods before himself, to speak his name with awe, to rest when
he stopped working. In the fifth commandment, arbitrarily ascribed to
the First Table, we have a transition to the moral code; though even
there the honour of parents is jealously associated with Jehovah's
greatness ('that thy days may be long in the land which Jehovah
Elohim giveth thee'). The nature-gods were equal to that; for the
Elohim had begotten the giants who were 'in the earth in those days.'

'Elohim spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah; and I
appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by (the name of) God
Almighty (El-Shaddai), but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them'
(Exod. vi. 2, 3).

The ancient gods--the Elohim--were, in the process of absorption
into the one great form, the repository of their several powers,
distinguishable; and though, for the most part, they bear names related
to the forces of nature, now and then they reflect the tendencies
to humanisation. Thus we have 'the most high god' (El-elyon--e.g.,
Gen. xiv. 18); 'the everlasting-god' (El-elim, Gen. xxi. 33); 'the
jealous god' (El-kana, Exod. xx. 5); 'the mighty god, and terrible'
(El-gadol and nora, Deut. vii. 21); 'the living god' (El-chi,
Josh. iii. 10); 'the god of heaven' (El-shemim, Ps. cxxxvi. 26);
the 'god almighty' (El-shaddai, [23] Exod. vi. 2). These Elohim,
with each of whose names I have referred to an instance of its
characteristic use, became epithets, as the powers they represented
were more and more absorbed by the growing personality of Jehovah; but
these epithets were also characters, and their historic expressions
had also to undergo a process of slow and difficult digestion. The
all-devouring grandeur of Jehovah showed what it had fed on. Not only
all the honours, but many of the dishonours, of the primitive deities
adhered to the sovereign whose rule was no doubt inaugurated by their
disgrace and their barbarism. The costliness of the glory of divine
absolutism is again illustrated in the evolution of the premature
monotheism, which had for its figure-head the dread Jehovah, who,
as heir of the nature-gods, became responsible for the monstrosities
of a tribal demonolatry, thus being compelled to fill simultaneously
the rôles of the demon and the lawgiver. [24]

The two tables of the law--one written by Jehovistic theology, the
other by the moral sense of mankind--ascribed to this dual deity, for
whom unity was so fiercely insisted on, may be read in their outcome
throughout the Bible. They are here briefly, in a few examples,
set forth side by side.


TABLE OF JEHOVAH I.                 TABLE OF JEHOVAH II.

Exod. xxxiii. 27. 'Slay every       Exod. xx. 13. 'Thou shalt not
man his brother, every man his      kill.'
companion, and every man his
neighbour.'

Num. xv. 32. 'While the children    Exod. xx. 14. 'Thou shalt not
of Israel were in the wilderness,   commit adultery.'
they found a man that gathered
sticks upon the Sabbath Day....
And they put him in ward, because
it was not declared what should
be done to him. And the Lord said
unto Moses, The man shall be
surely put to death: all the
congregation shall stone him with
stones without the camp.' Neither
this nor the similar punishment
for blasphemy (Lev. xxiv.), were
executions of existing law. For a
fearful instance of murder
inflicted on the innocent, and
accepted as a human sacrifice by
Jehovah, see 2 Sam. xxi.; and for
the brutal murder of Shimei, who
denounced and resented the crime
which hung the seven sons of Saul
'before the Lord,' see 1 Kings ii.
But the examples are many.

In the story of Abraham, Sarai,
and Hagar (Gen. xvi.), Lot and
his daughters (xix.), Abraham's
presentation of his wife to
Abimilech (xx.), the same done by
Isaac (xxvi.), Judah, Tamar
(xxxviii.), and other cases where
the grossest violations of the
seventh commandment go unrebuked
by Jehovah, while in constant
communication with the guilty
parties, we see how little the
second table was supported by
the first.

The extortions, frauds, and         Exod. xx. 15. 'Thou shalt not
thefts of Jacob (Gen. xxv.,         steal.'
xxvii., xxx.), which brought upon
him the unparalleled blessings of
Jehovah; the plundering of
Nabal's property by David and his
fellow-bandits; the smiting of
the robbed farmer by Jehovah and
the taking of his treacherous
wife by David (1 Sam. xxv.), are
narratives befitting a Bible of
footpads.

Jehovah said, 'Who shall deceive    Exod. xx. 16. 'Thou shalt not
Ahab?... And there came forth a     bear false witness against thy
spirit, and stood before Jehovah,   neighbour.'
and said, I will deceive him. And
Jehovah said, Wherewith? And he
said, I will go forth and be a
lying spirit in the mouth of all
these thy prophets. And he said,
Thou shalt deceive him, and
prevail also: go forth and do so.
Now, therefore, Jehovah hath put
a lying spirit in the mouth of
all these thy prophets, and
Jehovah hath spoken evil
concerning thee' (1 Kings xxii.).
See Ezek. xx. 25.

Deut xx. 10-18, is a complete       Exod. xx. 17. 'Thou shalt not
instruction for invasion, murder,   covet they neighbour's wife,
rapine, eating the spoil of the     thou shalt not covet thy
invaded, taking their wives,        neighbour's wife, nor his
their cattle, &c., all such as      man-servant, nor his maid-
might have been proclaimed by a     servant, nor his ox, nor his
Supreme Bashi-Bazouk.               ass, nor anything that is thy
                                    neighbour's.'


Instances of this discrepancy might be largely multiplied. Any one who
cares to pursue the subject can trace the building upon the powerful
personal Jehovah of a religion of human sacrifices, anathemas, and
priestly despotism; while around the moral ruler and judge of the
same name, whose personality is more and more dispersed in pantheistic
ascriptions, there grows the common law, and then the more moral law
of equity, and the corresponding sentiments which gradually evolve
the idea of a parental deity.

It is obvious that the more this second idea of the deity prevails,
the more he is regarded as 'merciful,' 'long-suffering,' 'a God
of truth and without iniquity, just and right,' 'delighting not in
sacrifice but mercifulness,' 'good to all,' and whose 'tender mercies
are over all his works,' and having 'no pleasure in the death of him
that dieth;' the less will it be possible to see in the very same
being the 'man of war,' 'god of battles,' the 'jealous,' 'angry,'
'fire-breathing' one, who 'visits the sins of the fathers upon the
children,' who laughs at the calamities of men and mocks when their
fear cometh. It is a structural necessity of the human mind that
these two shall be gradually detached the one from the other. From
one of the Jehovahs represented in parallel columns came the 'Father'
whom Christ adored: from the other came the Devil he abhorred.



CHAPTER VI.

THE CONSUMING FIRE.

    The Shekinah--Jewish idols--Attributes of the fiery and
    cruel Elohim compared with those of the Devil--The powers of
    evil combined under a head--Continuity--The consuming fire
    spiritualised.


That Abraham was a Fire-worshipper might be suspected from the
immemorial efforts of all Semitic authorities to relieve him of
traditional connection with that particular idolatry. When the good
and evil powers were being distinguished, we find the burning and
the bright aspects of Fire severally regarded. The sign of Jehovah's
covenant with Abram included both. 'It came to pass that when the sun
went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace and a burning
lamp that passed between those pieces' (of the sacrifice). In the
legend of Moses we have the glory resting on Sinai and the burning
bush, the bush which, it is specially remarked, was 'not consumed,'
an exceptional circumstance in honour of Moses. To these corresponded
the Urim and Thummim, marking the priest as source of light and
of judgment. In his favourable and adorable aspect Jehovah was the
Brightness of Fire. This was the Shekinah. In the Targum, Jonathan
Ben Uzziel to the Prophets, it is said: 'The mountains trembled
before the Lord; the mountains Tabor, Hermon, Carmel said one to the
other: Upon me the Shekinah will rest, and to me will it come. But
the Shekinah rested upon Mount Sinai, weakest and smallest of all the
mountains. This Sinai trembled and shook, and its smoke went up as the
smoke of an oven, because of the glory of the God of Israel which had
manifested itself upon it.' The Brightness [25] passed on to illumine
every event associated with the divine presence in Semitic mythology;
it was 'the glory of the Lord' shining from the Star of Bethlehem,
and the figure of the Transfiguration.

The Consuming Fire also had its development. Among the spiritual
it was spiritualised. 'Who among us shall dwell with the Devouring
Fire?' cries Isaiah. 'Who among us shall dwell with the Everlasting
Burnings? He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly; he
that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from
holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood,
and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.' It was by a prosaic route
that the Devouring Fire became the residence of the wicked.

After Jeroboam (1 Kings xiii.) had built altars to the Elohim,
under form of Calves, a prophet came out of Judah to denounce the
idolatry. 'And he cried against the altar in the word of Jehovah,
and said, O altar, altar! thus saith Jehovah, Behold, a child shall
be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall
he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee,
and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.' It was deemed so important
that this prophecy should be fulfilled in the letter, when it could
no longer be fulfilled in reality, that some centuries later Josiah
dug up the bones of the Elohistic priests and burned them upon their
long-ruined altars (2 Kings xxiii.).

The incident is significant, both on account of the prophet's
personification of the altar, and the institution of a sort of Gehenna
in connection with it. The personification and the Gehenna became
much more complete as time went on. The Jews originally had no Devil,
as indeed had no races at first; and this for the obvious reason
that their so-called gods were quite equal to any moral evils that
were to be accounted for, as we have already seen they were adequate
to explain all physical evils. But the antagonists of the moral
Jehovah were recognised and personified with increasing clearness,
and were quite prepared for connection with any General who might be
theoretically proposed for their leadership. When the Jews came under
the influence of Persian theology the archfiend was elected, and all
the Elohim--Moloch, Dagon, Astarte, Chemosh, and the rest--took their
place under his rebellious ensign.

The descriptions of the Devil in the Bible are mainly borrowed from
the early descriptions of the Elohim, and of Jehovah in his Elohistic
character. [26] In the subjoined parallels I follow the received
English version.


Gen. xxii. 1. 'God tempted          Matt. iv. 1. 'Then was Jesus
Abraham.'                           led up into the wilderness
                                    to be tempted of the devil.'
                                    See also 1 Cor. vii. 5, 1
                                    Thes. iii. 5, James 1.13.

Exod. v. 3. 'I (Jehovah) will       John xiii. 2. 'The devil having
harden Pharaoh's heart;' v. 13,     now put into the heart Judas
'He hardened Pharaoh's heart.'      Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray
                                    him.'

1 Kings xxii. 23. 'Behold the       John viii. 44. 'He (the devil) is
Lord hath put a lying spirit in     a liar' ('and so is his father,'
the mouth of all these thy          continues the sentence by right
prophets, and the Lord hath         of translation). 1 Tim. iii. 2,
spoken evil concerning them.'       'slanderers' (diabolous). 2 Tim.
Ezek. xiv. 9. 'If the prophet be    iii. 3, 'false accusers'
deceived when he hath spoken a      (diabolo). Also Titus ii. 3, Von
thing, I the Lord have deceived     Tischendorf translates
that prophet, and I will stretch    'calumniators.'
out my hand upon him, and will
destroy him from the midst of
my people.'

Isa. xlv. 7. 'I make peace and      Matt. xiii. 38. 'The tares are
create evil. I the Lord do all      the children of the wickied
these things.' Amos iii. 6.         one.' 1 John iii. 8. 'He that
'Shall there be evil in a city      committeth sin is of the devil;
and the Lord hath not done it?'     for the devil sinneth from the
1 Sam. xvi. 14. 'An evil spirit     beginning.'
from the Lord troubled him'
(Saul).

Exod. xii. 29. 'At midnight the     John viii. 44. 'He (the devil)
Lord smote all the firstborn of     was a murderer from the
Egypt.' Ver. 30. 'There was a       beginning.'
great cry in Egypt; for there was
not a house where there was not
one dead.' Exod. xxxiii. 27.
'Thus saith the Lord God of
Israel, Put every man his sword
by his side, and go in and out
from gate to gate throughout the
camp, and slay every man his
brother, and every man his
companion, and every man his
neighbour.'

Exod. vi. 9. 'Take thy rod and      Rev. xii. 7, &c. 'There was war
cast it before Pharaoh and it       in heaven: Michael and his angels
shall become a serpent.' Ver. 12.   fought against the dragon.... And
'Aaron's rod swallowed up their     the great dragon was cast out,
rods.' Num. xxi. 6. 'Jehovah sent   that old serpent, called the
fiery serpents (Seraphim) among     Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth
the people.' Ver. 8. 'And the       the whole world.... Woe to the
Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a   inhabiters of the earth and of
fiery serpent, and set it upon a    the sea! for the devil has come
pole: and it shall come to pass,    down to you, having great wrath.'
that every one that is bitten,
when he looketh upon it, shall
live.' (This serpent was
worshipped until destroyed by
Hezekiah, 2 Kings xviii.) Compare
Jer. viii. 17, Ps. cxlviii.,
'Praise ye the Lord from the
earth, ye dragons.'

Gen. xix. 24. 'The Lord rained      Matt. xxv. 41. 'Depart from me,
upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone   ye cursed, into everlasting fire,
and fire from the Lord out of       prepared for the devil and his
heaven.' Deut. iv. 24. 'The Lord    angels.' Mark ix. 44. 'Where
thy God is a consuming fire.' Ps.   their worm dieth not, and the
xi. 6. 'Upon the wicked he shall    fire is not quenched.' Rev. xx.
rain snares, fire and brimstone.'   10. 'And the devil that
Ps. xviii. 8. 'There went up a      deceiveth them was cast into the
smoke out of his nostrils.' Ps.     lake of fire and brimstone.' In
xcvii. 3. 'A fire goeth before      Rev. ix. Abaddon, or Apollyon, is
him, and burneth up his enemies     represented as the king of the
round about.' Ezek. xxxviii. 19,    scorpion tormentors; and the
&c. 'For in my jealousy, and in     diabolical horses, with stinging
the fire of my wrath, have I        serpent tails, are described as
spoken.... I will plead against     killing with the smoke and
him with pestilence and with        brimstone from their mouths.
blood, and I will rain upon him
... fire and brimstone.' Isa.
xxx. 33. 'Tophet is ordained of
old; yea, for the king is it
prepared: he hath made it deep
and wide; the pile thereof is
fire and much wood; the breath
of the Lord, like a stream of
brimstone, doth kindle it.'


In addition to the above passages may be cited a notable passage from
Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians (ii. 3). 'Let no man deceive you
by any means: for that day (of Christ) shall not come, except there
come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son
of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is
called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the
temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not that,
when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what
withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of
iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he
be taken out of the way: and then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom
the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy
with the brightness of his coming: even him whose coming is after the
working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and
with all the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish;
because they received not the love of the truth, that they might
be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion,
that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who
believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.'

This remarkable utterance shows how potent was the survival in the
mind of Paul of the old Elohist belief. Although the ancient deity,
who deceived prophets to their destruction, and sent forth lying
spirits with their strong delusions, was dethroned and outlawed, he was
still a powerful claimant of empire, haunting the temple, and setting
himself up therein as God. He will be consumed by Christ's breath when
the day of triumph comes; but meanwhile he is not only allowed great
power in the earth, but utilised by the true God, who even so far
cooperates with the false as to send on some men 'strong delusions'
('a working of error,' Von Tischendorf translates), in order that
they may believe the lie and be damned. Paul speaks of the 'mystery
of iniquity;' but it is not so very mysterious when we consider the
antecedents of his idea. The dark problem of the origin of evil, and
its continuance in the universe under the rule of a moral governor,
still threw its impenetrable shadow across the human mind. It was a
terrible reality, visible in the indifference or hostility with which
the new gospel was met on the part of the cultured and powerful; and it
could only then be explained as a mysterious provisional arrangement
connected with some divine purpose far away in the depths of the
universe. But the passage quoted from Thessalonians shows plainly
that all those early traditions about the divinely deceived prophets
and lying spirits, sent forth from Jehovah Elohim, had finally, in
Paul's time, become marshalled under a leader, a personal Man of Sin;
but this leader, while opposing Christ's kingdom, is in some mysterious
way a commissioner of God.

We may remark here the beautiful continuity by which, through all
these shadows of terror and vapours of speculation, 'clouding the
glow of heaven,' [27] the unquenchable ideal from first to last is
steadily ascending.

'One or three things,' says the Talmud, 'were before this world--Water,
Fire, and Wind. Water begat the Darkness, Fire begat Light, and
Wind begat the Spirit of Wisdom.' This had become the rationalistic
translation by a crude science of the primitive demons, once believed
to have created the heavens and the earth. In the process we find
the forces outlawed in their wild action, but becoming the choir of
God in their quiet action:--

1 Kings xix. 11-13. 'And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount
before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and
strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before
the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an
earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the
earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the
fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that
he wrapped his face in his mantle.'

But man must have a philosophical as well as a moral development: the
human mind could not long endure this elemental anarchy. It asked,
If the Lord be not in the hurricane, the earthquake, the volcanic
flame, who is therein? This is the answer of the Targum: [28]

'And he said, Arise and stand on the mountain before the Lord. And
God revealed himself: and before him a host of angels of the wind,
cleaving the mountain and breaking the rocks before the Lord; but
not in the host of angels was the Shechinah. And after the host of
the angels of the wind came a host of angels of commotion; but not in
the host of the angels of commotion was the Shechinah of the Lord. And
after the angels of commotion came a host of angels of fire; but not
in the host of angels of fire was the Shechinah of the Lord. But after
the host of the angels of the fire came voices singing in silence. And
it was when Elijah heard this he hid his face in his mantle.'

The moral sentiment takes another step in advance with the unknown but
artistic writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Moses had described
God as a 'consuming fire;' and 'the sight of the glory of the Lord
was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the
children of Israel' (Exod. xxiv. 17). When next we meet this phrase it
is with this writer, who seeks to supersede what Moses (traditionally)
built up. 'Whose voice,' he says, 'then shook the earth; but now he
hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but
also heaven. And this word, 'yet once more,' signifieth the removing
of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those
which cannot be shaken may remain.... For our God is a consuming fire.'

'Our God also!' cries each great revolution that advances. His
consuming wrath is not now directed against man, but the errors
which are man's only enemies: the lightnings of the new Sinai, while
they enlighten the earth, smite the old heaven of human faith and
imagination, shrivelling it like a burnt scroll!

In this nineteenth century, when the old heaven, amid which this
fiery pillar glowed, is again shaken, the ancient phrase has still
its meaning. The Russian Tourgenieff represents two friends who had
studied together in early life, then parted, accidentally meeting
once more for a single night. They compare notes as to what the long
intervening years have taught them; and one sums his experience in the
words--'I have burned what I used to worship, and worship what I used
to burn.' The novelist artfully reproduces for this age a sentence
associated with a crisis in the religious history of Europe. Clovis,
King of the Franks, invoked the God of his wife Clotilda to aid him
against the Germans, vowing to become a Christian if successful; and
when, after his victory, he was baptized at Rheims, St. Remy said to
him--'Bow thy head meekly, Sicambrian; burn what thou hast worshipped,
and worship what thou hast burned!' Clovis followed the Bishop's advice
in literal fashion, carrying fire and sword amid his old friends the
'Pagans' right zealously. But the era has come in which that which
Clovis' sword and St. Remy's theology set up for worship is being
consumed in its turn. Tourgenieff's youths are consuming the altar on
which their forerunners were consumed. And in this rekindled flame the
world now sees shrivelling the heavens once fresh, but now reflecting
the aggregate selfishness of mankind, the hells representing their
aggregate cowardice, and feeds its nobler faith with this vision of the
eternal fire which evermore consumes the false and refines the world.



CHAPTER VII.

PARADISE AND THE SERPENT.

    Herakles and Athena in a holy picture--Human significance of
    Eden--The legend in Genesis puzzling--Silence of later books
    concerning it--Its Vedic elements--Its explanation--Episode of
    the Mahábhárata--Scandinavian variant--The name of Adam--The
    story re-read--Rabbinical interpretations.


Montfaucon has among his plates one (XX.) representing an antique
agate which he supposes to represent Zeus and Athena, but which
probably relates to the myth of Herakles and Athena in the garden of
Hesperides. The hero having penetrated this garden, slays the dragon
which guards its immortalising fruit, but when he has gathered this
fruit Athena takes it from him, lest man shall eat it and share the
immortality of the gods. In this design the two stand on either side of
the tree, around which a serpent is twined from root to branches. The
history which Montfaucon gives of the agate is of equal interest
with the design itself. It was found in an old French cathedral,
where it had long been preserved and shown as a holy picture of the
Temptation. It would appear also to have previously deceived some
rabbins, for on the border is written in Hebrew characters, much
more modern than the central figures, 'The woman saw that the tree
was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree
to be desired to make one wise.'

This mystification about a design, concerning whose origin and design
there is now no doubt, is significant. The fable of Paradise and
the Serpent is itself more difficult to trace, so many have been the
races and religions which have framed it with their holy texts and
preserved it in their sacred precincts. In its essence, no doubt,
the story grows from a universal experience; in that aspect it is a
mystical rose that speaks all languages. When man first appears his
counterpart is a garden. The moral nature means order. The wild forces
of nature--the Elohim--build no fence, forbid no fruit. They say to
man as the supreme animal, Subdue the earth; every tree and herb shall
be your meat; every animal your slave; be fruitful and multiply. But
from the conflict the more real man emerges, and his sign is a garden
hedged in from the wilderness, and a separation between good and evil.

The form in which the legend appears in the Book of Genesis presents
one side in which it is simple and natural. This has already been
suggested (vol. i. p. 330). But the legend of man defending his refuge
from wild beasts against the most subtle of them is here overlaid by
a myth in which it plays the least part. The mind which reads it by
such light as may be obtained only from biblical sources can hardly
fail to be newly puzzled at every step. So much, indeed, is confessed
in the endless and diverse theological theories which the story has
elicited. What is the meaning of the curse on the Serpent that it
should for ever crawl thereafter? Had it not crawled previously? Why
was the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil forbidden? Why,
when its fruit was tasted, should the Tree of Life have been for the
first time forbidden and jealously guarded? These riddles are nowhere
solved in the Bible, and have been left to the fanciful inventions
of theologians and the ingenuity of rabbins. Dr. Adam Clarke thought
the Serpent was an ape before his sin, and many rabbins concluded he
was camel-shaped; but the remaining enigmas have been fairly given up.

The ancient Jews, they who wrote and compiled the Old Testament, more
candid than their modern descendants and our omniscient christians,
silently confessed their inability to make anything out of this
snake-story. From the third chapter of Genesis to the last verse of
Malachi the story is not once alluded to! Such a phenomenon would
have been impossible had this legend been indigenous with the Hebrew
race. It was clearly as a boulder among them which had floated from
regions little known to their earlier writers; after lying naked
through many ages, it became overgrown with rabbinical lichen and
moss, and, at the Christian era, while it seemed part of the Hebrew
landscape, it was exceptional enough to receive special reverence as
a holy stone. That it was made the corner-stone of Christian theology
may be to some extent explained by the principle of omne ignotum pro
mirifico. But the boulder itself can only be explained by tracing it
to the mythologic formation from which it crumbled.

How would a Parsi explain the curse on a snake which condemned it to
crawl? He would easily give us evidence that at the time when most
of those Hebrew Scriptures were written, without allusion to such
a Serpent, the ancient Persians believed that Ahriman had tempted
the first man and woman through his evil mediator, his anointed son,
Ash-Mogh, 'the two-footed Serpent.'

But let us pass beyond the Persian legend, carrying that and the
biblical story together, for submission to the criticism of a
Bráhman. He will tell us that this Ash-Mogh of the Parsi is merely
the ancient Aèshma-daéva of the Avesta, which in turn is Ahi, the
great Vedic Serpent-monster whom Indra 'prostrated beneath the feet'
of the stream he had obstructed--every stream having its deity. He
would remind us that the Vedas describe the earliest dragon-slayer,
Indra, as 'crushing the head' of his enemy, and that this figure of
the god with his heel on a Serpent's head has been familiar to his race
from time immemorial. And he would then tell us to read the Rig-Veda,
v. 32, and the Mahábhárata, and we would find all the elements of
the story told in Genesis.

In the hymn referred to we find a graphic account of how, when Ahi
was sleeping on the waters he obstructed, Indra hurled at him his
thunderbolt. It says that when Indra had 'annihilated the weapon of
that mighty beast from him (Ahi), another, more powerful, conceiving
himself one and unmatched, was generated,' This 'wrath-born son,'
'a walker in darkness,' had managed to get hold of the sacred Soma,
the plant monopolised by the gods, and having drunk this juice, he
lay slumbering and 'enveloping the world,' and then 'fierce Indra
seized upon him,' and having previously discovered 'the vital part
of him who thought, himself invulnerable,' struck that incarnation
of many-formed Ahi, and he was 'made the lowest of all creatures'.

But one who has perused the philological biography of Ahi already
given, vol. i. p. 357, will not suppose that this was the end of
him. We must now consider in further detail the great episode
of the Mahábhárata, to which reference has been made in other
connections. [29] During the Deluge the most precious treasure of
the gods, the Amrita, the ambrosia that rendered them immortal, was
lost, and the poem relates how the Devas and Asuras, otherwise gods
and serpents, together churned the ocean for it. There were two great
mountains,--Meru the golden and beautiful, adorned with healing plants,
pleasant streams and trees, unapproachable by the sinful, guarded
by serpents; Mandar, rocky, covered with rank vegetation, infested
by savage beasts. The first is the abode of the gods, the last of
demons. To find the submerged Amrita it was necessary to uproot Mandar
and use it to churn the ocean. This was done by calling on the King
Serpent Ananta, who called in the aid of another great serpent, Vásuki,
the latter being used as a rope coiling and uncoiling to whirl the
mountain. At last the Amrita appeared. But there also streamed forth
from the ocean bed a terrible stench and venom, which was spreading
through the universe when Siva swallowed it to save mankind,--the
drug having stained his throat blue, whence his epithet 'Blue Neck.'

When the Asuras saw the Amrita, they claimed it; but one of the Devas,
Narya, assumed the form of a beautiful woman, and so fascinated them
that they forgot the Amrita for the moment, which the gods drank. One
of the Asuras, however, Ráhu, assumed the form of a god or Deva, and
began to drink. The immortalising nectar had not gone farther than
his throat when the sun and moon saw the deceit and discovered it to
Naraya, who cut off Ráhu's head. The head of Ráhu, being immortal,
bounded to the sky, where its efforts to devour the sun and moon,
which betrayed him, causes their eclipses. The tail (Ketu) also enjoys
immortality in a lower plane, and is the fatal planet which sends
diseases on mankind. A furious war between the gods and the Asuras
has been waged ever since. And since the Devas are the strongest,
it is not wonderful that it should have passed into the folklore
of the whole Aryan world that the evil host are for ever seeking to
recover by cunning the Amrita. The Serpents guarding the paradise of
the Devas have more than once, in a mythologic sense, been induced
to betray their trust and glide into the divine precincts to steal
the coveted draught. This is the Kvásir [30] of the Scandinavian
Mythology, which is the source of that poetic inspiration whose songs
have magical potency. The sacramental symbol of the Amrita in Hindu
Theology is the Soma juice, and this plant Indra is declared in the
Rig-Veda (i. 130) to have discovered "hidden, like the nestlings of
a bird, amidst a pile of rocks enclosed by bushes," where the dragon
Drought had concealed it. Indra, in the shape of a hawk, flew away
with it. In the Prose Edda the Frost Giant Suttung has concealed the
sacred juice, and it is kept by the maid Gunlauth in a cavern overgrown
with bushes. Bragi bored a hole through the rock. Odin in the shape
of a worm crept through the crevice; then resuming his godlike shape,
charmed the maid into permitting him to drink one draught out of the
three jars; and, having left no drop, in form of an eagle flew to
Asgard, and discharged in the jars the wonder-working liquid. Hence
poetry is called Odin's booty, and Odin's gift.

Those who attentively compare these myths with the legend in Genesis
will not have any need to rest upon the doubtful etymology of 'Adam'
[31] to establish the Ayran origin of the latter. The Tree of the
knowledge of Good and Evil which made man 'as one of us' (the Elohim)
is the Soma of India, the Haoma of Persia, the kvásir of Scandinavia,
to which are ascribed the intelligence and powers of the gods, and
the ardent thoughts of their worshippers. The Tree of Immortality is
the Amrita, the only monopoly of the gods. 'The Lord God said, Behold
the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest
he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat,
and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth the garden
of Eden to till the ground whence he had been taken. So he drove out
the man; and he placed on the east of the garden of Eden cherubim,
and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way of the
tree of life.'

This flaming sword turning every way is independent of the cherub,
and takes the place of the serpent which had previously guarded the
Meru paradise, but is now an enemy no longer to be trusted.

If the reader will now re-read the story in Genesis with the old names
restored, he will perceive that there is no puzzle at all in any part
of it:--'Now Ráhu [because he had stolen and tasted Soma] was more
subtle than any beast of the field which the Devas had made, and he
said to Adea Suktee, the first woman, Have the Devas said you shall
not eat of every tree in the garden? And she said unto Ráhu, We may
eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the Soma-plant,
which is in the middle of the garden, the Devas have said we shall
not eat or touch it on pain of death. Then Ráhu said to Adea, You
will not suffer death by tasting Soma [I have done so, and live]:
the Devas know that on the day when you taste it your eyes shall be
opened, and you will be equal to them in knowledge of good and evil
... [and you will be able at once to discover which tree it is that
bears the fruit which renders you immortal--the Amrita].... Adea took
of the Soma and did eat, and gave also unto Adima, her husband, and the
eyes of them both were opened.... And Indra, chief of the Devas, said
to Ráhu, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle
and above every beast of the field; [for they shall transmigrate,
their souls ascend through higher forms to be absorbed in the Creative
principle; but] upon thy belly shalt thou go [remaining transfixed in
the form you have assumed to try and obtain the Amrita]; and [instead
of the ambrosia you aimed at] you shall eat dirt through all your
existence.... And Indra said, Adima and Adea Suktee have [tasted Soma,
and] become as one of us Devas [so far as] to know good and evil;
and now, lest man put forth his hand [on our precious Amrita], and
take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever [giving
us another race of Asuras or Serpent-men to compete with].... Indra
and the Devas drove Adima out of Meru, and placed watch-dogs at the
east of the garden; and [a sinuous darting flame, precisely matched
to the now unchangeable form of Ráhu], a flaming sword which turned
every way, to keep the way of the Amrita from Adima and Asuras.'

While the gods and serpents were churning the ocean for the Amrita,
all woes and troubles for mortals came up first. That ocean shrinks
in one region to the box of Pandora, in another to the fruit eaten by
Eve. How foreign such a notion is to the Hebrew theology is shown by
the fact that even while the curses are falling from the fatal fruit
on the earth and man, they are all said to have proceeded solely from
Jehovah, who is thus made to supplement the serpent's work.

It will be seen that in the above version of the story in Genesis I
have left out various passages. These are in part such as must be more
fully treated in the succeeding chapter, and in part the Semitic mosses
which have grown upon the Aryan boulder. But even after the slight
treatment which is all I have space to devote to the comparative
study of the myth in this aspect, it may be safely affirmed that
the problems which we found insoluble by Hebrew correlatives no
longer exist if an Aryan origin be assumed. We know why the fruit
of knowledge was forbidden: because it endangered the further fruit
of immortality. We know how the Serpent might be condemned to crawl
for ever without absurdity: because he was of a serpent-race, able
to assume higher forms, and capable of transmigration, and of final
absorption. We know why the eating of the fruit brought so many woes:
it was followed by the stream of poison from the churned ocean which
accompanied the Amrita, and which would have destroyed the race of both
gods and men, had not Siva drank it up. If anything were required to
make the Aryan origin of the fable certain, it will be found in the
fact which will appear as we go on,--namely, that the rabbins of our
era, in explaining the legend which their fathers severely ignored,
did so by borrowing conceptions foreign to the original ideas of
their race,--notions about human transformation to animal shapes,
and about the Serpent (which Moses honoured), and mainly of a kind
travestying the Iranian folklore. Such contact with foreign races
for the first time gave the Jews any key to the legend which their
patriarchs and prophets were compelled to pass over in silence.



CHAPTER VIII.

EVE.

    The Fall of Man--Fall of gods--Giants--Prajápati and Ráhu--Woman
    and Star-serpent in Persia--Meschia and Meschiane--Bráhman
    legends of the creation of Man--The strength of Woman--Elohist
    and Jehovist creations of Man--The Forbidden Fruit--Eve reappears
    as Sara--Abraham surrenders his wife to Jehovah--The idea not
    sensual--Abraham's circumcision--The evil name of Woman--Noah's
    wife--The temptation of Abraham--Rabbinical legends concerning
    Eve--Pandora--Sentiment of the Myth of Eve.


The insignificance of the Serpent of Eden in the scheme and teachings
of the Hebrew Bible is the more remarkable when it is considered that
the pessimistic view of human nature is therein fully represented. In
the story of the Temptation itself, there is, indeed, no such
generalisation as we find in the modern dogma of the Fall of Man;
but the elements of it are present in the early assumption that
the thoughts of man's heart run to evil continually,--which must
be an obvious fact everywhere while goodness is identified with
fictitious merits. There are also expressions suggesting a theory
of heredity, of a highly superstitious character,--the inheritance
being by force of the ancestral word or act, and without reference
to inherent qualities. Outward merits and demerits are transmitted
for reward and punishment to the third and fourth generation; but
the more common-sense view appears to have gradually superseded this,
as expressed in the proverb that the fathers ate sour grapes and the
children's teeth were on edge.

In accounting for this condition of human nature, popular traditions
among the Jews always pointed rather to a fall of the gods than to
any such catastrophe to man. 'The sons of the Elohim (gods) saw the
daughters of men that they were beautiful, and they took to themselves
for wives whomsoever they chose.' 'There were giants in the earth in
those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto
the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became
mighty men, which were of old men of renown.' [32] These giants were
to the Semitic mind what the Ahis, Vritras, Sushnas and other monsters
were to the Aryan, or Titans to the Greek mind. They were not traced
to the Serpent, but to the wild nature-gods, the Elohim, and when
Jehovah appears it is to wage war against them. The strength of this
belief is illustrated in the ample accounts given in the Old Testament
of the Rephaim and their king Og, the Anakim and Goliath, the Emim,
the Zamzummim, and others, all of which gained full representation in
Hebrew folklore. The existence of these hostile beings was explained
by their fall from angelic estate.

The Book of Enoch gives what was no doubt the popular understanding
of the fall of the angels and its results. Two hundred angels took
wives of the daughters of men, and their offspring were giants three
thousand yards in height. These giants having consumed the food
of mankind, began to devour men, whose cries were brought to the
attention of Jehovah by his angels. One angel was sent to warn Noah
of the Flood; another to bind Azazel in a dark place in the desert
till the Judgment Day; Gabriel was despatched to set the giants to
destroying one another; Michael was sent to bury the fallen angels
under the hills for seventy generations, till the Day of Judgment, when
they should be sent to the fiery abyss for ever. Then every evil work
should come to an end, and the plant of righteousness spring up. [33]

Such exploits and successes on the part of the legal Deity against
outlaws, though they may be pitched high in heroic romance, are
found beside a theology based upon a reverse situation. Nothing is
more fundamental in the ancient Jewish system than the recognition
of an outside world given over to idolatry and wickedness, while
Jews are a small colony of the children of Israel and chosen of
Jehovah. Such a conception in primitive times is so natural, and
possibly may have been so essential to the constitution of nations,
that it is hardly useful to look for parallels. Though nearly all
races see in their traditional dawn an Age of Gold, a Happy Garden,
or some corresponding felicity, these are normally defined against
anterior chaos or surrounding ferocity. Every Eden has had its guards.

When we come to legends which relate particularly to the way in
which the early felicity was lost, many facts offer themselves for
comparative study. And with regard to the myths of Eden and Eve,
we may remark what appears to have been a curious interchange of
legends between the Hebrews and Persians. The ancient doctrines of
India and Persia concerning Origins are largely, if not altogether,
astronomical. In the Genesis of India we see a golden egg floating
on a shoreless ocean; it divides to make the heaven above and earth
beneath; from it emerges Prajápati, who also falls in twain to make
the mortal and immortal substances; the parts of him again divide to
make men and women on earth, sun and moon in the sky. This is but one
version out of many, but all the legends about Prajápati converge
in making him a figure of Indian astronomy. In the Rig-Veda he is
Orion, and for ever lies with the three arrows in his belt which
Sirius shot at him because of his love for Aldebaran,--towards which
constellation he stretches. Now, in a sort of antithesis to this,
the evil Ráhu is also cut in twain, his upper and immortal part
pursuing and trying to eclipse the sun and moon, his tail (Ketu)
becoming the 9th planet, shedding evil influences on mankind. [34]
This tail, Ketu, is quite an independent monster, and we meet with
him in the Persian planisphere, where he rules the first of the six
mansions of Ahriman, and is the 'crooked serpent' mentioned in the
Book of Job. By referring to vol. i. p. 253, the reader will see that
this Star-serpent must stand as close to the woman with her child and
sheaf as September stands to October. But unquestionably the woman
was put there for honour and not disgrace; with her child and sheaf
she represented the fruitage of the year.

There is nothing in Persian Mythology going to show that the woman
betrayed her mansion of fruitage--the golden year--to the Serpent
near her feet. In the Bundehesch we have the original man, Kaiomarts,
who is slain by Ahriman as Prajápati (Orion) was by Sirius; from his
dead form came Meschia and Meschiane, the first human pair. Ahriman
corrupts them by first giving them goats' milk, an evil influence
from Capricorn. After they had thus injured themselves he tempted
them with a fruit which robbed them of ninety-nine hundredths
of their happiness. In all this there is no indication that the
woman and man bore different relations to the calamity. But after a
time we find a Parsî postscript to this effect: 'The woman was the
first to sacrifice to the Devas.' This is the one item in the Parsî
Mythology which shows bias against woman, and as it is unsupported
by the narratives preceding it, we may suppose that it was derived
from some foreign country.

That country could hardly have been India. There is a story in remote
districts of India which relates that the first woman was born out
of an expanding lotus on the Ganges, and was there received in his
paradise by the first man (Adima, or Manu). Having partaken of the
Soma, they were expelled, after first being granted their prayer to be
allowed a last draught from the Ganges; the effect of the holy water
being to prevent entire corruption, and secure immortality to their
souls. But nowhere in Indian legend or folklore do we find any special
dishonour put upon woman such as is described in the Hebrew story.

Rather we find the reverse. Early in the last century, a traveller,
John Marshall, related stories of the creation which he says were
told him by the Brahmins, and others 'by the Brahmins of Persia.' [35]

'Once on a time,' the Brahmins said, 'as (God) was set in eternity,
it came into his mind to make something, and immediately no sooner had
he thought the same, but that the same minute was a perfect beautiful
woman present immediately before him, which he called Adea Suktee,
that is, the first woman. Then this figure put into his mind the
figure of a man; which he had no sooner conceived in his mind, but
that he also started up, and represented himself before him; this he
called Manapuise, that is, the first man; then, upon a reflection of
these things, he resolved further to create several places for them
to abide in, and accordingly, assuming a subtil body, he breathed in
a minute the whole universe, and everything therein, from the least
to the greatest.'

'The Brahmins of Persia tell certain long stories of a great Giant that
was led into a most delicate garden, which, upon certain conditions,
should be his own for ever. But one evening in a cool shade one of
the wicked Devatas, or spirits, came to him, and tempted him with vast
sums of gold, and all the most precious jewels that can be imagined;
but he courageously withstood that temptation, as not knowing what
value or use they were of: but at length this wicked Devata brought
to him a fair woman, who so charmed him that for her sake he most
willingly broke all his conditions, and thereupon was turned out.'

In the first of these two stories the names given to the man and woman
are popular words derived from Sanskrit. In the second the Persian
characters are present, as in the use of Devatas to denote wicked
powers; but for the rest, this latter legend appears to me certainly
borrowed from the Jews so far as the woman is concerned. It was they
who first perceived any connection between Virgo in the sixth mansion
of Ormuzd, and Python in the seventh, and returned the Persians their
planisphere with a new gloss. Having adopted the Dragon's tail (Ketu)
for a little preliminary performance, the Hebrew system dismisses
that star-snake utterly; for it has already evolved a terrestrial
devil from its own inner consciousness.

The name of that devil is--Woman. The diabolisation of woman in their
theology and tradition is not to be regarded as any indication that
the Hebrews anciently held women in dishonour; rather was it a tribute
to her powers of fascination such as the young man wrote to be placed
under the pillow of Darius--'Woman is strongest.' As Darius and his
council agreed that, next to truth, woman is strongest--stronger than
wine or than kings, so do the Hebrew fables testify by interweaving
her beauty and genius with every evil of the world.

Between the Elohist and Jahvist accounts of the creation of man,
there are two differences of great importance. The Elohim are said to
have created man in their own image, male and female,--the word for
'created' being bará, literally meaning to carve out. Jehovah Elohim
is said to have formed man,--nothing being said about his own image,
or about male and female,--the word formed being yatsar'. The sense of
this word yatsar in this place (Gen. ii. 7) must be interpreted by what
follows: Jehovah is said to have formed man out of the aphar', which
the English version translates dust, but the Septuagint more correctly
sperma. The literal meaning is a finely volatilised substance, and in
Numbers xxiii. 10, it is used to represent the seed of Jacob. In the
Jehovistic creation it means that man was formed out of the seminal
principle of the earth combined with the breath of Jehovah; and the
legend closely resembles the account of the ancient Satapatha-Bráhmana,
which shows the creative power in sexual union with the fluid world
to produce the egg  from which Prajápati was born, to be divided into
man and woman.

These two accounts, therefore,--to wit, that in the first and that in
the second chapter of Genesis,--must be regarded as being of different
events, and not merely varying myths of the same event. The offspring
of Jehovah were 'living souls,' an expression not used in connection
with the created images of the giants or Elohim. The Elohist pair
roam about the world freely eating all fruits and herbs, possessing
nature generally, and, as male and female, encouraged to increase
and multiply; but Jehovah carefully separates his two children from
general nature, places them in a garden, forbids certain food, and
does not say a word about sex even, much less encourage its functions.

Adam was formed simply to be the gardener of Eden; no other motive
is assigned. In proposing the creation of a being to be his helper
and companion, nothing is said about a new sex,--the word translated
'help-meet' (ézer) is masculine. Adam names the being made 'woman,'
(Vulg. Virago) only because she has been made out of man, but sex
is not even yet suggested. This is so marked that the compiler has
filled up what he considered an omission with (verse 24) a little
lecture on duty to wives.

It is plain that the jealously-guarded ambrosia of Aryan gods has here
been adapted to signify the sexual relation. That is the fruit in the
midst of the garden which is reserved. The eating of it is immediately
associated with consciousness of nudity and shame. The curse upon
Eve is appropriate. Having taken a human husband, she is to be his
slave; she shall bring forth children in sorrow, and many of them
(Gen. iii. 16). Adam is to lose his position in Jehovah's garden,
and to toil in accursed ground, barren and thorny.

Cast out thus into the wilderness, the human progeny as it increased
came in contact with the giant's progeny,--those created by the Elohim
(Gen. i.). When these had intermarried, Jehovah said that the fact
that the human side in such alliance had been originally vitalised
by his breath could not now render it immortal, because 'he (man)
also is flesh,' i.e., like the creatures of the nature-gods. After
two great struggles with these Titans, drowning most of them, hurling
down their tower and scattering them, Jehovah resolved upon a scheme
of vast importance, and one which casts a flood of light upon the
narrative just given. Jehovah's great aim is shown in the Abrahamic
covenant to be to found a family on earth, of which he can say, 'Thou
art my son; I have begotten thee.' Eve was meant to be the mother of
that family, but by yielding to her passion for the man meant only
to be her companion she had thwarted the purpose of Jehovah. But she
reappears again under the name of Sara; and from first to last the
sense of these records, however overlaid by later beliefs, is the
expansion, varying fortunes, and gradual spiritualisation of this
aspiration of a deity for a family of his own in the earth.

Celsus said that the story of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Ghost
is one in which Christians would find little 'mystery' if the names
were Danaë and Jupiter. The same may be said of the story of Sara and
Jehovah, of which that concerning Mary is a theological travesty. Sarai
(as she was called before her transfer to Jehovah, who then forbade
Abraham to call her 'My Princess,' but only 'Princess') was chosen
because she was childless. Abraham was paid a large recompense
for her surrender, and provision was made that he should have a
mistress, and by her a son. This natural son was to be renowned
and have great possessions; nominally Abraham was to be represented
by Sara's miraculously-conceived son, and to control his fortunes,
but the blood of the new race was to be purely divine in its origin,
so that every descendant of Isaac might be of Jehovah's family in
Abraham's household.

Abraham twice gave over his wife to different kings who were
jealously punished by Jehovah for sins they only came near committing
unconsciously, while Abraham himself was not even rebuked for the sin
he did commit. The forbidden fruit was not eaten this time; and the
certificate and proof of the supernatural conception of Isaac were
made clear in Sarah's words--'God hath made me to laugh: all that hear
will laugh with me: who would have said unto Abraham that Sarah should
have given children suck? for I have borne a son in his old age.' [36]

It was the passionate nature and beauty of Woman which had thus far
made the difficulty. The forbidden fruit was 'pleasant to the eyes,'
and Eve ate it; and it was her 'voice' to which Adam had hearkened
rather than to that of Jehovah (Gen. iii. 17). And, again, it was
the easy virtue and extreme beauty of Sara (Gen. xii. 11, 14) which
endangered the new scheme. The rabbinical traditions are again on
this point very emphatic. It is related that when Abram came to
the border of Egypt he hid Sara in a chest, and was so taking her
into that country. The collector of customs charged that the chest
contained raiment, silks, gold, pearls, and Abram paid for all these;
but this only increased the official's suspicions, and he compelled
Abram to open the chest; when this was done and Sara rose up, the
whole land of Egypt was illumined by her splendour. [37]

There is no reason for supposing that the ideas underlying the
relation which Jehovah meant to establish with Eve, and succeeded in
establishing with Sara, were of a merely sensual description. These
myths belong to the mental region of ancestor-worship, and the
fundamental conception is that of founding a family to reign over all
other families. Jehovah's interest is in Isaac rather than Sara, who,
after she has borne that patriarch, lapses out of the story almost
as completely as Eve. The idea is not, indeed, so theological as it
became in the Judaic-christian legend of the conception of Jesus
by Mary as spouse of the Deity; it was probably, however, largely
ethnical in the case of Eve, and national in that of Sara.

It being considered of the utmost importance that all who claimed the
advantages in the Jewish commonwealth accruing only to the legal,
though nominal, 'children of Abraham,' should really be of divine
lineage, security must be had against Isaac having any full brother. It
might be that in after time some natural son of Sara might claim
to be the one born of divine parentage, might carry on the Jewish
commonwealth, slay the children of Jehovah by Sara, and so end the
divine lineage with the authority it carried. Careful precautions
having been taken that Ishmael should be an 'irreconcilable,'
there is reason to suspect that the position of Isaac as Jehovah's
'only-begotten son' was secured by means obscurely hinted in the
circumcision first undergone by Abraham, and made the sign of the
covenant. That circumcision, wheresoever it has survived, is the
relic of a more horrible practice of barbarian asceticism, is hardly
doubtful; that the original rite was believed to have been that by
which Abraham fulfilled his contract with Jehovah, appears to me
intimated in various passages of the narrative which have survived
editorial arrangement in accordance with another view. For instance,
the vast inducements offered Abraham, and the great horror that fell
on the patriarch, appear hardly explicable on the theory that nothing
was conceded on Abraham's side beyond the surrender of a wife whom
he had freely consigned to earthly monarchs.

Though the suspicion just expressed as to the nature of Abraham's
circumcision may be doubted, it is not questionable that the rite of
circumcision bears a significance in rabbinical traditions and Jewish
usages which renders its initiation by Abraham at least a symbol of
marital renunciation. Thus, the custom of placing in a room where
the rite of circumcision was performed a pot of dust, was explained
by the rabbins to have reference to the dust which Jehovah declared
should be the serpent's food. [38] That circumcision should have been
traditionally associated with the temptation of Eve is a confirmation
of the interpretation which regards her (Eve) as the prototype of
Sara and the serpent as sexual desire.

Although, if the original sense of Abraham's circumcision were what
has been suggested, it had been overlaid, when the Book of Genesis
in its present form was compiled, by different traditions, and that
patriarch is described as having married again and had other children,
the superior sanctity of Sara's son was preserved. Indeed, there would
seem to have continued for a long time a tradition that the Abrahamic
line and covenant were to be carried out by 'the seed of the woman'
alone, and the paternity of Jehovah. Like Sara, Rebekah is sterile, and
after her Rachel; the birth of Jacob and Esau from one, and of Joseph
and Benjamin from the other, being through the intervention of Jehovah.

The great power of woman for good or evil, and the fact that it has
often been exercised with subtlety--the natural weapon of the weak in
dealing with the strong--are remarkably illustrated in the legends of
these female figures which appear in connection with the divine schemes
in the Book of Genesis. But even more the perils of woman's beauty
are illustrated, especially in Eve and Sara. There were particular and
obvious reasons why these representative women could not be degraded or
diabolised in their own names or history, even where their fascinations
tended to countervail the plans of Jehovah. The readiness with which
Sara promoted her husband's prostitution and consented to her own,
the treachery of Rebekah to her son Esau, could yet not induce Jewish
orthodoxy to give evil names to the Madonnas of their race; but the
inference made was expressed under other forms and names. It became
a settled superstition that wherever evil was going on, Woman was at
the bottom of it. Potiphar's wife, Jezebel, Vashti, and Delilah, were
among the many she-scape-goats on whom were laid the offences of their
august official predecessors who 'could do no wrong.' Even after Satan
has come upon the scene, and is engaged in tempting Job, it seems to
have been thought essential to the task that he should have an agent
beside the troubled man in the wife who bade him 'curse God and die.'

It is impossible to say at just what period the rabbins made their
ingenious discovery that the devil and Woman entered the world at
the same time,--he coming out of the hole left by removal of the
rib from Adam before it was closed. This they found disclosed in the
fact that it is in Genesis iii. 21, describing the creation of Woman,
that there appears for the first time Samech--the serpent-letter S
(in Vajisgor). [39] But there were among them many legends of a
similar kind that leave one no wonder concerning the existence of
a thanksgiving taught boys that they have not been created women,
however much one may be scandalised at its continuance in the present
day. It was only in pursuance of this theory of Woman that there was
developed at a later day a female assistant of the Devil in another
design to foil the plans of Jehovah, from the Scriptual narrative of
which the female rôle is omitted. In the Scriptural legend of Noah
his wife is barely mentioned, and her name is not given, but from an
early period vague rumours to her discredit floated about, and these
gathered consistency in the Gnostic legend that it was through her
that Satan managed to get on board the Ark, as is elsewhere related
(Part IV. chap. xxvii.), and was so enabled to resuscitate antediluvial
violence in the drunken curses of Noah. Satan did this by working
upon both the curiosity and jealousy of Noraita, the name assigned
Noah's wife.

It has been necessary to give at length the comparative view of the
myth of Eden in order that the reader may estimate the grounds upon
which rests a theory which has been submitted after much hesitation
concerning its sense. The 'phallic' theory by which it has become
the fashion to interpret so many of these old fables, appears
to me to have been done to death; yet I cannot come to any other
conclusion concerning the legend of Eve than that she represents
that passional nature of Woman which, before it was brought under
such rigid restraint, might easily be regarded as a weakness to any
tribe desirous of keeping itself separate from other tribes. The
oath exacted by Abraham of his servant that he should seek out a
wife from among his own people, and not among Canaanitish women,
is one example among many of this feeling, which, indeed, survives
among Jews at the present day. Such a sentiment might underlie the
stories of Eve and Sara--the one mingling the blood of the family
of Jehovah with mere human flesh, the other nearly confusing it
with aliens. As the idea of tribal sanctity and separateness became
strengthened by the further development of theocratic government,
such myths would take on forms representing Jehovah's jealousy in
defending his family line against the evil powers which sought to
confuse or destroy it. One such attempt appears to underlie the story
of the proposed sacrifice of Isaac. Although the account we have of
that proceeding in the Bible was written at a time when the Elohist
and Jahvist parties had compromised their rivalries to some extent,
and suggests the idea that Jehovah himself ordered the sacrifice in
order to try the faith of Abraham, enough of the primitive tradition
lingers in the narrative to make it probable that its original intent
was to relate how one of the superseded Elohim endeavoured to tempt
Abraham to sacrifice Sara's only son, and so subvert the aim of Jehovah
to perpetuate his seed. The God who 'tempted Abraham' is throughout
sharply distinguished from the Jehovah who sent his angel to prevent
the sacrifice and substitute an animal victim for Isaac.

Although, as we have seen, Sara was spared degradation into a she-devil
in subsequent myths, because her body was preserved intact despite her
laxity of mind, such was not the case with Eve. The silence concerning
her preserved throughout the Bible after her fall is told was broken
by the ancient rabbins, and there arose multitudinous legends in
which her intimacies with devils are circumstantially reported. Her
first child, Cain, was generally believed to be the son of one of the
devils (Samaël) that consorted with her, and the world was said to be
peopled with gnomes and demons which she brought forth during that
130 years at the end of which it is stated that Adam begot a son in
his own image and likeness, and called his name Seth (Gen. v. 3). The
previous children were supposed to be not in purely human form, and
not to have been of Adam's paternity. Adam had during that time refused
to have any children, knowing that he would only rear inmates of hell.

The legend of Eden has gone round the world doing various duty,
but nearly always associated with the introduction of moral evil
into the world. In the Lateran Museum at Rome there is a remarkable
bas-relief representing a nude man and woman offering sacrifice before
a serpent coiled around a tree, while an angel overthrows the altar
with his foot. This was probably designed as a fling at the Ophites,
and is very interesting as a survival from the ancient Aryan meaning
of the Serpent. But since the adaptation of the myth by the Semitic
race, it has generally emphasised the Tree of the Knowledge of Good
and Evil, instead of the Tree of Immortality (Amrita), which is the
chief point of interest in the Aryan myth. There are indeed traces of
a conflict with knowledge and scepticism in it which we shall have
to consider hereafter. The main popular association with it, the
introduction into the world of all the ills that flesh is heir to,
is perfectly consistent with the sense which has been attributed to
its early Hebrew form; for this includes the longing for maternity,
its temptations and its pains, and the sorrows and sins which are
obviously traceable to it.

Some years ago, when the spectacular drama of 'Paradise' was performed
in Paris, the Temptation was effected by means of a mirror. Satan
glided behind the tree as a serpent, and then came forth as a
handsome man, and after uttering compliments that she could not
understand, presented Eve with a small oval mirror which explained them
all. Mlle. Abingdon as Eve displayed consummate art in her expression
of awakening self-admiration, of the longing for admiration from the
man before her, and the various stages of self-consciousness by which
she is brought under the Tempter's power. This idea of the mirror
was no doubt borrowed from the corresponding fable of Pandora. On
a vase (Etruscan) in the Hamilton Collection there is an admirable
representation of Pandora opening her box, from which all evils are
escaping. She is seated beneath a tree, around which a serpent is
coiled. Among the things which have come out of the box is this same
small oval mirror. In this variant, Hope, coming out last corresponds
with the prophecy that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's
head. The ancient Etruscan and the modern Parisian version are both
by the mirror finely connected with the sexual sense of the legend.

The theological interpretation of the beautiful myth of Eden
represents a sort of spiritual vivisection; yet even as a dogma the
story preserves high testimony: when woman falls the human race falls
with her; when man rises above his inward or outward degradations
and recovers his Paradise, it is because his nature is refined by
the purity of woman, and his home sweetened by her heart. There is a
widespread superstition that every Serpent will single out a woman
from any number of people for its attack. In such dim way is felt
her gentle bruising of man's reptilian self. No wonder that woman is
excluded from those regions of life where man's policy is still to
crawl, eat dust, and bite the heel.

It is, I suppose, the old Mystery of the Creation which left Coventry
its legend of a Good Eve (Godiva, whose name is written 'good Eve'
in a Conventry verse, 1494), whose nakedness should bring benefit to
man, as that of the first Eve brought him evil. The fig-leaf of Eve,
gathered no doubt from the tree whose forbidden fruit she had eaten,
has gradually grown so large as to cloak her mind and spirit as well
as her form. Her work must still be chiefly that of a spirit veiled
and ashamed. Her passions suppressed, her genius disbelieved, her
influence forced to seek hidden and often illegitimate channels,
Woman now outwardly represents a creation of man to suit his own
convenience. But the Serpent has also changed a great deal since
the days of Eve, and now, as Intelligence, has found out man in his
fool's-paradise, where he stolidly maintains that, with few exceptions,
it is good for man to be alone. But good women are remembering Godiva;
and realising that, the charms which have sometimes lowered man or
cost him dear may be made his salvation. It shall be so when Woman
can face with clear-eyed purity all the facts of nature, can cast
away the mental and moral swathing-clothes transmitted from Eden,
and put forth all her powers for the welfare of mankind,--a Good Eva,
whom Coventry Toms may call naked, but who is 'not ashamed' of the
garb of Innocence and Truth.



CHAPTER IX.

LILITH.

    Madonnas--Adam's first wife--Her flight and doom--Creation of
    devils--Lilith marries Samaël--Tree of Life--Lilith's part
    in the Temptation--Her locks--Lamia--Bodeima--Meschia and
    Meschiane--Amazons--Maternity--Rib-theory of Woman--Káli and
    Durga--Captivity of Woman.


The attempt of the compilers of the Book of Genesis to amalgamate
the Elohist and Jehovist legends, ignoring the moral abyss that yawns
between them, led to some sufficiently curious results. One of these
it may be well enough to examine here, since, though later in form
than some other legends which remain to be considered, it is closely
connected in spirit with the ancient myth of Eden and illustrative
of it.

The differences between the two creations of man and woman critically
examined in the previous chapter were fully recognised by the ancient
rabbins, and their speculations on the subject laid the basis for
the further legend that the woman created (Gen. i.) at the same time
with Adam, and therefore not possibly the woman formed from his rib,
was a first wife who turned out badly.

To this first wife of Adam it was but natural to assign the name
of one of the many ancient goddesses who had been degraded into
demonesses. For the history of Mariolatry in the North of Europe has
been many times anticipated: the mother's tenderness and self-devotion,
the first smile of love upon social chaos, availed to give every race
its Madonna, whose popularity drew around her the fatal favours of
priestcraft, weighing her down at last to be a type of corruption. Even
the Semitic tribes, with their hard masculine deities, seem to have
once worshipped Alilat, whose name survives in Elohim and Allah. Among
these degraded Madonnas was Lilith, whose name has been found in a
Chaldean inscription, which says, when a country is at peace 'Lilith
(Lilatu) is not before them.' The name is from Assyr. lay'lâ, Hebrew
Lil (night), which already in Accadian meant 'sorcery.' It probably
personified, at first, the darkness that soothed children to slumber;
and though the word Lullaby has, with more ingenuity than accuracy,
been derived from Lilith Abi, the theory may suggest the path by
which the soft Southern night came to mean a nocturnal spectre.

The only place where the name of Lilith occurs in the Bible is
Isa. xxxiv. 14, where the English version renders it 'screech-owl.' In
the Vulgate it is translated 'Lamia,' and in Luther's Bible, 'Kobold;'
Gesenius explains it as 'nocturna, night-spectre, ghost.'

The rabbinical myths concerning Lilith, often passed over as puerile
fancies, appear to me pregnant with significance and beauty. Thus
Abraham Ecchelensis, giving a poor Arabic version of the legend, says,
'This fable has been transmitted to the Arabs from Jewish sources
by some converts of Mahomet from Cabbalism and Rabbinism, who have
transferred all the Jewish fooleries to the Arabs.' [40] But the
rabbinical legend grew very slowly, and relates to principles and facts
of social evolution whose force and meaning are not yet exhausted.

Premising that the legend is here pieced together mainly from
Eisenmenger, [41] who at each mention of the subject gives ample
references to rabbinical authorities, I will relate it without further
references of my own.

Lilith was said to have been created at the same time and in the same
way as Adam; and when the two met they instantly quarrelled about
the headship which both claimed. Adam began the first conversation
by asserting that he was to be her master. Lilith replied that she
had equal right to be chief. Adam insisting, Lilith uttered a certain
spell called Schem-hammphorasch--afterwards confided by a fallen angel
to one of 'the daughters of men' with whom he had an intrigue, and of
famous potency in Jewish folklore--the result of which was that she
obtained wings. Lilith then flew out of Eden and out of sight. [42]
Adam then cried in distress--'Master of the world, the woman whom thou
didst give me has flown away.' The Creator then sent three angels to
find Lilith and persuade her to return to the garden; but she declared
that it could be no paradise to her if she was to be the servant of
man. She remained hovering over the Red Sea, where the angels had
found her, while these returned with her inflexible resolution. And
she would not yield even after the angels had been sent again to
convey to her, as the alternative of not returning, the doom that
she should bear many children but these should all die in infancy.

This penalty was so awful that Lilith was about to commit suicide
by drowning herself in the sea, when the three angels, moved by her
anguish, agreed that she should have the compensation of possessing
full power over all children after birth up to their eighth day; on
which she promised that she would never disturb any babes who were
under their (the angels') protection. Hence the charm (Camea) against
Lilith hung round the necks of Jewish children bore the names of these
three angels--Senói, Sansenói, and Sammangelóf. Lilith has special
power over all children born out of wedlock for whom she watches,
dressed in finest raiment; and she has especial power on the first
day of the month, and on the Sabbath evening. When a little child
laughs in its sleep it was believed that Lilith was with it, and the
babe must be struck on the nose three times, the words being thrice
repeated--'Away, cursed Lilith! thou hast no place here!'

The divorce between Lilith and Adam being complete, the second Eve
(i.e., Mother) was now formed, and this time out of Adam's rib in
order that there might be no question of her dependence, and that the
embarrassing question of woman's rights might never be raised again.

But about this time the Devils were also created. These beings were
the last of the six days' creation, but they were made so late in
the day that there was no daylight by which to fashion bodies for
them. The Creator was just putting them off with a promise that he
would make them bodies next day, when lo! the Sabbath--which was
for a long time personified--came and sat before him, to represent
the many evils which might result from the precedent he would set
by working even a little on the day whose sanctity had already been
promulgated. Under these circumstances the Creator told the Devils
that they must disperse and try to get bodies as they could find
them. On this account they have been compelled ever since to seek
carnal enjoyments by nestling in the hearts of human beings and
availing themselves of human senses and passions.

These Devils as created were ethereal spirits; they had certain
atmospheric forms, but felt that they had been badly treated in not
having been provided with flesh and blood, and they were envious
of the carnal pleasures which human beings could enjoy. So long as
man and woman remained pure, the Devils could not take possession of
their bodies and enjoy such pleasures, and it was therefore of great
importance to them that the first human pair should be corrupted. At
the head of these Devils stood now a fallen angel--Samaël. Of this
archfiend more is said elsewhere; at this point it need only be said
that he had been an ideal flaming Serpent, leader of the Seraphim. He
was already burning with lust and envy, as he witnessed the pleasures
of Adam and Eve in Eden, when he found beautiful Lilith lamenting
her wrongs in loneliness.

She became his wife. The name of Samaël by one interpretation signifies
'the Left'; and we may suppose that Lilith found him radical on
the question of female equality which she had raised in Eden. He
gave her a splendid kingdom where she was attended by 480 troops;
but all this could not compensate her for the loss of Eden,--she
seems never to have regretted parting with Adam,--and for the loss
of her children. She remained the Lady of Sorrow. Her great enemy was
Machalath who presided over 478 troops, and who was for ever dancing,
as Lilith was for ever sighing and weeping. It was long believed that
at certain times the voice of Lilith's grief could be heard in the air.

Samaël found in Lilith a willing conspirator against Jehovah in
his plans for man and woman. The corruption of these two meant, to
the troops of Samaël, bringing their bodies down into a plane where
they might be entered by themselves (the Devils), not to mention at
present the manifold other motives by which they were actuated. It
may be remarked also that in the rabbinical traditions, after their
Aryan impregnation, there are traces of a desire of the Devils to
reach the Tree of Life.

Truly a wondrous Tree! Around it, in its place at the east of
Eden, sang six hundred thousand lovely angels with happy hymns,
and it glorified the vast garden. It possessed five hundred thousand
different flavours and odours, which were wafted to the four sides
of the world by zephyrs from seven lustrous clouds that made its
canopy. Beneath it sat the disciples of Wisdom on resplendent seats,
screened from the blaze of sun, moon, and cloud-veiled from potency
of the stars (there was no night); and within were the joys referred
to in the verse (Prov. viii. 21), 'That I may cause those that love
me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.'

Had there been an order of female rabbins the story of Lilith might
have borne obvious modifications, and she might have appeared as
a heroine anxious to rescue her sex from slavery to man. As it is
the immemorial prerogative of man to lay all blame upon woman, that
being part of the hereditary following of Adam, it is not wonderful
that Lilith was in due time made responsible for the temptation of
Eve. She was supposed to have beguiled the Serpent on guard at the
gate of Eden to lend her his form for a time, after which theory the
curse on the serpent might mean the binding of Lilith for ever in
that form. This would appear to have originated the notion mentioned
in Comestor (Hist. Schol., 12th cent.), that while the serpent was
yet erect it had a virgin's head. The accompanying example is from a
very early missal in the possession of Sir Joseph Hooker, of which I
could not discover the date or history, but the theory is traceable
in the eighth century. In this picture we have an early example of
those which have since become familiar in old Bibles. Pietro d'Orvieto
painted this serpent-woman in his finest fresco, at Pisa. Perhaps in
no other picture has the genius of Michæl Angelo been more felicitous
than in that on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in which Lilith is
portrayed. In this picture (Fig. 2) the marvellous beauty of his first
wife appears to have awakened the enthusiasm of Adam; and, indeed,
it is quite in harmony with the earlier myth that Lilith should be
of greater beauty than Eve.

An artist and poet of our own time (Rossetti) has by both of his arts
celebrated the fatal beauty of Lilith. His Lilith, bringing 'soft
sleep,' antedates, as I think, the fair devil of the Rabbins, but is
also the mediæval witch against whose beautiful locks Mephistopheles
warns Faust when she appears at the Walpurgis-night orgie.


        The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where
        Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent
        And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?
        Lo! as that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went
        Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent,
        And round his heart one strangling golden hair.


The potency of Lilith's tresses has probably its origin in the hairy
nature ascribed by the Rabbins to all demons (shedim), and found
fully represented in Esau. Perhaps the serpent-locks of Medusa had a
similar origin. Nay, there is a suggestion in Dante that these tresses
of Medusa may have once represented fascinating rather than horrible
serpents. As she approaches, Virgil is alarmed for his brother-poet:


        'Turn thyself back, and keep thy vision hid;
        For, if the Gorgon show, and then behold,
        'Twould all be o'er with e'er returning up.'
        So did the master say; and he himself
        Turned me, and to my own hands trusted not,
        But that with his too he should cover me.
        O you that have a sane intelligence,
        Look ye unto the doctrine which herein
        Conceals itself 'neath the strange verses' veil. [43]


If this means that the security against evil is to veil the eyes from
it, Virgil's warning would be against a beautiful seducer, similar to
the warning given by Mephistopheles to Faust against the fatal charms
of Lilith. Since, however, even in the time of Homer, the Gorgon was
a popular symbol of terrors, the possibility of a survival in Dante's
mind of any more primitive association with Medusa is questionable. The
Pauline doctrine, that the glory of a woman is her hair, no doubt had
important antecedents: such glory might easily be degraded, and every
hair turn to a fatal 'binder,' like the one golden thread of Lilith
round the heart of her victim; or it might ensnare its owner. In
Treves Cathedral there is a curious old picture of a woman carried
to hell by her beautiful hair; one devil draws her by it, another is
seated on her back and drives her by locks of it as a bridle.

In the later developments of the myth of Lilith she was, among
the Arabs, transformed to a Ghoul, but in rabbinical legend she
appears to have been influenced by the story of Lamia, whose name is
substituted for Lilith in the Vulgate. Like Lilith, Lamia was robbed
of her children, and was driven by despair to avenge herself on all
children. [44] The name of Lamia was long used to frighten Italian
children, as that of Lilith was by Hebrew nurses.

It is possible that the part assigned to Lilith in the temptation
of Eve may have been suggested by ancient Egyptian sculptures,
which represent the Tree of Life in Amenti (Paradise) guarded by the
Serpent-goddess Nu. One of these in the British Museum represents
the Osirian on his journey to heaven, and his soul in form of a
human-headed bird, drinking the water of Life as poured out to them
from a jar by the goddess who coils around the sacred sycamore, her
woman's bust and face appearing amid the branches much like Lilith
in our old pictures.

The Singhalese also have a kind of Lilith or Lamia whom they call
Bodrima, though she is not so much dreaded for the sake of children as
for her vindictive feelings towards men. She is the ghost of a woman
who died in childbirth and in great agony. She may be heard wailing
in the night, it is said, and if she meets any man will choke him
to death. When her wailing is heard men are careful to stay within
doors, but the women go forth with brooms in their hands and abuse
Bodrima with epithets. She fears women, especially when they carry
brooms. But the women have also some compassion for this poor ghost,
and often leave a lamp and some betel leaves where she may get some
warmth and comfort from them. If Bodrima be fired at, there may be
found, perhaps, a dead lizard near the spot in the morning.

As protomartyr of female independence, Lilith suffered a fate not
unlike that of her sisters and successors in our own time who have
appealed from the legendary decision made in Eden: she became the
prototype of the 'strong-minded' and 'cold-hearted' woman, and
personification of the fatal fascination of the passionless. Her
special relation to children was gradually expanded, and she was
regarded as the perilous seducer of young men, each of her victims
perishing of unrequited passion. She was ever young, and always dressed
with great beauty. It would seem that the curse upon her for forsaking
Adam--that her children should die in infancy--was escaped in the
case of the children she had by Samaël. She was almost as prolific as
Echidna. Through all the latter rabbinical lore it is repeated, 'Samaël
is the fiery serpent, Lilith the crooked serpent,' and from their
union came Leviathan, Asmodeus, and indeed most of the famous devils.

There is an ancient Persian legend of the first man and woman, Meschia
and Meschiane, that they for a long time lived happily together:
they hunted together, and discovered fire, and made an axe, and with
it built them a hut. But no sooner had they thus set up housekeeping
than they fought terribly, and, after wounding each other, parted. It
is not said which remained ruler of the hut, but we learn that after
fifty years of divorce they were reunited.

These legends show the question of equality of the sexes to have
been a very serious one in early times. The story of Meschia and
Meschiane fairly represents primitive man living by the hunt; that
of Eden shows man entering on the work of agriculture. In neither
of these occupations would there be any reason why woman should be
so unequal as to set in motion the forces which have diminished her
physical stature and degraded her position. Women can still hunt and
fish, and they are quite man's equal in tilling the soil. [45]

In all sex-mythology there are intimations that women were taken
captive. The proclamation of female subordination is made not only in
the legend of Eve's creation out of the man's rib, but in the emphasis
with which her name is declared to have been given her because she
was the Mother of all living. In the variously significant legends
of the Amazons they are said to have burned away their breasts that
they might use the bow: in the history of contemporary Amazons--such
as the female Areoi of Polynesia--the legend is interpreted in the
systematic slaughter of their children. In the hunt, Meschia might be
aided by Meschiane in many ways; in dressing the garden Adam might find
Lilith or Eve a 'help meet' for the work; but in the brutal régime of
war the child disables woman, and the affections of maternity render
her man's inferior in the work of butchery. Herakles wins great glory
by slaying Hyppolite; but the legends of her later reappearances--as
Libussa at Prague, &c.,--follow the less mythological story of the
Amazons given by Herodotus (IV. 112), who represents the Scythians
as gradually disarming them by sending out their youths to meet them
with dalliance instead of with weapons. The youths went off with
their captured captors, and from their union sprang the Sauromatæ,
among whom the men and women dressed alike, and fought and hunted
together. But of the real outcome of that truce and union Tennyson
can tell us more than Herodotus: in his Princess we see the woman
whom maternity and war have combined to produce, her independence
betrayed by the tenderness of her nature. The surrender, once secured,
was made permanent for ages by the sentiments and sympathies born of
the child's appeal for compassion.

In primitive ages the child must in many cases have been a burthen
even to man in the struggle for existence; the population question
could hardly have failed to press its importance upon men, as it does
even upon certain animals; and it would be an especial interest to a
man not to have his hut overrun with offspring not his own,--turning
his fair labour into drudgery for their support, and so cursing the
earth for him. Thus, while Polyandry was giving rise to the obvious
complications under which it must ultimately disappear, it would be
natural that devils of lust should be invented to restrain the maternal
instinct. But as time went on the daughters of Eve would have taken
the story of her fall and hardships too much to heart. The pangs and
perils of childbirth were ever-present monitors whose warnings might
be followed too closely. The early Jewish laws bear distinct traces
of the necessity which had arrived for insisting on the command to
increase and multiply. Under these changed circumstances it would
be natural that the story of a recusant and passionless Eve should
arise and suffer the penalties undergone by Lilith,--the necessity
of bearing, as captive, a vast progeny against her will only to lose
them again, and to long for human children she did not bring forth
and could not cherish. The too passionate and the passionless woman
are successively warned in the origin and outcome of the myth. [46]

It is a suggestive fact that the descendants of Adam should trace their
fall not to the independent Lilith, who asserted her equality at cost
of becoming the Devil's bride, but to the apparently submissive Eve
who stayed inside the garden. The serpent found out the guarded and
restrained woman as well as the free and defiant, and with much more
formidable results. For craft is the only weapon of the weak against
the strong. The submissiveness of the captive woman must have been
for a long time outward only. When Adam found himself among thorns
and briars he might have questioned whether much had been gained
by calling Eve his rib, when after all she really was a woman, and
prepared to take her intellectual rights from the Serpent if denied
her in legitimate ways. The question is, indeed, hardly out of date
yet when the genius of woman is compelled to act with subtlety and
reduced to exert its influence too often by intrigue.

It is remarkable that we find something like a similar development to
the two wives of Adam in Hindu mythology also. Káli and Dúrga have the
same origin: the former is represented dancing on the prostrate form
of her 'lord and master,' and she becomes the demoness of violence,
the mother of the diabolical 'Calas' of Singhalese demonolatry. Dúrga
sacrificed herself for her husband's honour, and is now adored. The
counterpart of Dúrga-worship is the Zenana system. In countries where
the Zenana system has not survived, but some freedom has been gained
for woman, it is probable that Káli will presently not be thought of
as necessarily trampling on man, and Lilith not be regarded as the
Devil's wife because she will not submit to be the slave of man. When
man can make him a home and garden which shall not be a prison, and in
which knowledge is unforbidden fruit, Lilith will not have to seek her
liberty by revolution against his society, nor Eve hers by intrigue;
unfitness for co-operation with the ferocities of nature will leave
her a help meet for the rearing of children, and for the recovery
and culture of every garden, whether within or without the man who
now asserts over woman a lordship unnatural and unjust.



CHAPTER X.

WAR IN HEAVEN.

    The 'Other'--Tiamat, Bohu, 'the Deep'--Ra and Apophis--Hathors--
    Bel's combat--Revolt in Heaven--Lilith--Myth of the Devil at the
    creation of Light.


In none of the ancient scriptures do we get back to any theory or
explanation of the origin of evil or of the enemies of the gods. In
a Persian text at Persepolis, of Darius I., Ahriman is called with
simplicity 'the Other' (Aniya), and 'the Hater' (Duvaisañt, Zend
thaisat), and that is about as much as we are really told about the
devils of any race. Their existence is taken for granted. The legends
of rebellion in heaven and of angels cast down and transformed to
devils may supply an easy explanation to our modern theologians, but
when we trace them to their origin we discover that to the ancients
they had no such significance. The angels were cast down to Pits
prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and before it, and
when they fell it was into the hands of already existing enemies eager
to torment them. Nevertheless these accounts of rebellious spirits
in heaven are of great importance and merit our careful consideration.

It is remarkable that the Bible opens with an intimation of the
existence of this 'Other.' Its second verse speaks of a certain
'darkness upon the face of the deep.' The word used here is Bohu,
which is identified as the Assyrian Bahu, the Queen of Hades. In the
inscription of Shalmaneser the word is used for 'abyss of chaos.' [47]
Bahu is otherwise Gula, a form of Ishtar or Allat, 'Lady of the House
of Death,' and an epithet of the same female demon is Nin-cigal,
'Lady of the Mighty Earth.' The story of the Descent of Ishtar into
Hades, the realm of Nin-cigal, has already been told (p. 77); in
that version Ishtar is the same as Astarte, the Assyrian Venus. But
like the moon with which she was associated she waned and declined,
and the beautiful legend of her descent (like Persephone) into Hades
seems to have found a variant in the myth of Bel and the Dragon. There
she is a sea-monster and is called Tiamat (Thalatth of Berosus),--that
is, 'the Deep,' over which rests the darkness described in Genesis
i. 2. The process by which the moon would share the evil repute of
Tiamat is obvious. In the Babylonian belief the dry land rested upon
the abyss of watery chaos from which it was drawn. This underworld
ocean was shut in by gates. They were opened when the moon was created
to rule the night--therefore Prince of Darkness. The formation by Anu
of this Moon-god (Uru) from Tiamat, might even have been suggested
by the rising of the tides under his sway. The Babylonians represent
the Moon as having been created before the Sun, and he emerged from
'a boiling' in the abyss. 'At the beginning of the month, at the rising
of the night, his horns are breaking through to shine on heaven.' [48]
In the one Babylonian design, a seal in the British Museum, [49] which
seems referable to the legend of the Fall of Man, the male figure
has horns. It may have been that this male Moon (Uru) was supposed
to have been corrupted by some female emanation of Tiamat, and to
have fallen from a 'ruler of the night' to an ally of the night. This
female corrupter, who would correspond to Eve, might in this way have
become mistress of the Moon, and ultimately identified with it.

Although the cause of the original conflict between the Abyss
beneath and the Heaven above is left by ancient inscriptions and
scriptures to imagination, it is not a very strained hypothesis that
ancient Chaos regarded the upper gods as aggressors on her domain
in the work of creation. 'When above,' runs the Babylonian legend,
'were not raised the heavens, and below on the earth a plant had not
grown ... the chaos (or water) Tiamat was the producing mother of the
whole of them.' 'The gods had not sprung up, any one of them.' [50]
Indeed in the legend of the conflict between Bel and the Dragon,
on the Babylonian cylinders, it appears that the god Sar addressed
her as wife, and said, 'The tribute to thy maternity shall be forced
upon them by thy weapons.' [51] The Sun and Moon would naturally be
drawn into any contest between Overworld (with Light) and Underworld
(with Darkness).

Though Tiamat is called a Dragon, she was pictured by the Babylonians
only as a monstrous Griffin. In the Assyrian account of the fight
it will be seen that she is called a 'Serpent.' The link between
the two--Griffin and Serpent--will be found, I suspect, in Typhonic
influence on the fable. In a hymn to Amen-Ra (the Sun), copied about
fourteenth century b.c. from an earlier composition, as its translator,
Mr. Goodwin, supposes, we have the following:--


    The gods rejoice in his goodness who exalts those who are lowly:
    Lord of the boat and barge,
    They conduct thee through the firmament in peace.
      Thy servants rejoice:
    Beholding the overthrow of the wicked:
    His limbs pierced with the sword:
    Fire consumes him:
    His soul and body are annihilated.
      Naka (the serpent) saves his feet:
    The gods rejoice:
    The servants of the Sun are in peace.


The allusion in the second line indicates that this hymn relates to
the navigation of Ra through Hades, and the destruction of Apophis.

We may read next the Accadian tablet (p. 256) which speaks of the
seven Hathors as neither male nor female, and as born in 'the Deep.'

Another Accadian tablet, translated by Mr. Sayce, speaks of these
as the 'baleful seven destroyers;' as 'born in the mountain of the
sunset;' as being Incubi. It is significantly said:--'Among the
stars of heaven their watch they kept not, in watching was their
office.' Here is a primæval note of treachery. [52]

We next come to a further phase, represented in a Cuneiform tablet,
which must be quoted at length:--


    Days of storm, Powers of Evil,
    Rebellious spirits, who were born in the lower part of heaven,
    They were workers of calamity.


(The lines giving the names and descriptions of the spirits are
here broken.)


    The third was like a leopard,
    The fourth was like a snake ...
    The fifth was like a dog ...
    The sixth was an enemy to heaven and its king.
    The seventh was a destructive tempest.
    These seven are the messengers of Anu [53] their king.
    From place to place by turns they pass.
    They are the dark storms in heaven, which into fire unite
    themselves.
    They are the destructive tempests, which on a fine day sudden
    darkness cause.
    With storms and meteors they rush.
    Their rage ignites the thunderbolts of Im. [54]
    From the right hand of the Thunderer they dart forth.
    On the horizon of heaven like lightning they ...
    Against high heaven, the dwelling-place of Anu the king, they
    plotted evil, and had none to withstand them.
    When Bel heard this news, he communed secretly with his own heart.
    Then he took counsel with Hea the great Inventor (or Sage) of the
    gods.
    And they stationed the Moon, the Sun, and Ishtar to keep guard over
    the approach to heaven.
    Unto Anu, ruler of heaven, they told it.
    And those three gods, his children,
    To watch night and day unceasingly he commanded them.
    When those seven evil spirits rushed upon the base of heaven,
    And close in front of the Moon with fiery weapons advanced,
    Then the noble Sun and Im the warrior side by side stood firm.
    But Ishtar, with Anu the king, entered the exalted dwelling, and
    hid themselves in the summit of heaven.


Column II.


    Those evil spirits, the messengers of Anu their king ...
    They have plotted evil ...
    From mid-heaven like meteors they have rushed upon the earth.
    Bel, who the noble Moon in eclipse
    Saw from heaven,
    Called aloud to Paku his messenger:
    O my messenger Paku, carry my words to the Deep. [55]
    Tell my son that the Moon in heaven is terribly eclipsed!
    To Hea in the Deep repeat this!
    Paku understood the words of his Lord.
    Unto Hea in the Deep swiftly he went.
    To the Lord, the great Inventor, the god Nukimmut,
    Paku repeated the words of his Lord.
    When Hea in the Deep heard these words,
    He bit his lips, and tears bedewed his face.
    Then he sent for his son Marduk to help him.
    Go to my son Marduk,
    Tell my son that the Moon in heaven is terribly eclipsed!
    That eclipse has been seen in heaven!
    They are seven, those evil spirits, and death they fear not!
    They are seven, those evil spirits, who rush like a hurricane,
    And fall like firebrands on the earth!
    In front of the bright Moon with fiery weapons (they draw nigh);
    But the noble Sun and Im the warrior (are withstanding them).


[The rest of the legend is lost.]

Nukimmut is a name of Hea which occurs frequently: he was the good
genius of the earth, and his son Marduk was his incarnation--a Herakles
or Saviour. It will be noted that as yet Ishtar is in heaven. The
next Tablet, which shows the development of the myth, introduces us
to the great female dragon Tiamat herself, and her destroyer Bel.


    ... And with it his right hand he armed.
    His naming sword he raised in his hand.
    He brandished his lightnings before him.
    A curved scymitar he carried on his body.
    And he made a sword to destroy the Dragon,
    Which turned four ways; so that none could avoid its rapid blows.
    It turned to the south, to the north, to the east, and to the west.
    Near to his sabre he placed the bow of his father Anu.
    He made a whirling thunderbolt, and a bolt with double flames,
    impossible to extinguish.
    And a quadruple bolt, and a septuple bolt, and a ... bolt of
    crooked fire.
    He took the thunderbolts which he had made, and there were seven
    of them,
    To be shot at the Dragon, and he put them into his quiver behind
    him.
    Then he raised his great sword, whose name was 'Lord of the Storm.'
    He mounted his chariot, whose name was 'Destroyer of the Impious.'
    He took his place, and lifted the four reins
    In his hand.


[Bel now offers to the Dragon to decide their quarrel by single combat,
which the Dragon accepts. This agrees with the representations of
the combat on Babylonian cylinders in Mr. Smith's 'Chaldean Genesis,'
p. 62, etc.]


    (Why seekest thou thus) to irritate me with blasphemies?
    Let thy army withdraw: let thy chiefs stand aside:
    Then I and thou (alone) we will do battle.
    When the Dragon heard this.
    Stand back! she said, and repeated her command.
    Then the tempter rose watchfully on high.
    Turning and twisting, she shifted her standing point,
    She watched his lightnings, she provided for retreat.
    The warrior angels sheathed their swords.
    Then the Dragon attacked the just Prince of the gods.
    Strongly they joined in the trial of battle,
    The King drew his sword, and dealt rapid blows,
    Then he took his whirling thunderbolt, and looked well behind
    and before him:
    And when the Dragon opened her mouth to swallow him,
    He flung the bolt into her, before she could shut her lips.
    The blazing lightning poured into her inside.
    He pulled out her heart; her mouth he rent open;
    He drew his (falchion), and cut open her belly.
    He cut into her inside and extracted her heart;
    He took vengeance on her, and destroyed her life.
    When he knew she was dead he boasted over her.
    After that the Dragon their leader was slain,
    Her troops took to flight: her army was scattered abroad,
    And the angels her allies, who had come to help her,
    Retreated, grew quiet, and went away.
    They fled from thence, fearing for their own lives,
    And saved themselves, flying to places beyond pursuit.
    He followed them, their weapons he broke up.
    Broken they lay, and in great heaps they were captured.
    A crowd of followers, full of astonishment,
    Its remains lifted up, and on their shoulders hoisted.
    And the eleven tribes pouring in after the battle
    In great multitudes, coming to see,
    Gazed at the monstrous serpent....


In the fragment just quoted we have the 'flaming sword which turned
every way' (Gen. iii. 24). The seven distinct forms of evil are but
faintly remembered in the seven thunderbolts taken by Bel: they are
now all virtually gathered into the one form he combats, and are
thus on their way to form the seven-headed dragon of the Apocalypse,
where Michael replaces Bel. [56] 'The angels, her allies who had come
to help her,' are surely that 'third part of the stars of heaven'
which the apocalyptic dragon's tail drew to the earth in its fall
(Rev. xii. 4). Bel's dragon is also called a 'Tempter.'

At length we reach the brief but clear account of the 'Revolt in
Heaven' found in a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum, and
translated by Mr. Fox Talbot: [57]--


    The Divine Being spoke three times, the commencement of a psalm.
    The god of holy songs, Lord of religion and worship
    seated a thousand singers and musicians: and established a choral
    band who to his hymn were to respond in multitudes....
        With a loud cry of contempt they broke up his holy song
        spoiling, confusing, confounding his hymn of praise.
        The god of the bright crown with a wish to summon his
        adherents sounded a trumpet blast which would wake the dead,
    which to those rebel angels prohibited return
    he stopped their service, and sent them to the gods who were his
    enemies.
        In their room he created mankind.
        The first who received life, dwelt along with him.
        May he give them strength never to neglect his word,
    following the serpent's voice, whom his hands had made.
        And may the god of divine speech expel from his five thousand
        that wicked thousand
    who in the midst of his heavenly song had shouted evil blasphemies!


It will be observed that there were already hostile gods to whom
these riotous angels were sent. It is clear that in both the Egyptian
and Assyrian cosmogonies the upper gods had in their employ many
ferocious monsters. Thus in the Book of Hades, Horus addresses a
terrible serpent: 'My Kheti, great fire, of which this flame in
my eye is the emission, and of which my children guard the folds,
open thy mouth, draw wide thy jaws, launch thy flame against the
enemies of my father, burn their bodies, consume their souls!' [58]
Many such instances could be quoted. In this same book we find a great
serpent, Saa-Set, 'Guardian of the Earth.' Each of the twelve pylons
of Hades is surmounted by its serpent-guards--except one. What has
become of that one? In the last inscription but one, quoted in full,
it will be observed (third line from the last) that eleven (angel)
tribes came in after Bel's battle to inspect the slain dragon. The
twelfth had revolted. These, we may suppose, had listened to 'the
serpent's voice' mentioned in the last fragment quoted.

We have thus distributed through these fragments all the elements
which, from Egyptian and Assyrian sources gathered around the legend
of the Serpent in Eden. The Tree of Knowledge and that of Life are
not included, and I have given elsewhere my reasons for believing
these to be importations from the ancient Aryan legend of the war
between the Devas and Asuras for the immortalising Amrita.

In the last fragment quoted we have also a notable statement, that
mankind were created to fill the places that had been occupied by the
fallen angels. It is probable that this notion supplied the basis
of a class of legends of which Lilith is type. She whose place Eve
was created to fill was a serpent-woman, and the earliest mention
of her is in the exorcism already quoted, found at Nineveh. In all
probability she is but another form of Gula, the fallen Istar and
Queen of Hades; in which case her conspiracy with the serpent Samaël
would be the Darkness which was upon the face of Bahu, 'the Deep,'
in the second verse of the Bible.

The Bible opens with the scene of the gods conquering the Dragon of
Darkness with Light. There is a rabbinical legend, that when Light
issued from under the throne of God, the Prince of Darkness asked the
Creator wherefore he had brought Light into existence? God answered
that it was in order that he might be driven back to his abode of
darkness. The evil one asked that he might see that; and entering
the stream of Light, he saw across time and the world, and beheld the
face of the Messiah. Then he fell upon his face and cried, 'This is
he who shall lay low in ruin me and all the inhabitants of hell!'

What the Prince of Darkness saw was the vision of a race: beginning
with the words (Gen. i. 3, 4), 'God said, Let there be Light; and
there was Light; and God saw the Light that it was good; and God
divided between the Light and the Darkness;' ending with Rev. xx. 1,
2, 'And I saw an angel come down from heaven having the key of the
bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on
the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound
him a thousand years.'



CHAPTER XI.

WAR ON EARTH.

    The Abode of Devils--Ketef--Disorder--Talmudic legends--The
    restless Spirit--The Fall of Lucifer--Asteria, Hecate, Lilith--The
    Dragon's triumph--A Gipsy legend--Cædmon's Poem of the Rebellious
    Angels--Milton's version--The Puritans and Prince Rupert--Bel as
    ally of the Dragon--A 'Mystery' in Marionettes--European Hells.


'Rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them! Woe to the earth
and the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath,
because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.' This passage from
the Book of Revelations is the refrain of many and much earlier
scriptures. The Assyrian accounts of the war in heaven, given in
the preceding chapter, by no means generally support the story that
the archdragon was slain by Bel. Even the one that does describe the
chief dragon's death leaves her comrades alive, and the balance of
testimony is largely in favour of the theory which prevailed, that the
rebellious angels were merely cast out of heaven, and went to swell
the ranks of the dark and fearful abode which from the beginning had
been peopled by the enemies of the gods. The nature of this abode is
described in various passages of the Bible, and in many traditions.

'Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of
the land.' So said Jeremiah (i. 14), in pursuance of nearly universal
traditions as to the region of space in which demons and devils
had their abode. 'Hell is naked before him,' says Job (xxvi. 6),
'and destruction hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over
the empty place.' According to the Hebrew mythology this habitation
of demons was a realm of perpetual cold and midnight, which Jehovah,
in creating the world, purposely left chaotic; so it was prepared
for the Devil and his angels at the foundation of the world.

Although this northern hell was a region of disorder, so far as the
people of Jehovah and the divine domain were concerned, they had
among themselves a strong military and aristocratic government. It
was disorder perfectly systematised. The anarchical atmosphere of
the region is reflected in the abnormal structures ascribed to the
many devils with whose traits Jewish and Arabic folklore is familiar,
and which are too numerous to be described here. Such a devil, for
instance, is Bedargon, 'hand-high,' with fifty heads and fifty-six
hearts, who cannot strike any one or be struck, instant death ensuing
to either party in such an attack. A more dangerous devil is Ketef,
identified as the 'terror from the chambers' alluded to by Jeremiah
(xxxii. 25), 'Bitter Pestilence.' His name is said to be from kataf,
'cut and split,' because he divides the course of the day; and those
who are interested to compare Hebrew and Hindu myths may find it
interesting to note the coincidences between Ketef and Ketu, the
cut-off tail of Ráhu, and source of pestilence. [59] Ketef reigns
neither in the dark or day, but between the two; his power over the
year is limited to the time between June 17 and July 9, during which
it was considered dangerous to flog children or let them go out after
four P.M. Ketef is calf-headed, and consists of hide, hair, and eyes;
he rolls like a cask; he has a terrible horn, but his chief terror
lies in an evil eye fixed in his heart which none can see without
instant death. The arch-fiend who reigns over the infernal host has
many Court Fools--probably meteors and comets--who lead men astray.

All these devils have their regulations in their own domain, but, as
we have said, their laws mean disorder in that part of the universe
which belongs to the family of Jehovah. In flying about the world
they are limited to places which are still chaotic or waste. They
haunt such congenial spots as rocks and ruins, and frequent desert,
wilderness, dark mountains, and the ruins of human habitations. They
can take possession of a wandering star.

There is a pretty Talmudic legend of a devil having once gone to sleep,
when some one, not seeing him of course, set down a cask of wine on
his ears. In leaping up the devil broke the cask, and being tried for
it, was condemned to repay the damage at a certain period. The period
having elapsed before the money was brought, the devil was asked the
cause of the delay. He replied that it was very difficult for devils
to obtain money, because men were careful to keep it locked or tied
up; and 'we have no power,' he said, 'to take from anything bound
or sealed up, nor can we take anything that is measured or counted;
we are permitted to take only what is free or common.'

According to one legend the devils were specially angered, because
Jehovah, when he created man, gave him dominion over things in the
sea (Gen. i. 28), that being a realm of unrest and tempest which they
claimed as belonging to themselves. They were denied control of the
life that is in the sea, though permitted a large degree of power
over its waters. Over the winds their rule was supreme, and it was
only by reducing certain demons to slavery that Solomon was able to
ride in a wind-chariot.

Out of these several realms of order and disorder in nature were
evolved the angels and the devils which were supposed to beset man. The
first man is said to have been like an angel. From the instant of
his creation there attended him two spirits, whom the rabbins found
shadowed out in the sentence, 'Jehovah-Elohim formed man of the dust
of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul' (Gen. ii. 7). This 'breath of life'
was a holy spirit, and stood on Adam's right; the 'living soul' was a
restless spirit on his left, which continually moved up and down. When
Adam had sinned, this restless spirit became a diabolical spirit,
and it has ever acted as mediator between man and the realm of anarchy.

It has been mentioned that in the Assyrian legends of the Revolt in
Heaven we find no adequate intimation of the motive by which the rebels
were actuated. It is said they interrupted the heavenly song, that they
brought on an eclipse, that they afflicted human beings with disease;
but why they did all this is not stated. The motive of the serpent
in tempting Eve is not stated in Genesis. The theory which Cædmon
and Milton have made so familiar, that the dragons aspired to rival
Jehovah, and usurp the throne of Heaven, must, however, have been
already popular in the time of Isaiah. In his rhapsody concerning
the fall of Babylon, he takes his rhetoric from the story of Bel
and the Dragon, and turns a legend, as familiar to every Babylonian
as that of St. George and the Dragon now is to Englishmen, into an
illustration of their own doom. The invective is directed against
the King of Babylon, consequently the sex of the devil is changed;
but the most remarkable change is in the ascription to Lucifer of a
clear purpose to rival the Most High, and seize the throne of heaven.

'Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming,
it stirreth up the (spirits of) the dead, even all the chief ones
(great goats) of the earth: it hath raised up from their thrones all
the kings of the nations (demon-begotten aliens). All these shall
say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like
unto us? Thy splendour is brought down to the underworld, and the
noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms
cover thee. How art thou fallen, O Lucifer (Daystar), son of the
morning! how art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the
nations! For thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend into (the
upper) heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars (archangels)
of God: I will sit (reign) also upon the mount of the congregation
(the assembly of the enemies of God) in the sides of the north. I will
ascend above the heights of the clouds (the thunder-throne of Jehovah);
I will be like the Most High. Yet shalt thou be brought down to hell,
to the sides of the pit.' [60]

In this passage we mark the arena of the combat shifted from heaven
to earth. It is not the throne of heaven but that of the world at
which the fiends now aim. Nay, there is confession in every line of
the prophecy that the enemy of Jehovah has usurped his throne. Hell
has prevailed, and Lucifer is the Prince of this World. The celestial
success has not been maintained on earth. This would be the obvious
fact to a humiliated, oppressed, heavily-taxed people, who believed
themselves the one family on earth sprung from Jehovah, and their
masters the offspring of demons. This situation gave to the vague
traditions of a single combat between Bel and the Dragon, about an
eclipse or a riot, the significance which it retained ever afterward of
a mighty conflict on earth between the realms of Light and Darkness,
between which the Elohim had set a boundary-line (Gen. i. 4) in
the beginning.

A similar situation returned when the Jews were under the sway of
Rome, and then all that had ever been said of Babylon was repeated
against Rome under the name of Edom. It recurred in the case of those
Jews who acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah: in the pomp and glory
of the Cæsars they beheld the triumph of the Powers of Darkness,
and the burthen of Isaiah against Lucifer was raised again in that
of the Apocalypse against the seven-headed Dragon. It is notable how
these writers left out of sight the myth of Eden so far as it did
not belong to their race. Isaiah does not say anything even of the
serpent. The Apocalypse says nothing of the two wonderful trees, and
the serpent appears only as a Dragon from whom the woman is escaping,
by whom she is not at all tempted. The shape of the Devil, and the
Combat with him, have always been determined by dangers and evils
that are actual, not such as are archæological.

A gipsy near Edinburgh gave me his version of the combat between God
and Satan as follows. 'When God created the universe and all things
in it, Satan tried to create a rival universe. He managed to match
everything pretty well except man. There he failed; and God to punish
his pride cast him down to the earth and bound him with a chain. But
this chain was so long that Satan was able to move over the whole
face of the earth!' There had got into this wanderer's head some bit
of the Babylonian story, and it was mingled with Gnostic traditions
about Ildabaoth; but there was also a quaint suggestion in Satan's
long chain of the migration of this mythical combat not only round
the world, but through the ages.

The early followers of Christ came before the glories of Paganism
with the legend that the lowly should inherit the earth. And though
they speedily surrendered to the rulers of the world in Rome, and made
themselves into a christian aristocracy, when they came into Northern
Europe the christians were again brought to confront with an humble
system the religion of thrones and warriors. St. Gatien celebrating
mass in a cavern beside the Loire, meant as much weakness in presence
of Paganism as the Huguenots felt twelve centuries later hiding in
the like caverns from St. Gatien's priestly successors.

The burthen of Isaiah is heard again, and with realistic intensity,
in the seventh century, and in the north, with our patriarchial
poet Cædmon.


        The All-powerful had
        Angel-tribes,
        Through might of hand,
        The holy Lord,
        Ten established,
        In whom he trusted well
        That they his service
        Would follow,
        Work his will;
        Therefore gave he them wit,
        And shaped them with his hands,
        The holy Lord.
        He had placed them so happily,
        One he had made so powerful,
        So mighty in his mind's thought,
        He let him sway over so much,
        Highest after himself in heaven's kingdom.
        He had made him so fair,
        So beauteous was his form in heaven,
        That came to him from the Lord of hosts,
        He was like to the light stars.
        It was his to work the praise of the Lord,
        It was his to hold dear his joys in heaven,
        And to thank his Lord
        For the reward that he had bestowed on him in that light;
        Then had he let him long possess it;
        But he turned it for himself to a worse thing,
        Began to raise war upon him,
        Against the highest Ruler of heaven,
        Who sitteth in the holy seat.
        Dear was he to our Lord,
        But it might not be hidden from him
        That his angel began
        To be presumptuous,
        Raised himself against his Master,
        Sought speech of hate,
        Words of pride towards him,
        Would not serve God,
        Said that his body was
        Light and beauteous,
        Fair and bright of hue:
        He might not find in his mind
        That he would God
        In subjection,
        His Lord, serve:
        Seemed to himself
        That he a power and force
        Had greater
        Than the holy God
        Could have
        Of adherents.
        Many words spake
        The angel of presumption:
        Thought, through his own power,
        How he for himself a stronger
        Seat might make,
        Higher in heaven:
        Said that him his mind impelled,
        That he west and north
        Would begin to work,
        Would prepare structures:
        Said it to him seemed doubtful
        That he to God would
        Be a vassal.
        'Why shall I toil?' said he;
        'To me it is no whit needful.
        To have a superior;
        I can with my hands as many
        Wonders work;
        I have great power
        To form
        A diviner throne,
        A higher in heaven.
        Why shall I for his favour serve,
        Bend to him in such vassalage?
        I may be a god as he
        Stand by me strong associates,
        Who will not fail me in the strife,
        Heroes stern of mood,
        They have chosen me for chief,
        Renowned warriors!
        With such may one devise counsel,
        With such capture his adherents;
        They are my zealous friends,
        Faithful in their thoughts;
        I may be their chieftain,
        Sway in this realm:
        Thus to me it seemeth not right
        That I in aught
        Need cringe
        To God for any good;
        I will no longer be his vassal.'
        When the All-powerful it
        All had heard,
        That his angel devised
        Great presumption
        To raise up against his Master,
        And spake proud words
        Foolishly against his Lord,
        Then must he expiate the deed,
        Share the work of war,
        And for his punishment must have
        Of all deadly ills the greatest.
        So doth every man
        Who against his Lord
        Deviseth to war,
        With crime against the great Ruler.
        Then was the Mighty angry;
        The highest Ruler of heaven
        Hurled him from the lofty seat;
        Hate had he gained at his Lord,
        His favour he had lost,
        Incensed with him was the Good in his mind,
        Therefore must he seek the gulf
        Of hard hell-torment,
        For that he had warred with heaven's Ruler,
        He rejected him then from his favour,
        And cast him into hell,
        Into the deep parts,
        Where he became a devil:
        The fiend with all his comrades
        Fell then from heaven above,
        Through as long as three nights and days,
        The angels from heaven into hell;
        And them all the Lord transformed to devils,
        Because they his deed and word
        Would not revere;
        Therefore them in a worse light,
        Under the earth beneath,
        Almighty God
        Had placed triumphless
        In the swart hell;
        There they have at even,
        Immeasurably long,
        Each of all the fiends,
        A renewal of fire;
        Then cometh ere dawn
        The eastern wind,
        Frost bitter-cold,
        Ever fire or dart;
        Some hard torment
        They must have,
        It was wrought for them in punishment,
        Their world was changed:
        For their sinful course
        He filled hell
        With the apostates.


Whether this spirited description was written by Cædmon, and whether
it is of his century, are questions unimportant to the present
inquiry. The poem represents a mediæval notion which long prevailed,
and which characterised the Mysteries, that Satan and his comrades
were humiliated from the highest angelic rank to a hell already
prepared and peopled with devils, and were there, and by those devils,
severely punished. One of the illuminations of the Cædmon manuscript,
preserved in the Bodleian Library, shows Satan undergoing his torment
(Fig. 3). He is bound over something like a gridiron, and four devils
are torturing him, the largest using a scourge with six prongs. His
face manifests great suffering. His form is mainly human, but his
bushy tail and animal feet indicate that he has been transformed to
a devil similar to those who chastise him.

On Cædmon's foundation Milton built his gorgeous edifice. His
Satan is an ambitious and very English lord, in whom are reflected
the whole aristocracy of England in their hatred and contempt of
the holy Puritan Commonwealth, the Church of Christ as he deemed
it. The ages had brought round a similar situation to that which
confronted the Jews at Babylon, the early Christians of Rome, and
their missionaries among the proud pagan princes of the north. The
Church had long allied itself with the earlier Lucifers of the north,
and now represented the proud empire of a satanic aristocracy, and
the persecuted Nonconformists represented the authority of the King
of kings. In the English palace, and in the throne of Canterbury,
Milton saw his Beelzebub and his Satan.


        Th' infernal serpent; he it was, whose guile,
        Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
        The mother of mankind, what time his pride
        Had cast him out from heav'n, with all his host
        Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring
        To set himself in glory above his peers
        He trusted to have equall'd the Most High,
        If he opposed; and with ambitious aim
        Against the throne and monarchy of God
        Raised impious war in heav'n, and battle proud,
        With vain attempt. Him the almighty Power
        Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,
        With hideous ruin and combustion, down
        To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
        In adamantine chains and penal fire,
        Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms. [61]


This adaptation of the imagery of Isaiah concerning Lucifer has in
it all the thunder hurled by Cromwell against Charles. Even a Puritan
poet might not altogether repress admiration for the dash and daring
of a Prince Rupert, to which indeed even his prosaic co-religionists
paid the compliment of ascribing to it a diabolical source. [62] Not
amid conflicts that raged in ancient Syria broke forth such lines as--


        Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n.

        With rallied arms to try what may be yet
        Regain'd in heav'n, or what more lost in hell.


The Bel whom Milton saw was Cromwell, and the Dragon that serpent
of English oppression which the Dictator is trampling on in a
well-known engraving of his time. In the history of the Reformation
the old legend did manifold duty again, as in the picture (Fig. 13)
by Luther's friend Lucas Cranach.

It would seem that in the course of time Bel and the Dragon became
sufficiently close allies for their worshippers to feed and defend
them both with equal devotion, and for Daniel to explode them both in
carrying on the fight of his deity against the gods of Babylon. This
story of Bel is apocryphal as to the canon, but highly significant as
to the history we are now considering. Although the Jews maintained
their struggle against 'principalities and powers' long after it had
been a forlorn hope, and never surrendered, nor made alliance with the
Dragon, the same cannot be said of those who appropriated their title
of 'the chosen of God,' counterfeited their covenant, and travestied
their traditions. The alliance of Christianity and the Dragon has
not been nominal, but fearfully real. In fulfilling their mission of
'inheriting the earth,' the 'meek' called around them and pressed into
their service agents and weapons more diabolical than any with which
the Oriental imagination had peopled the abode of devils in the north.

At a Fair in Tours (August 1878) I saw two exhibitions which were
impressive enough in the light they cast through history. One was
a shrunken and sufficiently grotesque production by puppets of the
Mediæval 'Mystery' of Hell. Nearly every old scheme and vision of
the underworld was represented in the scene. The three Judges sat
to hear each case. A devil rang a bell whenever any culprit appeared
at the gate. The accused was ushered in by a winged devil--Satan, the
Accuser--who, by the show-woman's lips, stated the charges against each
with an eager desire to make him or her out as wicked as possible. A
devil with pitchfork received the sentenced, and shoved them down into
a furnace. There was an array of brilliant dragons around, but they
appeared to have nothing to do beyond enjoying the spectacle. But this
exhibition which was styled 'Twenty minutes in Hell,' was poor and
faint beside the neighbouring exhibition of the real Hell, in which
Europe had been tortured for fifteen centuries. Some industrious
Germans had got together in one large room several hundreds of the
instruments of torture by which the nations of the West were persuaded
to embrace Christianity. Every limb, sinew, feature, bone, and nerve of
the human frame had suggested to christian inventiveness some ingenious
device by which it might be tortured. Wheels on which to break bones,
chairs of anguish, thumbscrews, the iron Virgin whose embrace pierced
through every vital part; the hunger-mask which renewed for Christ's
sake the exact torment of Tantalus; even the machine which bore the
very name of the enemy that was cast down--the Dragon's Head! By such
instrumentalities came those quasi-miraculous 'Triumphs of the Cross,'
of which so much has been said and sung! The most salient phenomenon
of christian history is the steady triumph of the Dragon. Misleader
and Deceiver to the last, he is quite willing to sprinkle his fork
and rack with holy water, to cross himself, to label his caldrons
'divine justice,' to write CHRIST upon his forehead; by so doing he
was able to spring his infernal engine on the best nations, and cow
the strongest hearts, till from their pallid lips were wrung the
'confessions of faith,' or the last cry of martyred truth. So was
he able to assault the pure heavens once more, to quench the stars
of human faith and hope, and generate a race of polite, learned,
and civilised hypocrites. But the ancient sunbeams are after him:
the mandate has again gone forth, 'Let there be light,' and the Light
that now breaks forth is not of that kind which respects the limit
of Darkness.



CHAPTER XII.

STRIFE.

    Hebrew god of War--Samaël--The father's blessing and curse--Esau
    --Edom--Jacob and the Phantom--The planet Mars--Tradesman and
    Huntsman--'The Devil's Dream.'


        Who is this that cometh from Edom,
        In dyed garments from Bozrah?
        This that is glorious in his apparel,
        Travelling in the greatness of his strength?
        I who promise deliverance, mighty to save.
          Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel,
        And thy garments like him that treadeth the wine-vat?
          I have trodden the wine-press alone;
        And of the peoples there was none with me:
        And I will tread them in mine anger,
        And trample them in my fury;
        And their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments,
        And I will stain all my raiment.
        For the day of vengeance is in my heart,
        And the year of mine avenged is come.
        And I looked, and there was none to help;
        And I wondered that there was none to uphold;
        Therefore mine own arm gained me the victory,
        And mine own fury, it upheld me.
        And I will tread down the peoples in mine anger,
        And make them drunk in my wrath,
        And will bring down their strength to the earth. [63]


This is the picture of the god of War. Upon it the comment in Emek
Hammelech is: 'The colour of the godless Samaël and of all his princes
and lords has the aspect of red fire; and all their emanations are
red. Samaël is red, also his horse, his sword, his raiment, and the
ground beneath him, are red. In the future the Holy God shall wear
his raiment.' [64] Samaël is leader of the Opposition. He is the
Soul of the fiery planet Mars. He is the Creator and inspirer of
all Serpents. Azazel, demon of the Desert, is his First Lord. He was
the terrestrial Chief around whom the fallen angels gathered, and his
great power was acknowledged. All these characters the ancient Rabbins
found blended in his name. Simmé (dazzling), Sóme (blinding), Semól
(the left side), and Samhammaveth (deadly poison), were combined in
the terrible name of Samaël. He ruled over the sinister Left. When
Moses, in war with the Amalekites, raised his ten fingers, it was a
special invocation to the Ten Sephiroth, Divine Emanations, because
he knew the power which the Amalekites got from Samaël might turn his
own left hand against Israel. [65] The scapegoat was a sacrifice to
him through Azazel.

Samaël is the mythologic expression and embodiment of the history of
Esau, afterward Edom. Jacob and Esau represented the sheep and the
goat, divided in the past and to be sundered for ever. As Jacob by
covering his flesh with goat-skins obtained his father's blessing due
to Esau, the Israelites wandering through the wilderness (near Edom's
forbidden domain) seemed to have faith that the offering of a goat
would convince his Viceroy Azazel that they were orthodox Edomites. The
redness of Samaël begins with the red pottage from which Esau was
called Edom. The English version does not give the emphasis with which
Esau is said to have called for the pottage--"the red! the red!" The
characteristics ascribed to Esau in the legend are merely a saga built
on the local names with which he was associated. 'Edom' means red,
and 'Seir' means hairy. It probably meant the 'Shaggy Mountains.' [66]

It is interesting to observe the parting of the human and the
theological myths in this story. Jacob is the third person of a
patriarchal trinity,--Abraham the Heavenly Father, Isaac the Laugher
(the Sun), and Jacob the Impostor or Supplanter. As the moon supplants
the sun, takes hold of his heel, shines with his light, so does Jacob
supplant his elder brother; and all the deadliness ascribed to the
Moon, and other Third Persons of Trinities, was inherited by Jacob
until his name was changed by euphemism. As the impartial sun shines
for good and evil, the smile of Isaac, the Laugher, promised great
blessings to both of his sons. The human myth therefore represents
both of them gaining great power and wealth, and after a long feud
they are reconciled. This feature of the legend we shall consider
hereafter. Jehovah has another interest to be secured. He had
declared that one should serve the other; that they should be
cursed who cursed Jacob; and he said, 'Jacob have I loved, Esau
have I hated.' Jahvistic theology had here something more important
than two brothers to harmonise; namely a patriarch's blessing and
a god's curse. It was contrary to all orthodoxy that a man whom
Jehovah hated should possess the blessings of life; it was equally
unorthodox that a father's blessing should not carry with it every
advantage promised. It had to be recorded that Esau became powerful,
lived by his sword, and had great possessions.

It had also to be recorded that 'Edom revolted from under the hand of
Judah and made a king unto themselves,' and that such independence
continued 'unto this day' (2 Kings viii. 20, 22). There was thus no
room for the exhibition of Jacob's superiority,--that is of Israel's
priority over Edom,--in this world; nor yet any room to carry out
Isaac's curse on all who cursed Jacob, and the saying: 'Jacob have
I loved, Esau have I hated, and laid his mountains and his heritage
waste for the dragons of the wilderness' (Mal. i.).

Answers to such problems as these evolve themselves slowly
but inevitably. The agonised cry of the poor girl in Browning's
poem--'There may be heaven, there must be hell'--marks the direction in
which necessity led human speculation many ages before her. A future
had to be invented for the working out of the curse on Esau, who on
earth had to fulfil his father's blessing by enjoying power, wealth,
and independence of his brother. In that future his greatness while
living was repaid by his relegation to the desert and the rock with
the he-goat for his support. Esau was believed to have been changed
into a terrible hairy devil. [67] But still there followed him in his
phantasmal transformation a ghostly environment of his former power
and greatness; the boldest and holiest could not afford to despise
or set aside that 'share' which had been allotted him in the legend,
and could not be wholly set aside in the invisible world.

Jacob's share began with a shrewd bargain with his imprudent
brother. Jacob by his cunning in the breeding of the streaked animals
(Gen. xxx.), by which he outwitted Laban, and other manoeuvres, was
really the cause of bringing on the race called after him that repute
for extortion, affixed to them in such figures as Shylock, which they
have found it so hard to live down. In becoming the great barterers
of the East, their obstacle was the plunderer sallying forth from
the mountain fastnesses or careering over the desert. These were the
traditional descendants of Esau, who gradually included the Ishmaelites
as well as the Edomites, afterwards merged in the Idumeans. But as
the tribal distinctions became lost, the ancient hostility survived
in the abstract form of this satan of Strife--Samaël. He came to
mean the spirit that stirs up antagonism between those who should be
brethren. He finally became, and among the more superstitious Jews
still is, instigator of the cruel persecutions which have so long
pursued their race, and the prejudices against them which survive
even in countries to whose wealth, learning, and arts they have
largely contributed. In Jewish countries Edom has long been a name
for the power of Rome and Romanism, somewhat in the same way as the
same are called 'Babylon' by some christians. Jacob, when passing
into the wilderness of Edom, wrestled with the invisible power of
Esau, or Samaël, and had not been able to prevail except with a lame
thigh,--a part which, in every animal, Israel thereafter held sacred
to the Opposing Power and abstained from eating. A rabbinical legend
represents Jacob as having been bitten by a serpent while he was
lingering about the boundary of Edom, and before his gift of goats
and other cattle had been offered to his brother. The fiery serpents
which afflicted Israel were universally attributed to Samaël, and
the raising of the Brazen Serpent for the homage of the people was an
instance of the uniform deference to Esau's power in his own domain
which was long inculcated.

As I write, fiery Mars, near enough for the astronomer to detect
its moons, is a wondrous phenomenon in the sky. Beneath it fearful
famine is desolating three vast countries, war is raging between
two powerful nations, and civil strife is smiting another ere it has
fairly recovered from the wounds of a foreign struggle. The dismal
conditions seem to have so little root in political necessity that
one might almost be pardoned even now for dreaming that some subtle
influence has come among men from the red planet that has approached
the earth. How easy then must it have been in a similar conjunction of
earthly and celestial phenomena to have imagined Samaël, the planetary
Spectre, to be at work with his fatal fires! Whatever may have been
the occasion, the red light of Mars at an early period fixed upon that
planet the odium of all the burning, blighting, desert-producing powers
of which it was thought necessary to relieve the adorable Sun. It
was believed that all 'born under' that planet were quarrelsome. And
it was part of the popular Jewish belief in the ultimate triumph of
good over evil that under Mars the Messias was to be born.

We may regard Esau-Samaël then as the Devil of Strife. His traditional
son Cain was like himself a 'murderer from the beginning;' [68] but in
that early period the conflict was between the nomad and the huntsman
on one side, on the other the agriculturist and the cattle-breeder,
who was never regarded as a noble figure among the Semitic tribes. In
the course of time some Semitic tribes became agriculturists, and among
them, in defiance of his archæological character, Samaël was saddled
with the evils that beset them. As an ox he brought rinderpest. But
his visible appearance was still more generally that of the raven,
the wild ass, the hog which brought scurvy; while in shape of a dog
he was so generally believed to bring deadly disease, that it would
seem as if 'hydrophobia' was specially attributed to him.

In process of time benignant Peace dwelt more and more with the
agriculturists, but still among the Israelites the tradesman was
the 'coming man,' and to him peace was essential. The huntsman, of
the Esau clan, figures in many legends, of which the following is
translated from the Arabic by Lane:--There was a huntsman who from a
mountain cave brought some honey in his water-skin, which he offered
to an oilman; when the oilman opened the skin a drop of honey fell
which a bird ate; the oilman's cat sprang on the bird and killed it;
the huntsman's hound killed the cat; the oilman killed the dog; the
huntsman killed the oilman; and as the two men belonged to different
villages, their inhabitants rose against each other in battle,
'and there died of them a great multitude, the number of whom none
knoweth but God, whose name be exalted!' [69]

Esau's character as a wild huntsman is referred to in another
chapter. It is as the genius of strife and nomadic war that he more
directly stands in contrast with his 'supplanter.'

From the wild elemental demons of storm and tempest of the most
primitive age to this Devil of Strife, the human mind has associated
evil with unrest. 'The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot
rest.' Such is the burthen of the Japanese Oni throned in the heart
of the hurricane, of the wild huntsman issuing forth at the first
note of war, of Edom hating the victories of peace, living by the
sword. The prophecy that the Prince of Peace should be born under
the planet Mars is a strange and mystical suggestion. In a powerful
poem by Thomas Aird, 'The Devil's Dream,' the last fearful doom of
Satan's vision is imprisonment beneath a lake for ever still,--the
Spirit of Unrest condemned for ever to the realm of absolute stillness!


  There all is solemn idleness: no music here, no jars,
  Where Silence guards the coast, e'er thrill her everlasting bars.
  No sun here shines on wanton isles; but o'er the burning sheet
  A rim of restless halo shakes, which marks the internal heat;
  As, in the days of beauteous earth, we see with dazzled sight
  The red and setting sun o'erflow with rings of welling light.

  Oh! here in dread abeyance lurks of uncreated things
  The last Lake of God's Wrath, where He His first great Enemy brings.
  Deep in the bosom of the gulf the Fiend was made to stay,
  Till, as it seemed, ten thousand years had o'er him rolled away;
  In dreams he had extended life to bear the fiery space;
  But all was passive, dull, and stern within his dwelling-place.

  Oh! for a blast of tenfold ire to rouse the giant surge,
  Him from that flat fixed lethargy impetuously to urge!
  Let him but rise, but ride upon the tempest-crested wave
  Of fire enridged tumultuously, each angry thing he'd brave!
  The strokes of Wrath, thick let them fall! a speed so glorious dread
  Would bear him through, the clinging pains would strip from off
  his head.

  The vision of this Last Stern Lake, oh! how it plagued his soul,
  Type of that dull eternity that on him soon must roll,
  When plans and issues all must cease that earlier care beguiled,
  And never era more shall stand a landmark on the wild:
  Nor failure nor success is there, nor busy hope nor fame,
  But passive fixed endurance, all eternal and the same.



CHAPTER XIII.

BARBARIC ARISTOCRACY.

    Jacob, the 'Impostor'--The Barterer--Esau, the 'Warrior'--Barbarian
    Dukes--Trade and War--Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau--Their
    Ghosts--Legend of Iblis--Pagan Warriors of Europe--Russian
    Hierarchy of Hell.


In the preceding chapter it was noted that there were two myths
wrapped up in the story of Jacob and Esau,--the one theological,
the other human. The former was there treated, the latter may be
considered here. Rabbinical theology has made the Jewish race adopt
as their founder that tricky patriarch whom Shylock adopted as his
model; but any censure on them for that comes with little grace
from christians who believe that they are still enjoying a covenant
which Jacob's extortions and treacheries were the divinely-adopted
means of confirming. It is high time that the Jewish people should
repudiate Jacob's proceedings, and if they do not give him his first
name ('Impostor') back again, at least withdraw from him the name
Israel. But it is still more important for mankind to study the phases
of their civilisation, and not attribute to any particular race the
spirit of a legend which represents an epoch of social development
throughout the world.

When Rebekah asked Jehovah why her unborn babes struggled in her
womb, he answered, 'Two nations are in thy womb. One people shall
be stronger than the other people; the elder shall be subject to
the younger.' What peoples these were is described in the blessings
of Jacob on the two representatives when they had grown up to be,
the one red and hairy, a huntsman; the other a quiet man, dwelling
in tents and builder of cattle-booths.

Jacob--cunning, extortionate, fraudulent in spirit even when
technically fair--is not a pleasing figure in the eyes of the
nineteenth century. But he does not belong to the nineteenth
century. His contest was with Esau. The very names of them belong
to mythology; they are not individual men; they are conflicting
tendencies and interests of a primitive period. They must be thought
of as Israel and Edom historically; morally, as the Barter principle
and the Bandit principle.

High things begin low. Astronomy began as Astrology; and when Trade
began there must have been even more trickery about it than there
is now. Conceive of a world made up of nomadic tribes engaged in
perpetual warfare. It is a commerce of killing. If a tribe desires
the richer soil or larger possessions of another, the method is to
exterminate that other. But at last there rises a tribe either too
weak or too peaceful to exterminate, and it proposes to barter. It
challenges its neighbours to a contest of wits. They try to get the
advantage of each other in bargains; they haggle and cheat; and it
is not heroic at all, but it is the beginning of commerce and peace.

But the Dukes of Edom as they are called will not enter into this
compact. They have not been used to it; they are always outwitted
at a bargain; just like those other red men in the West of America,
whose lands are bought with beads, and their territorial birthright
taken for a mess of pottage. They prefer to live by the hunt and by
the sword. Then between these two peoples is an eternal feud, with
an occasional truce, or, in biblical phrase, 'reconciliation.'

Surrounded by a commercial civilisation, with its prosaic virtues and
its petty vices, we cannot help admiring much about the Duke of Edom,
non-producer though he be. Brave, impulsive, quick to forgive as to
resent; generous, as people can afford to be when they may give what
they never earned; his gallant qualities cast a certain meanness
over his grasping brother, the Israelite. It is a healthy sign in
youth to admire such qualities. The boy who delights in Robin Hood;
the youth who feels a stir of enthusiasm when he reads Schiller's
Robbers; the ennuyés of the clubs and the roughs, with unfulfilled
capacities for adventure in them, who admire 'the gallant Turk,' are
all lingering in the nomadic age. They do not think of things but
of persons. They are impressed by the barbaric dash. The splendour
of warriors hides trampled and decimated peasantries; their courage
can gild atrocities. Beside such captivating qualities and thrilling
scenes how poor and commonplace appear thrifty rusticity, and the
cautious, selfish, money-making tradesmen!

But fine and heroic as the Duke of Edom may appear in the distance,
it is best to keep him at a distance. When Robin Hood reappeared on
Blackheath lately, his warmest admirers were satisfied to hear he was
securely lodged in gaol. The Jews had just the same sensations about
the Dukes of Edom. They saw that tribe near to, and lived in daily
dread of them. They were hirsute barbarians, dwelling amid mountain
fastnesses, and lording it over a vast territory. The weak tribe of
the plains had no sooner got together some herds and a little money,
than those dashing Edomites fell upon them and carried away their
savings and substance in a day. This made the bartering tribe all the
more dependent on their cunning. They had to match their wits against,
the world; and they have had to do the same to this day, when it is
a chief element of their survival that their thrift is of importance
to the business and finance of Europe. But in the myth it is shown
that Trade, timorous as it is in presence of the sword, may have a
magnanimity of its own. The Supplanter of Edom is haunted by the wrong
he has done his elder brother, and driven him to greater animosity. He
resolves to seek him, offer him gifts, and crave reconciliation. It is
easy to put an unfavourable construction upon his action, but it is not
necessary. The Supplanter, with droves of cattle, a large portion of
his possessions, passes out towards perilous Edom, unarmed, undefended,
except by his amicable intentions towards the powerful chieftain
he had wronged. At the border of the hostile kingdom he learns that
the chieftain is coming to meet him with four hundred men. He is now
seized, with a mighty spirit of Fear. He sends on the herdsmen with
the herds, and remains alone. During the watches of the night there
closes upon him this phantom of Fear, with its presage of Death. The
tricky tradesman has met his Conscience, and it is girt about with
Terror. But he feels that his nobler self is with it, and that he
will win. Finely has Charles Wesley told the story in his hymn:--


            Come, O thou traveller unknown,
            Whom still I hold but cannot see!
            My company before is gone
            And I am left alone with thee:
            With thee all night I mean to stay
            And wrestle till the break of day.


'Confident in self-despair,' the Supplanter conquers his Fear; with
the dawn he travels onward alone to meet the man he had outraged
and his armed men, and to him says, 'I have appeared before thee as
though I had appeared before God, that thou mightest be favourable
to me.' The proud Duke is disarmed. The brothers embrace and weep
together. The chieftain declines the presents, and is only induced
to accept them as proof of his forgiveness. The Tradesman learns for
all time that his mere cleverness may bring a demon to his side in
the night, and that he never made so good a bargain as when he has
restored ill-gotten gains. The aristocrat and warrior returns to his
mountain, aware now that magnanimity and courage are not impossible
to quiet men living by merchandise. The hunting-ground must make way
now for the cattle-breeder. The sword must yield before the balances.

Whatever may have been the tribes which in primitive times had
these encounters, and taught each other this lesson, they were long
since reconciled. But the ghosts of Israel and Edom, of Barter and
Plunder, fought on through long tribal histories. Israel represented
by the archangel Michael, and Edom by dragon Samaël, waged their
war. One characteristic of the opposing power has been already
considered. Samaël embodied Edom as the genius of Strife. He was the
especial Accuser of Israel, their Antichrist, so to say, as Michael
was their Advocate. But the name 'Edom' itself was retained as a kind
of personification of the barbaric military and lordly Devil. The
highwayman in epaulettes, the heroic spoiler, with his hairy hand
which Israel itself had imitated many a time in its gloves, were
summed up as 'Edom.'

This personification is the more important since it has characterised
the more serious idea of Satan which prevails in the world. He is
mainly a moral conception, and means the pride and pomp of the world,
its natural wildness and ferocities, and the glory of them. The
Mussulman fable relates that when Allah created man, and placed him
in a garden, he called all the angels to worship this crowning work
of his hands. Iblis alone refused to worship Adam. The very idea of
a garden is hateful to the spirit of Nomadism. [70] Man the gardener
receives no reverence from the proud leader of the Seraphim. God
said unto him (Iblis), What hindered thee from worshipping Adam,
since I commanded thee? He answered, I am more excellent than he:
thou hast created me of (ethereal) fire, and hast created him of clay
(black mud). God said, Get thee down therefore from paradise, for it
is not fit that thou behave thyself proudly therein. [71]

The earnestness and self-devotion of the northern pagans in their
resistance to Christianity impressed the finest minds in the Church
profoundly. Some of the Fathers even quoted the enthusiasm of those
whom they regarded as devotees of the Devil, to shame the apathy of
christians. The Church could show no martyr braver than Rand, down
whose throat St. Olaf made a viper creep, which gnawed through his
side; and Rand was an example of thousands. This gave many of the early
christians of the north a very serious view of the realm of Satan,
and of Satan himself as a great potentate. It was increased by their
discovery that the pagan kings--Satan's subjects--had moral codes and
law-courts, and energetically maintained justice. In this way there
grew up a more dignified idea of Hell. The grotesque imps receded
before the array of majestic devils, like Satan and Beelzebub; and
these were invested with a certain grandeur and barbaric pride. They
were regarded as rival monarchs who had refused to submit themselves to
Jehovah, but they were deemed worthy of heroic treatment. The traces of
this sentiment found in the ancient frescoes of Russia are of especial
importance. Nothing can exceed the grandeur of the Hierarchy of Hell
as they appear in some of these superb pictures. Satan is generally
depicted with similar dignity to the king of heaven, from whom he is
divided by a wall's depth, sometimes even resembling him in all but
complexion and hair (which is fire on Satan). There are frequent
instances, as in the accompanying figure (4), where, in careful
correspondence with the attitude of Christ on the Father's knees,
Satan supports the betrayer of Christ. Beside the king of Hell,
seated in its Mouth, are personages of distinction, some probably
representing those poets and sages of Greece and Rome, the prospect
of whose damnation filled some of the first christian Fathers with
such delight.

In Spain, when a Bishop is about to baptize one of the European
Dukes of the Devil, he asks at the font what has become of his
ancestors, naming them--all heathen. 'They are all in hell!' replies
the Bishop. 'Then there will I follow them,' returns the Chief, and
thereafter by no persuasion can he be induced to fare otherwise than
to Hell. Gradually the Church made up its mind to ally itself with
this obstinate barbaric pride and ambition. It was willing to give
up anything whatever for a kingdom of this world, and to worship any
number of Princes of Darkness, if they would give unto the Bishops
such kingdoms, and the glory of them. They induced Esau to be baptized
by promise of their aid in his oppressions, and free indulgences to
all his passions; and then, by his help, they were able to lay before
weaker Esaus the christian alternatives--Be baptized or burnt!

Not to have known how to conquer in bloodless victories the barbaric
Esaus of the world by a virtue more pure, a heroism more patient,
than theirs, and with that 'sweet reasonableness of Christ,'
which is the latest epitaph on his tomb among the rich; not to have
recognised the true nobility of the Dukes, and purified their pride
to self-reverence, their passion to moral courage, their daring and
freedom to a self-reliance at once gentle and manly; this was no doubt
the necessary failure of a dogmatic and irrational system. But it
is this which has made the christian Israel more of an impostor than
its prototype, in every country to which it came steadily developing
to a hypocritical imitator of the Esau whose birthright it stole
by baptism. It speedily lost his magnanimity, but never his sword,
which however it contrived to make at once meaner and more cruel
by twisting it into thumbscrews and the like. For many centuries
its voice has been, in a thin phonographic way, the voice of Jesus,
but the hands are the hands of Esau with Samaël's claw added.



CHAPTER XIV.

JOB AND THE DIVIDER.

    Hebrew Polytheism--Problem of Evil--Job's disbelief in a
    future life--The Divider's realm--Salted Sacrifices--Theory
    of Orthodoxy--Job's reasoning--His humour--Impartiality of
    Fortune between the evil and good--Agnosticism of Job--Elihu's
    eclecticism--Jehovah of the Whirlwind--Heresies of Job--Rabbinical
    legend of Job--Universality of the legend.


        Israel is a flourishing vine,
        Which bringeth forth fruit to itself;
        According to the increase of his fruit
        He hath multiplied his altars;
        According to the goodness of his land
        He hath made goodly images.
        Their heart is divided: now shall they be found guilty;
        He will break down their altars, he will spoil their images.


These words of the prophet Hosea (x. 1, 2) foreshadow the devil which
the devout Jahvist saw growing steadily to enormous strength through
all the history of Israel. The germ of this enemy may be found in our
chapter on Fate; one of its earliest developments is indicated in the
account already given of the partition between Jacob and Esau, and the
superstition to which that led of a ghostly Antagonist, to whom a share
had been irreversibly pledged. From the principle thus adopted, there
grew a host of demons whom it was believed necessary to propitiate by
offering them their share. A divided universe had for its counterpart
a divided loyalty in the heart of the people. The growth of a belief
in the supremacy of one God was far from being a real monotheism; as
a matter of fact no primitive race has been monotheistic. In 2 Kings
xvii. it is stated as a belief of the Jews that some Assyrians who
had been imported into their territory (Samaria) were slain by lions
because they knew not 'the manner of the God of the land.' Spinoza
noticed the indications given in this and other narratives that
the Jews believed that gods whose worship was intolerable within
their own boundaries were yet adapted to other regions (Tractatus,
ii.). With this state of mind it is not wonderful that when the Jews
found themselves in those alien regions they apprehended that the
gods of those countries might also employ lions on such as knew not
their manner, but adhered to the worship of Jehovah too exclusively.

Among the Jews grew up a more spiritual class of minds, whose feeling
towards the mongrel worship around them was that of abhorrence; but
these had a very difficult cause to maintain. The popular superstitions
were firmly rooted in the fact that terrible evils afflicted mankind,
and in the further fact that these did not spare the most pious. Nay,
it had for a long time been a growing belief that the bounties and
afflictions of nature, instead of following the direction promised by
the patriarchs,--rewarding the pious, punishing the wicked,--were
distributed in a reverse way. Dives and Lazarus seemed to have
their respective lots before any future paradise was devised for
their equalisation--as indeed is natural, since Dives attends to
his business, while Lazarus is investing his powers in Abraham's
bosom. Out of this experience there came at last the demand for a
life beyond the grave, without whose redress the pious began to deem
themselves of all men the most miserable. But before this heavenly
future became a matter of common belief, there were theories which
prepared, the way for it. It was held by the devout that the evils
which afflicted the righteous were Jehovah's tests of their loyalty
to him, and that in the end such trials would be repaid. And when
observation, following the theory, showed that they were not so
repaid, it was said the righteousness had been unreal, the devotee
was punished for hidden wickedness. When continued observation had
proved that this theory too was false, and that piety was not paid in
external bounties, either to the good man or his family, the solution
of a future settlement was arrived at.

This simple process may be traced in various races, and in its
several phases.

The most impressive presentation of the experiences under which the
primitive secular theory of rewards and punishments perished, and
that of an adjustment beyond the grave arose, is found in the Book
of Job. The solution here reached--a future reward in this life--is
an impossible one for anything more than an exceptional case. But
the Book of Job displays how beautiful such an instance would be,
showing afflictions to be temporary and destined to be followed by
compensations largely outweighing them. It was a tremendous statement
of the question--If a man die, shall he live again? Jehovah answered,
'Yes' out of the whirlwind, and raised Job out of the dust. But
for the millions who never rose from the dust that voice was heard
announcing their resurrection from a trial that pressed them even
into the grave. It is remarkable that Job's expression of faith that
his Vindicator would appear on earth, should have become the one text
of the Old Testament which has been adapted by christians to express
faith in immortality. Job strongly disowns that faith.


                    There is hope for a tree,
        If it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
        And that its tender branches will not fail;
        Though its root may have grown old in the earth,
        And though its trunk be dead upon the ground,
        At the scent of water it will bud,
        And put forth boughs, like a young plant.
        But man dieth and is gone for ever!

        Yet I know that my Vindicator liveth,
        And will stand up at length on the earth;
        And though with my skin this body be wasted away,
        Yet in my flesh shall I see God.
        Yea, I shall see him my friend;
        My eyes shall behold him no longer an adversary;
        For this my soul panteth within me. [72]


The scenery and details of this drama are such as must have made
an impression upon the mind of the ancient Jews beyond what is now
possible for any existing people. In the first place, the locality
was the land of Uz, which Jeremiah (Lam. iv. 21) points out as part
of Edom, the territory traditionally ruled over by the great invisible
Accuser of Israel, who had succeeded to the portion of Esau, adversary
of their founder, Jacob. Job was within the perilous bounds. And
yet here, where scape-goats were offered to deprecate Samaël, and
where in ordinary sacrifices some item entered for the devil's share,
Job refused to pay any honour to the Power of the Place. He offered
burnt-offerings alone for himself and his sons, these being exclusively
given to Jehovah. [73] Even after his children and his possessions were
destroyed by this great adversary, Job offered his sacrifice without
even omitting the salt, which was the Oriental seal of an inviolable
compact between two, and which so especially recalled and consecrated
the covenant with Jehovah. [74] Among his twenty thousand animals,
Azazel's animal, the goat, is not even named. Job's distinction was
an absolute and unprecedented singleness of loyalty to Jehovah.

This loyalty of a disciple even in the enemy's country is
made the subject of a sort of boast by Jehovah when the Accuser
enters. Postponing for the moment consideration of the character and
office of this Satan, we may observe here that the trial which he
challenges is merely a test of the sincerity of Job's allegiance
to Jehovah. The Accuser claims that it is all given for value
received. These possessions are taken away.

This is but the framework around the philosophical poem in which all
theories of the world are personified in grand council.

First of all Job (the Troubled) asks--Why? Orthodoxy answers. (Eliphaz
was the son of Esau (Samaël), and his name here means that he was
the Accuser in disguise. He, 'God's strength,' stands for the Law. It
affirms that God's ways are just, and consequently afflictions imply
previous sin.) Eliphaz repeats the question put by the Accuser in
heaven--'Was not thy fear of God thy hope?' And he brings Job to the
test of prayer, in which he has so long trusted. Eliphaz rests on
revelation; he has had a vision; and if his revelation be not true,
he challenges Job to disprove it by calling on God to answer him, or
else securing the advocacy of some one of the heavenly host. Eliphaz
says trouble does not spring out of the dust.

Job's reply is to man and God--Point out the error! Grant my troubles
are divine arrows, what have I done to thee, O watcher of men! Am I
a sea-monster--and we imagine Job looking at his wasted limbs--that
the Almighty must take precautions and send spies against me?

Then follows Bildad the Shuhite,--that is the 'contentious,' one
of the descendants of Keturah (Abraham's concubine), traditionally
supposed to be inimical to the legitimate Abrahamic line, and at a
later period identified as the Turks. Bildad, with invective rather
than argument, charges that Job's children had been slain for their
sins, and otherwise makes a personal application of Eliphaz's theology.

Job declares that since God is so perfect, no man by such standard
could be proved just; that if he could prove himself just, the
argument would be settled by the stronger party in his own favour;
and therefore, liberated from all temptation to justify himself, he
affirms that the innocent and the guilty are dealt with much in the
same way. If it is a trial of strength between God and himself, he
yields. If it is a matter of reasoning, let the terrors be withdrawn,
and he will then be able to answer calmly. For the present, even if
he were righteous, he dare not lift up his head to so assert, while
the rod is upon him.

Zophar 'the impudent' speaks. Here too, probably, is a disguise:
he is (says the LXX.) King of the Minæans, that is the Nomades, and
his designation 'the Naamathite,' of unknown significance, bears a
suspicious resemblance to Naamah, a mythologic wife of Samaël and
mother of several devils. Zophar is cynical. He laughs at Job for
even suggesting the notion of an argument between himself and God,
whose wisdom and ways are unsearchable. He (God) sees man's iniquity
even when it looks as if he did not. He is deeper than hell. What
can a man do but pray and acknowledge his sinfulness?

But Job, even in his extremity, is healthy-hearted enough to laugh
too. He tells his three 'comforters' that no doubt Wisdom will die
with them. Nevertheless, he has heard similar remarks before, and he
is not prepared to renounce his conscience and common-sense on such
grounds. And now, indeed, Job rises to a higher strain. He has made
up his mind that after what has come upon him, he cares not if more
be added, and challenges the universe to name his offence. So long as
his transgression is 'sealed up in a bag,' he has a right to consider
it an invention. [75]

Temanite Orthodoxy is shocked at all this. Eliphaz declares that
Job's assertion that innocent and guilty suffer alike makes the fear
of God a vain thing, and discourages prayer. 'With us are the aged
and hoary-headed.' (Job is a neologist.) Eliphaz paints human nature
in Calvinistic colours.


    Behold, (God) putteth no trust in his ministering spirits,
    And the heavens are not pure in his sight;
    Much less abominable and polluted man,
    Who drinketh iniquity as water!


The wise have related, and they got it from the fathers to whom
the land was given, and among whom no stranger was allowed to bring
his strange doctrines, that affliction is the sign and punishment
of wickedness.

Job merely says he has heard enough of this, and finds no wise man
among them. He acknowledges that such reproaches add to his sorrows. He
would rather contend with God than with them, if he could. But he
sees a slight indication of divine favour in the remarkable unwisdom
of his revilers, and their failure to prove their point.

Bildad draws a picture of what he considers would be the proper
environment of a wicked man, and it closely resembles the situation
of Job.

But Job reminds him that he, Bildad, is not God. It is God that has
brought him so low, but God has been satisfied with his flesh. He
has not yet uttered any complaint as to his conduct; and so he,
Job, believes that his vindicator will yet appear to confront his
accusers--the men who are so glib when his afflictor is silent. [76]

Zophar harps on the old string. Pretty much as some preachers
go on endlessly with their pictures of the terrors which haunted
the deathbeds of Voltaire and Paine, all the more because none are
present to relate the facts. Zophar recounts how men who seemed good,
but were not, were overtaken by asps and vipers and fires from heaven.

But Job, on the other hand, has a curious catalogue of examples in
which the notoriously wicked have lived in wealth and gaiety. And
if it be said God pays such off in their children, Job denies the
justice of that. It is the offender, and not his child, who ought
to feel it. The prosperous and the bitter in soul alike lie down in
the dust at last, the good and the evil; and Job is quite content to
admit that he does not understand it. One thing he does understand:
'Your explanations are false.'

But Eliphaz insists on Job having a dogma. If the orthodox dogma is
not true, put something in its place! Why are you afflicted? What is,
your theory? Is it because God was afraid of your greatness? It must be
as we say, and you have been defrauding and injuring people in secret.

Job, having repeated his ardent desire to meet God face to face as
to his innocence, says he can only conclude that what befalls him and
others is what is 'appointed' for them. His terror indeed arises from
that: the good and the evil seem to be distributed without reference
to human conduct. How darkness conspires with the assassin! If God
were only a man, things might be different; but as it is, 'what he
desireth that he doeth,' and 'who can turn him?'

Bildad falls back on his dogma of depravity. Man is a 'worm,' a
'reptile.' Job finds that for a worm Bildad is very familiar with the
divine secrets. If man is morally so weak he should be lowly in mind
also. God by his spirit hath garnished the heavens; his hand formed
the 'crooked serpent'--


        Lo! these are but the borders of his works;
        How faint the whisper we have heard of him!
        But the thunder of his power who can understand?


Job takes up the position of the agnostic, and the three 'Comforters'
are silenced. The argument has ended where it had to end. Job then
proceeds with sublime eloquence. A man may lose all outward things, but
no man or god can make him utter a lie, or take from him his integrity,
or his consciousness of it. Friends may reproach him, but he can see
that his own heart does not. That one superiority to the wicked he
can preserve. In reviewing his arguments Job is careful to say that
he does not maintain that good and evil men are on an equality. For
one thing, when the wicked man is in trouble he cannot find resource
in his innocence. 'Can he delight himself in the Almighty?' When such
die, their widows do not bewail them. Men do not befriend oppressors
when they come to want. Men hiss them. And with guilt in their heart
they feel their sorrows to be the arrows of God, sent in anger. In
all the realms of nature, therefore, amid its powers, splendours,
and precious things, man cannot find the wisdom which raises him
above misfortune, but only in his inward loyalty to the highest,
and freedom from moral evil.

Then enters a fifth character, Elihu, whose plan is to mediate
between the old dogma and the new agnostic philosophy. He is Orthodoxy
rationalised. Elihu's name is suggestive of his ambiguity; it seems to
mean one whose 'God is He' and he comes from the tribe of Buz, whose
Hebrew meaning might almost be represented in that English word which,
with an added z, would best convey the windiness of his remarks. Buz
was the son of Milkah, the Moon, and his descendant so came fairly
by his theologic 'moonshine' of the kind which Carlyle has so well
described in his account of Coleridgean casuistry. Elihu means to be
fair to both sides! Elihu sees some truth in both sides! Eclectic
Elihu! Job is perfectly right in thinking he had not done anything
to merit his sufferings, but he did not know what snares were
around him, and how he might have done something wicked but for his
affliction. Moreover, God ruins people now and then just to show how
he can lift them up again. Job ought to have taken this for granted,
and then to have expressed it in the old abject phraseology, saying,
'I have received chastisement; I will offend no more! What I see not,
teach thou me!' (A truly Elihuic or 'contemptible' answer to Job's
sensible words, 'Why is light given to a man whose way is hid?' Why
administer the rod which enlightens as to the anger but not its cause,
or as to the way of amend?) In fact the casuistic Elihu casts no light
whatever on the situation. He simply overwhelms him with metaphors and
generalities about the divine justice and mercy, meant to hide this
new and dangerous solution which Job had discovered--namely, that
the old dogmatic theories of evil were proved false by experience,
and that a good man amid sorrow should admit his ignorance, but never
allow terror to wring from him the voice of guilt, nor the attempt
to propitiate divine wrath.

When Jehovah appears on the scene, answering Job out of the whirlwind,
the tone is one of wrath, but the whole utterance is merely an
amplification of what Job had said--what we see and suffer are but
fringes of a Whole we cannot understand. The magnificence and wonder
of the universe celebrated in that voice of the whirlwind had to be
given the lame and impotent conclusion of Job 'abhorring himself,'
and 'repenting in dust and ashes.' The conventional Cerberus must
have his sop. But none the less does the great heart of this poem
reveal the soul that was not shaken or divided in prosperity or
adversity. The burnt-offering of his prosperous days, symbol of a
worship which refused to include the supposed powers of mischief,
was enjoined on Job's Comforters. They must bend to him as nearer God
than they. And in his high philosophy Job found what is symbolised in
the three daughters born to him: Jemima (the Dove, the voice of the
returning Spring); Kezia (Cassia, the sweet incense); Kerenhappuch
(the horn of beautiful colour, or decoration).

From the Jewish point of view this triumph of Job represented a
tremendous heresy. The idea that afflictions could befall a man without
any reference to his conduct, and consequently not to be influenced
by the normal rites and sacrifices, is one fatal to a priesthood. If
evil may be referred in one case to what is going on far away among
gods in obscurities of the universe, and to some purpose beyond the
ken of all sages, it may so be referred in all cases, and though
burnt-offerings may be resorted to formally, they must cease when
their powerlessness is proved. Hence the Rabbins have taken the
side of Job's Comforters. They invented a legend that Job had been
a great magician in Egypt, and was one of those whose sorceries so
long prevented the escape of Israel. He was converted afterwards,
but it is hinted that his early wickedness required the retribution
he suffered. His name was to them the troubler troubled.

Heretical also was the theory that man could get along without any
Angelolatry or Demon-worship. Job in his singleness of service,
fearing God alone, defying the Seraphim and Cherubim from Samaël
down to do their worst, was a perilous figure. The priests got no
part of any burnt-offering. The sin-offering was of almost sumptuary
importance. Hence the rabbinical theory, already noticed, that it
was through neglect of these expiations to the God of Sin that the
morally spotless Job came under the power of his plagues.

But for precisely the same reasons the story of Job became
representative to the more spiritual class of minds of a genuine as
contrasted with a nominal monotheism, and the piety of the pure, the
undivided heart. Its meaning is so human that it is not necessary to
discuss the question of its connection with the story of Harischandra,
or whether its accent was caught from or by the legends of Zoroaster
and of Buddha, who passed unscathed through the ordeals of Ahriman
and Mara. It was repeated in the encounters of the infant Christ with
Herod, and of the adult Christ with Satan. It was repeated in the
unswerving loyalty of the patient Griselda to her husband. It is indeed
the heroic theme of many races and ages, and it everywhere points to
a period when the virtues of endurance and patience rose up to match
the agonies which fear and weakness had tried to propitiate,--when
man first learned to suffer and be strong.



CHAPTER XV.

SATAN.

    Public Prosecutors--Satan as Accuser--English Devil-worshipper
    --Conversion by Terror--Satan in the Old Testament--The trial
    of Joshua--Sender of Plagues--Satan and Serpent--Portrait of
    Satan--Scapegoat of Christendom--Catholic 'Sight of Hell'--
    The ally of Priesthoods.


There is nothing about the Satan of the Book of Job to indicate him
as a diabolical character. He appears as a respectable and powerful
personage among the sons of God who present themselves before Jehovah,
and his office is that of a public prosecutor. He goes to and fro
in the earth attending to his duties. He has received certificates
of character from A. Schultens, Herder, Eichorn, Dathe, Ilgen, who
proposed a new word for Satan in the prologue of Job, which would
make him a faithful but too suspicious servant of God.

Such indeed he was deemed originally; but it is easy to see how the
degradation of such a figure must have begun. There is often a clamour
in England for the creation of Public Prosecutors; yet no doubt there
is good ground for the hesitation which its judicial heads feel in
advising such a step. The experience of countries in which Prosecuting
Attorneys exist is not such as to prove the institution one of unmixed
advantage. It is not in human nature for an official person not to make
the most of the duty intrusted to him, and the tendency is to raise
the interest he specially represents above that of justice itself. A
defeated prosecutor feels a certain stigma upon his reputation as much
as a defeated advocate, and it is doubtful whether it be safe that
the fame of any man should be in the least identified with personal
success where justice is trying to strike a true balance. The recent
performances of certain attorneys in England and America retained by
Societies for the Suppression of Vice strikingly illustrate the dangers
here alluded to. The necessity that such salaried social detectives
should perpetually parade before the community as purifiers of society
induces them to get up unreal cases where real ones cannot be easily
discovered. Thus they become Accusers, and from this it is an easy
step to become Slanderers; nor is it a very difficult one which may
make them instigators of the vices they profess to suppress.

The first representations of Satan show him holding in his hand
the scales; but the latter show him trying slyly with hand or
foot to press down that side of the balance in which the evil
deeds of a soul are being weighed against the good. We need not
try to track archæologically this declension of a Prosecutor, by
increasing ardour in his office, through the stages of Accuser,
Adversary, Executioner, and at last Rival of the legitimate Rule,
and tempter of its subjects. The process is simple and familiar. I
have before me a little twopenny book, [77] which is said to have
a vast circulation, where one may trace the whole mental evolution
of Satan. The ancient Devil-worshipper who has reappeared with such
power in England tells us that he was the reputed son of a farmer,
who had to support a wife and eleven children on from 7s. to 9s. per
week, and who sent him for a short time to school. 'My schoolmistress
reproved me for something wrong, telling me that God Almighty took
notice of children's sins. This stuck to my conscience a great while;
and who this God Almighty could be I could not conjecture; and how he
could know my sins without asking my mother I could not conceive. At
that time there was a person named Godfrey, an exciseman, in the town,
a man of a stern and hard-favoured countenance, whom I took notice of
for having a stick covered with figures, and an ink-bottle hanging at
the button-hole of his coat. I imagined that man to be employed by
God Almighty to take notice and keep an account of children's sins;
and once I got into the market-house and watched him very narrowly,
and found that he was always in a hurry, by his walking so fast; and I
thought he had need to hurry, as he must have a deal to do to find out
all the sins of children!' This terror caused the little Huntington to
say his prayers. 'Punishment for sin I found was to be inflicted after
death, therefore I hated the churchyard, and would travel any distance
round rather than drag my guilty conscience over that enchanted spot.'

The child is father to the man. When Huntington, S.S., grew up, it
was to record for the thousands who listened to him as a prophet his
many encounters with the devil. The Satan he believes in is an exact
counterpart of the stern, hard-favoured exciseman whom he had regarded
as God's employé. On one occasion he writes, 'Satan began to tempt me
violently that there was no God, but I reasoned against the belief of
that from my own experience of his dreadful wrath, saying, How can I
credit this suggestion, when (God's) wrath is already revealed in my
heart, and every curse in his book levelled at my head.' (That seems
his only evidence of God's existence--his wrath!) 'The Devil answered
that the Bible was false, and only wrote by cunning men to puzzle and
deceive people. 'There is no God,' said the adversary, 'nor is the
Bible true.' ... I asked, 'Who, then, made the world?' He replied,
'I did, and I made men too.' Satan, perceiving my rationality almost
gone, followed me up with another temptation; that as there was no
God I must come back to his work again, else when he had brought me
to hell he would punish me more than all the rest. I cried out, 'Oh,
what will become of me! what will become of me!' He answered that
there was no escape but by praying to him; and that he would show me
some lenity when he took me to hell. I went and sat in my tool-house
halting between two opinions; whether I should petition Satan, or
whether I should keep praying to God, until I could ascertain the
consequences. While I was thinking of bending my knees to such a
cursed being as Satan, an uncommon fear of God sprung up in my heart
to keep me from it.'

In other words, Mr. Huntington wavered between the petitions 'Good
Lord! Good Devil!' The question whether it were more moral, more
holy, to worship the one than the other did not occur to him. He
only considers which is the strongest--which could do him the most
mischief--which, therefore, to fear the most; and when Satan has almost
convinced him in his own favour, he changes round to God. Why? Not
because of any superior goodness on God's part. He says, 'An uncommon
fear of God sprung up in my heart.' The greater terror won the day;
that is to say, of two demons he yielded to the stronger. Such an
experience, though that of one living in our own time, represents a
phase in the development of the relation between God and Satan which
would have appeared primitive to an Assyrian two thousand years
ago. The ethical antagonism of the two was then much more clearly
felt. But this bit of contemporary superstition may bring before us
the period when Satan, from having been a Nemesis or Retributive Agent
of the divine law, had become a mere personal rival of his superior.

Satan, among the Jews, was at first a generic term for an adversary
lying in wait. It is probably the furtive suggestion at the root of
this Hebrew word which aided in its selection as the name for the
invisible adverse powers when they were especially distinguished. But
originally no special personage, much less any antagonist of Jehovah,
was signified by the word. Thus we read: 'And God's anger was kindled
because he (Balaam) went; and the angel of the Lord stood in the way
for a Satan against him.... And the ass saw the angel of the Lord
standing in the way and his sword drawn in his hand.' [78] The eyes of
Balaam are presently opened, and the angel says, 'I went out to be a
Satan to thee because the way is perverse before me.' The Philistines
fear to take David with them to battle lest he should prove a Satan to
them, that is, an underhand enemy or traitor. [79] David called those
who wished to put Shimei to death Satans; [80] but in this case the
epithet would have been more applicable to himself for affecting to
protect the honest man for whose murder he treacherously provided. [81]

That it was popularly used for adversary as distinct from evil appears
in Solomon's words, 'There is neither Satan nor evil occurrent.' [82]
Yet it is in connection with Solomon that we may note the entrance
of some of the materials for the mythology which afterwards invested
the name of Satan. It is said that, in anger at his idolatries,
'the Lord stirred up a Satan unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite:
he was of the king's seed in Edom.' [83] Hadad, 'the Sharp,' bore
a name next to that of Esau himself for the redness of his wrath,
and, as we have seen in a former chapter, Edom was to the Jews the
land of 'bogeys.' 'Another Satan,' whom the Lord 'stirred up,' was
the Devastator, Prince Rezon, founder of the kingdom of Damascus,
of whom it is said, 'he was a Satan to Israel all the days of
Solomon.' [84] The human characteristics of supposed 'Scourges of
God' easily pass away. The name that becomes traditionally associated
with calamities whose agents were 'stirred up' by the Almighty is not
allowed the glory of its desolations. The word 'Satan,' twice used in
this chapter concerning Solomon's fall, probably gained here a long
step towards distinct personification as an eminent national enemy,
though there is no intimation of a power daring to oppose the will of
Jehovah. Nor, indeed, is there any such intimation anywhere in the
'canonical' books of the Old Testament. The writer of Psalm cix.,
imprecating for his adversaries, says: 'Set thou a wicked man over
him; and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged,
let him be condemned; and let his prayer become sin.' In this there is
an indication of a special Satan, but he is supposed to be an agent
of Jehovah. In the catalogue of the curses invoked of the Lord,
we find the evils which were afterwards supposed to proceed only
from Satan. The only instance in the Old Testament in which there
is even a faint suggestion of hostility towards Satan on the part of
Jehovah is in Zechariah. Here we find the following remarkable words:
'And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of
Jehovah, and the Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And
Jehovah said unto Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan; even Jehovah,
that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked
out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and
stood before the angel. And he answered and spake to those that stood
before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And to
him he said, Lo, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee,
and I will clothe thee with goodly raiment.' [85]

Here we have a very fair study and sketch of that judicial trial of
the soul for which mainly the dogma of a resurrection after death
was invented. The doctrine of future rewards and punishments is not
one which a priesthood would invent or care for, so long as they
possessed unrestricted power to administer such in this life. It is
when an alien power steps in to supersede the priesthood--the Gallio
too indifferent whether ceremonial laws are carried out to permit the
full application of terrestrial cruelties--that the priest requires a
tribunal beyond the grave to execute his sentence. In this picture
of Zechariah we have this invisible Celestial Court. The Angel
of Judgment is in his seat. The Angel of Accusation is present to
prosecute. A poor filthy wretch appears for trial. What advocate can
he command? Where is Michael, the special advocate of Israel? He does
not recognise one of his clients in this poor Joshua in his rags. But
lo! suddenly Jehovah himself appears; reproves his own commissioned
Accuser; declares Joshua a brand plucked from the burning (Tophet);
orders a change of raiment, and, condoning his offences, takes him
into his own service. But in all this there is nothing to show general
antagonism between Jehovah and Satan, but the reverse.

When we look into the Book of Job we find a Satan sufficiently
different from any and all of those mentioned under that name in other
parts of the Old Testament to justify the belief that he has been
mainly adapted from the traditions of other regions. The plagues and
afflictions which in Psalm cix. are invoked from Jehovah, even while
Satan is mentioned as near, are in the Book of Job ascribed to Satan
himself. Jehovah only permits Satan to inflict them with a proviso
against total destruction. Satan is here named as a personality in
a way not known elsewhere in the Old Testament, unless it be in 1
Chron. xxi. 1, where Satan (the article being in this single case
absent) is said to have 'stood up against Israel, and provoked David
to number Israel.' But in this case the uniformity of the passage with
the others (excepting those in Job) is preserved by the same incident
being recorded in 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, 'The anger of Jehovah was kindled
against Israel, and he (Jehovah) moved David against them to say,
Go number Israel and Judah.'

It is clear that, in the Old Testament, it is in the Book of Job
alone that we find Satan as the powerful prince of an empire which
is distinct from that of Jehovah,--an empire of tempest, plague, and
fire,--though he presents himself before Jehovah, and awaits permission
to exert his power on a loyal subject of Jehovah. The formality of
a trial, so dear to the Semitic heart, is omitted in this case. And
these circumstances confirm the many other facts which prove this
drama to be largely of non-Semitic origin. It is tolerably clear that
the drama of Harischandra in India and that of Job were both developed
from the Sanskrit legends mentioned in our chapter on Viswámitra; and
it is certain that Aryan and Semitic elements are both represented in
the figure of Satan as he has passed into the theology of Christendom.

Nor indeed has Satan since his importation into Jewish literature
in this new aspect, much as the Rabbins have made of him, ever
been assigned the same character among that people that has been
assigned him in Christendom. He has never replaced Samaël as their
Archfiend. Rabbins have, indeed, in later times associated him
with the Serpent which seduced Eve in Eden; but the absence of any
important reference to that story in the New Testament is significant
of the slight place it had in the Jewish mind long after the belief
in Satan had become popular. In fact, that essentially Aryan myth
little accorded with the ideas of strife and immorality which the
Jews had gradually associated with Samaël. In the narrative, as
it stands in Genesis, it is by no means the Serpent that makes the
worst appearance. It is Jehovah, whose word--that death shall follow
on the day the apple is eaten--is falsified by the result; and while
the Serpent is seen telling the truth, and guiding man to knowledge,
Jehovah is represented as animated by jealousy or even fear of man's
attainments. All of which is natural enough in an extremely primitive
myth of a combat between rival gods, but by no means possesses the
moral accent of the time and conditions amid which Jahvism certainly
originated. It is in the same unmoral plane as the contest of the
Devas and Asuras for the Amrita, in Hindu mythology, a contest of
physical force and wits.

The real development of Satan among the Jews was from an accusing
to an opposing spirit, then to an agent of punishment--a hated
executioner. The fact that the figure here given (Fig. 5) was
identified by one so familiar with Semitic demonology as Calmet as a
representation of him, is extremely interesting. It was found among
representations of Cherubim, and on the back of one somewhat like
it is a formula of invocation against demons. The countenance is of
that severe beauty which the Greeks ascribed to Nemesis. Nemesis has
at her feet the wheel and rudder, symbols of her power to overtake
the evil-doer by land or sea; the feet of this figure are winged
for pursuit. He has four hands. In one he bears the lamp which, like
Lucifer, brings light on the deed of darkness. As to others, he answers
Baruch's description (Ep. 13, 14) of the Babylonian god, 'He hath a
sceptre in his hand like a man, like a judge of the kingdom--he hath
in his hand a sword and an axe.' He bears nicely-graduated implements
of punishment, from the lash that scourges to the axe that slays; and
his retributive powers are supplemented by the scorpion tail. At his
knees are signets; whomsoever he seals are sealed. He has the terrible
eyes which were believed able to read on every forehead a catalogue
of sins invisible to mortals, a power that made women careful of
their veils, and gave meaning to the formula 'Get thee behind me!' [86]

Now this figure, which Calmet believed to be Satan, bears on its
reverse, 'The Everlasting Sun.' He is a god made up of Egyptian and
Magian forms, the head-plumes belonging to the one, the multiplied
wings to the other. Matter (Hist. Crit. de Gnost.) reproduces it,
and says that 'it differs so much from all else of the kind as to
prove it the work of an impostor.' But Professor C. W. King has a
(probably fifth century) gem in his collection evidently a rude copy
of this (reproduced in his 'Gnostics,' Pl. xi. 3), on the back of
which is 'Light of Lights;' and, in a note which I have from him,
he says that it sufficiently proves Matter wrong, and that this form
was primitive. In one gem of Professor King's (Pl. v. 1) the lamp
is also carried, and means the 'Light of Lights.' The inscription
beneath, within a coiled serpent, is in corrupt cuneiform characters,
long preserved by the Magi, though without understanding them. There
is little doubt, therefore, that the instinct of Calmet was right,
and that we have here an early form of the detective and retributive
Magian deity ultimately degraded to an accusing spirit, or Satan.

Although the Jews did not identify Satan with their Scapegoat, yet
he has been veritably the Scapegoat among devils for two thousand
years. All the nightmares and phantasms that ever haunted the human
imagination have been packed upon him unto this day, when it is
almost as common to hear his name in India and China as in Europe and
America. In thus passing round the world, he has caught the varying
features of many fossilised demons: he has been horned, hoofed,
reptilian, quadrupedal, anthropoid, anthropomorphic, beautiful, ugly,
male, female; the whites painted him black, and the blacks, with
more reason, painted him white. Thus has Satan been made a miracle
of incongruities. Yet through all these protean shapes there has
persisted the original characteristic mentioned. He is prosecutor
and executioner under the divine government, though his office has
been debased by that mental confusion which, in the East, abhors the
burner of corpses, and, in the West, regards the public hangman with
contempt; the abhorrence, in the case of Satan, being intensified
by the supposition of an overfondness for his work, carried to the
extent of instigating the offences which will bring him victims.

In a well-known English Roman Catholic book [87] of recent times, there
is this account of St. Francis' visit to hell in company with the Angel
Gabriel:--'St. Francis saw that, on the other side of (a certain) soul,
there was another devil to mock at and reproach it. He said, Remember
where you are, and where you will be for ever; how short the sin was,
how long the punishment. It is your own fault; when you committed that
mortal sin you knew how you would be punished. What a good bargain you
made to take the pains of eternity in exchange for the sin of a day,
an hour, a moment. You cry now for your sin, but your crying comes
too late. You liked bad company; you will find bad company enough
here. Your father was a drunkard, look at him there drinking red-hot
fire. You were too idle to go to mass on Sundays; be as idle as you
like now, for there is no mass to go to. You disobeyed your father,
but you dare not disobey him who is your father in hell.'

This devil speaks as one carrying out the divine decrees. He
preaches. He utters from his chasuble of flame the sermons of Father
Furniss. And, no doubt, wherever belief in Satan is theological, this
is pretty much the form which he assumes before the mind (or what such
believers would call their mind, albeit really the mind of some Syrian
dead these two thousand years). But the Satan popularly personalised
was man's effort to imagine an enthusiasm of inhumanity. He is the
necessary appendage to a personalised Omnipotence, whose thoughts are
not as man's thoughts, but claim to coerce these. His degradation
reflects the heartlessness and the ingenuity of torture which must
always represent personal government with its catalogue of fictitious
crimes. Offences against mere Majesty, against iniquities framed in
law, must be doubly punished, the thing to be secured being doubly
weak. Under any theocratic government law and punishment would become
the types of diabolism. Satan thus has a twofold significance. He
reports what powerful priesthoods found to be the obstacles to their
authority; and he reports the character of the priestly despotisms
which aimed to obstruct human development.



CHAPTER XVI.

RELIGIOUS DESPOTISM.

    Pharaoh and Herod--Zoroaster's mother--Ahriman's emissaries--Kansa
    and Krishna--Emissaries of Kansa--Astyages and Cyrus--Zohák--Bel
    and the Christian.


The Jews had already, when Christ appeared, formed the theory that
the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, and his resistance to the departure
of Israel from Egypt, were due to diabolical sorcery. The belief
afterwards matured; that Edom (Esau or Samaël) was the instigator
of Roman aggression was steadily forming. The mental conditions
were therefore favourable to the growth of a belief in the Jewish
followers of Christ that the hostility to the religious movement
of their time was another effort on the part of Samaël to crush
the kingdom of God. Herod was not, indeed, called Satan or Samaël,
nor was Pharaoh; but the splendour and grandeur of this Idumean
(the realm of Esau), notwithstanding his oppressions and crimes,
had made him a fair representative to the people of the supernatural
power they dreaded. Under these circumstances it was a powerful appeal
to the sympathies of the Jewish people to invent in connection with
Herod a myth exactly similar to that associated with Pharaoh,--namely,
a conspiracy with sorcerers, and consequent massacre of all new-born
children.

The myths which tell of divine babes supernaturally saved from royal
hostility are veritable myths, even where they occur so late in
time that historic names and places are given; for, of course, it is
impossible that by any natural means either Pharaoh or Herod should be
aware of the peculiar nature of any particular infant born in their
dominions. Such traditions, when thus presented in historical guise,
can only be explained by reference to corresponding fables written out
in simpler mythic form; while it is especially necessary to remember
that such corresponding narratives may be of independent ethnical
origin, and that the later in time may be more primitive spiritually.

In the Legend of Zoroaster [88] his mother Dogdo, previous to his
birth, has a dream in which she sees a black cloud, which, like
the wing of some vast bird, hides the sun, and brings on frightful
darkness. This cloud rains down on her house terrible beasts with
sharp teeth,--tigers, lions, wolves, rhinoceroses, serpents. One
monster especially attacks her with great fury, and her unborn babe
speaks in reassuring terms. A great light rises and the beasts fall. A
beautiful youth appears, hurls a book at the Devas (Devils), and they
fly, with exception of three,--a wolf, a lion, and a tiger. These,
however, the youth drives away with a luminous horn. He then replaces
the holy infant in the womb, and says to the mother: 'Fear nothing! The
King of Heaven protects this infant. The earth waits for him. He is
the prophet whom Ormuzd sends to his people: his law will fill the
world with joy: he will make the lion and the lamb drink in the same
place. Fear not these ferocious beasts; why should he whom Ormuzd
preserves fear the enmity of the whole world?' With these words
the youth vanished, and Dogdo awoke. Repairing to an interpreter,
she was told that the Horn meant the grandeur of Ormuzd; the Book
was the Avesta; the three Beasts betokened three powerful enemies.

Zoroaster was born laughing. This prodigy being noised abroad, the
Magicians became alarmed, and sought to slay the child. One of them
raised a sword to strike him, but his arm fell to the ground. The
Magicians bore the child to the desert, kindled a fire and threw him
into it, but his mother afterwards found him sleeping tranquilly and
unharmed in the flames. Next he was thrown in front of a drove of
cows and bulls, but the fiercest of the bulls stood carefully over
the child and protected him. The Magicians killed all the young of
a pack of wolves, and then cast the infant Zoroaster to them that
they might vent their rage upon him, but the mouths of the wolves
were shut. They abandoned the child on a lonely mountain, but two
ewes came and suckled him.

Zoroaster's father respected the ministers of the Devas (Magi),
but his child rebuked him. Zoroaster walked on the water (crossing
a great river where was no bridge) on his way to Mount Iran where he
was to receive the Law. It was then he had the vision of the battle
between the two serpent armies,--the white and black adders, the
former, from the South, conquering the latter, which had come from
the North to destroy him.

The Legend of the Infant Krishna is as follows:--The tyrant Kansa,
having given his sister Devaki in marriage to Vasudéva, as he was
returning from the wedding heard a voice declare, 'The eighth son of
Devaki is destined to be thy destroyer.' Alarmed at this, Kansa cast
his sister and her husband into a prison with seven iron doors, and
whenever a son was born he caused it to be instantly destroyed. When
Devaki became pregnant the eighth time, Brahma and Siva, with attending
Devas, appeared and sang: 'O favoured among women! in thy delivery all
nature shall have cause to exult! How ardently we long to behold that
face for the sake of which we have coursed round three worlds!' When
Krishna was born a chorus of celestial spirits saluted him; the room
was illumined with supernatural light. While Devaki was weeping at the
fatal decree of Kansa that her son should be destroyed, a voice was
heard by Vasudéva saying: 'Son of Yadu, carry this child to Gokul,
on the other side of the river Jumna, to Nauda, whose wife has just
given birth to a daughter. Leave him and bring the girl hither.' At
this the seven doors swung open, deep sleep fell on the guards,
and Vasudéva went forth with the holy infant in his arms. The river
Jumna was swollen, but the waters, having kissed the feet of Krishna,
retired on either side, opening a pathway. The great serpent of
Vishnu held its hood over this new incarnation of its Lord. Beside
sleeping Nauda and his wife the daughter was replaced by the son,
who was named Krishna, the Dark.

When all this had happened a voice came to Kansa saying: 'The boy
destined to destroy thee is born, and is now living.' Whereupon Kansa
ordered all the male children in his kingdom to be destroyed. This
being ineffectual, the whereabouts of Krishna were discovered; but the
messenger who was sent to destroy the child beheld its image in the
water and adored it. The Rakshasas worked in the interest of Kansa. One
approached the divine child in shape of a monstrous bull whose head
he wrung off; and he so burned in the stomach of a crocodile which
had swallowed him that the monster cast him from his mouth unharmed.

Finally, as a youth, Krishna, after living some time as a herdsman,
attacked the tyrant Kansa, tore the crown from his head, and dragged
him by his hair a long way; with the curious result that Kansa became
liberated from the three worlds, such virtue had long thinking about
the incarnate one, even in enmity!

The divine beings represented in these legends find their complement
in the fabulous history of Cyrus; and the hostile powers which
sought their destruction are represented in demonology by the Persian
tyrant-devil Zohák. The name of Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus,
has been satisfactorily traced to Ashdahák, and Ajis Daháka, the
'biting snake.' The word thus connects him with Vedic Ahi and with
Iranian Zohák, the tyrant out of whose shoulders a magician evoked
two serpents which adhered to him and became at once his familiars and
the arms of his cruelty. As Astyages, the last king of Media, he had
a dream that the offspring of his daughter Mandane would reign over
Asia. He gave her in marriage to Cambyses, and when she bore a child
(Cyrus), committed it to his minister Harpagus to be slain. Harpagus,
however, moved with pity, gave it to a herdsman of Astyages, who
substituted for it a still-born child, and having so satisfied the
tyrant of its death, reared Cyrus as his own son.

The luminous Horn of the Zoroastrian legend and the diabolism
of Zohák are both recalled in the Book of Daniel (viii.) in the
terrific struggle of the ram and the he-goat. The he-goat, ancient
symbol of hairy Esau, long idealised into the Invisible Foe of
Israel, had become associated also with Babylon and with Nimrod
its founder, the Semitic Zohák. But Bel, conqueror of the Dragon,
was the founder of Babylon, and to Jewish eyes the Dragon was his
familiar; to the Jews he represented the tyranny and idolatry of
Nimrod, the two serpents of Zohák. When Cyrus supplanted Astyages,
this was the idol he found the Babylonians worshipping until Daniel
destroyed it. And so, it would appear, came about the fact that to
the Jews the power of Christendom came to be represented as the Reign
of Bel. One can hardly wonder at that. If ever there were cruelty
and oppression passing beyond the limit of mere human capacities, it
has been recorded in the tragical history of Jewish sufferings. The
disbeliever in præternatural powers of evil can no less than others
re