By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Myth-Land
Author: Hulme, F. Edward (Frederick Edward)
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 "Myth-Land" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

Transcriber's Note

Illustration captions in {braces} have been added by the transcriber
for the convenience of the reader.


        F. EDWARD HULME, F.L.S., F.S.A.
                   AUTHOR OF

      "Far away in the twilight time
      Of every people, in every clime,
      Dragons and griffins and monsters dire.
      Born of water, or air, or fire,
      And ooze of the old Deucalion flood,
      Crawl, and wriggle, and foam with rage,
      Through dark tradition and ballad age."


           [_All rights reserved._]



The nucleus of the following pages was originally written in the form
of two short papers to be read at the meetings of a Public School
Natural History Society. Since then, finding materials rapidly growing
on our hands, we have been gradually amplifying our notes on the
subject until they have grown to the present dimensions; for, to quote
the quaint words of Thomas Fuller, "when there is no recreation or
business for thee abroad, thou may'st then have a company of honest
old fellows in leathern jackets in thy study, which may find thee
excellent divertisement at home." Our researches in pursuit of the
marvellous, through the works of divers and sundry old writers, have
been so far entertaining and interesting to us that we would fain hope
that they may not be altogether received without favour by others.

Our subject naturally divides itself into two very obvious
sections--the one dealing with wholly untrue and impossible creatures
of the fancy, the other with the strange beliefs and fancies that have
clustered round the real creatures we see around us. It will readily
be discovered that we have confined ourselves in the present volume
almost entirely to the first of these sections. Should our present
labours prove acceptable they may readily be followed by a companion
volume, at least as entertaining, dealing with the second section of
our subject.





    Introduction--"A Description of 300 Animals"--Unicorn--The Bible
    Unicorn--The Heraldic Unicorn--The Horn as a Poison Test--The
    Unicorn of Mediæval Legend--Wolf Causing Dumbness--The Rompo or
    Man-Eater--The Manticora--The Lamia--Stag Antipathies--Dragons--
    Dragon-Slaying--Legends of the Saints--The "Legenda Aurea"--St.
    George--Mediæval Recipes--The "Historia Monstrorum" of Aldrovandus--
    The Dragon in Heraldry--The Dragon of Wantley--Dragons' Teeth--The
    Dragonnades--The Dragons of Shakespeare--Guardians of Treasure--The
    Feud between the Dragon and the Elephant--The "Bestiare Divin" of
    Guillaume--The Cockatrice--The Basilisk--The Phoenix: Its Literary
    Existence from Herodotus to Shakespeare--The Dun-Cow of Warwick--Sir
    Guy, and Percie's "Reliques of Antient Poetry"--Old Ribs and other
    Bones in Churches--The Salamander--Breydenbach's Travels--The
    "Bestiary" of De Thaun--The Ylio--The Griffin--The Arimaspians--
    Burton's "Miracles of Art and Nature"--The Lomie--The Tartarian
    Vegetable Lamb--The Sea-Elephant--Pegasus--The Vampyre--The
    Chameleon                                                     1-80


    The Sphinx--The Chimæra--The Centaurs--The Origin of the Myth--The
    Onocentaur--Sagittarius--Satyrs and Fauns--The Harpys, described by
    Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, and others--The Echidna--The
    Gorgon--The Hydra--The Sirens--The Lurlei--Mermaids--The Manatee--
    Dog-Headed Men of Brazil--The One-Eyed Cyclops and Briaræus of the
    Hundred Arms--The Headless Men or Anthropophagi--Sir Walter Raleigh's
    El Dorado--Claw-Footed Men--The Marvels of Hackluyt and Mandeville--
    The Long-Eared Fanesii--The Fairies--The "Discoverie of Witchcraft"--
    The Little Good People--Fairy-Rings--Elf-Music--Changelings--
    Elf-Possession--Spirits of the Mine, or Knockers--Robin Goodfellow--
    Queen Mab--The Phoca or Storm-Spirit--The Kelpie--Jack-o'-Lantern--
    The Pigmies--Giants--Early Sculptures--Gigantic Men of Antiquity


    Comparatively Small Number of Mythical Bird-Forms--The Martlet--The
    Bird of Paradise--The Humma--The Huppe--The Ibis--The Roc--The
    Hameh Bird--Reptiles, Fish, &c.--The Sea-Serpent--The Adissechen
    of Hindu Mythology--The Iormungandur of Scandinavian Mythology--
    The Egg Talisman--Fire-Drake--Aspis--Amphisbena--Kraken--Cetus--
    Leviathan--Behemoth--Nautilus--Dolphin--The Acipenser--The Remora--
    The Fish Nun--The Chilon--The Dies--Sea-Bishops and Sea-Monks--Davy
    Jones and his Locker--Ojibiway Legend of the Great Serpent--Fabledom
    in the Vegetable Kingdom--The Barnacle Tree--The Kalpa-Tarou--The
    Lote Tree--The Tree of Life--Lotus-Eating--Amaranth--Lotus Wreaths
    at Kew from the Egyptian Tombs--Asphodel--Mediæval Herbals--
    Ambrosia--The Upas Tree--The Umdhlebi Tree of Zululand--The Kerzereh
    Flower--The Mandrake--"Miracles of Art and Nature"--Travellers'
    Tales--The Dead Sea Apple--Alimos--The Meto--The Herb Viva--Cockeram
    on Herb-Lore--The Pseudodoxia of Dr. Browne--Herb Basil--The "Eikon
    Basilike"--Fitzherbert's "Boke of Husbandry"               133-205

    Appendix                                                       207

    Index                                                          235



    The Unicorn (from a "Description of 300 Animals,"
      A.D. 1786)                                                     5

    The Manticora (from a "Description of 300 Animals,"
      A.D. 1786)                                                    13

    The Lamia (from a "Description of 300 Animals," A.D.
      1786)                                                         13

    Dragons (from a "Description of 300 Animals," A.D.
      1786)                                                         17

    The Sea-Elephant                                                72

    Dragon, from a piece of Italian decoration                      79

    The Sea-Lion                                                   160

    The Harpy (from the "Historia Monstrorum" of Aldrovandus,
      A.D. 1642)                                                   161

    The Barnacle Tree, from Gerarde's "Herbal," A.D. 1633          169

    The Barnacle Tree (from the "Theatrum Botanicum" of
      Parkinson, A.D. 1640)                                        173

    The Barnacle Tree (from "Munster's Cosmography," A.D.
      1550)                                                        174

    The Palm (from the "Eikon Basilike," A.D. 1648)                203





Introduction--"A Description of 300 Animals"--Unicorn--The Bible
Unicorn--The Heraldic Unicorn--The Horn as a Poison Test--The Unicorn
of Mediæval Legend--Wolf Causing Dumbness--The Rompo or Man-eater--The
Manticora--The Lamia--Stag Antipathies--Dragons--Dragon-slaying--
Legends of the Saints--The "Legenda Aurea"--St. George--Mediæval
Recipes--The "Historia Monstrorum" of Aldrovandus--The Dragon in
Heraldry--The Dragon of Wantley--Dragons' Teeth--The Dragonnades--The
Dragons of Shakespeare--Guardians of Treasure--The Feud between the
Dragon and the Elephant--The "Bestiare Divin" of Guillaume--The
Cockatrice--The Basilisk--The Phoenix--Its Literary Existence from
Herodotus to Shakespeare--The Dun-Cow of Warwick--Sir Guy, and
Percie's "Reliques of Antient Poetry"--Old Ribs and other Bones in
Churches--The Salamander--Breydenbach's Travels--The "Bestiary" of
De Thaun--The Ylio--The Griffin--The Arimaspians--Burton's "Miracles
of Art and Nature"--The Lomie--The Tartarian Vegetable Lamb--The
Sea-Elephant--Pegasus--The Vampyre--The Chameleon.

All science is a gradual growth. Travellers as they toil up a long
ascent turn round from time to time, and mark with satisfaction the
ever-lengthening way that stretches between them and their distant
starting-place, and derive a further encouragement from the sight to
press onward to the yet unknown. So may we in this our day compare
ourselves, in no offensive and vainglorious way, with the men of the
past, and gain renewed courage in the future as we leave their ancient
landmarks far behind us. Shame, indeed, would it be to us had we not
thus advanced, for our opportunities of gaining knowledge are
immeasurably greater than those of any preceding generation.

The old herbals and books of travels abound in curious examples of the
quaint beliefs of our forefathers, while their treatises on natural
history are a still richer storehouse. Many of the old tomes, again,
on the science of heraldry give other curious notions respecting the
different animals introduced. Some of these animals, as the dragon or
the griffin, are undoubtedly of the most mythical nature, yet we find
them described in the most perfect good faith, and without the
slightest suspicion as to their real existence. We shall have occasion
to refer to several of the works of these old writers, and we will,
without further preface, take down from our book-shelf a little book
entitled "A Description of 300 Animals."[1]

  [1] The name of Thomas Bewick is to all book-collectors "familiar in
  their mouths as household words," and we rarely read the account of
  the dispersal of any large library or the choice collection of some
  bibliophile without finding that it contained a choice edition of
  Bewick's "quadrupeds" or "birds"--a "lot" that always calls for a
  keen competition. It is interesting to know that the book we have
  named above considerably influenced him, and in no slight degree led
  to the production of the works that will always remain his monument,
  for we find him writing to a friend of his--"From my first reading,
  when a boy at school, a sixpenny history of birds and beasts, and
  then a wretched composition called the 'History of Three Hundred
  Animals,' to the time I became acquainted with works of natural
  history written for the perusal of men, I was never without the
  design of attempting something of this kind myself."

No one person appears on the title-page as author, but it is stated
that it is extracted from the best authorities and adapted to the use
of all capacities. It is also illustrated with copper-plates "whereon
is curiously engraven every beast, bird, fish, serpent, and insect,
described in the whole book." The word "curiously" is very happily
chosen, and most happily describes the extraordinary nature of the
illustrations. The preface shows us that the primary intention of the
book was the instruction and entertainment of the young, and after
wading painfully through the cumbrous Roman figures, the long array of
C's, X's, and the like, we find that the date of the treatise was
1786, or just a hundred years ago. Let us, then, dip here and there
into it and see what "the best authorities" could teach our
grandfathers when their youthful minds would know something of the
wonders of creation. The lion, as the king of beasts, heads the list.
"He is generally of a dun colour, but not without some exceptions, as
black, white, and red, in Ethiopia and some other parts of Africa."
The red lion, then, it would appear, is no mere creation of the
licensed victualler or Garter King-at-Arms, no mere fancy to deck a
signboard withal or emblazon on a shield of honour, but a living
verity; and we may pause to remark that almost all the most wonderful
things in the book have their home in Africa, not as now the
playground of the Royal Geographical Society, but an unknown land full
of wonder and mystery, of which nothing is too marvellous to be
impossible. We are told, too, that the lion sleeps with his eyes open,
and many other curious details follow. On the next page the unicorn is
in all sober seriousness described. "His head resembles a hart's, his
feet an elephant's, his tail a boar's, and the rest of his body a
horse's. The horn is about a foot and a half in length, his voice is
like the lowing of an ox, his horn is as hard as iron and as rough as
any file." Burton in his "Miracles of Art and Nature," published in
1678, says that in Ethiopia "some Kine there are which have Horns like
Stags; other but one Horn only, and that in the Forehead, about a foot
and a half long, but bending backward." It will be seen that Burton
does not identify these with the so-called unicorn, but the passage is
in some degree suggestive. Any one who has noticed the fine series of
antelopes in the collection of the Zoological Society of London will
scarcely have failed to observe the length and straightness of the
horns of some of the species, while they are often so close together
and so nearly parallel in direction, that any one seeing the animals
at a little distance away, and so standing that one of their horns
covers the other, might well be excused for starting the idea of
single-horned animals. Great virtues are attributed to the horn of the
unicorn, as the expelling of poison and the curing of many diseases.
The unicorn is very familiar to us as one of the supporters of the
royal arms, but the form we know so well does not altogether agree
with that described. The heraldic unicorn is in all respects a horse
save and except the horn, while our old author tells us of the head of
a stag and the feet of an elephant. The creature is sometimes referred
to in our English version of the Bible, and has thus become one of the
animals introduced in symbolic and religious art. In some of the
passages it would clearly seem to indicate that in the very early days
dealt with in some of the books of the Bible there was a general
belief in some such creature, while in others probably the word is
rather introduced in error by our translators--an error that may very
well be pardoned when we find the animal gravely described in the much
more recent book before us. In the book of Job, the earliest in point
of time in the whole Bible, the belief in some such animal seems very
distinctly indicated in the words, "Will the unicorn be willing to
serve thee or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his
band in the furrow, or will he harrow the valleys after thee?" In the
92d Psalm the peculiar feature that gives the creature its name is
especially referred to in the words, "My horn shalt thou exalt like
the horn of a unicorn." The reference is always to some wild and
powerful animal; thus in Exodus we read, "His horns are like the horns
of unicorns;" and again in one of the psalms we find David crying,
"Save me from the lion's mouth, for Thou hast heard me from the horns
of the unicorns." Other passages might be quoted, but these will amply
suffice to indicate the very early belief in some such creature. The
form is frequently seen in the earliest Christian art, as in the
catacombs of Rome, the havens of refuge for the living and the
resting-places of the dead followers of the new faith. Our
illustration is a facsimile of that in the "Description of 300

  [Illustration: {THE UNICORN}]

For some reason that we cannot now discover, the unicorn was an
especial favourite with the Scotch heralds, and it is from them that
we derive it in our royal arms. Before the union of the two monarchies
the supporters of the arms of the English monarchs had been very
various, though in almost every case a lion had been one of the two
employed,[2] while in Scotland for several reigns before the
amalgamation of the two countries the supporters had been two
unicorns. It was very naturally arranged, therefore, when the two
kingdoms were fused together on the death of Elizabeth, that the joint
shield should be supported by the lion of England and the unicorn of
Scotland. The creature freely occurs as a device on the Scottish
coinage; one piece especially is by collectors called the unicorn,
from the conspicuous introduction of the national device.

  [2] As for example:--Henry VI., Lion and Antelope; Edward IV., Lion
  and Bull; Edward V., Two Lions; Richard III., Lion and Boar; Henry
  VII., Lion and Dragon; Henry VIII., Lion and Dragon; Mary, Lion and
  Greyhound; Elizabeth, Lion and Greyhound.

We have already indicated that potent virtues were believed to reside
in the horn of the unicorn. In the Comptes Royaux of France in 1391 we
find a golden cup with a slice of this horn in it for testing the food
of the Dauphin, and again in the inventory of Charles V.--"Une touche
de licorne, garnie d'or, pour faire essay." Decker, again, in 1609
speaks of "the unicorn, whose horn is worth a city." In Mrs. Bury
Palliser's most interesting work of "Historic Badges and Devices" we
find an illustration of the standard of Bartolomeo d'Alviano. He was a
great champion of the Orsini family, and took a leading part in all
the feuds that devastated Central Europe during his lifetime. His
standard bears the unicorn, surrounded by snakes, toads, and other
reptiles then rightly or wrongly held poisonous; these he is moving
aside with his horn, and above is the motto, "I expel poisons"--he,
d'Alviano, of course, being the lordly and potent unicorn, his foes
the creeping things to be driven from his face.[3]

  [3] The English Cyclopædia of Natural History gives a description by
  Ctesias of the Indian ass. He says that these animals are as large
  as horses, and larger, having a horn on the forehead, one cubit
  long, which for the extent of two palms from the forehead is
  entirely white; above, it is pointed and red, being black in the
  middle. Of this horn drinking-cups are formed, and those who use
  them are said not to be subject to spasm or epilepsy, nor to the
  effects of poison, provided, either before or after taking the
  poison, they drink out of the cup wine, water, or any other liquid.

  One of the Arabian annalists, El Kazwini, has much to say about the
  magical and curative properties of these cups; and a yet fuller
  notice of them appears in Lane's "Arabian Nights," chap. xx. note
  32. It is also stated that most of the Eastern potentates possessed
  one of these cups. In Hyder Ali's treasury at Tanjore was found a

  In "Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan," by the Rev. C. T. Wilson and
  R. W. Felkin, vol. ii. p. 275, we read:--

  "Cups made of rhinoceros horn are supposed to have the peculiar
  virtue of detecting poison in coffee and sherbet. Often, when
  drinking for the first time in a strange house, one of these cups is
  offered to assure the visitor that no foul play is contemplated.
  These are considered most valuable presents and a mark of lasting
  friendship and esteem."

In the "Display of Heraldry" published by John Guillim in the year
1679 we read--"It hath been much questioned amongst naturalists, which
it is that is properly called the Unicorn; and some have made doubt
whether there be any such Beast as this or no. But the great esteem of
his horn (in many places to be seen) may take away that needless
scruple." Having thus satisfactorily established the existence of such
a creature he naturally feels at full liberty to group around the
central fact divers details, as, for instance, that "the wild Beasts
of the wilderness use not to drink of the Pools, for fear of venomous
Serpents there breeding, before the Unicorn hath stirred it with its

It seems to have been a debateable point whether the unicorn had ever
been taken alive, but Guillim decisively negatives the idea, and
naturally avails himself of it for the greater glorification of the
creature and of its service in his beloved science of heraldry. He
lays down the broad fact that the unicorn is never taken alive, and
here surely we can thoroughly go with him; but "the reason being
demanded, it is answered that the greatness of his mind is such that
he chuseth rather to die, wherein the unicorn and the valiant-minded
soldier are alike, which both contemn death, and rather than they will
be compelled to undergo any base servitude and bondage they will lose
their lives."

Philip de Thaun, on the other hand, not only admits the idea that the
unicorn may be captured alive, but gives the full receipt for doing
so. It would appear that, like Una's lion, the animal is of a
particularly impressionable nature, and is always prepared to do
homage to maiden beauty and innocence, and this amiable trait in its
character is basely taken advantage of. "When a man intends to hunt
and take and ensnare it he goes to the forest where is its repair, and
there places a virgin. Then it comes to the virgin, falls asleep on
her lap, and so comes to its death. The man arrives immediately and
kills it in its sleep, or takes it alive and does as he will with it."
The young ladies of that very indefinite date must have possessed
considerably more courage and nerve than some of their sisters of the
present day, who show symptoms of hysteria if they find themselves in
the same room with a spider--a considerably less severe test than an
interview in the dark shades of the forest with an amorous unicorn.
One cannot, however, help feeling that the victim of misplaced
confidence comes out of the transaction most creditably, and that both
man and maiden must have felt what schoolboys call "sneaks."

The unicorn, alive or dead, seems to have eluded observation in a
wonderful way, and the men of science were left to extract their facts
from the slightest hints, in the same way that distinguished
anatomists and geologists of these later days are enabled to build up
an entire animal from one or two isolated bones. The process, however,
does not seem, in the case of the earlier men, to have been a very
successful one, and there is consequently a great clashing amongst the
authorities, and one of the mediæval writers, feeling the difficulty
of drawing any very definite result from the chaos before him, adopts
the plan, in which we humbly follow him, of simply putting it all down
just as it comes to hand, and leaving his readers to make the best
they can of it. He writes as follows:--

"Pliny affirmeth it is a fierce and terrible creature, Vartomannus a
tame animal: those which Garcias ab Horto described about the Cape of
Good Hope were beheld with heads like horses, those which Vartomannus
beheld he described with the head of a Deere: Pliny, Ælian, Solinus,
and Paulus Venetus affirm the feet of the Unicorn are undivided and
like the Elephant's, but those two which Vartomannus beheld at Mecha
were, as he described, footed like a Goate. As Ælian describeth it, it
is in the bignesse of an Horse, that which Thevet speaketh of was not
so big as an Heifer, but Paulus Venetus affirmeth that they are but
little lesse than Elephants."

On turning to the records of a distinguished French Society
established in 1633 we come across many strange items. These records
are entitled "A general collection of the Discourses of the Virtuosi
of France, upon questions of all sorts of philosophy and other natural
knowledge, made in the Assembly of the Beaux Esprits at Paris by the
most ingenious persons of that nation." Their meetings were termed
conferences, and there are notes of two hundred and forty of these.
The subjects discussed covered a very wide field, the following being
some few amongst them--Of the end of all things, of perpetual motion,
of the echo, of how long a man may continue without eating, whether is
to be preferred a great stature or a small, of the loadstone, of the
origin of mountains, and who are the most happy in this world, wise
men or fools. Some of these subjects are now definitely settled, while
others are as open to discussion as ever, as, for example, the
questions whether it be expedient for women to be learned, and whether
it be better to bury or to burn the bodies of the dead. In this great
accumulation of the notions of the seventeenth century we find,
amongst other items that more especially concern our present purpose,
discussions on genii, on the phoenix, and on the unicorn.

In the early days of a similar institution, our own Royal Society--a
body which is now so staid, and which focuses all the most important
scientific results of the day to itself--many points were discussed in
perfect good faith that are now consigned to oblivion--the trees that
grow diamonds, the rivers that run precious gems, and the seeds that
fell from heaven being amongst these; while at another meeting we find
the Duke of Buckingham presenting the Society with a piece of the horn
of the unicorn.

The old writers had no very definite system, and though the author of
the "Book of the 300 Animals" may seem to have exercised a certain
fitness in discussing the unicorn directly after the lion, the
conjunction is probably wholly accidental, as the creatures dwelt on
succeed each other in all such books in the most arbitrary way. The
next animal to which we would refer is the wolf. He is not absolutely
the next in the series, but we manifestly cannot deal with the whole
three hundred, so we pick out here and there divers quaint examples of
what we may be allowed to term this unnatural history. We are told
that "the wolf is a very ravenous creature, and as dangerous to meet
with, when hungry, as any beast whatever, but when his stomach is
full, he is to men and beasts as meek as a lamb. When he falls upon a
hog or a goat, or such small beasts, he does not immediately kill
them, but leads them by the ear, with all the speed he can, to a crew
of ravenous wolves, who instantly tear them to pieces." We should have
thought that the reverse had been more probable, that the wolves that
had nothing would have come with all the speed they could upon their
more successful companion; but if the old writer's story be true, it
opens out a fine trait of unselfishness in the character of this
maligned communard. It was an old belief, a fancy that we find in the
pages of Pliny, Theocritus, Virgil, and others, that a man becomes
dumb if he meets a wolf and the wolf sees him first. A mediæval writer
explains this as follows:--"The ground or occasionall originall hereof
was probably the amazement and sudden silence the unexpected
appearance of Wolves doe often put upon travellers, not by a supposed
vapour or venemous emanation, but a vehement fear which naturally
produceth obmutescence and sometimes irrecoverable silence. Thus birds
are silent in presence of an Hawk, and Pliny saith that Dogges are
mute in the shadow of an Hyæna, but thus could not the mouths of
worthy Martyrs be stopped, who being exposed not only unto the eyes
but the mercilesse teeth of Wolves, gave loud expressions of their
faith, and their holy clamours were heard as high as heaven." Scott
refers to the old belief in his "Quentin Durward." In the eighteenth
chapter our readers will find as follows:--"'Our young companion has
seen a wolf,' said Lady Hameline, 'and has lost his tongue in
consequence.'" The thirteenth animal is the "Rompo" or Man-eater; he
is "so called because he feeds upon dead men, to come at which he
greedily grubs up the earth off their graves, as if he had notice of
somebody there hid. He keeps in the woods; his body is long and
slender, being about three feet in length, with a long tail. The
negroes say that he does not immediately fall on as soon as he has
found the body, but goes round and round it several times as if afraid
to seize it. Its head and mouth are like a hare's, his ears like a
man's, his fore feet like a badger's, and his hinder feet like a
bear's. It has likewise a mane. This creature is bred in India and
Africa." Concerning the buffalo we read, "It is reported of this
creature that when he is hunted or put into a fright he'll change his
colour to the colour of everything he sees; as amongst trees he is
green, &c." The Manticora is one of the strange imaginings of our
forefathers. In the illustration in the book (of which our figure is a
reproduction) it has a human head and face and a body like that of a
lion; a thick mane covers the neck; its tail is much longer in
proportion than that of a lion, and has at its extremity a most
formidable collection of spiky-looking objects; these in the
description are said to be stinging and sharply-pointed quills. He is
as big as a lion. "His voice is like a small trumpet. He is so wild
that it is very difficult to catch him, and as swift as an hart. With
his tail he wounds the hunters, whether they come before him or behind
him. When the Indians take a whelp of this beast they bruise its tail
to prevent it bearing the sharp quills; then it is tamed without

  [Illustration: THE MANTICORA]

  [Illustration: THE LAMIA]

The Lamia, too, is an extraordinary creature, and one that our not
remote forefathers seem to have thoroughly believed in, for though the
author says that there are many fictitious stories respecting it, he
goes on to describe it, and gives an illustration. It is thought to be
the swiftest of all four-footed creatures, so that its prey can seldom
or never escape it. It is said to be bred in Libya, and to have a
face like a beautiful woman, while its voice is the hiss of a serpent.
The body is covered with scales. The old author tells us that they
sometimes devour their own young, and we may fairly hope that this
cannibal propensity of theirs is the cause of their disappearance. In
earlier times men believed in a monstrous spectre called an Empusa. It
could assume various forms, and it was believed to feed on human
flesh. The Lamiæ, who took the forms of handsome and graceful women
for the purpose of beguiling poor humanity, and then sucked their
blood like vampyres and devoured their flesh, were one form of Empusa.
The belief in some such creature seems to have been widespread; the
myth of the Sirens is, for example, very similar in conception. In
Mansfield Parkyns' "Life in Abyssinia" we read--"There is an animal
which I know not where to class, as no European has hitherto succeeded
in obtaining a specimen of it. It is supposed by the natives to be far
more active, powerful, and dangerous than the lion, and consequently
held by them in the greatest possible dread. They look upon it more in
the light of an evil spirit, with an animal's form, than a wild beast;
they assert that its face is human." We learn, however, from the rest
of the description, that this creature possesses itself of its prey by
force alone; the human face is one further feature of terror, but does
not, as in the previous case, serve to beguile mankind and lure them
by its beauty to their fate.

The stag is said to be "a great enemy to all kinds of serpents, which
he labours to destroy whenever he finds any, but he is afraid of
almost all other creatures." Many of these old beliefs were simply
handed down from generation to generation without question, or the
opinions of the ancients accepted without experiment or inquiry. This
belief of the natural enmity of the stag to the serpent is at least as
old as Pliny, and may be found duly set forth in the thirty-third
chapter of his eighth book:--"This kind of deere make fight with
serpents, and are their natural and mortal enemies; they will follow
them to their verie holes, and then by the strength of drawing and
snuffing up their wind of their nostrils, force them out whether they
will or no. The serpent sometimes climbs upon its back and bites it
cruelly, when the stag rushes to some river or fountain and throws
itself into the water to rid itself of its enemy." This old belief
made the stag a favourite in the mediæval days of exaggerated
symbolism, its ruthless antipathy to the serpent rendering it not
inaptly an emblem of the Christian fighting to the death against sin,
and finding an antidote to its wounds in the fountain of living water.
It was also believed that stags "passe the seas swimming by flockes
and whole heards in a long row, each one resting his head upon his
fellow next before him; and this they do in course, so as the foremost
retireth behind to the hindmost by turnes, one after another." In this
supposed fact the seekers after symbol and hidden meaning found no
difficulty in recognising that comfort and support in all their trials
that all good men should at all times be ready to afford their

The tusks of the wild boar, we are told, cut like sharp knives when
the animal is alive, but lose their keenness at his death. It is said
when this creature is hunted down his tusks are so inflamed that they
will burn and singe the hair of the dogs. The wild ox has a tongue so
hard and rough that it can draw a man to him, "whom by licking he can
wound to death." The elephant, we are told on the same authority, has
two tusks. "One of them it keeps always sharp to revenge injuries,
and with the other it roots up trees and plants for its meat. These
they lose once in ten years, which, falling off, they very carefully
bury in the earth on purpose that men may not find them." The liver of
a mouse our forefathers believed to increase and decrease with the
waxing and waning of the moon. "For every day of the moon's age there
is a fibre increase in their liver." This rash and random assertion it
would be manifestly impossible either to prove or disprove, though one
may have one's own strong opinion on the matter. It would be necessary
to kill the mouse to count the aforesaid fibres, and having killed it,
the morrow's extra age of the moon would bring no added fibres to the
victim of our credulity. Presently we come to the Potto, a creature
that is probably the same as we now call the sloth. The illustration
shows us a most hopelessly helpless-looking animal, and in the
description that accompanies it we are told that a whole day is little
enough for it to advance ten steps forward. We are also informed that
when he does climb a tree he does not leave it until he has eaten up
not only the fruit but all the foliage, when "he descends fat and in
good case, but before he can get up another tree he loses all the
advantages of his previous good quarters and often perishes of
hunger." Eighty-seven quadrupeds are dealt with, so it will be readily
seen how little we have drawn upon the wealth of information the book

  [Illustration: {DRAGONS}]

Book IV. of the treatise is devoted to the consideration of serpents
and insects. Amongst serpents and insects the dragon naturally takes
the place of honour. The writer evidently has his doubts, and
carefully qualifies his description by a free use of the
responsibility evading formula "it is said." He gives three
illustrations. One of them represents a biped monster, crested and
winged; the second has lost his legs, though he retains crest and
wings; while the third creature is of serpentine nature, has neither
wings nor legs, and only differs from the serpent forms in the book by
the addition of his crest. The description runs as follows:--"The
dragon, as described in the numerous fables and stories of several
writers, may be justly questioned whether he really exists. I have
read of serpents bred in Arabia, called Sirenas, which have wings,
being very swift, running and flying at pleasure; and when they wound
a man he dieth instantly. These are supposed to be a kind of dragons.
It is said there are divers sorts of dragons or serpents that are so
called, which are distinguished partly by their countries, partly by
their magnitude, and partly by the different form of their external
parts. They are said to be bred in India and Africa; those of India
are much the largest, being of an incredible length; and of these
there are also said to be two kinds, one of them living in the
marshes, which are slow of pace and without combs on their heads; the
other in the mountains, which are bigger and have combs, their backs
being somewhat brown and their bodies less scaled. Some of them are of
a yellow fiery colour, having sharp backs like saws. These also have
beards. When they set up their scales they shine like silver. The
apples of their eyes are (it is said) precious stones, and as bright
as fire, in which it is affirmed there is a great virtue against many
diseases. Their aspect is very fierce and terrible. Some dragons are
said to have wings and no feet; some, again, have both feet and wings;
and others neither feet nor wings, and are only distinguished from the
common sort of serpents by the combs growing upon their heads and by
their beards. Some do affirm that the dragon is of a black colour,
somewhat green beneath and very beautiful, that it has a triple row of
teeth in each jaw, that it has also two dewlaps growing under the
chin, which hang down like a beard of a red colour; and the body is
set all over with sharp scales, and on the neck with thick hair, much
like the bristles of a wild boar." It will be seen by the foregoing
that the imagination of our ancestors was allowed free play, abundant
variety of form, magnitude, colour, and so forth being possible.

The dragon or winged serpent has formed a part in many creeds, and the
dragon-slayer has been the hero of countless legends. The legend
varies with climate and country, and with the development of the race
in which it is found; and yet the prophecies of the Bible of the
ultimate bruising of the serpent's head and the final victory over the
dragon ("That old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan" Rev. xx. 2);
the legends of classic days, such as that of Perseus and Andromeda;
the still older struggles recorded in the slabs of Nineveh and
Persepolis; the stories narrated to awed rings of listeners in the
stillness of the Eastern night, or listened to by our children with
eager eyes and rapt attention in the homes of England; the mass of
legend that in mediæval times clustered around the names of God's
faithful ones; and the local traditions of every land, from the
equator to the poles, all dwell on the mischievous presence of some
evil principle and record the ultimate triumph of good. Beneath the
mass of ever-varying fable stands the like foundation, the strife
between the two antagonistic principles; and thus the wide world over,
in every age and in every clime, the mind of man, in broken accents,
it may be, and with faltering tongue, records with joy its upward
struggle, feels the need of help in the sore conflict, registers its
belief in final triumph. Though the dragon-conflict occurs in many
literatures, the same incidents occur over and over again, and we find
in almost all the power and subtlety of the monster, the innocence and
helplessness of his victims, the suddenness of his attack on them, and
the completeness of his final overthrow, the dragon-slayers being the
conquerors over tyranny and wrong, over paganism and every form of
godless evil.

In Egypt he was Typhon, in Greece, Python. In India he is Kalli Naga,
the thousand-headed, the foe and the vanquished of Vishnu. In
Anglo-Saxon chronicles he is Lig-draca, the fire-drake or
godes-andsacan, the denier of God--always unsleeping, poison-fanged,
relentless, the terrible enemy of man, full of subtlety and full of

On the advent of Christianity these ancient legends were not wholly
discarded, but suggested others of a like character, and a slight
alteration transferred to saint or martyr those feats and victories
which had formerly been ascribed to gods and demigods. It only
remained for the new religion to point out the analogy, and to
incorporate into itself the lessons they taught, the conflict won, the
abnegation of self for the good of others.

It would take up far too much space if we were to endeavour to give
many of these legends in detail. In some cases they were doubtless
intended as descriptions of an actual conflict, by force of arms, with
some real monster; but in others the conflict is allegorical; thus St.
Loup, St. Martin of Tours, St. Hilary, and St. Donatus are all notable
dragon-slayers, though the conflict was a mythical one, and their
claim to regard on this score is based really on their gallant fight
with either the heathenism of those amongst whom they laboured or the
heresy of false brethren. The popular saint, too, receives often more
than his due at the hands of his admirers, and legends gather thickly
round his name, and his so-called biography is often romance and
hero-worship from beginning to end. St. Romanus at Rouen, St. Veran at
Arles, and St. Victor of Marseilles are all accredited with feats of
dragon-slaying; but leaving them, St. Martial, St. Marcel, and many
others to other chroniclers, we content ourselves with referring to
two illustrious saints alone--the first because she is a lady, and may
therefore well claim our courtesy, the second because he is our own
patron saint.

It may not be generally known that the sister of Lazarus, the St.
Martha of our legend, together with Mary Magdalene and two companions,
Maxime and Marcellus, wandered so far away from Palestine as the
shores of France. How much farther they may have intended to go the
history does not tell us, but the untoward accident that stranded them
on the shores of Languedoc was a most fortunate circumstance for the
people of the district. The inhabitants of that region had been for
some time tormented by a monster who fed on human flesh and had a most
draconic appetite, and they at once appealed to these strangers to
help them. This alone would seem to indicate the extremity in which
they found themselves, or they would scarcely have applied to four
shipwrecked strangers, half of them women, for aid in the hour of
their necessity. St. Martha, however, in pitying consideration for
their sad plight, at once agreed to help them. She had hardly entered
the wood where the monster dwelt before the most frightful bellowings
were heard, at which all the people sorely trembled and naturally
concluded that this unarmed woman had fallen a victim to her temerity;
but this alarming bellowing shortly ceased, and soon after St. Martha
reappeared, holding in one hand a little wooden cross, and in the
other a ribbon, with which she led forth her interesting captive. She
then advanced into the middle of the town and presented the people
with the dragon, as embarrassing a present as the proverbial white
elephant; but they seem to have risen to the occasion, for we find
afterwards an annual festival held in honour of the Saint, while good
King Réné of Anjou instituted an Order of the Dragon for the more
effectual keeping alive of the memory of the event. As St. Martha is
more especially set down in the "Lives of the Saints" as the patron
saint of good housewives, she might well have been excused had she
declined a service in itself so dangerous and so far removed from the
daily round, the trivial task; but the overthrowing of the mighty by
an instrument so weak gives additional point to the story, and
vindicates triumphantly the power of faith over evil.

The "Legenda Aurea," written by Jacobus de Voraigne, Archbishop of
Genoa, in the year 1260, is what Warton termed "an inexhaustible
repository of religious fable." For some centuries it was considered
to have an almost sacred character, and its popularity was so great
that it passed through an immense number of editions in the Latin,
Dutch, German, and French languages. It should have the more interest
to us, too, from the fact that it was one of the earliest of English
printed books, Caxton publishing the first English edition in 1493.
This was followed by other editions by Wynkyn de Worde in the years
1498, 1512, and 1527. The following account of our patron saint is
taken from this source, a much less favourable history being found in
Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."[4]

  [4] Appendix A.

Once upon a time the neighbourhood of the city of Sylene was infested
with an enormous dragon, who, making a "ponde, lyke a sea," which
skirted the walls, his usual residence, was accustomed to envenom the
miserable citizens with his pestiferous breath, and therefore they
gave him every day two sheep for his dinner, and when these were spent
they chose by lot a male and female, daily, whom they exposed to the
monster. At length, after many of the rich had been compelled to
sacrifice their offspring, the lot fell upon the king's daughter, a
lovely maiden, and the idol of a fond father, who, in the bitterness
of his grief, entreated his subjects for the love of the gods to take
his gold and silver, and all that he had, and spare his child; but
they replied that he had himself made the law, and that they had
suffered in obeying it, and concluded by telling him that unless he
complied with his own mandate, they would take off his head. This
answer only increased the king's affliction; but being anxious to
defer, if he could not avert, his daughter's death, he craved that a
respite of eight days might be given her; and his people, moved,
apparently, by the groans and tears of the sorrowful old man, granted
his request. When the stipulated time had elapsed, they came and said
to him, "Ye see how the city perisheth!" So the monarch bade his child
array herself in her richest apparel, and led her forth to "the place
where the dragon was, and left her there."

It chanced that St. George, who, like a true knight-errant, was
travelling in quest of dangerous adventures, arrived at the spot not
long after the king's departure, and was much astonished when he
beheld so fair a lady lingering there alone and weeping bitterly, and
riding up he asked the cause of her sorrow. But she, unwilling to
detain him in a place so perilous, entreated him to leave her to her
fate. "Go on your way, young man," she said, "lest ye perish also."
But St. George would know the truth, so the maiden told him. Then was
the knight's heart merry within him, and he rejoined, "Fayre doughter,
doubte ye no thynge hereof, for I shall helpe thee in the name of
Jesu Christe." She said, "For Goddes sake, good knyght, goo your waye,
and abyde not wyth me, for ye may not deliver me." St. George,
however, was of a different opinion, and indeed, had he resolved, upon
second thoughts, to escape, he could not have done so, for the dragon,
smelling human flesh from afar, emerged from the lake while the lady
was speaking, and now came running towards his victim. Not a moment
was to be lost, so St. George crossed himself, drew his sword, and
placing his lance in the rest, rushed to meet the monster, who, little
expecting such a rough greeting, received the weapon "in his bosom,"
and rolled over in the dust. Then said the victor to the rescued
virgin, "Take thy girdle, and bind it round the dragon's neck;" and
when the lady had obeyed her champion, the monster followed her as if
it had been "a meek beeste and debonayre." And so she led him into the
city; and when the people saw her coming they fled with affright,
expecting to perish all of them; but St. George shouted, "Doubt
nothing, believe in God Jesus Christ, consent to be baptized, and I
will slay the dragon before your eyes." The citizens immediately
consented, so the Saint attacked the monster, and smote off his head,
and commanded that he should be thrown into the green fields, and they
took four carts with oxen, and drew him out of the city. Then were
fifteen thousand men baptized (without reckoning the women and
children), and the king erected a church, and dedicated it to Our Lady
and St. George, in which floweth "a founteyne of lyuying water which
heleth seeke people that drynke therof." After this the prince offered
the champion incalculable riches, but he refused them all, and
enjoining the king to take care of the church, to honour the priests,
and pity the poor, he kissed him and departed.

Some time after this marvellous event the Emperor Diocletian so
cruelly persecuted the Christians, that "twenty-two thousand were
martyred in the course of one month," and many others forsook God and
sacrificed to idols. When St. George heard this he laid aside his
arms, and sold his possessions, and took the habit of a "crysten-man,"
and went into the midst of the "paynims," and began to denounce their
gods as devils. "My God," cried he, "made heaven and earth, He only is
the true God." Then said they to him, "How dare ye defame our deities?
Who art thou?--what is thy name?"--"My name is George; I am a
gentleman and knight of Cappadocia, and I have left all to serve my
Lord," replied the Saint. Seeing that the stranger was no common man,
the ruler of that district endeavoured to gain him over with fair
words, but finding the knight inflexible, he tied him aloft on a
gibbet, and caused him to be cruelly beaten; and then, having rubbed
salt into his wounds, he bound him with heavy chains and thrust him
into a dark dungeon. But our Lord appeared to him that same night and
comforted him, "moche swetely," so that the warrior took good heart
and feared no torment which he might have to suffer. The chief
magistrate, whose name was Dacien, finding he could not shake his
prisoner's faith by the infliction of torture, consulted with an
enchanter, who agreed to lose his head should his "crafts" fail; and
taking strong poison, the wizard mingled it with wine and invoked his
gods and gave it to the Saint, who, making the sign of the cross,
thanked him kindly, and drank it off without injury. Astonished at the
failure of his plan, the magician made a draught still more venomous,
and finding that this also had no ill effect on the charmed warrior,
he himself acknowledged the might of Christ, embraced St. George's
knees, and entreated to be made a Christian,--and his request was
immediately granted.

The provost's fury knew no bounds when he witnessed these marvels. He
stretched the champion on the rack, but the engine broke in pieces; he
plunged him into boiling lead, and lo! the Saint came out "refreshed
and strengthened." When Dacien saw this he began to moderate his
anger, and again had recourse to flattery, praying the Saint to
renounce his faith and sacrifice to the idols, and, much to his
surprise, the knight questioned him with a smiling countenance why he
had not asked him before, and promised to do his bidding. Then the
provost was glad indeed, and assembled all the people to see the
champion sacrifice. So they thronged the temple where the Saint was
kneeling before the shrine of Jupiter, but he earnestly prayed a while
to the true God, entreating Him to destroy those accursed images and
convert the deluded Romans,--"and anone the fyre descended from heuens
and brente the temple and the ydolles and theyr prestes;" and
immediately after the earth opened and swallowed up all the ashes.
This last marvel only hardened the ruler's heart and strengthened him
in his infidelity; he caused the warrior to be brought before him, and
sternly reproved him for his duplicity. "Thenne sayd to him Saynt
George, 'Syr, beleue it not, but come wyth me and see how I shall
sacrefise.' Thenne said Dacyan to him, 'I see wel thy frawde and thy
treachery; thou wylt make the erthe to swalowe me lyke as thou hast
the temple and my goddes.'"

Then said St. George, "O catiff, tell me how thy gods help thee when
they cannot help themselves?" Then was the provost so enraged that he
ran to his wife, and, telling her that he should die of anger if he
could not master his prisoner, requested her counsel. "Cruel tyrant,"
replied his loving spouse, "instead of plotting against this
heaven-protected knight, I too am resolved to become a Christian!"
"Thou wilt!" returned her husband furiously, and taking her by her
flowing tresses, he dashed her against the pavement, when, feeling
herself in the agonies of death, she craved of St. George to know her
future lot, seeing she had not been christened. Then answered the
blessed Saint, "Doubt thee nothing, fair daughter, for thou shalt be
baptized in thine own blood." Then began she to worship our Lord Jesus
Christ, and so died and went to heaven. Thither the martyr followed
her very shortly, for Dacien caused St. George to be beheaded, and "so
he perished." But the cruel persecutor did not long survive his
victim, for as he was returning to his palace, says the legend, from
the place of execution, "fire came down from heaven and destroyed him
and all his followers."[5]

  [5] Appendix B.

In the Middle Ages the dragon gave a title in Hungary to an order of
knighthood, that of "the dragon overthrown." This was established in
the year 1418, to perpetuate the memory of the condemnation of John
Huss and Jerome of Prague by the Council of Constance for heresy, and
to denote the overthrow of the doctrines these men propagated in
Hungary, Bohemia, and elsewhere in Germany, and for which they were
ultimately burnt at the stake. The badge of the order was a dragon
prostrate. In China the dragon is the symbol of the Imperial power,
and all our readers who are familiar with the appearance of the
Celestial pottery, bronzes, and so forth, will readily recall how
commonly the form is introduced. Some little time ago the Chinese
Government permitted coal-mines to be opened at Kai-ping, but they
were speedily closed again, as it was supposed that their continued
working would release the earth-dragon, disturb the Manes of the
Empress, and generally bring trouble upon the Imperial house and upon
the nation. Uncharitable people, however, have been found to declare
that the fear of the earth-dragon is all an excuse, and that, as the
Government set its face against the introduction of railways, so it
was equally prepared, in its rigid conservatism and hatred of
innovations, to forswear the mining operations. The dragon of the
Chinese designers is of the weirdest forms, and conceived with a
freedom and wildness of fancy that puts to shame our Western attempts,
powerful as they often are.

As a symbol and attribute the dragon is constantly appearing in
mediæval work, as carvings, illuminations, and the like, and we may
remind our readers that in the term gargoyle, used in speaking of the
strange and monstrous forms often found in our old cathedrals and
abbeys doing duty as water-shoots, we get the dragon idea again, as
the word is derived from an old French word signifying some such
draconic monster. While, however, we find ourselves thus classing the
dragon amongst the mythical and arbitrary forms of the stone-carver or
the herald, we must be careful to remember that its terror had not
thus in earlier days lost its sting, for the workman who sculptured it
on a capital or thrust its hideous form into any other noticeable
position not only regarded it as a symbol, but believed very really
and truly in its veritable existence. Albertus Magnus gives a long
account of the creature, an account altogether too elaborate for us to
here transcribe; but its capture, according to him, is an easy matter
enough if one only goes the right way to work. It was fortunately
ascertained that dragons are "greatly afraid of thunder, and the
magicians who require dragons for their enchantments get drums, on
which they roll heavily, so that the noise is mistaken for thunder by
the dragons, and they are vanquished." The thing is simplicity itself,
and rather detracts from the halo of heroism that has hitherto
surrounded dragon vanquishers. A man is scarcely justified in blowing
his trumpet when he has previously so cowed his antagonist by beating
his drum and deluding its dull brains with his fictitious thunder.
Pliny says that the eyes of a dragon, preserved dry, pulverised and
then made up with honey, cause those who are anointed therewith to
sleep securely from all dread of spirits of the darkness. In a
mediæval work we are told that "the turning joint in the chine of a
dragon doth promise an easy and favourable access into the presence of
great lords." One can only wonder why this should be, all clue and
thread of connection between the two things being now so hopelessly
lost. We must not however forget that, smile now as we may at this,
there was a time when our ancestors accepted the statement with the
fullest faith, and many a man who would fain have pleaded his cause
before king or noble bewailed with hearty regret his want of draconic
chine, the "turning-point" of the dragon and of his own fortunes.
Another valuable receipt--"Take the taile and head of a dragon, the
haire growing upon the forehead of a lion, with a little of his marrow
also, the froth moreover that a horse fomethe at the mouth who hath
woon the victorie and prize in running a race, and the nailes besides
of a dogs-feete: bind all these together with a piece of leather made
of a red deers skin, with the sinewes partly of a stag, partly of a
fallow deere, one with another: carry this about with you and it will
work wonders." It seems almost a pity that the actual benefits to be
derived from the possession of this compound are not more clearly
defined, as there is no doubt that a considerable amount of trouble
would be involved in getting the various materials together, and the
zeal and ardour of the seeker after this wonder-working composition
would be somewhat damped by the troublesome and recurring question,
Wherefore? Mediæval medicine-men surely must have been somewhat chary
of adopting the now familiar legend "Prescriptions accurately
dispensed," when the onus of making up such a mixture could be laid
upon them. John Leo, in his "History of Africa" says that the dragon
is the progeny of the eagle and wolf. After describing its appearance,
he says--"This monster, albeit I myself have not seen it yet, the
common report of all Africa affirmeth that there is such a one." Other
writers affirm that the dragon is generated by the great heat of India
or springs from the volcanoes of Ethiopia; and one is tempted to take
the prosaic view that this dragon rearing and slaying is but a more
poetic way of dwelling on some miasmatic exhalation reduced to
harmlessness by judicious drainage; that the monster that had slain
its thousands was at last subdued by no glittering spear wielded by
knightly or saintly arm, but by the spade of the navvy and the
drain-pipes of the sanitary engineer. Father Pigafetta in his book
declares that "Mont Atlas hath plenty of dragons, grosse of body, slow
of motion, and in byting or touching incurably venomous. In Congo is a
kind of dragons like in biggnesse to rammes with wings, having long
tayles and divers jawes of teeth of blue and greene, painted like
scales, with two feete, and feede on rawe fleshe." We cannot ourselves
help feeling that if we saw a dragon like in bigness to a ram we
should so far be disappointed in him. After having had our imagination
filled by legend after legend we should look for something decidedly
bulkier than that, and should feel that he really was not living up to
his reputation. Abundant illustrations of the most unnatural history
may be found in the works of Aldrovandus: his voluminous works on
animals are very curious and interesting, and richly illustrated with
engravings at least as quaint in character as the text. His
"Monstrorum Historia," published in folio at Bologna in 1642, is a
perfect treasure-house; the various volumes range in date from 1602 to
1668, and are, with one exception (Venice), published at either
Bologna or Frankfort. If any of our readers can get an opportunity of
looking through them they will find themselves well repaid.

Amongst the Lansdowne MSS. in the British Museum will be found
Aubrey's "Gentilisme and Judaisme." His remarks on St. George and the
dragon are sufficiently quaint and interesting to justify insertion
here. "Dr. Peter Heylin," he says, "did write the Historie of St.
George of Cappadocia, which is a very blind business. When I was of
Trin. Coll. there was a sale of Mr. William Cartright's (poet) books,
many whereof I had: amongst others (I know not how) was Dr. Daniel
Featley's Handmayd to Religion, which was printed shortly after Dr.
Heylin's Hist. aforesaid. In the Holyday Devotions he speaks of St.
George, and asserts the story to be fabulous, and that there never was
any such man. William Cartright writes in the margent--For this
assertion was Dr. Featley brought upon his knees before William Laud,
Abp. of Canterbury. See Sir Thomas Browne's 'Vulgar Errors' concerning
St. George, where are good Remarks. He is of opinion that ye picture
of St. George was only emblematical. Methinks ye picture of St. George
fighting with ye Dragon hath some resemblance of St. Michael fighting
with the Devil, who is pourtrayed like a Dragon. Ned Bagshaw of Chr.
Ch. 1652, shewed me somewhere in Nicophorus Gregoras that ye picture
of St. George's horse on a wall neighed on some occasion."

A vast amount of learning upon the subject of our patron saint may be
found in Selden's "Titles of Honour," in which he treats of "The
chiefest testimonies concerning St. George in the Western Church, and
a consideration how he came to be taken for the patron saint of the
English nation." Selden originally inclined to the idea that the saint
first stepped into this exalted position in the reign of Edward III.,
but in "a most ancient Martyrologie" that he afterwards came
across--one of Saxon date in the library of one of the Cambridge
Colleges--he found a sufficient testimony that the position of the
saint as patron of Britain dated from a much earlier time.

Peter Suchenwirt, a German poet of the fourteenth century, gives in
one of his poems a very curious and striking illustration of the
esteem in which at the battle of Poictiers the English soldiers held
their patron saint:--

    "Di Frantzois schrienn 'Nater Dam!'
    Das spricht Unser Fraw mit nam;
    Der  chrey erhal;
    'Sand Jors! Sand Jors!'"

    "The French shout forth 'Notre Dame,'
    Thus calling on our Lady's name;
    To which the English host reply,
    'St. George! St. George!' their battle cry."

The Celtic use of the word dragon for a chieftain is curious: in time
of danger a sort of dictator was appointed under the title of
pen-dragon. Hence any of the English knights who slew a chieftain in
battle were dragon vanquishers, and it has been suggested that the
military title was at times confused with that of the fabulous
monster, and that a man thus got an added credit that did not belong
to him. The theory is not, however, really tenable, as all the
veritable dragon-slayers had the great advantage of living a long time
ago, and no such halo of romance could well have attached itself to
men of comparatively modern times. In any case, too, the use of the
Celtic word is very local, and does not meet the case of a tithe of
the histories of such deeds of valour. The red dragon was the ensign
of Cadwallader, the last of the British kings. The Tudors claimed
descent from this ancient monarch, and Henry VII. adopted this device
for his standard at the battle of Bosworth Field. There is a place in
Berkshire called Dragon Hill, near Uffington, and the more famous
White Horse Hill, that is in local legend the scene of the encounter
between St. George and the dragon; and for full confirmation a bare
place is shown on the hillside where nothing will grow, because there
the poisonous blood of the creature was shed. We learn, however, in
the Saxon annals that Cedric, the West-Saxon monarch, overthrew and
slew here the pen-dragon Naud, with five thousand of his men. The name
of the hill, therefore, commemorates this ancient victory; but the
common folk of the district, who know nothing of pen-dragons,
erroneously ascribe the battle won there to the more familiar St.

The dragon of Wantley deserves a passing word, since he supplies a
good illustration of how the mythical and the material are often mixed
up. Wantley is merely a corruption of Wharncliffe, a delightful
spot[6] near Sheffield, and here, of all places in the world, this
very objectionable dragon took up his abode. One ordinarily expects to
hear of such creatures uncoiling their monstrous forms in some dense
morass or lurking in the dark recesses of some wide-stretching and
gloomy forest; possibly he may have found the choice of such an
attractive locality may have helped him to an occasional tourist. On
the opposite side of the Don to the crag that held the cave of the
dragon stood the desirable residence of More Hall; and its owner,
doubtless feeling that the presence of such an objectionable neighbour
was a great depreciation of his property, determined one day to bring
matters to a crisis; so he walked up to the mouth of the cave clad in
a suit of armour thickly covered with spikes, and administered such a
vigorous kick in the dragon's mouth, the only place where he was
vulnerable, that the whole transaction was over almost at once, and he
was back again in ample time for lunch. Dr. Percy, the editor of
"Reliques of Antient English Poetry," holds that we must not accept
this story too seriously; that, in fact, the old ballad in which it is
set forth is a burlesque, and that the real facts are as
follows:--that the dragon was an overbearing and rascally lawyer who
had long availed himself of his position and influence to oppress his
poorer neighbours, but he capped a long series of dishonest and
disreputable actions by depriving three orphan children of an estate
to which they were entitled. A Mr. More generously took up their
cause, brought all the armoury of the law to bear upon the spoiler,
and completely defeated him, and the thievish attorney shortly
afterwards died of chagrin and vexation.

  [6] Lady Mary Wortley Montagu lived here for some time. Writing
  afterwards from Avignon, and dwelling on the exquisite landscape
  there spread out before her when standing on the Castle height, she
  exclaims that "it is the most beautiful land prospect I ever saw,
  except Wharncliffe."

    "Old stories tell how Hercules
      A dragon slew at Lerna,
    With seven heads and fourteen eyes,
      To see and well discern-a;
    But he had a club this dragon to drub,
      Or he had ne'er done it, I warrant ye;
    But More of More Hall, with nothing at all,
      He slew the dragon of Wantley.

    This dragon had two furious wings,
      Each one upon each shoulder;
    With a sting in his tayl, as long as a flayl,
      Which made him bolder and bolder.
    He had long claws, and in his jaws
      Four-and-forty teeth of iron;
    With a hide as tough as any buff,
      Which did him round environ.

    Have you not heard how the Trojan horse
      Held seventy men in his belly?
    This dragon was not quite as big,
      But very near, I tell ye.
    Devouréd he poor children three,
      That could not with him grapple;
    And at one sup, he eat them up,
      As one would eat an apple.

    All sorts of cattle this dragon did eat,
      Some say he did eat up trees,
    And that the forests sure he could
      Devour up by degrees:
    For houses and churches were to him geese and turkeys:
      He eat all, and left none behind,
    But some stones, dear Jack, that he could not crack,
      Which on the hills you will find.

    In Yorkshire, near fair Rotherham,
      The place I know it well;
    Some two or three miles, or thereabouts,
      I vow I cannot tell;
    But there is a hedge, just on the hill edge,
      And Matthew's house hard by it;
    O there and then was this dragon's den,
      You could not chuse but spy it.

    Hard by a furious knight there dwelt,
      Of whom all towns did ring;
    For he could wrestle, play quarterstaff, kick and cuff,
      And any such kind of a thing;
    By the tail and the main with his hands twain
      He swung a horse till he was dead,
    And that which is stranger, he in his anger
      Eat him all up but his head.

    These children, as I told, being eat;
      Men, women, girls and boys,
    Sighing and sobbing, came to his lodging,
      And made a hideous noise:
    'O save us all, More of More Hall,
      Thou peerless knight of these woods;
    Do but slay this dragon, who won't leave us a rag on,
      We'll give thee all our goods.'

    'Tut, tut,' quoth he, 'no goods I want;
      But I want, I want, in sooth,
    A fair maid of sixteen that's brisk and keen,
      And smiles about the mouth:
    Hair black as sloe, skin white as snow,
      With blushes her cheeks adorning;
    To anoynt me o'er night, ere I go out to fight,
      And to gird me in the morning.'

    This being done, he did engage
      To hew the dragon down;
    But first he went, new armour to
      Bespeak at Sheffield town;
    With spikes all about, not within but without,
      Of steel so sharp and strong;
    Both behind and before, arms, legs, and all o'er,
      Some five or six inches long.

    Had you but seen him in this dress,
      How fierce he looked and how big,
    You would have thought him for to be
      Some Egyptian porcupig:
    He frighted all, cats, dogs, and all,
      Each cow, each horse, and each hog;
    For fear they did flee, for they took him to be
      Some strange outlandish hedge-hog.

    It is not strength that always wins,
      For wit doth strength excell;
    Which made our cunning champion
      Creep down into a well,
    Where he did think this dragon would drink,
      And so he did in truth;
    And as he stooped low he rose up and cried 'boh!'
      And hit him in the mouth.

    Our politick knight, on the other side
      Crept out upon the brink,
    And gave the dragon such a crack,
      He knew not what to think.
    'Aha,' quoth he, 'say you so, do you see?'
      And then at him he let fly
    With hand and with foot, and so they both went to't,
      And the word it was, hey, boys, hey!

    'Oh,' quoth the dragon with a deep sigh,
      And turned six times together,
    Sobbing and tearing, cursing and swearing,
      Out of his throat of leather;
    'More of More Hall! O thou rascàl!
      Would I had seen thee never;
    With that thing at thy foot thou hast pricked me sore,
      And I'm quite undone for ever.'

    'Murder, murder,' the dragon cried,
      'Alack, alack, for grief;
    Had you but missed that place, you could
      Have done me no mischief.'
    Then his head he shaked, he trembled and quaked,
      And down he laid and cried;
    First on one knee, then on back tumbled he,
      And groaned, and kicked, and died."

We sometimes see allusions in poetry and the press to the sowing of
dragons' teeth. The reference is always to some subject of civil
strife, to some burning question that rouses the people of a state to
take up arms against each other.

The incident is derived from the old classic legend of the founding of
Thebes by Kadmos. Arriving on the site of the future city, he proposed
to make a sacrifice to the protecting goddess Athene, but on sending
his men to a not far distant fountain for water, they were attacked
and slain by a terrible dragon. Kadmos thereupon went himself and slew
the monster, and at the command of Athene sowed its teeth in the
ground, from whence immediately sprang a host of armed giants. These
on the instant all turned their arms against each other, and that too
with such fury that all were presently slain save five. Kadmos invoked
the aid of these giants in the building of the new city, and from
these five the noblest families of Thebes hereafter traced their
lineage. The myth has been the cause of much perplexity to scholars
and antiquaries, but it has been fairly generally accepted that the
slaying of the dragon after it had destroyed many of the followers of
Kadmos indicates the final reduction of some great natural obstacle,
after some few or more had been first vanquished by it. We may imagine
such an obstacle to colonisation as a river hastily rising and
sweeping all before it in its headlong flood, or an aguish and
fever-breeding morass. The springing-up of the armed men from the soil
has been construed as signifying that the Thebans in after times
regarded themselves as the original inhabitants of the country--no
mere interlopers, but sons of the soil from time immemorial; while
their conflicts amongst themselves, as their city rose to fame, have
been too frequently reflected time after time elsewhere to need any
very special exposition.

Another literary allusion in which the dragon bears its part is seen
in the dragonnades, those religious persecutions which drove so many
thousands of Protestants out of France during the Middle Ages. Their
object was to root heresy out of the land. Those who were willing to
recant were left in peaceable possession of their goods, while the
others were handed over to the tender mercies of the soldiery let
loose upon them. These were chiefly dragoons; hence the origin of the
term dragonnade; and these dragoons were so called because they were
armed with a short musket or carbine called a dragon, while the gun in
turn was so called because it spouted out fire like the dreadful
monsters of the legends were held to do. On many of the early muskets
this idea was emphasised by having the head of a dragon wrought on the
muzzle, the actual flash of the piece on its discharge issuing from
its mouth.

One naturally turns to Shakespeare for an apt illustration of any
conceivable point that may arise. The lover finds in him his tender
sonnets, the lawyer his quillets of the law, the soldier the
glorification of arms, and the philosopher rich mines of wisdom. The
antiquary finds in him no less a golden wealth of allusion to all the
customs and beliefs of his day. In "Midsummer Night's Dream" we find
the lines--

    "Night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
    And yonder comes Aurora's harbinger."

We get much the same idea again in the line in "Cymbeline"--"Swift,
swift you dragons of the night," and in "Troilus and Cressida"--"The
dragon wing of night o'erspreads the earth." "Scale of dragon, tooth
of wolf," and many other horrible ingredients are found in the
witches' caldron in "Macbeth," while in "King Lear" we are advised not
to come "between the dragon and his wrath." King Richard III. rushes
to his fate with the words, "Our ancient word of courage, fair St.
George, inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons." In "Coriolanus"
we find another admirable allusion--

    "Though I go alone, like to a lonely dragon that his fen
    Makes feared and talked of more than seen."

In the play of "Pericles" we have the lines--

    "Golden fruit, but dangerous to be touched,
    For death-like dragons here affright thee hard."

And there are other references in "Romeo and Juliet" and other
plays--references that it is needless here to give, as enough has been
quoted to show our great poet's realisation of this scaly monster of
the marsh and forest. In the last extract we have given, that from
"Pericles," the golden fruit are the apples of the Hesperides, guarded
by the dragon Ladon, foul offspring of Typhon and Echidna. Allusions
to this golden fruit are very common amongst the poets, so we content
ourselves with quoting as an illustration one that is less well known
than many, from a poem by Robert Greene in the year 1598:--

    "Shew thee the tree, leafed with refinèd gold,
    Whereon the fearful dragon held his seat,
    That watched the garden called Hesperides."

The dragon, like the griffin, is oftentimes the fabled guardian of
treasure: we see this not only in the classic story of the garden of
the Hesperides, but more especially in the tales of Eastern origin.
Any of our readers who have duly gone through much of the "Arabian
Nights' Entertainments" will scarcely have failed to notice the
employment of the dragon as a defender of gold and other hoarded
wealth. Guillim, in his quaint book on heraldry, says that these
treasures are committed to their charge "because of their admirable
sharpness of sight, and for that they are supposed of all other living
things to be the most valiant." He goes on to add that "they are
naturally so hot that they cannot be cooled by drinking of water, but
still gape for the air to refresh them, as appeareth in Jeremiah xiv.
6, where it saith that the 'wild asses did stand in the high places,
they snuffed up the wind like dragons.'" Any one who has been in any
mountainous district in hot weather will no doubt have noticed the
cattle fringing the ridges of the hills like a row of sentinels. When
we first observed this, and wondered at it, in North Wales, we were at
once told that it was a regular habit of the creatures, that they did
it partly to avoid the plague of flies that haunted the lower levels
and the woodlands, but more especially to get the benefit of any
breeze that might be stirring. While Guillim is willing to admit that
even a dragon can render valuable service to those who are so
fortunate as to be able to procure his kind offices, and induce him to
play the part of watchdog, he very properly regards him, and such like
monsters, as something decidedly uncanny. "Another sort there is," he
says, "of exorbitant Animals much more prodigious than all the former.
Such are those creatures formed, or rather deformed, with the confused
shapes of creatures of different kinds and qualities. These monsters
(saith St. Augustine) cannot be reckoned amongst those good Creatures
that God created before the transgression of Adam, for those did God,
when He took the survey of them, pronounce to be _valde bona_, for
they had in them neither excess nor defect, but were the perfect
workmanship of God's creation. If man had not transgressed the Law of
his Maker this dreadful deformity (in likelihood) had not happened in
the creation of animals which some Philosophers do call _Peccata

The dragon, though, as we have seen, at times induced to mount guard
over other people's property, is ordinarily a very Ishmaelite; his
hand is against everybody, and everybody's hand against him; yet would
he appear, if we may credit Pliny, to bear an excess and maximum of
ill-will against the elephant. The elephant always strikes one as
being such a great good-natured beast, as one who could do so much
mischief if he would, yet spends his strength instead for the good of
others, that it is difficult to understand how he should in so
pre-eminent a degree have earned the ill-will of so potent an enemy.
The dragon would appear to be always the aggressor, and the elephant
has to defend himself as well as he can against the uncalled-for
attack: it is satisfactory in this case to know that the scaly
assailant sometimes fully meets his match. In Book VIII. of Pliny's
history we read that "India bringeth forth the biggest elephants, as
also the dragons, that are continually at variance with them, and
evermore fighting, and those of such greatnesse that they can easily
clasp and wind them round the elephants, and withall tie them fast
with a knot. In this conflict they die, both the one and the other;
the elephant hee falls downe dead as conquered, and with his great and
heavie weight crusheth and squeaseth the dragon that is wound and
wreathed about him. Also the dragon assaileth him from an high tree,
and launceth himselfe upon him, but the elephant knowing well enough
he is not able to withstand his windings and knottings about him,
seeketh to come close to some trees or hard rocks, and so for to crush
and squeese the dragon between him and them. The dragons ware hereof,
entangle and snare his feet and legs first with their taile; the
elephants on the other side undoe those knots with their trunke as
with a hand, but to prevent that againe, the dragons put in their
heads into their snout, and so stop their wind, and withall fret and
gnaw the tenderest parts that they find there." One does not quite
understand how this last counter-plan of the dragon is effected, but
it is evidently to be understood as equivalent to "checkmate."

In the "Bestiare Divin" of Guillaume this antagonism of the elephant
and dragon is again referred to, and indeed we find it an accepted
belief throughout the Middle Ages. Pliny's work was held for centuries
in the greatest admiration, and to add "as Pliny saith" to any
statement, no matter how wild, was considered amply sufficient.
Guillaume's description of the dragon is as follows--"C'est le plus
grand des animaux rampants. Il nait en Éthiopie: il a la gueule petit,
le corps long et reluisant comme or fin. C'est l'ennemie de
l'éléphant; c'est avec sa queue qu'il triomphe de lui: là est, en
effet, le principe de sa force; sa gueule ne porte point venin de
mort." The book of Guillaume is a fair type of several books of the
sort written by ecclesiastics during the Middle Ages. Such books were
an attempt to show that all the works of nature were symbols and
teachers of great Scriptural truths; hence, while much that they give
is interesting, their statements always require to be received with
great caution. If the facts of the case got at all in the way of a
good moral, so much the worse for the facts; and if a little or a
great modification of the true state of the case could turn a good
moral into one much better, the goodness of the intention was held to
amply justify the departure from the hampering influence of the real
facts. The MS. of Guillaume dates from the thirteenth century, and is
at present preserved in the National Library in Paris. The writer was
a Norman priest. The work has been very well reproduced in a French
dress by Hippeau, a compatriot of the writer.[7] As we simply wish in
our extract to bring out the belief in the antagonism between the
elephant and the dragon, we forbear to add any moral teachings that a
more or less morbid symbolism was able to deduct from the
supposititious fact; but we shall have occasion to quote again more
than once from the "Bestiare," and doubtless the peculiar connection
between scientific error and religious truth will have an opportunity
of making itself felt in one or more of these extracts.

  [7] Appendix C.

Referring back to the "300 Animals," the natural history that was
considered good enough for the people living in the year of grace
1786, we find, after the account of the Dart, "so called from his
flying like an arrow from the tops of trees and hedges upon men, by
which means he stings and wounds them to death," the following
description:--"The Cockatrice is called the king of serpents, not from
his bigness--for he is much inferior in this respect to many
serpents--but because of his majestic pace, for he does not creep upon
the ground, like other serpents, but goes half upright, for which
cause all other serpents avoid him; and it seems nature designed him
that pre-eminence, by the crown or coronet upon his head. Writers
differ concerning the production of this animal. Some are of opinion
that it is brought forth of a cock's egg sat upon by a snake or toad,
and so becomes a cockatrice. It is said to be half a foot in length,
the hinder part like a serpent, the fore part like a cock. Others are
of opinion that the cock that lays the egg sits upon and hatches it
himself. These monsters are bred in Africa and some parts of the
world." In England it would appear, so far as we have observed the
matter, that the hens have entirely usurped the egg-laying department,
and we are therefore spared the mortification of finding that our
hoped-for chick has assumed the less welcome form of a cockatrice, for
we shall see that the advent of a cockatrice is no laughing matter.
The book goes on to tell us that authors differ about the bigness of
it, for some say it is a span in compass and half a foot long, while
others, with a truer sense of the marvellous, realise more fully that
bulk is a potent element in all such matters, and at once make it four
feet long. Its poison is so strong that there is no cure for it, and
the air is in such a degree affected by its presence that no creature
can live near it. It kills, we are assured, not only by its touch, but
even the sight of the cockatrice, like that of the basilisk, is death.
We read, for instance, in "Romeo and Juliet" of "the death-darting eye
of cockatrice;" and again in "King Richard III."--"A cockatrice hast
thou hatched to the world whose unavoided eye is murtherous;" while in
"Twelfth Night" we find the passage, "This will so fright them both,
that they will kill one another by the look, like cockatrices." After
this we can scarcely wonder at a certain vagueness of description, as
those who never saw the animal have full licence of description, while
those, less fortunate, who have had an opportunity of studying from
the life have forfeited their own in doing so. The only hope of
getting an idea of it would be the discovery of a dead specimen, for
we read that "as all other serpents are afraid of the sight and
hissing of a cockatrice, so is the cockatrice itself very fearful of a
weasel, which after it has eaten rue will set upon and destroy the
cockatrice. Besides this little creature, it is said there is no
other animal in the world able to contend with it." We can well
imagine the indignant astonishment of the cockatrice, after being for
years the monarch of all it surveyed, when the gallant little weasel,
strong in the triple armour which makes a quarrel just, and duly
fortified by the internal application of rue, charges boldly home and
takes him, _monstrorum rex_, by the throat. At the time that our
authorised version of the Old Testament was made there was a
sufficient belief in the creature to make the translation of some
Hebrew word seem correctly rendered by the word cockatrice, for we
read in the book of Isaiah that one sign of the millennial peace shall
be that the child shall put his hand, unharmed, upon the den of the
cockatrice; and a little farther on we find the passage, "For out of
the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall
be a fiery flying serpent." In the fifty-ninth chapter the workers of
iniquity are described as hatching the cockatrice egg, and amongst the
judgments pronounced upon the impenitent Jews by the prophet Jeremiah
we find the verse, "Behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, amongst
you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you." The heraldic
cockatrice is represented as having the head and legs of a cock, a
scaly and serpent-like body, and the wings of a dragon.

Guillim[8] in his "Heraldry" says that "the Cockatrice is called in
Latin Regulus, for that he seemeth to be a little King among Serpents:
not in regard of his Quantity, but in respect of the Infection of his
pestiferous and poisonous Aspect wherewith he poisoneth the Air. Not
unlike those devillish Witches that do work the Destruction of silly
Infants, as also of the Cattel of such their Neighbours whose
prosperous Estate is to them a most grievous Eye-sore. Of such Virgil
in his Bucolicks makes mention, saying, I know not what wicked Eye
hath bewitched my tender Lambs." The belief in the evil eye has been
almost universal, and may be found in tribes the most remote from each
other either in distance or in time. If it were not that Guillim is so
ostentatiously loyal, and, like all heralds, a zealous upholder of
rank and state, one might suspect him almost of a touch of bitter
sarcasm in ascribing royal rank to the cockatrice, not from his
magnanimity, not from his noble bearing, not from his beauty, but from
the power of inflicting injuries that he so especially displays. When
we consider what sort of a sovereign politically, socially, and every
way the second Charles was, Guillim's dedication of his book to him
errs somewhat, perhaps, on the side of fulsome and sickening
adulation:--"To the most August Charles the Second, King of Great
Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. Dread
Sovereign, Here is a Firmament of Stars that shine not without your
Benign Beam; you are the Sun of our Hemisphere that sets a splendour
on the Nobility: For as they are Jewels and Ornaments to your Crown,
so they derive their lustre and value from thence. From your Breast,
as from a Fountain, the young Plants of honour are cherisht and nurst
up. Your vertuous Atcheivements are their Warrant and Example, and
your Bounty the Guerdon of their Merit. And as all the Roman Emperors
after Julius Cæsar, were desirous to be called Imperatores and Cæsares
after him, so shall all succeeding Princes in this our Albion (in
emulation of your Vertues) be ambitious to bear your Name to

  [8] The reader must notice the near approach to similarity of name
  in the Frenchman Guillaume, author of "Le Bestiare Divin," and in
  the Englishman Guillim, the writer on heraldry, and at the same time
  make due discrimination. They are men of widely different periods,
  and approach our subject from wholly different directions.

The Basilisk, to whom also was given the title of king of the
serpents, was another of the stern, very stern realities of our
forefathers, though, like the cockatrice, it has fallen a victim to
the march of intellect. Its royal rank was bestowed upon it not from
its pestiferous qualities, but from the crest or coronet it wears, or
rather wore, as the species may now be considered extinct. Like the
monstrous kraken of the Norway seas and the classic harpy or minotaur,
down to the sheeted spectre that clanked its chains last century in
churchyard or corridor, it has failed to make good its claims to our
credence; and even the great sea-serpent, that from time to time
appears in the columns of the newspapers when Parliament is not
sitting, will have to appear very visibly elsewhere as well, or the
scepticism of the nineteenth century will disestablish it. The
basilisk was by some old writers described as a huge lizard, but in
later times it became a crested serpent. Exact accuracy on this point
was impossible, as, like the cockatrice, the glance of its eye was
death. Pliny says, "We come now to the basiliske, whom all other
serpents do flie from and are afraid of; albeit he killith them with
his very breath and smell that passeth from him: yea, and by report,
if he do but set his eye on a man it is enough to take away his life."
Readers of Shakespeare will recall the passage in King Henry VI.,
"Come, basilisk, and kill the innocent gazer with thy sight;" and
again where the Lady Anne exclaims to Richard III., with reference to
her eyes, "Would that they were basilisk's, to strike thee dead."
Beaumont and Fletcher, too, in their "Woman Hater," speaks of "The
basilisk's death-doing eye." Dryden avails himself of the same old
belief, and makes Clytus say to Alexander, "Nay, frown not so; you
cannot look me dead;" and in another old poem, King's "Art of Love,"
we find the lines, "Like a boar plunging his tusk in mastiff's gore,
or basilisk, when roused, whose breath, teeth, sting, and eyeballs all
are death." The only way to kill the basilisk was held to be to cause
it to gaze on its own image in a mirror, when its glance would be as
fatal to itself as it had hitherto been to others. To effect this,
however, evidently presents many practical difficulties, and he must
have been a bold man who ventured on so perilous an errand, where the
least nervousness or mismanagement of the mirror would be literally
fatal in bringing the basilisk to a proper state of reflection.

The basilisk is mentioned by most of the old writers, by Dioscorides,
by Galen, Pliny, Solinus, Ælian, Ætius, Avicen, Ardoynus, Grevinus,
and many others. Aristotle makes no mention of it. Scaliger gravely
describes one that was found in Rome in the days of Leo IV., while
Sigonius and others are so far from denying the possibility of such a
beast that they have duly set forth various kinds or sub-species.
Pliny, for instance, describes a thing he calls the Catoblepas, while
Ætius gives details of another called Dryinus, each being only
modifications of the basilisk idea. Where, of course, the whole thing
was purely a figment of the imagination, the multiplication of species
presents no difficulty at all, and it really makes little difference
whether all the peculiarities and properties be focussed on one
creature, or whether they be divided by a three or a four, and due
distribution of them made to a like number of slightly varying
monsters. There is no doubt but that if Baron Munchausen had turned
his attention to this branch of natural history, we should have had
many more species to record, and some of them probably still more
wonderful than any at present described. The very indefiniteness of
the descriptions gives them an added charm and affords full scope for
romancing. Familiarity is undoubtedly likely to lead to contempt, and
probably if the Zoological Society of London are ever able to add a
basilisk to their fine collection of reptiles it will be a very
disappointing feature.

The Phoenix had what we may be allowed to call a literary existence
amongst the Greeks and Romans, but scarcely became a visible creation
of the artist until the mythic fowl was accepted by the early
Christians as a type of the resurrection of the body--an association
of ideas that afterwards rendered its use very common, and Tertullian,
amongst other early writers, thus refers to its symbolic use.
According to a tale narrated to Herodotus on his visit to Heliopolis,
the phoenix visited that place once every 500 years, bringing with it
the body of its predecessor, and burning it with myrrh in the
sanctuary of the Sun-god; but the version on which the Christian moral
and application is based is somewhat different. It is founded on the
old belief that the phoenix, when it arrived at the age of 1461 years,
committed itself to the flames that burst, at the fanning of its
wings, from the funeral pyre that it had itself constructed of costly
spices, and that from its ashes a new phoenix arose to life. This
belief, which appears to us so absurd, was for hundreds of years as
accepted a fact as any other point in natural history. The home of the
phoenix was said to be at that delightfully vague address, somewhere
in Arabia.

In Hoole's translation of the "Orlando Furioso" of Ariosto we have
both the mystic bird and its very indefinite home thus referred to:--

    "Arabia, named the Happy, now he gains;
    Incense and myrrh perfume her grateful plains;
    The Virgin Phoenix there in seek of rest,
    Selects from all the world her balmy nest."

We get the same idea again in Fletcher's poem of "The Purple

    "So that love bird in fruitful Arabie,
      When now her strength and waning life decays,
    Upon some airy rock or mountain high,
      In spicy bed (fix'd by near Phoebus' rays),
    Herself and all her crooked age consumes.
    Straight from her ashes and those rich perfumes,
    A new-born phoenix flies, and widow'd place resumes."

These two extracts speak respectively of the virgin and widowed
phoenix. The latter idea can scarcely be correct; widowhood implies
the loss of a mate, and the phoenix, we are told, is unique and alone
in the world. Pliny and Ovid use the masculine pronoun. The former
writer's account of him, her, or it will be found in the second
chapter of his tenth book, and runs as follows:--"It is reported that
never man was knowne to see him feeding; that in Arabie hee is held a
sacred bird, dedicated unto the Sunne; that he liveth six hundred
years, and when he groweth old and begins to decay, he builds himselfe
a nest with the twigs and branches of the cannell or cinnamon and
frankincense trees; and when he hath filled it with all sort of sweet
aromiticall spices, yieldeth up his life thereupon. He saith,
moreover, that of his bones and marrow there breedeth at first, as it
were, a little worme, which afterwards proveth to bee a pretie bird.
And the first thing that this young phoenix doth is to performe the
obsequies of the former phoenix late deceased; to translate and carie
away his whole nest into the citie of the Sunne, near Panchæ, and to
bestow it there full devoutly upon the altar."

It was one of the venerable jokes of our fathers that a man hearing
that a goose would live one hundred years, determined to buy one and
see whether this really was so; but this simple plan does not seem to
have occurred to any of the ancients, for while Herodotus affirms that
the phoenix lives five hundred years, Pliny as plumply and roundly
asserts as a matter beyond doubt or contradiction that it is six
hundred. Another authority, more precise, though perhaps not more
accurate, brings it, we see, to just one thousand four hundred and
sixty one, the odd unit giving a delightful appearance of extreme
accuracy and precision that seems to challenge one to gainsay it if he

In Ovid the fable is given with the fullest detail. The following
lines from Dryden's translation let us into the secret of how the
whole thing is managed. "Our special correspondent" could hardly be
more precise:--

    "All these receive their birth from other things,
    But from himself the phoenix only springs;
    Self-born, begotten by the parent flame
    In which he burn'd, another and the same;
    Who not by corn or herbs his life sustains,
    But the sweet essence Amomum he drains;
    And watches the rich gums Arabia bears,
    While yet in tender dews they drop their tears.
    He (his five centuries of life fulfill'd)
    His nest of oaken boughs begins to build,
    On trembling tops of palms:[9] and first he draws
    The plan with his broad bill and crooked claws,
    Nature's artificers: on this the pile
    Is formed and rises round: then with the spoil
    Of Cassia, Cynamon, and stems of Nard
    (For softness strewed beneath) his funeral bed is reared.
    Funeral and bridal both: and all around
    The borders with corruptless myrrh are crowned.
    On this incumbent, till ethereal flame;
    First catches then consumes the costly frame;
    Consumes him, too, as on the pile he lies:
    He lived on odours, and on odours dies.
      An infant phoenix from the former springs,
    His father's heir, and from his tender wings
    Shakes off his parent dust, his method he pursues,
    And the same lease of life on the same terms renews.
    When grown to manhood he begins his reign,
    And with stiff pinions can his flight sustain;
    He lightens of his load the tree that bore
    His father's royal sepulchre before,
    And his own cradle: this with pious care
    Placed on his back, he cuts the buxom air,
    Seeks the Sun's city, and his sacred church,
    And decently lays down his burden in the porch."

  [9] Appendix D.

The phoenix was a good deal employed during the Middle Ages, like the
griffin, salamander, and other mythical creatures, as a badge or
heraldic device, one of the most interesting illustrations being its
use by Jane Seymour. Queen Elizabeth then adopted it, and thereby gave
the court poets a grand opportunity of yielding her that highly spiced
flattery that was so much to her liking. Sylvester, in his "Corona
Dedicatoria," a poem written at a slightly later period, thus
introduces the title:--

    "As when the Arabian (only) bird doth burne
    Her aged body in sweet flames to death,
    Out of her cinders a new bird hath breath,
    In whom the beauties of the first return;
    From spicy ashes of the sacred urne
    Of our dead phoenix (deere Elizabeth)
    A new true phoenix lively flourisheth."

Shakespeare frequently employs the ideas associated with the mythical
bird in his writings, and seems to have thoroughly mastered all that
could be said on the subject. Some half-dozen passages may readily be
quoted as illustrations of this. In "As you Like It," for example, we
find the line, "She could not love me, were man as rare as phoenix;"
and the idea of its unique character is again brought out in
"Cymbeline," in the passage, "If she be furnished with a mind so rare,
she is alone the Arabian bird." The destruction of the bird on its own
funeral pile and the resurrection of its successor therefrom is
several times referred to. In 1 Henry VI. we read, "But from their
ashes shall be reared a phoenix that shall make all France afeared;"
and in 3 Henry VI., "My ashes, as the phoenix, may bring forth a bird
that will revenge upon you all;" while as a final example we may quote
the line in Henry VIII., "But as, when the bird of wonder dies, the
maiden phoenix, her ashes new create another heir."

Richardson ascribes an age of one thousand years to the phoenix, and
adds a detail that many of the older writers seem to have missed;
according to him the bird has fifty orifices in his bill, and when he
has built his funeral pyre he treats the world to a melodious ditty
through this novel wind instrument, flaps his wings with an energy
that soon sets fire to the pile, and so perishes. There seems a hint
of this vocal and instrumental performance in "Paradise and the Peri"
where the poet Moore refers to

    "The enchanted pile of that lonely bird,
    Who sings at the last his own death lay,
    And in music and perfume dies away."

The Alchemists employed the phoenix as a symbol of their hopes and
vocation, and in Paracelsus and other writers many curious details of
its association with alchemy may be found.

In the annals of Tacitus we find references to what is termed the
phoenix period. According to him the phoenix appeared on five
occasions in Egypt--in the reign of Sesostris, B.C. 866; in the reign
of Am-Asis B.C. 566; in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphos, B.C. 266;
in the reign of Tiberius, A.D. 34; and in the reign of Constantine,
A.D. 334. It will seem from this that the phoenix cycle consisted of
periods of about 300 years (another variation from the estimates of
Pliny and other writers quoted). The old monastic writers draw
ingenious parallels between our Saviour and the phoenix, both
sacrificing themselves when their career is over, and both rising
again in glory from their temporary resting-place. The fourth of the
dates given above is at once the alleged date of one of these
appearances of the phoenix and also that of the great sacrifice on

Though it seems a tremendous drop from the mythical phoenix of Arabia
and its dissolution in fragrant spices to the old Dun Cow in
Warwickshire, yet the latter proved herself, if legends may be
credited, a foe fully worthy of the prowess of a right knightly arm,
and as deserving of our notice as the dragon-slaying of that valiant
brother star of chivalry St. George himself. Sir Guy of Warwick takes
a high place amongst the famous ancient champions, and Dugdale and
other good authorities hold that the stories connected with his name
are not wholly apocryphal, though doubtless the monks and other early
chroniclers drew the long bow at a venture sometimes. Dugdale, in his
"Warwickshire," A.D. 1730, writes--"Of his particular adventures, lest
what I say should be suspected for fabulous, I will onely instance
that combat betwixt him and the Danish champion, Colebrand, whom some
(to magnifie our noble Guy the more) report to have been a giant. The
storie whereof, however it may be thought fictitious by some,
forasmuch as there be those that make a question whether there was
ever really such a man, yet those that are more considerate will
neither doubt the one nor the other, inasmuch as it hath been so usual
with our ancient Historians, for the encouragement of after ages unto
bold attempts, to set forth the exploits of worthy men with the
highest encomiums possible; and therefore, should we be for that cause
so conceited as to explode it, all history of those times might as
well be vilified.[10] And having said thus much to encounter with the
prejudicate fancies of some and the wayward opinions of others, I come
to the story." We do not ourselves propose to "come to the story,"
though it is all duly set down in Dugdale; though if the fact of Guy's
Danish antagonist being a giant could be fully substantiated, he might
perhaps claim a place in our pages. The date of the combat seems to
have been the year 929. The exploits of Guy were long held in high
favour not only in England but abroad; we find a French version dated
1525, and the British hero is referred to in a Spanish romance which
was written almost a hundred years before this. Chaucer evidently knew
the story well, for he tells us that

    "Men speken of romances of price,
    Of Horne Childe and Ippotis,
    Of Bevis and Sir Guy;"

while Shakespeare, in "King Henry VIII.," makes one of his characters
say, "I am not Samson, nor Sir Guy, nor Colbrand, to mow them down
before me."

  [10] Appendix E.

In Percie's "Reliques of Antient Poetry" is a long black letter ballad
upon the exploits of Guy. It seems unnecessary to quote it _in
extenso_, so we pick out a verse here and there, sufficient at least
to show how doughty a champion our hero must have been:--

    "I slew the gyant Amarant
      In battle fiercelye hand to hand:
    And doughty Barknard killed I,
      A treacherous knight of Pavye land.

    Then I to England came againe,
      And here with Colbronde fell I fought:
    An ugly gyant whom the Danes
      Had for their champion hither brought.

    I overcame him in the field,
      And slewe him soone right valliantlye;
    Wherebye this land I did redeeme
      From Danish tribute utterlye.

    And afterwards I offered upp
      The use of weapons solemnlye
    At Winchester, whereas I fought,
      In sight of manye farr and nye.

    But first, near Winsor, I did slaye
      A bore of passing might and strength;
    Whose like in England never was
      For hugenesse both of bredth and length.

    Some of his bones in Warwicke yet,
      Within the castle there do lye,
    One of his shield-bones to this day
      Hangs in the citye of Coventrye.

    On Dunsmore heath I alsoe slewe
      A monstrous wyld and cruell beast,
    Called the Dun-Cow of Dunsmore heath,
      Which manye people had opprest.

    Some of her bones in Warwicke yett
      Still for a monument doe lye;
    Which unto every lookers viewe
      As wondrous strange, they may espye.

    A dragon in Northumberland,
      I alsoe did in fight destroye,
    Which did both man and beast oppresse,
      And all the countrye sore annoye.

    My body that endured this toyle,
      Though now it be consumed to mold;
    My statue faire engraven in stone,
      In Warwicke still you may behold."

The origin of the story of the mythical dun cow is lost in obscurity,
but in the north-west of Shropshire will be found an eminence known
locally as the Staple Hill, and on this a ring of stones of the rude
Druidic type seen in various parts of England, and most notably at
Avebury, in Wiltshire. This circle is some ninety feet or so in
diameter, and legend has it that this enclosure was used by a giant as
a cow-pen. This cow was no ordinary creature, but yielded her milk
miraculously, filling any vessel that was brought to her. She seems to
have deeply resented the act of an old crone in bringing her a sieve
thus to fill, construed it into a direct insult to her powers (though
one scarcely sees on what ground), broke loose from her enclosure, and
wandered into Warwickshire, doing enormous mischief, until her career
was cut short by the redoubtable Guy. Bones of the dun cow may be seen
in many places, a circumstance that is explained by telling us that on
the victory of the knight over the cow he sent its bones far and wide
over the district it had ravaged, as tokens of victory and a manifest
proof that the monster was no longer to be dreaded. At Warwick a rib
is exhibited: this is some seven feet long, and at Coventry there is a
gigantic blade-bone some eleven feet round. In some cases these
probably are the bones of whales, and in others of the wild bonasus or
urus; but it must be distinctly understood that they do not give
credibility to the legend, but only, in fact, derive an added glory
from being associated with it. In the fine old church of Chesterfield
is another gigantic rib some seven feet or more in length and a foot
in circumference. This rests on the altar-tomb of a now unknown
knight, whose marble effigy is represented clothed in a suit of
armour, and local tradition has naturally bestowed on the once
nameless warrior the proud title of Guy, Earl of Warwick. Another big
rib may be seen in the grand church of St. Mary Redcliff at Bristol.
Near it used to be suspended a grimy old picture representing a
fierce-looking dun cow, and, though the inference was sufficiently
obvious, the sexton, in showing people round, used to boldly affirm
that this undoubtedly was one of the ribs of the monster slain by Sir
Guy. Both rib and picture may now possibly be removed in deference to
more modern ideas, but they certainly were there within a very recent
period. A third rib may be seen at Caerleon, once a place of much
importance, but now an insignificant little town, and chiefly
interesting from its association with the history of the great King
Arthur. Caerleon boasts a museum containing a very valuable collection
of Roman and old British relics, and here too is the rib in question.
It has only recently been removed from the church, and it is, by the
way, curious to note the association of these bones with churches in
almost every case. In the church of Pennant Melangell, in
Montgomeryshire, is another gigantic rib said by some of the natives
to be that of a giant, while others affirm that it is one of the ribs
of St. Monacella, to whom the church is dedicated. As the bone is over
four feet long, her stature must have been something considerable
altogether. Another big bone is in the church at Mallwyd, in the same
county. In Buckland's "Curiosities of Natural History" it is stated
that "the ribs of the dun cow at Warwick and the gigantic rib at St.
Mary's, Bristol, are the bones of whales;" and in his interesting
account of the whale he mentions that he found whale-bones in all
parts of the country, one of them being a large blade-bone hanging
from a ceiling in Seven Dials. Assuming, as we probably may, that most
if not all of these big bones scattered over the country are those of
whales, one is still at a loss to know how or why they got so
scattered, and more especially why they were placed in the churches.
The legend of the dun cow appears to afford a very convenient popular
explanation of them, but one feels that there is a mystery that this
account does not dissipate.

The Salamander received its full mythical development during mediæval
times, though the older writers refer to it occasionally. We see in
the writings of such men as Pliny the first steps taken towards the
erection of that fabric of fancy and superstition that in the Middle
Ages was reared on so slight a foundation. Pliny asserts that the
Salamander is made in the fashion of a lizard and marked with spots
like stars; that it is never seen during fair weather, but only in
heavy rain; and that it is of so cold a nature that if it do but touch
fire it will as effectually quench it as if ice were placed thereon.
He, moreover, declares its poisonous nature--a nature that, according
to later writers, is so noxious that the mere climbing of the tree by
the animal poisons all the fruit, so that all who afterwards eat
thereof perish without remedy, and that if one enters a river the
stream is effectually poisoned, and all who drink therefrom for an
indefinite date thereafter must die. Glanvil, a learned English
Cordelier monk who lived in the thirteenth century, goes so far as to
declare roundly, as though undoubted and historic fact, that 4000 men
of the army of Alexander the Great and 2000 of the beasts of burden
were lost through drinking at a stream that had been thus infected. It
was in the Middle Ages an article of belief that the salamander was
bred and nourished in fire, and we have ourselves been gravely told
that if the fires at the ironworks in the Midland Counties were not
occasionally extinguished, an uncertain but fearful something would be
created in them. When the salamander is represented it is always
placed in the midst of flames. We see that the book to which we have
already frequently referred as that to which our grandfathers went for
instruction puts the poisonous nature of the salamander in the
following graphic way:--"A man bit by a salamander should have as many
physicians to cure him as the salamander has spots."

The salamander is the well-known device of Francis I. of France, A.D.
1515-1547, the monarch who met our own King Henry VIII. at "the field
of the cloth of gold." On this occasion the French Guard had the
salamander embroidered on their uniform, and we also find the device
freely in the sculpture, wall paintings, and stained glass at
Fontainebleau, Chambord, Orleans, in fact in all the palaces of
Francis I. The motto adopted with it was _Nutrisco et extinguo_, "I
nourish and extinguish," a somewhat contradictory saying based on a
somewhat contradictory story, for while we are told on the one hand
that the salamander is reared and nourished in flame, we are also told
that "he is of so cold a complexion that if he doe but touch the fire
he will quench it as presently as if yce were put into it." John, king
of Aragon, had, almost a hundred years before, adopted the same
device, adding to it the motto, _Durabo_, "I will endure." Asbestos,
though really, of course, of a mineral nature, was, from its
incombustible property, held in the Middle Ages to be the wool of the
salamander. We are told that the Roman emperors had napkins of this
material, and that if they became at all soiled they were thrown into
the fire, the fierce heat quickly destroying all foreign matter. As
the testing flames purified the good while they destroyed the bad, so
we presume King Francis intended to hold himself up as a terror to
evil-doers and a rewarder of the loyal and faithful. The motto is none
the less faulty, however; for while we find the king claiming both
functions, it will be noticed in the legend that it is the fire which
nourishes and the creature which extinguishes.

The writings of Pliny abound in strange ideas; some of these he
evidently set down without putting the statements to the test, but in
many cases he shattered the old beliefs by bringing them to the
crucial test of experiment. The story of the extreme frigidity of the
salamander's body at once putting out the fiercest fire was a matter
that he thus brought to the testing-point, the result being that the
unfortunate victim of science was quickly shrivelled up and consumed.
Another old statement, equally capable of being brought to the trial,
was that if even the foot of a man came in contact with the liquid
exuded from the skin of the salamander all his hair would fall off.
Perhaps the reason why one statement was tested and not the other was
that in the first case any ill consequences that might arise would
affect the reptile, while the second would come home more closely to
the experimenter himself.

In Breydenbach's travels we find a salamander included amongst the
other animals, a position that it probably owed to its association
with legend, for we also find in the same old author that the unicorn
is frankly accepted as a beast that may be met with by the traveller.
The book is interesting, too, as giving the first figure that had then
been made of a giraffe, or, as he terms it, seraffa.[11] The existence
of the giraffe was long afterwards denied by naturalists, and his
seraffa was for a very lengthened period held to be but a myth.
Breydenbach was a canon of the cathedral of Mentz, and seems to have
been of a somewhat adventurous spirit, for despite all the
difficulties of the undertaking--difficulties that in these days of
steam-boats, railways, and through bookings we cannot at all
realise--we find him visiting Sinai and the Holy Land. His travels
were first printed as a folio volume at Mentz in 1486. This was a
Latin edition; but two years later we find one in German, and in less
than ten years six different editions were called for in Germany,
besides others printed in Holland and elsewhere for the benefit of
those to whom both Latin and German were unknown tongues. The book is
full of quaint woodcuts, and is altogether a treasure-house of
history, natural and unnatural.

  [11] Representations of the giraffe are to be found in the ancient
  monuments of Egypt, the animal being part of the annual tribute
  brought by the vassal Ethiopians to the king of Egypt. These
  representations were, we need scarcely say, unknown to the
  naturalists of the Middle Ages.

The salamander is commonly to be met with in many parts of Europe, but
the real and the ideal creature are two very different things--as
different as the deer-eyed cows quietly ruminating in their verdant
pasturage are to the dun cow that taxed all the heroism of Sir Guy of
Warwick, or as old grey Dobbin to Pegasus. The real creature is very
similar in form to the newts that are so commonly to be found in
ponds, but the salamander of Francis I. is more like a wingless
dragon, while some of the mediæval heralds made it a quadruped
something like a dog. Such a creature, breathing forth flames, may be
seen in the crest of Earl Douglas A.D. 1483.

Shakespearian students will recall how Falstaff rails at Bardolph,
calling him the "Knight of the Burning Lamp," "admiral, bearing
lantern in the poop," "ball of wildfire," and so forth, all
compliments called forth from the effects of strong liquor on the
rubicund countenance of Bardolph. He winds up by saying, "Thou hast
saved me a thousand marks in links and torches, walking with thee in
the night betwixt tavern and tavern, but the sack that thou hast drunk
me would have bought me lights as good cheap, at the dearest
chandler's in Europe. I have maintained that salamander of yours with
fire any time this two and thirty years."

The salamander, like the toad, the slow-worm, or the water newt, is
still held to be decidedly uncanny. In our younger days our seeking
after such small objects of natural history was always held by
wondering rustics as a foolish tempting of Providence, and we have
repeatedly been told the most moving stories of the poisonous nature
of all such creatures, and especially how newts developed the most
alarming properties if interfered with, biting out pieces of the
captor's flesh, and then spitting fire into the wound. Prompt
amputation or death was the dire alternative offered, though in our
own case matters never reached so dread a climax. "Them pisonous
effets" were many a time in those by-gone days held in the hand that
now guides our pen. The belief in such fatal powers must have a very
disquieting influence on the rustics who hold it. When farm animals,
as calves or colts, die mysteriously, some one is sure to start the
theory that they have been bitten by an effet while drinking; and in
view of such a belief even the fetching of a pail of water from the
pond that too often supplies the drinking water in country places must
appear attended with no little risk. The following graphic and amusing
letter from one of the correspondents of the _Field_ newspaper shows
how the salamander is still regarded in rural France:--

"Returning homeward a few evenings ago from a country walk in the
environs of D----, I discovered in my path a strange-looking reptile,
which, after regarding me steadfastly for a few moments, walked slowly
to the side of the road, and commenced very deliberately clambering up
the wall. Never having seen a similar animal, I was rather doubtful as
to its properties; but, reassured by its tranquil demeanour, I put my
pocket-handkerchief over it, and it suffered itself to be taken up
without resistance, and was thus carried to my domicile. On arriving
_chez moi_, I opened the basket to show my captive to the servants,
when, to my surprise and consternation, they set up such a screaming
and hullabaloo that I thought they would have gone into fits.

"'_Oh! la, la, la, la, la!--Oh! la, la, la, la, la!_' and then a
succession of screams in altissimo, which woke up the children and
brought out the neighbours to see what could be the matter.

"'_Oh, monsieur a rapporté un sourd!_'

"'_Un sourd!_' cried one.

"'UN SOURD!' echoed another.

"'UN S-O-U-R-D!!!' cried they all in chorus; and then followed a
succession of shrieks.

"When they calmed down into a mild sample of hysterics, they began to
explain that I had brought home the most venomous animal in creation.

"'_Oh! le vilaín bête!_' cried Phyllis.

"'_Oh! le méchant!_' chimed in Abigail; 'he kills everybody that
comes near him; I have known fifty people die of his bite, and no
remedy in the world can save them. As soon as they are bitten they
_gonflent_, _gonflent_, and keep on swelling till they burst, and are
dead in a quarter of an hour.'

"Here I transferred my curiosity from the basket to a glass jar, and
put a saucer on the top to keep it safe.

"'_O Monsieur!_ don't leave him so; if he puts himself in a rage,
nothing can hold him. He has got such force that he can jump up to the
ceiling; and wherever he fastens himself he sticks like death.'

"'Ah! it's all true,' cried my landlady, joining the circle of gapers;
'_Oh! la la! Ça me fait peur; ça me fait tr-r-r-r-embler!_'

"'Once I saw a man in a haycart try to kill one, and the _bête_ jumped
right off the ground at a bound and fastened itself on the man's face,
when he stood on the haycart, and nothing could detach it till the man
fell dead.'

"'_Ah! c'est bien vrai_,' cried Abigail; 'they ought to have fetched a
mirror and held it up to the _bête_, and then it would have left the
man and jumped at its _image_.'

"The end of all this commotion was that, while I went to inquire of a
scientific friend whether there was any truth in these tissue of
_bêtises_, the whole household was in an uproar, _tout en émoi_, and
they sent for a _commissionnaire_, and an ostler with a spade and
mattock, and threw out my poor _bête_ into the road and foully
murdered it, chopping it into a dozen pieces by the light of a stable
lantern; and then they declared that they could sleep in peace!--_les

"But there were sundry misgivings as to my fate, and, as with the
Apostle, 'they looked when I should have swollen or fallen down dead
suddenly;' and next morning the maids came stealthily and peeped into
my room to see whether I was alive or dead, and were not a little
surprised that I was not even _gonflé_, or any the worse for my
_rencontre_ with a _sourd_.

"And so it turned out that my poor little _bête_ that had caused such
a disturbance was nothing more nor less than a salamander--a poor,
inoffensive, harmless reptile, declared on competent authority to be
noways venomous, but whose unfortunate appearance and somewhat Satanic
livery have exposed it to obloquy and persecution."

As the French word _sourd_ primarily means one who is deaf, we get a
curious parallelism of ideas between the salamander deaf to all sense
of pity, and insensible to all but its own fell purpose, and the old
idea of the deafness of the poisonous adder. "Deaf as an adder" is a
common country saying, and the passage in the Psalms of David where we
read that "the deaf adder stoppeth her ears, and will not heed the
voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely," naturally rises to
one's mind. The deafness, it will be noted, is no mere lack of the
hearing faculty, but a wilful turning away from gentle influence. It
was an old belief that when the asp heard the voice of the
serpent-charmer it stopped its ears by burying one of them in the sand
and coiling its folds over the other.

In turning over the quaint pages of the "Bestiary" of De Thaun we find
allusion made to a creature that is evidently the salamander again,
though we cannot quite make out the reference to King Solomon. Like
all such books written in the Middle Ages, everything is introduced to
point some moral or religious truth, though it may at first seem
difficult for our readers to realise what possible connection there
can be between the dreaded "sourd" and any spiritual instruction. The
reference is as follows:--"Ylio is a little beast made like a lizard.
Of it says Solomon that in a king's house it ought to be and to
frequent, to give an example. It is of such nature that if it come by
chance where there shall be burning fire it will immediately
extinguish it. The beast is so cold and of such a quality that fire
will not be able to burn where it shall enter, nor will trouble happen
in the place where it shall be. A beast of such quality signifies such
men as was Ananias, as was Azarias, and as was Misael, who served God
fairly: these three issued from the fire praising God. He who has
faith only will never have hurt from fire."[12]

  [12] Appendix F.

Like the salamander, the Griffin was to our forefathers no mere
creature of the imagination. Ctesias describes them in all sober
earnestness as "birds with four feet, of the size of a wolf, and
having the legs and claws of a lion. Their feathers are red on the
breast and black on the rest of the body." Glanvil says of them, "The
claws of a griffin are so large and ample that he can seize an armed
man as easily by the body as a hawk a little bird. In like manner he
can carry off a horse or an ox, or any other beast in his flight." The
creature is, if anything, still more terrible when met with in the
description given by Sir John Mandeville:--"Thai have the body upward
as an egle, and benethe as a lyoun, but a griffonne hath the body more
gret, and is more strong than eight lyouns, and more grete and
strongere than an hundred egles such as we have among us. For he hath
his talouns so large and so longe and grete upon his fete as though
thei weren homes of grete oxen, so that men maken cuppes of them to
drinken of." Oriental writers, who appear to have an especial delight
in the marvellous, go even beyond this, and the creature becomes with
them the roc, the terrible creature we read of, for example, in the
wonderful adventures of "Sindbad the Sailor." Milton introduces the
creature very finely in his noble poem, as for instance:--

    "As when a gryphon through the wilderness
    With wingèd course o'er hill and moory dale
    Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
    Has from his watchful custody purloin'd
    The guarded gold: so eagerly the fiend
    O'er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
    With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
    And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies."

The Arimaspians were a one-eyed people of Scythia, who braided their
hair with gold and drew their supplies of the precious metal as best
they could from the stores guarded by the griffins. The griffin has
long been employed as a symbol of watchfulness, courage, and
perseverance, on account of this fabled treasure-guarding. But Browne,
who, as we have seen, took great delight in vivisecting the vulgar
errors of his day and generation, discourses as follows on the
matter--"Aristeus affirmed that neer the Arimaspi, or one-eyed nation,
griffins defended the mines of gold, but this, as Herodotus
delivereth, he wrote from hearsay, and Michovius, who hath expressly
written of those parts, plainly affirmeth that there is neither gold
nor griffins in that country, nor any such Animall extant, for so doth
he conclude, 'Ego vero contra veteres authores, gryphes nec in illa
septentrionis nec in alius orbis partibus inveniri affirmarim.'"

Like the dragon, the griffin seems to have been a good sort of fellow
to deal with if you only took him the right way, and though a terrible
monster to encounter if one had any burglarious intentions, he seems
to have served his masters with a singleness of purpose and bull-dog
tenacity that were very much to his credit. In Ariosto's "Orlando
Furioso" we read of a griffin-steed that flew through the air with its
master on its back, and landed him wheresoever he listed.

The griffin was fabled to be the offspring of the union of the lion
and the eagle; it has the leonine body and stout claws of one parent,
the hooked beak, keen eye, and wings of the other. The form is very
often met with in heraldry, past and present, either as a crest or as
a supporter to the arms. A very familiar example of their employment
in this latter service will be seen in the arms of the city of London.
It is also a very common form in Roman and Renaissance painting and
sculpture. Gryphius, a celebrated French printer, adopted the creature
as his device, and on his decease the following epitaph was written:--

    "La grande griffe
    Qui tout griffe
    A griffé le corps de Gryphe."

Though ordinarily written as griffin or griffon, the alternative
rendering gryphon is somewhat more correct, as the word is derived
from the Greek _grypos_, or hook-nosed, in evident allusion to its
eagle-beak. Shakespeare frequently refers to the creature, but the
only instance we need here refer to is where a considerable difference
in the spelling of the word might lead some of our readers astray. The
passage to which we allude will be found in "The Rape of Lucrece,"
where she

    "Like a white hind under the grype's sharp claws
    Pleads in a wilderness, where are no laws."

In the forests of Bohemia, we are told by Burton in his "Miracles of
Art and Nature," there is a little beast called the Lomie, "which hath
hanging under its neck a bladder always full of scalding water, with
which, when she is hunted, she so tortureth the dogs that she thereby
easily makes her escape." Elsewhere he tells of four-footed serpents,
strange creatures that, unlike many of his wonders--only to be found
in Peru or India, or such like distant lands--are to be seen as near
home as Poland. The people of Poland, we are told, are "boysterous,
rude, and barbarous; nourishing amongst them a kind of four-footed
serpent, above three handfuls in length, which they worship as their
household gods, tending them with fear and reverence when they call
them out to their repasts; and if any mischance do happen to any of
their family it is imputed presently to some want of due observations
of these ugly creatures."

Vegetable Lambs were another of the wonders of our forefathers. The
credulous Sir John Mandeville says that in Cathay a gourd-like fruit
is found that when ripe contains "as though it were a lytylle lomb
withouten wolle." In the twenty-sixth chapter of his book the
lamb-tree is duly figured, and its peculiar fruit development
graphically delineated. In many old books of natural history we find
representations of some such creature under the names of the Scythian
or Tartarian lamb. According to some old writers it was said to be
purely an animal, and although rooted to the ground, was held to have
so deadly an effect on vegetation in its neighbourhood that it
effectually prevented the growth of all herbage within the scope of
its baleful influence. So singular a creature naturally provoked
attention and curiosity, and in the earlier days of the Royal Society
the matter was considered quite worthy of their notice. Naturally,
also, the supply endeavoured to keep pace with the demand, and as the
belief in mermaids led to their fabrication and exhibition, so also
the myth of the Scythian lamb took visible shape. One of these
impositions was formerly preserved in the British Museum, not from any
belief in it, of course, but as an illustration of the old belief.[13]

  [13] Appendix G.

  [Illustration: {THE SEA-ELEPHANT}]

The reference to the mermaid reminds us that the sea no less than the
land bore in ancient and mediæval days its full share of wonders. Of
the mermaids we shall have occasion to say more presently, as we
propose to class together all those forms that are more or less human,
and to deal with them separately; but the sculptures of classic
antiquity or the fancies of the mediæval herald afford us
illustrations of the sea-horse, the sea-lion, and many other quaint
imaginings. On an antique seal we once even saw a sea-elephant, a
creature having the fore-legs, tusks, trunk, and great flapping ears
of the African elephant, yet terminating in the body of a fish, and
duly furnished with piscine tail and fins. The combination was of the
most outrageous character, and would seem to indicate the limit
possible to absurdity in this direction. When the ancient writers
would desire to people the vast unknown of air or sea their thoughts
naturally turned to those creatures of the land with which they were
more familiar; hence the denizens of the air or ocean are not really
creations at all, but adaptations, wings or fins being added to
horses, lions, and the like according to the new element in which they
were to figure. Of these, the sea-horses that draw the chariot of
Neptune through the waves and the winged-horse Pegasus are examples
that at once occur to one's mind.

Pegasus or Pegasos, the offspring of Medusa and Poseidon, was the
symbol of poetic inspiration. Its association with Perseus and
Bellerophon, with the fountain of Peirene and the heights of Olympus,
may all be found duly set forth in classic story and engraved or
sculptured on the gems and marbles of antiquity. It is also introduced
in mediæval heraldry, but there seems to be no reference in any book
of this period to lead us to suppose that it was then regarded as a
living verity. Shakespeare refers to it from time to time, but in one
case it is only as an inn-sign, and in another the very terms employed
indicate that the reference to it must be taken in a poetic rather
than a literal sense. The first of the two to which we allude will be
found in the "Taming of the Shrew," and runs as follows:--

    "Signior Baptista may remember me,
    Near twenty years ago, in Genoa,
    Where we were lodgers at the Pegasus."

The second will be met with in the first part of "King Henry IV.;" it
will probably be very familiar to many of our readers:--

    "I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
    His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm'd,
    Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury,
    And vaulted with such ease into his seat
    As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds,
    To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
    And witch the world with noble horsemanship."

The arms of the Barrister Templars of the present day consist of the
Pegasus on an azure shield. The original devices of the Templars were
the Agnus Dei, a device that may still be seen carved on the Temple
buildings in London, and two knights riding one behind the other on
the same horse. This badge or device was originally chosen to denote
the poverty of the order in its earlier days, but at a later day, when
the symbol was misunderstood, these two rude figures of knights were
taken for wings, and hence we get the modern device of the winged
steed or Pegasus.

The Vampyre was another of the strange imaginings of our forefathers.
It was thought that men and women sometimes returned, body and soul,
from the other world after their death, and wandered about the earth
doing all kinds of mischief to the living, one of their favourite
pursuits being to suck the blood of those who were asleep, and these
became vampyres in turn. The superstition took deepest hold in Eastern
Europe, and is still an article of firm faith in Hungary and Servia.
One reads ghastly stories of men unconsciously entertaining and
sheltering vampyres and perishing miserably, of lonely travellers
pining suddenly away, of the bodies of the dead being disinterred and
the corpse found with the tell-tale stains of blood around its mouth,
and the like; and we can easily see how such beliefs as this, or the
wehr-wolf or loup-garou of the Germans and French, or the ghoul of the
Arabs and Persians, would have a terrible effect on the minds of the
superstitious. The vampyre was a terror of the night, since the corpse
then, after lying in the stillness of the grave throughout the day,
awoke to a fearful vitality. The forms it assumed were not always
human, but were believed to be at times those of the dog, frog, toad,
cat, flea, spider, and many other innocent creatures. Hence the
contemptuous expression one sometimes hears used to deride a needless
anxiety, "a mere flea-bite," could have had no counterpart in mediæval
days, for the anxiety such a misadventure might create would be of the
most alarming and harassing description. In old books one finds the
most circumstantial details as to how to detect when one has been
bitten, or to prevent further mischief. To this end the grave of the
suspected vampyre was opened during daylight when his powers of evil
were quiescent, the corpse was decapitated and the head buried
elsewhere, a stake was driven through the body, and many other
elaborate and horrible precautions were taken to prevent a recurrence
of the nightly resurrection. On the whole, we may well congratulate
ourselves that we do not live in "the good old times." Even now in
country districts and amongst the uneducated one comes across such
striking instances of superstitious belief and thraldom as suffice to
enable us to faintly realise what it must have been when all alike
were enwrapped in a dreadful bondage to unseen powers of evil far more
intense than is now possible even to the few.

The vampyre bat, a native of South America, is so called from its
blood-sucking propensities. It is the legend of the vampyre that has
given the name to the bat, not the habits of the bat that originated
the fable of the vampyre, for at the time that these legends of the
destroyer were articles of faith in Europe, the American animal was
quite unknown. The natural tendency towards exaggeration surrounded
the vampyre bat with a mysterious horror, and having once gained its
name of ill-omen, it became easy to rear upon it a superstructure of
morbid fancy. The researches on the spot of Waterton, Darwin, and
other reliable authorities show that the name is not altogether ill
bestowed, as both Europeans and natives suffer severely from its
attacks during the night, and the horses and cattle that are out in
the pastures frequently return in the morning with their flanks
covered with blood.

Though the Chameleon, unlike the phoenix, the griffin, or the
basilisk, is a living verity, so large a body of fable has grown up
around it that the animal is almost as mythical as those creatures of
the imagination. The name is derived from two Greek words signifying
"ground-lion," a name singularly inappropriate in every way, as it has
nothing leonine in look or nature, while its organisation fits it
especially for living on trees. When we consider the singularity of
its appearance and the peculiarity of its habits, it is by no means
surprising that it should have attracted attention; and when we recall
the numerous erroneous beliefs current amongst our rustics in England
in this nineteenth century in the matter of frogs, newts, slow-worms,
and the like, we can hardly wonder at the superstitions that have
surrounded it. The eyes of the creature are quite expressionless, and
are worked perfectly independently of each other, so that one may be
directed upwards and the other downwards at the same time, or turned
simultaneously to front and rear. Its exceeding slowness of movement
is another curious feature, and though this exposes them to easy
capture when seen, for "_un Caméléon aperçu est un Caméléon perdu_,"
it has its advantages in another direction, for a creature that takes
some hours to advance a yard or so will certainly not attract
attention by any sudden movement; and the assimilation in colour of
its skin with the surrounding foliage is another great protection. The
creature has a singular habit of puffing out its body until it is
nearly as large again, and in this state it will sometimes remain for
hours. The best known fact, however, is its capacity for changing
colour, passing from green to violet, blue, or yellow; but this power
of varying the tint has been greatly exaggerated. We have been told
that if the creature be placed on any colour, as bright scarlet, it
will assume that colour; but this is one of those fragments of
unnatural history that will not bear putting to the test. The
following lines of Prior convey aptly enough this popular but
erroneous notion:--

    "As the chameleon, who is known
    To have no colours of its own,
    But borrows from his neighbour's hue
    His white or black, his green or blue."

Aristotle was acquainted with the singular motions of the eyes of the
creature, and his description may well have been taken from nature. At
the same time, these old writers knew nothing of comparative anatomy
or dissection and conducted no scientific _post-mortem_ examinations;
hence in all matters of internal structure they are often ludicrously
in error, while the weakness of their statements is only perhaps
equalled by the strength with which they are asserted. We are,
therefore, not surprised to read in Aristotle that the chameleon has
no blood except in its head. Pliny re-states all the errors made by
Aristotle, and further adds that it lives without either eating or
drinking, deriving its nourishment wholly from the air, and that,
though ordinarily harmless, it becomes terrible during the greatest
summer heats. Even Pliny, however, could not believe everything that
was told him, though his powers of imbibing outrageous notions were of
the keenest, and whenever any old writers deal with something more
than usually incredible they fortify their statement and evade
personal responsibility by adding "as Plinie saith." Pliny, then,
rejects the still older idea that its right leg artfully cooked with
certain herbs conveys the power of invisibility on the eater, and will
not believe that the thigh of its left leg boiled in sow's milk will
induce gout in any one so injudicious as to bathe their feet in this
peculiar broth. Neither will he credit that a man may be made to incur
the hatred of all his fellow-citizens by having his gate-posts
anointed with another nasty preparation of chameleon. As a set-off to
all this very unusual incredulity he hastens to adopt the statement of
another wise man, Democritus, that it has the power of attracting to
the earth birds of prey, so that they in turn become the prey of other
animals--a most unselfish proceeding on the part of the creature, as
its own food consists of flies and such like small matters. Democritus
also asserts, and Pliny confirms him in the assertion, that if the
head and neck of the chameleon be burned on oak charcoal it will cause
thunder and heavy rain. One is lost in astonishment at the fertility
of the imagination in these old naturalists; and though it is now easy
when one has once been put on the track of discovery to surmise that
the tail of a chameleon burnt on walnut charcoal might produce snow or
possibly fog, much of the credit of the discovery should go to the
man who first gave the clue to these physiologico-meteorological
influences. Aldrovandus, another man of science gifted with a strong
imagination and the power of assimilating the fancies of others,
informs us that if a viper passes beneath a tree in the branches of
which a chameleon is resting, the latter will eject from its mouth a
poisonous secretion that effectually rids the world of the equally
venomous snake; and he further adds that elephants sometimes
unknowingly eat a chameleon in the midst of the foliage on which they
are browsing, a mishap that is rapidly fatal to them unless they can
at once have recourse to the wild olive-tree as a remedy and antidote.

  [Illustration: {DRAGON}]

Many other strange beasts might engage our attention were it not that
we have much new ground yet to explore, for not only might we
discourse of the strange beliefs that have clustered round these
monsters, but of the equally strange fancies that have been associated
with such familiar creatures as cats and dogs, hares and spiders,
goats and mice, while in another section we must dwell on the equally
unnatural fancies that have been associated with various plants.
Before, however, passing to these we must refer to those strange
imaginings, such as the troglodytes, centaurs, and pigmies, that owe
more or less to the combination of the human with other forms--a large
class that deserves a measure of attention that may well suggest the
advisability of opening a new chapter for its benefit.




The Sphinx--The Chimæra--The Centaurs--The Origin of the Myth--The
Onocentaur--Sagittarius--Satyrs and Fauns--The Harpys, described by
Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, and others--The Echidna--The
Gorgon--The Hydra--The Sirens--The Lurlei--Mermaids--The Manatee--
Dog-Headed Men of Brazil--The One-Eyed Cyclops and Briaræus of the
Hundred Arms--The Headless Men or Anthropophagi--Sir Walter Raleigh's
El Dorado--Claw-Footed Men--The Marvels of Hackluyt and Mandeville--
The Long-Eared Fanesii--The Fairies--The "Discoverie of Witchcraft"--
The Little Good People--Fairy-Rings--Elf-Music--Changelings--
Elf-Possession--Spirits of the Mine, or Knockers--Robin Goodfellow--
Queen Mab--The Phoca or Storm-Spirit--The Kelpie--Jack-o'-Lantern--
The Pigmies--Giants--Early Sculptures--Gigantic Men of Antiquity.

The creatures we have hitherto been considering--the griffin, the
phoenix, the manticora or the sea-horse--have either been unmitigated
monsters of the fancy, or else, like the salamander or the chameleon,
so transformed by legend as to be scarcely less monstrous and unreal.
Having the fear of Pope's oft-quoted line upon us, "The proper study
of mankind is man," we leave for a while these fantastic imaginings,
and turn to another class of forms scarcely less grotesque, but all
agreeing in this, the presence in them of more or less of the human
form and nature. This class of forms readily subdivides itself into
three sections, which we propose to deal with in the order in which
we enumerate them. The first of these are forms compounded of the
human and the animal, as, for example, the sphinx or the centaur; the
second may be considered as human, though distorted, as the one-eyed
cyclops, or, "the men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders;"
while the third class may be held to embrace the fairies, pigmies, and
giants, forms that are human, yet in bulk or minuteness bear no
semblance to ordinary humanity.

The Sphinx may be considered as more especially an artistic and
symbolic creation, though the old Greek myth of Oedipos would seem to
show that in very early times there was a real belief in a real
monster. The sphinx is composite in nature, being in Greek art and
legend ordinarily the combination of the head and bust of a woman with
the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle; while in Egyptian art
the creature is always wingless, and its recumbent leonine body is
surmounted by the head of a man, hawk, or other creature. Egyptian art
is full of such composite monsters, and in cases where such attributes
as the courage of the lion or the wisdom of the serpent were to be
expressed, it was held that the actual leonine body or the head of the
serpent itself would best convey the required characteristics to the
eye and mind of the beholder. A reference to Wilkinson, Rosellini, or
any other good standard work on Egypt, will reveal an immense variety
of these curious composite figures, though, as they are evidently in
most cases symbolic merely, they scarcely fall within the limits of
our present study. According to some authorities, the well-known type
of Egyptian sphinx represented the royal power by its junction in one
creation of the highest physical and mental strength. Pliny, however,
states that it is to be taken as the representation of the beneficent
Nile, as the annual rising took place while the sun was in Leo and
Virgo. As the head is masculine in type, and not that of maiden fair,
this theory will scarcely meet the case.

The sphinx of classic story, a monster half-woman, half-lion, was sent
by Hera to devastate the land of Thebes in revenge for an insult that
had been offered to her. Sitting by the roadside, the sphinx put to
every passer-by the celebrated riddle, "What creature walks on four
legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three in the
evening?" As one after another of these luckless travellers was
obliged to "give it up" he was cast from the rock on which the monster
sat into a deep abyss at its foot. The understanding was, that if any
one could solve this conundrum the sphinx should herself perish, a
consummation devoutly to be wished. One Oedipos hit upon the happy
idea that perhaps it was a man that was meant, his career being traced
through crawling infancy to stalwart manhood, and thence to tottering
old age. Probably the sphinx had presumed too thoroughly on the
badness of the riddle, and thought that its inane character would be
her safeguard in this perilous game for forfeits. Lord Bacon[14]
supplies a curious theory in explanation of the Greek legend; he tells
us that the creature represented science, her composite nature being
the various and different branches of which it is composed; that the
female face denoted volubility of speech, while the wings showed the
rapidity with which knowledge could be diffused. Her hooked talons are
supposed to remind us of the arguments of science laying hold of the
mind. Her position on the crag is a hint that the road to knowledge is
steep and difficult, while the riddles of science "perplex and harass
the mind." Probably our readers have already made up their minds as to
the value of this theory of Bacon's; it appears to us that fifty other
equally good explanations might be devised, and all equally wide of
the mark. Of course after so sweeping a statement we can scarcely be
expected to supply one ourselves for the other forty-nine critics to
mercilessly dissect.

  [14] Appendix H.

The Chimæra was, according to Hesiod, a fire-breathing monster
compounded of lion, goat, and serpent, having three heads, one of each
of these creatures. It is in this form often represented in classic
art; but Coats, a great authority in blazonry in the last century, in
describing the monster departs somewhat from the ancient type, and in
so doing brings the creature within the scope of our present chapter.
He speaks of it as "an imaginary creature invented by the Poets, and
represented by them as having the Face of a beautiful Maiden, the two
Fore-legs and the Main of a Lyon, the Body like a Goat, the
hinder-legs like a Griffin, and the Tayl like a Serpent or Dragon
turned in a Ring." He does not, however, give his authorities. Though
Milton in his "Paradise Lost" gives us the line, "Gorgons, and Hydras,
and Chimæras dire," the myth has been received amongst ourselves with
so little faith that anything wildly improbable is branded as
chimerical, and scouted accordingly.

The Centaurs are said by Virgil and Horace to have dwelt in Thessaly,
a land then greatly famed for its breed of horses. Instances, as in
the landing of the Spaniards in America, have not been unknown where
those to whom the horse was unknown have imagined that the horse and
his rider were but one creature. The belief in centaurs is not,
therefore, so difficult a myth to trace to its origin as many others.
The usual form of representation is the conjoining of the body and
legs of a horse and the head, arms, and body of a man so far as the
waist, though in some early works, as, for example, in archaic pottery
in the British Museum, the legs of the man take the place of the
fore-legs of the horse. The celebrated statue in the Louvre known as
the Borghese Centaur, a sculpture of the most refined period of Greek
art, gives the best idea, perhaps, of the highest treatment the form
permits. Other fine examples, fragments of the sculpture of the
Parthenon, may be seen in our own national collection in London.[15]
In the works of the earlier writers, as Homer, the centaurs have
nothing unnatural in their composition; we read nothing of their being
half-horse, half-man, but they are introduced to us as a tribe of men
whose home was in the mountains and whose nature was altogether
barbarous and ferocious. The contests with centaurs, so favourite a
subject in Greek art, have been generally conceived to be the struggle
of Greek civilisation with the barbarism of the tribes with which it
came in contact in the early Pelasgian period, a struggle that
strangely enough finds its memorial not only in the grand sculptures
of the matchless Parthenon, but in the delicate beauty of a little
English wild flower, the pink centaury.[16]

  [15] Appendix I.

  [16] Appendix J.

Isidore refers to a creature called the Onocentaur, "which has the
shape of a man down to the waist, and behind has the make of an ass."

As the centaurs are frequently represented as bearing bows and arrows,
the Sagittarius of the heralds (such, for instance, as that assigned
as the armorial bearing of King Stephen or the sign of the Zodiac of
the same name) is ordinarily represented in this half-human,
half-equine form, though it is, of course, obvious on a moment's
consideration of the real meaning and derivation of the word, that
this is but a narrow and arbitrary limitation, and that Robin Hood,
for example, or William Tell, to say nothing of "A, the archer that
shot at a frog," might as readily, in fact, be called a Sagittarius as
any Thessalian centaur.

Other partly human, partly animal forms often found in classic art and
literature are those of the Satyrs and the Fauns. The satyrs are
represented as having bristly hair, ears sharply pointed like those of
animals, low sensual faces, small horns growing out of the top of the
forehead, and a tail like that of a horse or goat. These satyrs, Greek
in their conception, are often confounded with the fauns of the
Romans, creatures half-man and half-goat, the head, like that of the
satyrs, being horned. Our readers will doubtless recall the lines in

    "So excellent a king, that was to this,
    Hyperion to a satyr."

These woodland sprites, as attendants on Pan, Bacchus, and Silenus,
are often represented in classic art, and were a firm article of
belief in those early ages. Thorwaldsen and other modern sculptors
have also introduced them in their work, and they were often a feature
in the quaint processions of the Guilds of the Middle Ages.[17]

  [17] Appendix K.

The Harpys, three in number, were creatures employed, according to the
belief of the Greeks and Romans, by the higher gods as the instruments
for the punishment of the crimes of men. Their bodies were those of
vultures, their heads those of women, and it was their evil property
to contaminate everything they touched. They are not infrequently
represented in classic art; several examples of their introduction may
be seen on vases in the British Museum, and notably on some
bas-reliefs from a monument brought from Xanthus, in Lycia, and
commonly, from the subjects of these sculptures, called the Harpy
Tomb--a monument dating probably from about the sixth century before
the Christian era. Homer mentions but one harpy, Hesiod gives two, but
all later writers mention three. Milton refers to these creatures in
his "Paradise Lost," Book II., in the lines:--

    "Thither by harpy-footed Furies hal'd
    At certain revolutions all the damn'd are brought."

Shakespeare, too, in his "Much Ado About Nothing," Act ii. scene 1,
mentions the creature, though in a more indirect way, using the word,
as we from time to time find it employed elsewhere, as typical of one
who wants to seize on everything and get people into his own power--"a
regular harpy." Another reference will be found in the third scene in
the third act of the "Tempest," where Ariel in the midst of thunder
and lightning enters as a harpy and addresses those before him as
follows:--"I have made you mad.... I and my fellows are ministers of
fate." In "Pericles," again, Act iv. scene 4, we find Cleon

            "Thou art like the harpy,
    Which, to betray, dost with thine angel's face
    Seize with thine eagle's talons."

In the "Monstrorum Historia" of Aldrovandus[18] we find figured a
mediæval rendering of the creature, and Guillim in his "Heraldry"
seems to frankly accept the harpy as a real thing, while the lines he
quotes in support from Virgil are powerfully descriptive:--

    "Of Monsters all, most Monstrous this: no greater Wrath
    God sends 'mongst Men: it comes from depth of pitchy Hell:
    With Virgin's Face, but Womb like Gulf unsatiate hath,
    Her Hands are Griping claws, her Colour pale and fell."

  [18] Appendix L.

Virgil, it will be noticed, makes the creature wholly fearful, while
Shakespeare makes the horror yet more weird by giving the implacable
and destroying monster a face of angelic sweetness.

Upton, another old writer on heraldry, says that in blazoning arms
"the Harpy should be given to such persons as have committed
Manslaughter, to the End that by the often view of their Ensigns they
might be moved to bewail the Foulness of their Offence." This we
should imagine, is more simple in theory than in practice, and Upton
must have been very simple himself to fancy that any one could thus be
induced to blazon their misdoings abroad like that. In the earlier
days of heraldry the monarch had two powerful means of rewarding or
punishing his nobles in what were termed respectively marks of
augmentation and of abatement in their armorial bearings, but in the
later times in which Upton lived no such compulsory stigma was
possible. We fancy, too, that in the earlier days a good deal of what
a modern judge and jury would call manslaughter went on, and was not
by any means considered a foul offence to be bewailed over.

The terrible Echidna, half-woman, half-serpent, the mother of the
dread chimæra, the fierce dragon of the Hesperides, the gorgons that
turned to stone all who gazed on them, the hydra of the Lernean
marsh, the vulture that made itself so decidedly unpleasant to
Prometheus, and several other children of an equally objectionable
type, was another of the monsters once believed in, while the better
known Sirens and Mermaids, half-woman, half-fish, will naturally occur
to the minds of our readers.

The Sirens were originally nymphs, but Demeter transformed them into
beings half-women, half-birds, for reasons that may be found duly set
forth in any work on mythology. Ultimately they were again transformed
into creatures of which the upper portion was that of a beautiful
woman, while the lower was fish-like. These sirens dwelt in the cliffs
on the Sicilian shore, and by the sweetness of their voices bewitched
passing travellers, who, allured by the charms of their song, were
drawn to them, when they were lulled into insensibility and perished.
Skeletons lay thickly round their dwelling, but the warning was
useless and hopeless, as the sirens were allowed by the gods to retain
this cruel power over the hearts of men until one arose who could defy
their sweet allurements. Orpheus and Odysseus each fulfilled the
conditions, and thus the evil power of the sirens came to an end.
Orpheus, by the unsurpassable sweetness of his own music and his hymns
of praise to the gods, carried himself and his crew safely past the
spot so fatal to others; while Odysseus stopped the ears of his crew
with wax, that they might be deaf to the bewitching music, while he
himself was bound to the mast, and incapable, therefore, of yielding
to the soft fascination. It has been surmised that the whole story can
be explained by the soft beating and melodious murmur of the waves
over the hidden shoals and sands that would engulf those who would
attempt to land. However this may be, the sirens were at one time a
firm article of belief, and are often represented in ancient art or
referred to in ancient poetry, while later moralists find the simile
an apt one between the siren-song and its tragic effects and all
earthly pleasures that carry within them the seeds of death.[19] A
later legend of the same type may be seen in the myth of the Lurlei, a
water-spirit whose home was in the steep cliff that overshadows the
Rhine near St. Goar, the fairness of whose person was as great as the
unfairness of her conduct in luring to their destruction the passing
travellers. Here again, of course, matter-of-fact people have stepped
in and explained all away, a striking echo and a rock on which to
strike being all that is left to us, the moral being, that if people
will be so foolish as to awaken by bugle or song the slumbering voices
of the rocks when they ought to be giving their whole attention to
their steering, what wonder if they come to grief? A very good
reference to the siren's lulling song will be found in the second
scene in the third act of the "Comedy of Errors."

  [19] Appendix M.

Mermaids and Tritons were once fully accepted facts, and illustrations
of them, literary or artistic, abound, Ariel in the "Tempest" sings of
the sea-nymphs, and Oberon in the "Midsummer Night's Dream" speaks of

    "A mermaid on a dolphin's back,
    Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
    That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
    And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
    To hear the sea-maid's music."

Shakespeare seems to have made a very natural error in confounding the
mermaids and the sirens together, for in the "Comedy of Errors" his
allusion to the one is in language more adapted to the other:--

                          "Her fair sister,
    Possessed with such a gentle sovereign grace,
    Of such enchanting presence and discourse,
    Hath almost made me traitor to myself.
    But, lest myself be guilty to self-wrong,
    I'll stop mine ears against the mermaid's song."

Another illustration of this will be found in the third part of King
Henry VI., a passage peculiarly appropriate to our present purpose, as
it embodies in a concentrated form no less than three of the items of
unnatural history we have already dealt with--the siren's
death-dealing charms, the death-giving glance of the basilisk, and the
changing tints of the chameleon, besides referring to the hypocritical
tears of the crocodile. The passage will be found in the second scene
of the third act, where Gloster exclaims--

    "I can smile, and murther while I smile,
    And cry, content, to that which grieves my heart;
    And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
    And frame my face to all occasions.
    I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall;
    I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk;
    I'll play the orator as well as Nestor;
    Deceive more slily than Ulysses could;
    And like a Sinon take another Troy:
    I can add colours to the cameleon."

Other references will be found in "Hamlet" and in "Antony and

It has been conjectured that the ancients derived their idea of the
mermaid from the Manatees that may be found on the shores of Africa
washed by the Atlantic, or from the Dugongs of the littoral of the
Indian Ocean. These singular animals have been placed by naturalists
in a class by themselves and called Sirenia. They have a curious habit
of swimming with their heads and necks above water. They thus bear
some grotesque and remote resemblance to the human form, and may have
given rise to the poetical tales of mermaids and sirens found in
ancient literature. When the female Dugong is nursing her offspring
the position assumed is almost identical with that of a human mother.
The sea-lions and seals have the same habit of raising themselves in a
semi-erect position in the water, and the intelligent aspect of their
faces gives them at a little distance a close resemblance to human
beings--a resemblance often equally striking when they are seen
recumbent on the rocks. It is but little strange, that early
navigators with all the superstitions of their race, and having a very
slight knowledge of natural history, should be deceived, when we find
in Scoresby's Voyages the incident narrated of the surgeon of his ship
so deceived by one of these creatures that he reported that "he had
seen a man with his head just above the surface of the water." At the
same time, it appears to us at least as probable that the mermaid,
like the sea-horses of Poseidon, was purely a creature of the

From the graceful beauty of the mermaiden to the less pleasing
physiognomy of "Mistress Tannakin Skimker, the hog-faced gentlewoman,"
is a great step indeed, yet both beliefs bear testimony alike to the
universal desire after something wonderful and outside the ordinary
course of nature, a feeling that in its lowest form finds satisfaction
in paying a penny to see a six-legged lamb, while more cultured minds
revel in the wealth of fancy found in the myths of Hellas. The unhappy
lady who has prompted our present remarks was bewitched at her birth
on the understanding that she should recover her true shape on being
married. She was born, we are told, in 1618 in a town on "the River
Rhyne." Our authority, a book dated the year 1640, gives various
facts, but does not say whether any one was so courageous as to remove
the spell by offering her marriage. The book is embellished (or
otherwise) with a portrait of the luckless Tannakin. While referring
to the one old book our thoughts naturally turn to another of a
similar type, the "Humana Physiognomonia" of Porta, a book published
in the year 1601. It is full of curious woodcuts showing the great
resemblance sometimes seen between the features of men and those of
some of the lower animals.

Old Burton tells us, in his "Miracles of Art and Nature" (A.D. 1678),
of a creature found in Brazil that had "the face of an Ape, the foot
of a Lyon, and all the rest of a Man," and he almost needlessly adds,
"a Beast of a most terrible aspect." This is not by any means the only
wonder in that vast and distant land, and he winds up his description
by asserting that "it may be said of Brasill as once of Africk, every
day some New Object of Admiration." In his account of India he tells
us of dog-headed men, while in the Oriental Isles, besides a river
plentifully stored with fish, yet so hot that it scalds the flesh of
any man or beast thrown therein, there are men with tails.

Numerous other instances might readily be given of strange
combinations of the human form with that of some animal, but enough
has been given as an illustration of the sort of thing to be freely
met with in ancient and mediæval history; so we pass to our second
division of humanity--those who are wholly human, yet in some way of
so marked a departure from the ordinary type of mankind as to come
within the scope of our strange history. These modifications sometimes
arise from the suppression of some part, as in the case of the
headless people; in its exaggeration, as in the instance of the men of
India whose ears sweep the ground as they walk; or in the
multiplication or subtraction of various members, as in the one-eyed
Cyclops or the hundred-armed Briaræus.

One of the most notable beliefs in mediæval times was that in the
headless people:--

    "The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
    Do grow beneath their shoulders."

Of the Anthropophagi we may read in Eden's "Historie of Travayle," a
book published in the year 1577. The word in its literal sense means
man-eaters or cannibals.[20] Eden, in the passage to which we have
referred, speaks of these as "the wilde and myschevous people called
Canibales or Caribes, whiche were accustomed to eate man's fleshe, and
called of the old writers Anthropophagi, molest them exceedingly,
invading their countrey, takyng them captive, kyllying and eatyng
them." Our old author, it will be seen, speaks of still older writers,
but these we have been unable to lay hands on.

  [20] From the Greek words _anthropos_, a man; and _phago_, to eat.

Halliwell, in his noble edition of Shakespeare's Plays, comments on
the opinion of Pope and other writers, that the lines we have quoted
from "Othello" were perhaps originally the interpolation of the
players, or at best a mere piece of trash admitted to humour the lower
class of the audience. He, as we imagine, very justly combats this
idea, holding that the case was probably the very reverse of this, and
that the poet rather desired to commend his play to the more curious
and refined amongst his auditors by alluding here to some of the most
extraordinary passages in Sir Walter Raleigh's account of his
celebrated voyage to Guiana in 1595. Nothing excited more universal
attention than the accounts which Raleigh brought from the New World
of the cannibals, headless people, and Amazons. A short extract of the
more wonderful passages was published in several languages,
accompanied by a map of Guiana, by Jodocus Hondius, a Dutch
geographer, and adorned with copper-plates representing these
Anthropophagi, Amazons, and headless men in different points of view.

Raleigh's book was published in London in 1596, the year after his
return from these wondrous lands. Its title runs as follows:--"The
discoverie of the large, rich, and bewtiful Empire of Gviana, with a
relation of the great and golden City of Manoa, which the Spaniards
call El Dorado, performed in the year 1595, by Sir W. Ralegh, Knt."
The book is written throughout in a very fair, honest way, and with an
evident desire to gain the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth. Our hero shall, however, speak for himself. "Next vnto Armi
there are two riuers Atoica and Coara, and on that braunch which is
called Coara are a nation of people whose heades appeare not aboue
their shoulders, which, though it may be thought a meere fable, yet
for mine owne parte I am resolued it is true, because euery child in
the prouinces of Arromaia and Canuri affirme the same: they are called
Ewaipanoma; they are reported to haue their eyes in their shoulders,
and their mouths in the middle of their breasts, and that a long
traine of haire groweth backward betwen their shoulders. The sonne of
Topiawari, which I brought with mee into England, told mee that they
are the most mightie men of all the lande and vse bowes, arrowes, and
clubs thrice as bigge as any of Guiana, or of the Orenoqueponi, and
that one of the Iwarawakeri took a prisoner of them the yeare before
our arriual there, and brought him into the borders of Arromaia his
father's countrey. And further, when I seemed to doubt of it hee told
me that it was no wonder among them, but that they were as great a
nation, and as common, as any other in all the prouinces, and had of
late yeares slaine manie hundreds of his father's people and of other
nations their neighbors, but it was not my chance to heare of them til
I was come away, and if I had but spoken one word of it while I was
there, I might haue brought one of them with me to put the matter out
of doubt." It appears to us that "Sir W. Ralegh, Knt.," comes out of
the matter very much better than "the sonne of Topiawari," who, to say
the least of it, and to take the most charitable view, seems to have
been under a misapprehension of the facts.

The same year saw the publication of a second book, "A relation of the
Second Voyage to Guiana, performed and written in the yeere 1596, by
Laurence Keymis, Gent." This was dedicated to "the approved, right
valorous and worthy knight Sir Walter Ralegh," and he too refers to
this mysterious people, though only on the same terms, information at
second hand, not actual inspection. He says, "Our interpreter
certified mee of the headlesse men, and that their mouthes in their
breastes are exceeding wide." He evidently feels that this is almost
as far as he may reasonably expect to gain credence from the folks at
home, for he goes on to say, "What I have heard of a sorte of people
more monstrous I omit to mention, because it is matter of no
difficultie to get one of them, and the report otherwise will appeare
fabulous." He nevertheless does mention it, for in a note on the
margin he says of these people, "They have eminent heades like dogs,
and live all the day time in the sea: they speake the Charibes
language." Probably these were some kind of seal or sea-lion, though
one does not generally associate with such creatures the idea of
linguistic acquirements. He does not seem to have found it so easy to
get hold of one of these people as he anticipated; his book at least
gives no hint that he was so far successful. Guiana, like Africke, was
in mediæval times a land of wonders, and even Hartsinck, in his work
on Guiana, published in 1770, or not very much more than a century
ago, gravely asserts the existence of a race of negroes in Surinam
whose hands and feet were forked like the claw of a lobster, the hands
consisting merely of a thumb and one broad finger, like the gloves of
one's tender infancy, while the foot was suggestive of the split hoof
of the ox or sheep.

Hackluyt in his "Voyages" dwells on the land Gaora, a tract inhabited
by a people without heads, having their eyes in their shoulders and
their mouths in their breasts. His book is dated 1598. A similar race
of men, called Blemmyes, were said to be found in Africa; and Sir John
Maundeville, in his "Voiage and Travaile, which treateth of the way to
Hierusalem and of Marvels of Inde, with other Ilands and Countries,"
gives an account of these men whose heads do grow beneath their
shoulders. The book is altogether a most curious and interesting one,
and the quaint illustrations add greatly to its value. The famous
"Nuremburg Chronicle" of the year 1493 has a very curious figure of
one of these headless men, almost a hundred years before they are
mentioned by Sir Walter Raleigh, and in 1534 we find another
representation in one of the books of Erasmus.[21] Raleigh's book, it
will be remembered, was published in 1596.

  [21] Appendix N.

An extraordinary realisation of these famous and fabulous beings was
afforded to the people of Stuttgard at the great Festival held in that
city by the Grand-Duke of Wurtemburg on the occasion of his marriage
with the Margravine of Brandenburg in the year 1609. The doings of the
Festival were illustrated by Balthazar Kuchlein in a volume of 236
plates. A grand procession was a marked feature in the rejoicings, and
in this procession we see three of these headless men riding on gaily
caparisoned and prancing steeds, besides "Tempus" with his winged
hourglass; "Labor," dressed as a rustic, and bearing in one hand a
beehive, and in the other a spade; and "Fama," a winged lady-fair on
horseback, and bearing scroll and trumpet. In this grand but
heterogeneous cavalcade we also find, amongst many others, the
counterfeit presentments of Julius Cæsar, Alexander of Macedon, Hector
of Troy, Diana, Jupiter, Sol, Prudentia, Justicia, Fortitudo, and
Abundancia--a strange medley, but doubtless a pageant well pleasing to
the burghers of Stuttgard, and to the countless throngs drawn within
their city walls.

Pliny gravely writes of the Fanesii, a tribe in the far north of
Scandinavia, whose ears were so long that they could cover up their
whole body with them; while the author of "Guerino Meschino" speaks of
Indians with feet so large that they carried them over their heads as
sunshades. Their means of locomotion must have been, under these
circumstances, decidedly curious.

Amongst one-eyed people we have the Arimaspians and the Cyclops. The
former were a race in Scythia, and were legendarily supposed to be in
constant war with the gryphons, as elsewhere we find recorded the
continuous hostilities between the pigmies and the cranes. They are
referred to by Milton in his "Paradise Lost." The Cyclops were
giants, whose business it was to forge for Vulcan; their single eye
was placed in the centre of their foreheads. Of these the most notable
was the great giant Polyphemus, the defeated and blinded foe of

    "Roused with the sound, the mighty family
    Of one-eyed brothers hasten to the shore,
    And gather round the bellowing Polypheme."[22]

  [22] Addison's "Milton Imitated."

All the departures from the ordinary human type that we have hitherto
considered sink into insignificance when we come to the great
Briaræus, the fifty-headed and hundred-handed giant, and his

    "He who brandished in his hundred hands
    His fifty swords and fifty shields in fight."[23]

  [23] The "Jerusalem Delivered" of Tasso.

Giants of this overwhelming type may be also met with in the mythology
of Scandinavia and India, but space forbids our dwelling at greater
length on their charms. Having, therefore, so far done homage to the
dictum of Pope, "The proper study of mankind is man," by considering
in the first place the combination of the human nature with the
animal, and in the second division man himself, yet warped and
distorted from the image of God, we now, in the third place, deal with
those forms of human mould that owe their departure from the type form
to an excess of bulk or the reverse--a class that includes the men of
Lilliput and of Brobdingnag, and all their fellows in towering height
or microscopic proportion.

The Fairies were held by our ancestors to be a kind of intermediate
beings, partaking of the nature both of men and spirits. They had
material bodies, and yet possessed the power of rendering themselves
invisible at will. They had minds and hearts that could be touched by
kindly feelings, and at the same time they delighted in practical
jokes of the most pronounced description, while some displayed a cruel
and malignant ferocity. The general idea, however, of them seems to
have been of a diminutive race possessed with supernatural gifts,
animated with joyous spirits, of great beauty, and full of kindliness
to the sons of men when not crossed or slighted. We are told, for
instance, of an honest farmer who had been reduced by the badness of
the seasons to poverty, and was about to return homewards one morning
from the fields in despair, having sown what little seed he had, which
was not nearly so much as the ploughed land required. While pondering,
not knowing what to do, he imagined that he heard a voice behind him

    "Tak'--an' gie
    As gude to me."

He turned round, and perceived a large sack standing at the end of the
field, and on opening it he found it to be full of the most excellent
seed-oats. Without hesitation he sowed them; the sample was admirable,
and the harvest no less luxuriant. The man carefully preserved the
sack, and as soon as possible filled it full of the best grain that
his field produced, and set it down on the spot on which he had
received the fairy oats. A voice called to him--

    "Turn roun' your back,
    Whill I get my sack."

The farmer averted his face, and then immediately looked round, but
all was gone. Things ever after prospered with him; for, according to
the popular belief--

        "Meddle and mell
        Wi' the fien's o' hell,
    An' a weirdless wicht ye'll be;
        But tak' and len',
        Wi' the fairy men,
    Ye'll thrive ay whill ye dee."

In the same dearth, and in the same parish, an old woman who was
nearly perishing of hunger, having tasted no food for two or three
days, was one morning astonished to find one of her pans full of
oatmeal. This seasonable supply she attributed to some of her
benevolent neighbours, who she imagined had been wishing to give her a
little surprise. Notwithstanding the care, however, with which she
husbanded her meal, it by-and-by was expended, and she was again
almost reduced to starvation. After passing another day without food
her pan was again replenished, which was regularly done whenever the
supply was exhausted, always allowing her to remain one day without
food. Her store was replenished so regularly that at last she became
careless, and presumed on the generosity of her invisible benefactors.
One day, on receiving her new supply, she baked the whole of it into
cakes, and having by some means obtained a little meat, invited all
her acquaintances to a treat. The guests were just going to fall to
when, to their astonishment, they beheld the cakes turn into withered
leaves. After this the store was never renewed.

The origin of the belief in fairies is lost in the mists of time. Some
supposed them to be the spirits of those who had inhabited the land
before the birth of the Saviour, shut out until the final judgment
from the joys of Paradise, yet undeserving of a place amongst the
lost souls in Hades. Others tell us that they are the Druids thus
transformed because they would not give up their idolatrous rites, and
that they are continually growing smaller and smaller, until they
eventually turn into ants.[24] They may be divided into four classes.
1. The white or good fairies who live above ground, the joyous
dancers, the ethereal beings the poets delight to portray. 2. The dark
or underground spirits, trolds and brownies, a more irritable race,
working in mines and smithies, and doing good or evil offices in a
somewhat arbitrary and uncertain fashion. 3. The fairy of the
homestead, of whom Puck and Robin Goodfellow are good examples, fond
of cleanliness and order, rewarding and helping the industrious and
punishing the idle and careless. 4. The water-fairies, the more sombre
spirits of the woods and mountains, the Kelpies and Nixies, luring men
to destruction. We nevertheless find that the fairies of the sylvan
shades interest themselves at times in the affairs of men, and though
it is easy to define four very distinct classes, we at the same time
find that these classes are blended together a good deal. The whole
thing is so purely a creation of the imagination, not of one mind but
of thousands, that it is impossible to reduce the subject to
mathematical exactness.

  [24] Appendix O.

The fairies of the poets are ordinarily those of the woodland, while
those of the legends of the countryside are at least equally often the
fairies of the homestead in their association with the daily life, the
trivial round, the common task.

The earliest account of the fairies of England will be found in the
writings of Gervase, in the thirteenth century, and after that date
allusion to them may frequently be found; grave chroniclers like
Reginald Scot, poets like Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton,
all make mention of them. The first of these, Scot, in his "Discoverie
of Witchcraft," tells us that "the faeries do principally inhabit the
mountains and caverns of the earth, whose nature is to make strange
apparitions on the earth, in meadows or in mountains, being like men
and women, soldiers, kings, and ladies, children, and horsemen clothed
in green." Many unfortunate women were persecuted as witches during
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and their connection with the
fairies was often one of the leading charges against them, as we may
see in the indictment of Alison Pearson; she was convicted of
associating with the fairies, the definite charge against her being
"for haunting and reparing with the Queene of Elfland." Another woman
was found guilty of "taking employment from a woman to speak in her
behalf to the Queene of Faerie;" and many other such cases might be
brought forward.

Fairies have ordinarily been invisible, and though they have at times
permitted mortals to be present at their revels, more frequently they
would appear to have resented any intrusion. In Poole's "English
Parnassus" the most circumstantial details are given: the robes are of
snowy cobweb and silver gossamer; the lamps are the mystic lights of
glowworms; the minstrelry is the music of the nightingale or the chirp
of the cricket. Their emperor was Oberon, and his royal consort and
empress was the sweet but mischievous Mab:--

    "There is Mab, the mistress fairy,
    That doth nightly rob the dairy;
    And can help or hurt the churning
    As she please without discerning.
    This is she that empties cradles,
    Takes out children, puts in ladles."

The fairies--the good people as they were often called--were on the
whole kindly and beneficent. During the Middle Ages these little
beings had obtained so much credit that the clergy, who wished to
reserve to themselves the power of blessing or banning, grew seriously
jealous, and endeavoured earnestly to disestablish them from the
hearts of men. That this was by no means in accordance with the
feelings of the laity may be very well seen in the following extract
from the "Canterbury Tales":--

    "I speke of many hundred yeres ago;
    _But now can no man see non elves mo_;
    For now the grete charitee and prayeres
    Of limetoures and other holy freres
    That searchen every land and every streme
    As thikke as motes in the sonne beme,
    Blessing halles, chambers, kichenes and bowres,
    Cities, and burghes, castles highe and toures,
    Thropes and bernes, shepines and dairies
    _This maketh that there ben no fairies_;
    For thir as wont to walken was an elf,
    Their walketh now the limetour himself."

The fairy rings to be seen in the meadows and woodlands were accepted
with undoubted faith as the scenes of midnight revelry, and in most
cases were regarded with some little dread from the belief that they
were enchanted ground. Hence when people went to look after their
cattle in the morning they were always careful to avoid walking too
near these rings:--

    "Some say the screech-owl, at each midnight hour,
    Awakes the Fairies in yon ancient tower.
    Their nightly dancing ring I always dread,
    Nor let my sheep within that circle tread;
    Where round and round all night in moonlight fair,
    They dance to some strange music of the air."

The effect produced on those who incautiously entered these charmed
circles seems to have been sufficiently startling, if we may credit
the old popular beliefs, to justify the greatest precautions and the
most open-eyed watchfulness. In some cases the victim of carelessness
or short-sightedness would imagine that he had been absent but a few
minutes with the fairies, when he had really been away a century or
more; while in other cases a man would suppose that he had lived for a
long period in Elf-land when he had been but away an hour. Probably in
some cases the spirits were alcoholic. We read of a young man who went
out one morning and probably trod in one of these rings; however that
may be, he was attracted by the especially sweet singing of some
unknown bird. After waiting, as he thought, some few minutes, he
resumed his journey, when he noticed to his surprise that the fresh
and verdant tree in which the sweet songster had been embowered was
scathed and leafless. The well-known house to which he was going had
disappeared with all its inhabitants, and in its place a new structure
had arisen. On going up to it an old man, who was evidently the owner,
came out and asked his business, and on learning his name, told him
that he had been away a hundred years or more. "I remember when I was
a child hearing my grandfather speak of your disappearance one day
many years before I was born, and that, after searching for you far
and wide, he learned from a wise woman that you had fallen amongst the
fairies, and that you would only be released when the sap had ceased
to flow in yonder aged tree!" He had scarcely uttered the words when
he beheld his long-lost kinsman fall away to a heap of dry dust!!

A popular Welsh legend tells us that two countrymen were one night
crossing the mountains, when one of them, thinking he heard some
strains of music, lingered a little behind, and could not afterwards
be found. After fruitless search, his friends learned from a Seer that
he had fallen amongst the fairies, and that the only way to recover
him was to go on the anniversary of his absence to the place where he
had disappeared, and that they must then pull him out of a fairy ring.
Some few bold spirits were equal to the occasion, and on going to the
place at the stipulated time they discovered their lost relative in
the midst of an immense number of very small people, who were all
dancing round in a circle. They pulled him out, but he died of
exhaustion almost directly, as he had been dancing without
intermission for the twelve months he had been missing. Another
tradition current in Wales tells us of a young shepherd who peacefully
tended his flock on the steeps of Brynnan Mawr. One day setting forth
as usual at daybreak from his homestead near the hills, the lofty
summit was enveloped in mist, but, as he proceeded, it gradually
cleared away towards the Pembrokeshire side, a sure sign of a fine
day. Our shepherd felt all the elevation of spirit which youth and the
early dawn of a day in the "leafy month of June" might be expected to
produce. Whilst trudging on his way gaily up the steep, he discerned
the extraordinary spectacle of a party of persons, brilliantly
dressed, and in active movement near the summit of the mountain. He
gazed for some time before he could be convinced that what he saw was
real. He climbed farther and farther, forgetting his sheep and all
else in the world at the apparition of so many bright beings at that
desolate spot. At last he drew very near the party, whom he was now
convinced were either the Fairies, or some kindred sprites, concluding
their nightly revels. Bursts of gentle music, like the melodious
murmuring of an Æolian harp, ever and anon entranced him with
delight. They were comely little beings to behold, and seemed very
merry, while their habiliments of white, or green, or red, glistened
with more than earthly beauty. The male sex wore red bonnets, and
their fair companions flaunted in head-dresses outrivalling the
gossamer in their texture; and many either galloped about on tiny
white steeds, or pursued each other with the swiftness of the breeze.
The greater portion of the party, however, were intently engaged in
their favourite sport of dancing in the circle. Our shepherd did not
know how it was, but he felt an irresistible inclination to make one
of this joyous group, and growing bolder as the actors in the scene
became more familiar to him, he at last ventured forward, and being
encouraged by the friendly signals from all around, he advanced one
step within the ring. The most exquisite melody now filled the air,
and in an instant all was changed. Brynnan Mawr, with its well-known
scenery, was seen no more. He was suddenly transported to a gorgeous
palace radiant with gold and precious stones. Groves of odoriferous
shrubs, intermingled with flowers unknown in this world, which might
have rivalled those of the Valley of Gardens in "Lalla Rookh," shed
around a fragrance excelling that of the "spicy East." Here did our
shepherd wander from day to day amidst porphyry halls, and pavilions
of pearl. Time sped away, but years seemed insufficient to explore all
the wonders of that veritable Fairyland. He was attended in his
wanderings by kind and gentle beings, who anticipated every want, and
even invented sports and pastimes to amuse him. In the midst of the
gardens there was a well of the clearest water, filled with many
rainbow-tinted fish. There was but one limitation affixed to his
movements and his curiosity: he was forbidden to drink of this well,
on pain of having all his happiness blasted. It might be thought that,
surrounded as he was with all that he could desire, there would have
been no danger of his violating this command, but the result proved
the error of this Utopian way of viewing the probabilities. One day he
cautiously advanced toward the forbidden spot, and placing his hand
within the well, drew forth some water in his palm and drank it. The
shrieks of many voices instantly filled the air, all the fair scenes
of enchanting loveliness vanished, and the luckless and too curious
shepherd found himself on the summit of Brynnan Mawr with his sheep
quietly grazing around him in the early morning just as when he had
first entered the fairy-ring. Though years apparently had passed away
while he was under the magic spell yet it was evident that in reality
not many minutes could have elapsed.

Our readers will doubtless recall Shakespeare's reference to these
"fairy rings," in the first scene of the fifth act in the "Tempest":--

    "Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;
    And ye, that on the sands with printless foot
    Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him,
    When he comes back; you, demi-puppets, that
    By moon-shine do the green-sour ringlets make,
    Whereof the ewe not bites; and you, whose pastime
    Is to make midnight mushrooms; that rejoice
    To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid
    (Weak masters though ye be,) I have be-dimm'd
    The noon-tide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
    And 'twixt the green sea and the azure vault
    Set roaring war."

The flint arrow-heads or celts so dear to antiquaries, and so commonly
to be found in and near the tumuli that mark the resting-places of our
remote ancestors, are popularly called fairy-darts or elf-bolts.
Though the wound of an elf-bolt was supposed to cause instant death to
man and beast when directed by an aggrieved or mischievous fairy, the
possession of one of these celts secured its owner from all ill
consequences. When cattle or horses fell lame without the reason being
forthcoming, it was concluded that they had been wounded by these
invisible archers, in which case it was only necessary to touch the
tender place with another elf-bolt or to make the animal drink the
water in which one had been dipped.

Any money found by the roadside was in the same way ascribed by our
rustics to the fairies, some kindly spirit having dropped it by the
way for the benefit of the battered wayfarer. As a boy one day in
Anglesea was going out just before daybreak, he saw before him in the
grey and obscure light a party of little beings dancing, as usual, in
a circle. He hastened home in alarm and without making any further
investigation, and on his return found a groat on a stone. He often
saw the fairies afterwards at the same place, and as regularly found
the money laid for him at the same spot. His possession of funds
awakened the paternal curiosity, and he at last confessed the whole
matter. Ever after this, though he often passed by the scene of the
revels and scanned the wayside stone intently, he never saw either
fairy frolic or fairy fee again.

Though fairies had the power of making themselves invisible, and
generally resented the intrusion of any human spectator, they were
willing to show themselves sometimes, it would appear, though
frequently the consequences were not altogether agreeable to the
person so favoured. One evening the curiosity of a countryman, in his
progress homewards, was powerfully excited by a wild though gentle
melody which apparently proceeded from amidst some rocks, resting in
picturesque confusion on the slopes of the mountain. After listening
for some time he lost his track, and suddenly found himself close
beside a troop of elves, who were dancing round a mysterious circle of
"stocks and stones." Before he had much time for thought the
elfin-troop surrounded him and quickly hurried him aloft, one of the
party first asking the question whether he would prefer to be conveyed
with a high, a moderate, or a low wind? Had he chosen the first, or
"above the wind," he would instantly have soared into the most
elevated regions; but our poor bewildered farmer unwisely made choice
of the low wind, thus rejecting (as is too often the case in life) the
middle course, or "with the wind," where he would have enjoyed an easy
and pleasant aerial excursion. The mischievous little spirits then
hurried him along the surface of the ground, over bog and briar, thorn
and ditch, until at last they threw him in a most miserable plight
head foremost in the mire.

In Shakespeare's time it was a belief that no one could see the
fairies and live, for he makes Falstaff exclaim, "They are fairies, he
who looks on them shall die;" but any one who desires to see them
through the eye of a poet should read most carefully the altogether
delightful "Midsummer Night's Dream." The temptation to quote
liberally from it is extreme, but its beauty requires it to be read in
its entirety.

The references in that play to changelings reminds us that we have not
yet referred to this notable piece of family practice.

Both the good and the bad fairies used to recruit their numbers by
carrying off children, or young men and women. The malignant race
delighted in spiriting away the unbaptized offspring (for it was only
over these that they had any power) of affectionate parents,
particularly when heirs, that they might produce as much mischief and
vexation as possible; while the benignant fairies never took any
recruits but the orphans of pious parents, who had no protectors, or
were oppressed by cruel and unjust guardians. Such protégés, or rather
naturalised fairies, were permitted twice to resume their original
state, and appear to their kindred and acquaintance. The first time
was at the end of seven years, when, if they had been children when
they were taken away, they appeared to their nearest relatives, and
declared to them their state, whether they were pleased with their
condition as fairies, or wished to be restored to that of men. If they
had been boys or girls when they were removed from this upper earth,
and had by this time grown to men or women, they always appeared to
persons of a different sex to themselves, with whom they had fallen in
love, to whom they declared their state and passion, and, according to
circumstances, either wished their lover to accompany them to
Fairyland, or suggested to them a method whereby to recover them out
of the hands of their elfish lords.

The second appearance, at the end of fourteen years, was for the same
purpose, and on this occasion they were either rescued from the power
of the fairies or confirmed under their dominion for ever.

When the bad fairies carried off a child, they always left one of
their own number in its place. This equivocal creature was always
distinguished by being insatiable for food, and if kept, seldom failed
to draw its supposed mother into a consumption.

Whenever a family suspected that a child had been changed for a
fairy, they had recourse to the following strange, but, in the opinion
of the country, infallible ordeal. A sufficient quantity of clay was
produced from the eastern side of a hill, with which all the windows,
doors, and every aperture through the house, excepting the chimney,
were built up. A large fire was then made of peats, and the supposed
fairy, wrapped in the sheets or blankets of the woman's bed, was laid
on the fire when it was at the briskest, while one of the bystanders

    "Come to me
    Gin mine ye be;
    But gin ye be a fairy wicht,
    Fast and flee till endless nicht."

If the child actually was the woman's it instantly rolled off the fire
upon the floor; but, if it was a fairy, it flew away up the chimney
with a tremendous shriek, and was never more seen, while the real
infant was found lying upon the threshold.

    "Oh, that it could be proved
    That some night tripping fairy had exchanged,
    In cradle-clothes, our children as they lay;
    And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!
    Then would I have his Harry, and he mine."[25]

  [25] Shakespeare, 1. Henry IV.

Spenser also refers to this belief in the following lines:--

    "And her base elfin breed there for thee left,
    Such men do changelings call, so changed by fairie's theft."

In some parts of the country, it is, or perhaps we should more
correctly say was, customary to protect a child against fairy
influences by tying a red thread round its throat or by letting its
head hang down for awhile in the early morning. One does not of
course see why either of these remedies should be efficacious against
fairies or against anything else; but any one who has had occasion to
talk matters over with rustics will have found that all their
remedies, whether for ills spiritual or material, are of the most
inconsequent character, and that the gift of faith in them is one of
the most necessary accompaniments. This belief in fairy changelings is
of great antiquity, for we read in Holingshead's "Chronicles" that the
common people, on the death of King Arthur, held that he was not
really dead at all, "but carried away by fairies into some place,
where he would remain for a time and then return again and reign in as
great authority as ever." It was also an old belief that people who
had once lived with the fairies never again looked quite like other
people, an ingenious way of accounting for any peculiarity in any one.
Sir Walter Scott, in speaking of elf-possession, says that even
"full-grown persons, especially such as in an unlucky hour were doomed
to the execration of parents or of masters, or those who were found
asleep after sunset under a rock or on a green hill belonging to the
fairies, or finally those who unwarily joined their orgies, were
believed to be subject to their power. The accounts they gave of their
situation differ in some particulars. Sometimes they were represented
as living a life of constant restlessness and wandering by moonlight.
According to others, they inhabited a pleasant region, where, however,
their situation was rendered horrible by the sacrifice of one or more
individuals to the devil every seventh year. This is the popular
reason assigned for the desire of the fairies to abstract young
children as substitutes for themselves in this dreadful tribute."

Persons, as we have seen, could occasionally be recovered from the
fairies, and if changelings were taken before dark to a place where
three rivers met, the stolen child would be brought back in the night
and the fairy youngster would return whence it came. A poor woman who
once had twins had them adroitly carried away soon after birth, and
two of these elf-changelings substituted. For some months the change
was not suspected, but as the mother began to perceive that the
children never increased in size her suspicions were aroused, and she
consulted one of the wise men of the district. This friend in need
amply confirmed her suspicions, and in answer to her appeal for help
and counsel, told her that she must get two eggshells, fill them with
wort and hops, place them where these dubious infants could see them,
and then secretly observe what came next. After a few minutes of
watching the children began to stir, and these sweet little innocents,
who were supposed to be unable to either walk or talk, crept up to the
table, and after studying the matter awhile, one said to the other,
"We were born before the acorn which produced the oak of which these
cottage beams are made, but this is the first time we ever saw anybody
brewing in an egg-shell!" The secret was now fairly out, and the woman
was so exasperated at the trick played on her, that she fell on the
changelings with the greatest fury, and only desisted when she got a
solemn promise that her own dear children should at once be returned
to her. One egg-shell story leads to another, and in an old book we
came across the following:--

"My mother lived in the immediate neighbourhood of a farm-house that
was positively infested by fairies. It was one of those old-fashioned
houses among the hills of Cambria, constructed after the manner of
ancient days, when farmers considered the safety and comfort of their
cattle as much us that of their children and domestics, and the
kitchen and cow-house were on the same floor adjoining each other,
with a half-door over, so that the good man could see the animals from
his chimney-corner without moving. My mother and the farmer's wife
were intimate friends, and she used often to complain to her that the
fairies annoyed her and her family to that degree that they had no
peace;--that whenever the family dined, or supped, or ate any meal, or
were together, these mischievous little beings would assemble in the
next apartment. For instance, when they were sitting in the kitchen,
they were at high gambols in the dairy, or when they were yoking the
cows, they would see the fairies in the kitchen, dancing and laughing,
and provokingly merry. One day, as there was a great number of reapers
partaking of a harvest-dinner, which was prepared with great care and
nicety by the housewife, they heard music and dancing and laughing
above, and a great shower of dust fell down, and covered all the
victuals which were upon the table. The pudding in particular was
completely spoiled, and the keen appetites of the party were most
grievously disappointed. Just at this moment of trouble and despair an
old woman entered, who saw the confusion and heard the whole affair
explained. 'Well,' said she in a whisper to the farmer's wife, 'I'll
tell you how to get rid of the fairies. To-morrow morning ask six of
the reapers to dinner, and be sure that you let the fairies hear you
ask them. Then make no more pudding than will go into an egg-shell,
and put it down to boil. It may be a scanty meal for six hungry
reapers, but it will be quite sufficient to banish the fairies; and if
you follow these directions you will not be troubled with them any
more.' She did accordingly, and when the fairies heard that a pudding
for six reapers was boiling in an egg-shell there was a great noise in
the next apartment and an angry voice called out, 'We have lived long
in this world. We were born just after the earth was made, and before
an acorn was planted, and yet we never saw a harvest dinner prepared
in an egg-shell. Something must be wrong in this house, and we will no
longer stop under its roof.' From that time the disturbances ceased,
and the fairies were never seen or heard there any more."

Some authorities on the subject--and there are no greater authorities
on it than the most superstitious old crones one can lay hold of--have
averred that if any persons find themselves unwillingly in the company
of the fairies they can cause their instantaneous departure by drawing
out their knives. This acts not as a threat, for these puny immortals
have no need to fear the weapons of carnal warfare, but from some
inherent property in the cold bright steel.

Many of the fairies are such kindly, genial little souls that one is
rather grieved to find that they are entirely antagonistic to any
religious influence. Many stories illustrate this unfortunate
peculiarity, but to give one only will suffice. As a village fiddler
was returning home one evening from some festivities that had
doubtless owed much of their success to his enlivening strains, he was
met in the darkness by a stranger. This stranger wished to make a
somewhat curious arrangement with him, to the effect that on the
following night at midnight he should bring his fiddle to a certain
wild spot on the moorland, while he promised him ample reward for so
doing. Though the fiddler presently agreed to do so, the more he
thought it over the less he liked the bargain, and he would have
gladly thrown it up had he dared. In his strait he bethought him of
the minister of the parish, and determined to lay the whole matter
before him and take his advice upon it. His clerical adviser liked the
look of the affair no better than he did, but he advised him to keep
to his bargain, while he strongly cautioned him to play nothing but
psalm tunes. The fiddler kept his appointment, but no sooner had the
sacred strains arisen than a great shriek rent the air and he was
thrown violently down, and after receiving no slight castigation from
invisible adversaries he returned home sore and stiff in the early
morning. Unbelievers will no doubt say that the germ of truth in the
story will be found in the fact, that if the jovial musician so far
yielded to the charms of the revels as to be unable to steer a
straight course home within reasonable hours, the early morning would
probably find him stiff and sore with rheumatism.

The spirits of the mine were as firmly believed in amongst the miners
as the woodland and meadow sprites were by the dwellers on the country
side. They were generally called knockers, and any sound heard in the
stillness of the earth, that was evidently not the work of a
fellow-toiler, was at once attributed to supernatural agency. The
miners assert that these fairies may be frequently heard assiduously
at work in the remoter parts, and that by their knocking they draw the
attention of the workmen to the richest veins of ore. In the
"Gentleman's Magazine" for 1754 we found a curious letter from a
mine-owner, and the extract we give shows that the belief in such
beings was not by any means confined to the rude and uncultivated
miners, men a great part of whose lives were spent in the bowels of
the earth, far removed from the cheering light of day, and who were in
an especial degree under the influence of superstition:--

"People who know very little of arts or sciences, or the powers of
nature, will laugh at us Cardiganshire miners, who maintain the
existence of knockers in mines, a kind of good-natured impalpable
people, not to be seen but heard, and who seem to us to work in the
mines; that is to say, they are types or forerunners of working in
mines, as dreams are of some accidents which happen to us. Before the
discovery of the _Esgair y Mwyn_ mine, these little people worked hard
through day and night, and there are abundance of sober honest people
who have heard them. But after the discovery of the great mine they
were heard no more. When I began to work at Lwyn Lwyd, they worked so
fresh there for a considerable time, that they frightened away some
young workmen. This was when they were driving levels, and before we
had got any ore, but when we came to the ore they then gave over, and
I heard no more of them. These are odd assertions, but they are
certainly facts, although we cannot and do not pretend to account for
them. We have now (October 1754) very good ore at Lwyn Lwyd, where the
knockers were heard to work. But they have now yielded up the place,
and are heard no more. Let who will laugh; we have the greatest reason
to rejoice and thank the knockers, or rather God, who sends these

In the coal districts one meets with a similar belief in goblin
miners. These spirits are ordinarily of a friendly disposition, and
perform such kindly offices for their human fellow-workers as
assisting to pump up superfluous water or loosening masses of coal. Of
course one can readily see that when the men went to their work and
found their toil diminished, owing to a heavy fall of coal in the
working, superstition would at once have material to work on. Some of
these spirits would appear to have been of less amiable disposition,
and the sounds heard were at times the warnings and forerunners of
coming disaster. As the fairies of the household or of the moonlighted
forest glades were of uncertain and variable natures, though inclining
on the whole to beneficence, so the spirits of the earth were
divisible into those of gentle race and others of fierce and
malevolent disposition. In Milton's "Comus" we find these earth
spirits referred to in the following passage:--

    "No goblin, or swart fairy of the mine,
    Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity;"

and in Pope's prefatory letter to the "Rape of the Lock" we find a
further allusion--"The four elements are inhabitated by spirits called
sylphs, gnomes, nymphs, and salamanders. The gnomes, or demons of the
earth, delight in mischief; but the sylphs, whose habitation is in
air, are the best-conditioned creatures imaginable."

A belief in kindly spirits of the household was widely spread, for
besides our own Robin Goodfellow we find the Nis of Denmark and
Norway, the Kobold of Germany, the Brownie of Scotland, and many
others. Brownie, we may remark, is a tawny, good-natured spirit, and
derives his name from his colour as distinctive from fair-ie. Robin
Goodfellow was a merry domestic sprite, full of practical jokes, a
terror to the lazy, but a diligent rewarder of industry:--

    "When mortals are at rest,
    And snoring in their nest,--
    Un-heard or un-espied,
    Through key-hole we do glide:
    Over tables, stools, and shelves,
    We trip it with our fairy elves.

    And if the house be foule,
    Of platter, dish or bowle,
    Upstairs we nimbly creepe
    And find the sluts asleepe:
    Then we pinch their armes and thighes,
    None escapes, nor none espies.

    But if the house be swept,
    And from uncleannesse kept,
    We praise the house and maid,
    And surely she is paid:
    For we do use before we go
    To drop a tester in her shoe."

The "shrewd and knavish sprite" and the good luck he brings to the
deserving are referred to very happily again in the "Midsummer Night's

Prudent and considerate housewives who wished to gain the goodwill of
these spirits of the night were careful to leave a bowl of milk on the
table for their use. Milton, in his poem of "L'Allegro"--

    "Tells how the drudging goblin swet,
    To earn his cream-bowl duly set;"

the task he set himself in recompense for the attention shown him
being the threshing during the night of as much corn as would have
required the labour of ten men. What thrifty housewife would grudge a
bowl of milk or cream for so great a reward!

Queen Mab shares with Robin his functions as critic of household
management, for it will be remembered that in the "English Parnassus"
we find her described as--

    "She that pinches country wenches
    If they rub not clean their benches;
    And with sharper nail remembers,
    When they rake not up their embers.
    And if so they chance to feast her,
    In their shoe she drops a tester."

Housewives would see their account in keeping such a belief vividly
before the eyes of their serving-maids, and may even themselves have
sometimes dropped a tester where their diligent hand-maidens would
fancy it a fairy-reward for their zeal in her service, while the vague
threats of fairy vengeance would come in most opportunely in support
of their own chidings of the careless and indolent.

We turn, in conclusion, to the fourth class, the evil spirits of the
water and the storm. Of such is the Cornish Bucca, a weird goblin of
the winds, whose scream was heard amid the roar of the elements as
some gallant vessel was hurled to destruction on the rocks. In Ireland
the same creature was the dreaded Phoca or Pooka, in Wales the Pwcca,
while in Scottish legends it is the Kelpie. The creature sometimes
assumed the human form, and at others that of the eagle or the horse;
thus in Graham's "Sketches of Perthshire" we read--"Every lake has its
kelpie or water-horse, often seen by the shepherd sitting upon the
brow of a rock, dashing along the surface of the deep, or browsing
upon the pasture on its verge." The Nech is a similar creature in the
folk-lore of Scandinavia. In Wales we meet with the belief in a
creature called Cyoeraeth, so named, we are told, from its deadly
chilling voice. We find it thus described in an old book:--"The
Cyoeraeth is a being in the dress of a female, with tangled hair, a
bloodless and ghastly countenance, long black teeth, and withered arms
of great length;" in short, it is invested with a description which
conveys to the mind the idea of a blasted tree as compared to the
flourishing monarch of the forest, rather than as possessing the
similitude of anything human. This being (fortunately for the people)
seldom made itself visible, but its scream or shriek at night had a
terrible and overpowering effect on all who heard it. It generally
foreboded death or fearful disaster, and always occurred when the
spirit approached a cross road or drew near to a river or _llyn_, when
it would commence to splash and agitate the water with its long
bloodless hands, wailing all the time so as to 'make night hideous.'
Those who heard its dreary moaning (or thought they did, the case
doubtless of the majority) fled in horror, fearing for their reason,
while many were really affected in mind, and ever after had the shriek
resounding in memory.

In Brecon a romantic gorge called the Cwm Pwcca bears record in its
name of the old belief in the phoca. As a justification of its title
we read the following story:--A countryman was wandering in the
darkest of dreary winter nights in vain endeavour to find the path
that would have guided him to his home, when he saw a light before him
on the dreary waste, which he naturally took for the lantern of some
wayfarer. He quickened his steps and made for it. As he rapidly neared
it he was on the point of hailing its bearer when the roar of waters
smote his ear in the silence of the night, and, barely arresting his
steps in time, he found himself at the edge of a lofty chasm, the
awful gulf at the base of which the torrent was sweeping with
resistless fury. At this instant the bearer of the lantern took a
flying leap to the opposite side of the gorge, burst into a scornful
and unearthly peal of laughter, and vanished from the eyes of the
affrighted rustic.

The _ignis fatuus_, will-of-the-wisp, or Jack o' lantern was doubtless
at the bottom of such a story as this, and in Milton's "Paradise Lost"
we find the following powerful illustrative passage, referring both to
the natural phenomenon and the myth built upon it:--

    "'Lead, then,' said Eve. He, leading, swiftly rolled
    In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
    To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and Joy
    Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire,
    Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night
    Condenses, and the cold environs round,
    Kindled through agitation to a flame,
    Which oft, they say, some evil spirit tends,
    Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
    Misleads the amazed night wanderer from his way,
    To bogs and mires, and oft through ponds or pool;
    There swallowed up and lost, from succour far,
    So glistered the dire snake."

In the same author's poem of "L'Allegro" we find the will-of-the-wisp
again referred to, this time under the title of "Friar's lantern;"
while Sir Walter Scott in his "Marmion" writes--

    "Better we had through mire and bush
    Been lantern-led by Friar Rush."

Shakespeare in 1 "Henry IV." calls it a "ball of wildfire," and also
used the Latin name, _ignis fatuus_.

This bewilderment of the rustics by false fires does not always seem
to have been the result of diabolical malice on the part of the
fairies, but sometimes assumed the form of a practical joke. Like most
practical jokes, it was probably much more amusing to the joker than
the joked, and the benighted wanderer had little cause to thank him of
whom it could be said--

    "Whene'er such wanderers I meete
    As from their night-sports they trudge home;
    With counterfeiting voice I grete
    And call them on, with me to roam
        Thro' woods, thro' lakes,
        Thro' bogs, thro' brakes;
        Or else, unseene, with them I go
                All in the nicke
                To play some tricke,
        And frolic it, with ho, ho, ho!"

An old legend tells us how on the advent of Christianity great Pan and
all the woodland deities deserted their old haunts and were never seen
of men again; and in the same way the march of science and the spread
of education must ere now have killed off all the fairies, except in
the most out-of-the-way districts. Once coaxed and propitiated, or
shudderingly dreaded, they now but serve to make a pleasant fancy for
a Christmas-card, or aid in the grand spectacular effects of the
Christmas pantomime. Those, then, who would see these denizens of
elf-land and all the grace and beauty that even the very name of
fairy-land suggests, will seek them no longer in the ferny glades of
some fair woodland or beneath the silvery beams of the moon, but
reduce the matter to a prosaic visit to some great theatre, and
endeavour to find in the great array of "supers" and the glowing of
coloured fires the realisation of their fair ideal. The fairies are,
in fact, as dead, as hopelessly defunct, as the proverbial door-nail,
which seems to have been accepted by the wisdom of our ancestors as
the most expressive symbol of mortality and the stern decrees of
irreversible Fate.[26]

  [26] Appendix P.

The Pigmies had not the same glamour of romance about them that was
associated with the dwellers in elf-land. The consideration of them
nevertheless comes well within the same chapter, as, like the fairies,
they were a race of beings of human mould, but differing from the
ordinary standard of humanity by reason of the exceeding smallness of
their stature.

References to them will be found in the writings of Herodotus,
Philostratus, Pliny, and many other authors, the first allusion to
them being in the third book of the Iliad, where the Trojans are
compared to cranes fighting against pigmies:--

    "Thus by their leaders' care each martial band
    Moves into ranks, and stretches o'er the land.
    With shouts the Trojans, rushing from afar,
    Proclaim their motions, and provoke the war:
    So when inclement winters vex the plain
    With piercing frosts, or thick-descending rain,
    To warmer seas the cranes embodied fly,
    With noise, and order, through the mid-way sky:
    To pigmy nations wounds and death they bring,
    And all the war descends upon the wing."[27]

  [27] "Marking the tracts of air, the clamorous cranes
       Wheel their due flight in varied ranks descried;
       And each with outstretched neck his rank maintains,
       In marshalled order through th' ethereal void."

These combats between the pigmies and the cranes were also dwelt on by
Oppian, Juvenal, and others; and what was, to quote an old writer,
"only a pleasant figment in the fountain, became a solemn story in the
stream." Strabo in his Geography considered the belief as fabulous,
and so also did another old writer, Julius Scaliger; and even
Aldrovandus, though ready to accept almost anything, found a
difficulty in crediting it. Albertus Magnus, another of the old and
over-credulous writers, found as much difficulty as Aldrovandus, but
suggested that probably the belief arose from some big species of
monkey having been taken for a diminutive man. Even the home of the
pigmies was a point quite open to dispute. Some writers placed them in
the extreme north, where the growth of all nature was feeble and
stunted, while Aristotle placed them at the head of the Nile;
Philostratus affirmed that they were to be found on the banks of the
Ganges, and Pliny placed them in Scythia. Even their size was open to
question, for some would have us believe that the mounted men in their
armies rode on partridges, while others placed them on the backs of
rams. If the warrior and his steed bore any due proportion to each
other, this seems to point to a considerable divergence of ideas as to
the size of a pigmy. They were said to have been found by Hercules in
the great desert, and to have assailed him with their bows and arrows
as the Lilliputians did Gulliver. Their valour, however, in this case
seems to have outrun discretion, as the smiling demi-god carried a
number of them off in his lion's skin. Ctesias says that they were
negroes, and places a kingdom of them in the centre of India.
Shakespeare mentions them, but gives no local habitation. "Will your
Grace command me any service to the world's end? I will go on the
slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me
on: I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the farthest inch of
Asia; bring you the length of Prester John's foot; fetch you a hair
off the great Cham's beard; do you any embassage to the Pigmies!"
Others of our poets have adopted the myth, though of course without
committing themselves to an expression of their belief in it. In
Dryden's "Absalom and Achitophel," for example, we find the lines--

    "A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
    Fretted the pygmy-body to decay,
    And o'er informed the tenement of clay"--

and in Young's "Night Thoughts" we read--

    "Pygmies are pygmies still, though perched on Alps;
    And pyramids are pyramids in vales."

Another English writer whose book is before us does commit himself to
an expression of belief, for his title runs as follows:--"Gerania, a
New Discoverie of a Little Sort of People called Pygmies, with a
Lively Description of their Stature, Habit, Manners and Customs." The
author was one Joshua Barnes, and his book is dated 1675.

Though spelt indifferently as pigmy and pygmy, the latter is the more
correct, though perhaps a little pedantic-looking; the word is derived
from the Greek name for them, the Pygmaioi.

Tennant in his work on "Ceylon" makes the following very just
remark:--"We ought not to be too hasty in casting ridicule upon the
narratives of ancient travellers. In a geographical point of view they
possess great value, and if sometimes they contain statements which
appear marvellous, the mystery is often explained away by a more
careful and minute inquiry." Against the statements of the geographers
and historians of antiquity many modern critics have specially
delighted to break a lance, condemning them as more or less fabulous
and untrustworthy, though in some cases, as that of De Chaillu, the
narratives of modern travellers have been almost as mercilessly

Probably the African race known at the present time as Bosjesmen or
Bushmen are the modern representatives of the pigmies, for in their
cave-dwelling, reptile-eating, and other peculiarities they agree
entirely with those given by Pliny, Aristotle, and Herodotus. The
tales of the battles fought with the cranes may have been but a satire
on their diminutive size, or they may very possibly have been the
records of actual facts. The Maori traditions tell of the contests
with the moa and other gigantic birds which formerly inhabited the
islands of New Zealand, while the Jesuit missionaries give accounts of
enormous birds that were once found in Abyssinia, but are now, like
the dodo, extinct. It is, therefore, quite possible that there is more
truth in the story of these mannikins and their struggles with their
feathered foes than we are at first prepared to admit, and that while
many of the details of these old fables are evidently imaginative,
there was in more cases than we at once realise a solid foundation of
truth at the bottom of them.

Of giants, the opposite extreme in the scale, we need say but little.
Probably in many cases the early peoples, who desired to honour their
great champions, felt that the marvels they delighted to credit them
with must have been the work of men of more than human power and
parts. We see much the same feeling in the sculptures of antiquity,
the monuments of Egypt and Assyria, where the monarch far outweighs
even in mere physical bulk the subjects that surround him. Hence, like
Goliath, the champions of old are generally giants; while at other
times they themselves are of slender frame, striplings like David, and
it is the foes they subdue that are gigantic in bulk. The struggles,
for instance, of the gallant few against the crying and mighty wrong
of human slavery would have in earlier times been handed down to
posterity as a contest with an evil giant; and in the allegories of
the Middle Ages we meet, in the same way, with Giant Pope, Giant
Pagan, and Giant Despair.

Though in one's earlier years we read the exploits of Jack the
Giant-Killer with great complacency, and give him full meed of praise
for his valour, on fuller reflection we cannot help seeing that the
giants he encountered had intellects that bore no proportion to their
bodily bulk, and that it was the easiest thing possible to outwit
them; that according to the doctrine which by men of science is called
"the survival of the fittest," or in more popular parlance "the
weakest going to the wall," their destruction was strictly according
to the inexorable laws of nature. While dwarfs have been accredited
with a spiteful vindictiveness that served them in some sort as a
defence, giants have ordinarily been considered as great good-natured
fellows, fully bearing out Bacon's remark about tall houses being
often unfurnished in their upper story. Perhaps it is a merciful
arrangement of nature that this should be so, for a combination of the
maliciousness of the dwarf with the physical strength of the giant
would be something altogether _de trop_.

We very early in the Bible narrative meet with references to giants,
but it is by no means agreed by commentators that the word nephilim
thus translated means men remarkable for their stature. The context in
the case of the first reference to them, for instance, seems to render
it more probable that these were men not of gigantic stature, but of
gigantic wickedness--men who had departed from the true religion, and
were sustaining their apostasy by acts of violence and oppression, and
endeavouring by these means to gain to themselves power on the earth.
At the same time in other passages the references to the size of the
couch or the spear clearly implies their ownership by a man of much
more than the ordinary stature. According to Jewish tradition Og lived
three thousand years, and walked beside the Ark during the deluge,
while after his death one of his bones was used as a bridge for
crossing a river. According to Moses his bedstead was not quite
sixteen feet long, so that it seems the brook that any single bone
would span could scarcely have required bridging at all; while the
depth at what we may be allowed to term "high water" during the
Noachic deluge must have been very much less than all one's
preconceived notions would suggest, if its volume was a thing of
indifference to the owner of this sixteen-feet couch. The nearest
approach to a giant in modern times was an Irishman named Murphy, who
attained to a height of eight feet ten inches. Many of our readers
will remember seeing the Chinese Chang, or at least hearing of him, as
he was exhibited to the curious in London in 1866 and 1880. His height
was eight feet two inches. Patrick Cotter, an Irishman, who died in
1802, exceeded this by six inches; and one fine youth named Magrath,
an orphan adopted by Bishop Berkeley, died at the age of twenty, after
reaching a height of seven feet eight inches. There is no absolutely
authenticated instance of any one in modern times reaching nine feet,
though, of course, when tradition and hearsay have taken the place of
the measuring-tape, there is no difficulty in going considerably
beyond that limit. Plutarch tells of a giant eighty-five feet high,
and Pliny of another who only reached sixty-six. Many of the skeletons
of giants that were then supposed to be found during the Middle Ages
were really the remains of extinct animals. In the imperfect state of
surgical and osteological knowledge, the leg or blade bone of some
gigantic antediluvian monster was ascribed to some hero of the past,
and a very pretty little giant story promptly built upon it.

Any curious natural phenomena were generally ascribed by our ancestors
to diabolical influence, or else recognised as the labour of giants.
The Giant's Causeway is a notable and very familiar illustration of
this, and there are few mountains in Wales that are not invested with
some fairy tradition or legend of the marvellous. Trichrug, in
Cardiganshire, which derives its name from three united hills, is
believed to have been a favourite resort of the giants, and, like
Cader Idris, this lofty elevation was once the special seat or chair
of a giant whose grave is still pointed out. In a match at quoits
which took place here between the giants of Cambria, he of Trichrug is
said to have thrown one across St. George's Channel to the opposite
coast of Ireland, thus winning the contest triumphantly. His grave was
fabled to possess such extraordinary capabilities that it not only
adapted itself to the size of any one that lay down in it, but also
gifted the individual with greatly renewed strength. All defensive
weapons placed in this grave were either destroyed or swallowed up.
The rocky fortification, or _carnedd_, on the summit of Cader Idris is
in like manner invested by the surrounding peasantry with a mysterious
tradition respecting the giant Idris.

The warring of the giants against the rule of Jehovah finds its
parallel in the Greek myth of the sons of Tartaros and Ge attempting
to storm the gate of heaven and the seat of Zeus, only to meet with
signal discomfiture. The common expression for adding difficulty to
difficulty and embarrassment to embarrassment, the piling of Pelion on
Ossa, refers to this struggle, as the giants piled two mountains of
these names on each other as a scaling ladder to reach the heights of
high Olympus.

In "Measure for Measure" we find two well-known allusions to giants:--

                          "O! it is excellent
    To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
    To use it like a giant."

The second of these is equally familiar:--

    "The sense of death is most in apprehension,
    And the poor beetle that we tread upon,
    In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
    As when a giant dies."

In Matthew Green's play of "The Spleen," written at the beginning of
the eighteenth century, we find an evident allusion to the struggle
between David and Goliath in the line--

    "Fling but a stone, the giant dies."

Coleridge, again, writes--"A dwarf sees further than the giant, when
he has the giant's shoulder to rest on." This idea is not, however,
his own, for in Herbert's "Jacula Prudentum" we find the line, "A
dwarf on giant shoulders sees further of the two;" and in Fuller's
"Holy State" he says--"Grant them but dwarfs, yet stand they on
giants' shoulders and may see the further." Many other illustrations
might, of course, readily be given of what may be termed the literary
existence of giants, but enough has been quoted to show how valuable
these personages have in poesy and general literature. In the West
"Gulliver's Travels" and in the East the "Arabian Nights'
Entertainments" are two examples that at once occur to one's mind.




Comparatively Small Number of Mythical Bird-Forms--The Martlet--The
Bird of Paradise--The Humma--The Huppe--The Ibis--The Roc--The Hameh
Bird--Reptiles, Fish, &c.--The Sea-Serpent--The Adissechen of Hindu
Mythology--The Iormungandur of Scandinavian Mythology--The Egg
Behemoth--Nautilus--Dolphin--The Acipenser--The Remora--The Fish Nun--
The Chilon--The Dies--Sea-Bishops and Sea-Monks--Davy Jones and his
Locker--Ojibiway Legend of the Great Serpent--Fabledom in the Vegetable
Kingdom--The Barnacle Tree--The Kalpa-Tarou--The Lote Tree--The Tree of
Life--Lotus-Eating--Amaranth--Lotus Wreaths at Kew from the Egyptian
Tombs--Asphodel--Mediæval Herbals--Ambrosia--The Upas Tree--The Umdhlebi
Tree of Zululand--The Kerzereh Flower--The Mandrake--"Miracles of Art
and Nature"--Travellers' Tales--The Dead Sea Apple--Alimos--The Meto--
The Herb Viva--Cockeram on Herb-Lore--The Pseudodoxia of Dr. Browne--
Herb Basil--The "Eikon Basilike"--Fitzherbert's "Boke of Husbandry."

While we find numerous extraordinary beliefs clustering round the
so-called natural history of various birds, such as the legend of the
pelican nourishing its young with its own blood, or the eagle teaching
its offspring to gaze on the brightness of the mid-day sun, it is
curious to note how little of absolute myth-creation has been
developed in the direction of strange forms of bird life. On the other
hand, many of the weird creations of fancy, such as the dragon or the
phoca, have their terrors greatly enhanced by the gift to them of the
essential bird characteristic, the power of soaring in mid-air, and
thus gaining a great additional power for evil over their victims. We
have already referred, in our first chapter, to the phoenix, and it
now only remains to mention some few other mythical bird-forms, less
widely known, before we pass to other creations of fancy. Even in
heraldry, the home of much that is marvellous and unnatural, the bird
forms depart but little from natural types, and the only instance to
the contrary that occurs to us is the well-known Martlet, used not
only as "a charge" in blazonry, but also as a mark of cadency to
distinguish the arms of contemporary brothers in the same family or to
identify different branches of the same family connection.[28]

  [28] Appendix Q.

The martlet is very similar in form to a swallow, but is always
represented as without feet, while the French heralds also deprive it
of beak. A good early example of its use may be seen in the arms of
William de Valence, emblazoned on his shield at Westminster, and
dating from the year 1296; later instances of its employment are so
common that it is hardly worth while to particularise any special
illustration. The martlet, according to Gwillim, in his elaborate
treatise on heraldry, "hath leggs exceeding short, that they can by no
means go: and therefore it seemeth the Grecians do call them _Apodes,
quasi sine pedibus_; not because they do want feet, but because they
have not such use of their feet as other birds have. And if perchance
they fall upon the ground, they cannot raise themselves upon their
feet as others do, and so prepare themselves to flight. For this cause
they are accustomed to make their Nests upon Rocks or other high
Places, from whence they may easily take their flight, by means of
the support of the Air. Hereupon it came that this Bird is painted in
Arms without feet: and for this cause it is also given as a difference
of younger Brethren, to put them in mind to trust to their wings of
vertue and merit to raise themselves, and not to their leggs, having
little Land to set their foot on."

In mediæval days the Bird of Paradise was in like manner thought to be
without feet. The error arose in a very natural but most prosaic way,
and simply sprang from the fact that the natives who bartered the
skins of the birds with the merchants cut off the legs before bringing
them, naturally thinking that they were of no value, and that it was
for the richness of the plumage alone that the skins were esteemed.
The lovers of the marvellous in the West built upon this weak
foundation a most poetic superstructure, and believed that the bird
was indeed the denizen of paradise, fed upon the dew of heaven,
incapable of contact with earth, building no nest, but hatching its
eggs in a cavity upon its own back; ever soaring in the sunlight far
above earth, and independent of all mundane association.

Tavernier supplies another explanation, equally prosaic, of their
footless condition--one in fact, that entirely removes the poor birds
from all poetic association, and reduces them to the "drunk and
incapable" state that some other bipeds are prone to indulge in. He
tells us in his book that the birds of paradise come in flocks during
the nutmeg season to the plantations, and that the odour so
intoxicates them that they fall helplessly to the earth, and that the
ants eat off their feet while they are thus incapacitated. Moore, in
his "Lalla Rookh," thus refers, it will be remembered, to this
Tavernier tale in writing of--

    "Those golden birds that in the spice-time drop
    Upon the gardens drunk with that sweet food
    Whose scent hath lured them o'er the summer flood."

"The sublime bird which flies always in the air, and never touches the
earth," mentioned by the princess in the introduction to "Paradise and
the Peri," was the Humma, an altogether fabulous creature. Like the
bird of paradise, it was supposed to pass its whole time in the blue
vault of heaven, and to have no contact with earth; it was regarded as
a bird of good omen, and that every head it overshadowed would in time
be encircled with a crown. The splendidly jewelled bird suspended over
the throne of Tippoo Sultan at Seringapatam was an artistic embodiment
of this poetic fancy, and we can well imagine that all good courtiers
who had any regard for keeping their necks free from the scimitar
would take uncommonly good care to avoid that prophetic overshadowing,
that would make them the possible rivals and successors of so very
resolute an autocrat.

The Huppe, one of the birds believed in by our forefathers in mediæval
days, seems morally to have been a somewhat peculiar and, on the
whole, objectionable compound, reminding one in some degree of those
uncomfortable people who attach an immense importance to their own
belongings, but whose sympathies towards the members of the clan are
scarcely more marked than their antipathy to all beyond this narrow
circle. Such, at least, is the idea we should gather from the
description of it by De Thaun, for he tells us that "when it sees its
father or mother fallen into old age that they cannot see nor fly, it
takes them under its wings and cherishes them. The huppe has such a
nature that if any shall anoint a man with its blood while he is
sleeping, devils will come and strangle him." The huppe was described
as being like a peacock, but it seems impossible to even imagine how
such a belief in its evil powers could ever have taken root. It would
be difficult to conceive such a notion growing up in connection with
any creature whatever, but when the first cause is itself non-existent
the difficulty is greatly intensified; one has not even a foothold of
fact as a starting-point. What a picture, again, of cold-blooded
fiendishness does it not open out to us as we see with the mind's eye
the treacherous anointing of some perchance innocent sleeper with a
preparation of _Sanguis huppæ_ and then the operator walking off and
posing in the eyes of the world as an honourable burgess, while his
accomplices from the bottomless pit finish the job off for him while
he has gone to Mass or is engaged on 'Change! It is worse even than
that little affair with the babes in the wood, bad as that was in many
of its details.

The Ibis, beloved as it was by the Egyptians for its services to them
as the destroyer of venomous snakes, and from its association with the
Sacred Nile and the great deity Thoth, was not altogether allowed to
bring forth its progeny in peace, for it was believed that its
fondness for a serpent diet might so develop in it evil properties,
that its eggs were diligently sought for and destroyed, lest from them
should issue some strange serpentine forms of horror that in their
mysterious nature would be a still greater scourge than the
sufficiently objectionable grey and brown and diversely spotted and
chequered denizens of the desert that coil or glide unseen amidst the
expanses of burning sand, and whose fangs convey swift death to those
unfortunates who come within reach of their fatal power.

By far the grandest creation of bird-fancy is the Roc. This fabulous
bird was of enormous size, and of such strength of talon and digestion
that it was said to be able to carry away an elephant to its mountain
home, and there devour it at a meal; while one old traveller, not to
be outdone in particularity of detail, calculates that one roc's egg
is equal in amount to one hundred and forty-eight hens' eggs. The
belief in the roc was altogether an Eastern weakness, and those who
would know more of it must turn to such romances as that of "Sindbad
the Sailor" and the narratives of such-like Asiatic Barons Munchausen.
In the Second Voyage of Sindbad he tells us how he saw in the distance
some mysterious object, which, on closer inspection, proved to be the
egg of a roc. "Casting my eyes," he says, "towards the sea, I could
discern only the water and the sky; but perceiving on the land side
something white, I descended from the tree, and taking with me the
remainder of my provisions, I walked towards the object, which was so
distant that at first I could not distinguish what it was. As I
approached I perceived it to be a white ball of a prodigious size. I
walked round it, to find whether there was an opening, but could find
none; and it appeared so even that it was impossible to get up it. The
circumference might be about fifty paces. The sun was then near
setting; the air grew suddenly dark, as if obscured by a thick cloud.
I was surprised at this change, but much more so when I perceived it
to be occasioned by a bird of a most extraordinary size which was
flying towards me. I recollected having heard sailors speak of a bird
called a roc, and I conceived that the great white ball which had
drawn my attention must be the egg of this bird. I was not mistaken,
for shortly afterwards it alighted upon it and placed itself to sit
upon it." He tells us also in this same voyage of the furious strife
waged between the rhinoceros and the elephant, a struggle that often
continues till the roc, hearing the disturbance, swoops down upon them
and seizes them both in his claws and flies away with them, in much
the same manner apparently as the schoolmaster who, appearing suddenly
in the midst of a fight between two truculent youngsters, chills their
martial ardour by his stony glance, and leads off each culprit by ear
or collar to his den.

In another of Sindbad's sea-ventures, the fifth, we find an awful
warning against trifling with the parental feelings of the roc. In the
course of their voyage the crew landed on a desert island, and very
soon found a gigantic egg. Sindbad at once recognised what it was, and
earnestly advised them not to meddle with it, but his remonstrances
were unheeded; they boldly attacked the mass with hatchets, and on
finding a young roc within, cut it into divers pieces and roasted it.
These reckless tars had scarcely finished their meal, when two immense
clouds appeared in the air at a considerable distance. The captain,
knowing by experience what this portended, or haply making a lucky
guess, cried out that it was the father and mother of the young roc,
and warned all to re-embark as quickly as possible, and so avoid, if
possible, the vengeance of the outraged owners of the egg. All
accordingly scrambled on board, and sail was set immediately. The two
rocs in the meantime rapidly approached, uttering the most frightful
screams, which they redoubled on finding the state of their egg, and
that their young one was defunct. They then flew away, and a faint
hope began to dawn upon the mariners that they had not come so badly
out of the business after all, when to their blood-chilling horror the
birds again rapidly approached, each with an enormous mass of rock in
its talons. When they were immediately over the ship they stopped in
mid-air, and one of them let fall the piece of rock he held. The
pilot, his wits sharpened by the imminent peril the vessel was in,
deftly turned the ship aside, and the great mass plunged into the
depths of the sea alongside; but the other bird, more fortunate in his
aim, let his piece fall so immediately on the ship that it smashed it
into a thousand pieces, and, with the exception of Sindbad, all the
passengers and crew were either crushed beneath tons of stone or
drowned in the surging billows that such a monstrous mass created.
Lest a suspicion may cross the reader's mind that the gallant sailor
and enterprising merchant was romancing somewhat when he narrated
these stirring adventures, we hasten to mention that the third
calender, in the same veracious history, met with other experiences of
an equally surprising nature in which this gigantic bird played as
leading a part, all of which may be found duly set forth in the
"Arabian Nights."

Another curious belief of the Arabs is in the existence of a bird
called the Hameh. This uncomfortable creation of the Arab fancy is
said to spring from the blood of a murdered man. Its weird cry is
continuously "Iskoonee," a word signifying "give me to drink," and it
rests not, day nor night, till its thirst is quenched in the
murderer's blood. When the death of the victim is avenged it flies
away to some place left altogether indefinite in the Eastern legend,
but probably it wends its way to the spirit-land with the welcome news
that the victim's blood no longer cries in vain for vengeance. To an
Arab already suffering from an evil conscience the belief in the hameh
must be a terrible one, as he hears in fancy the troubled air filled
with the wailing cry and fierce demand for vengeance, and knows that,
day or night, the haunting sound will never leave his ears until the
desert feud be avenged and his own life blood be poured out like
water upon the burning sand.

The depths of ocean, so impressive in their mystery and vastness, have
been peopled by the lovers of the marvellous in all ages with a
special fauna of their own, and have been made the home of divers
strange and wondrous creatures, some purely reptilian, others
fish-like, or still more commonly a weird combination of the two. The
depths and recesses of the great tropical forests, as impressive
almost in their vastness as the ocean itself, or the far-reaching
swamps and morasses in their mysterious shades, have in like manner
been tenanted in the imagination of the savage tribes that thread
their depths or probe their treacherous surface with forms more
wonderful even than those of Nature herself, weird and bizarre as
these in tropical regions so frequently are. Hence amongst all savage
tribes we find a belief in serpentine forms more terrible even than
the boa or python that they have such cause to dread. The widely
spreading worship of the serpent, a form of religion that we find in
so many lands and throughout centuries of time, is a most interesting
subject of study, though we can here only regret that exigencies of
space compel us to do no more than merely mention it.

The belief in sea-serpents does not appear in itself to be an
unreasonable one, much as it is from time to time ridiculed. Many
species of tropical snakes are aquatic in a greater or less degree,
and though some naturalists will tell us that a serpent is not adapted
by its structure and organs for a purely aquatic existence, one finds
in nature so many wonderful adaptations of form to abnormal
circumstances, that it is perhaps wiser to feel that in the great and
almost boundless expanse of ocean there may be mysterious forms that
science has not yet tabulated and described, rather than to at once
assert the contrary. Be this as it may, there is no doubt that while
the great mystery of the ocean depths has been tenanted by the
credulous with impossible creations of the fancy, we have numerous
testimonies from sea-captains and others of appearances that cannot
always be so lightly dismissed. A Captain Harrington, for instance,
commanding the "Castilian," during a voyage from Bombay to Liverpool
in the year 1857, sends the following account to the _Times_
newspaper:--"While myself and officers were standing on the lee side
of the poop, looking towards the island of St. Helena, then some ten
miles away, we were startled by the sight of a large marine animal,
which reared its head out of the water within twenty yards of the
ship, when it suddenly disappeared for about half a minute, and then
made its appearance in the same manner again, showing us distinctly
its neck and head about ten or twelve feet out of the water. Its head
was shaped like a long buoy, and I suppose the diameter to have been
seven or eight feet in the largest part, with a kind of scroll or tuft
of loose skin encircling it about two feet from the top. The second
appearance assured us that it was a monster of extraordinary length,
which appeared to be moving slowly towards the island. The ship was
going too fast to enable us to reach the mast-head in time to form a
correct estimate of its extreme length, but from what we saw from the
deck we conclude that it must have been over two hundred feet long.
The boatswain and several of the crew, who observed it from the
forecastle, state that it was more than double the length of the ship,
in which case it must have been five hundred feet. Be that as it may,
I am convinced that it belonged to the serpent tribe; it was a dark
colour about the head, and was covered with several white spots.
Having a press of canvas on the ship at the time, I was unable to
round to without risk, and therefore was precluded from getting
another sight of this leviathan of the deep." This precise description
was endorsed by the chief and second officers of the ship--men, like
the captain, of practised vision, and not at all likely to be deceived
by floating sea-weed or any of the other matters brought forward to
cast doubt on such stories.

It is curious that another apparently well-authenticated account of
some such creature should also hail from the neighbourhood of St.
Helena. Her Majesty's ship "Dædalus," in August 1848, when on the
passage between that island and the Cape of Good Hope, came into close
proximity with a strange-looking creature that was travelling through
the water at an estimated speed of ten miles an hour. Captain
McQuahee was unable, owing to the direction of the wind, to bring
the ship into pursuit, but, as the creature passed within two hundred
yards of them, they were enabled to bring it well within observation,
its form and colour being distinctly visible from the vessel.

Olaus Magnus, Archbishop of Upsal some three centuries ago, was a firm
believer in the marvellous, and in his writings, amongst many other
things, he gives details of a sea-serpent two hundred feet long by
twenty feet thick, having a dense hairy mane and eyes of fire. This
monster, he further tells us, "puts up its head on high like a pillar
and devours men." He also tells of another kind, that is forty cubits
long and no thicker than a child's arm; this is blue and yellow in
colour. His writings also furnish a more detailed account of a vast
monster thrown ashore in 1532 on the English coast near "Tinmouth."
This creature was ninety feet long and twenty-five feet thick, having
thirty ribs on each side, a head twenty-one feet long, and two fins of
fifteen feet each. This creature, from its proportions, fins, and so
forth, was evidently not serpentine in character, though it may fairly
be classed amongst monsters of the deep.

A Greenland missionary, Egede, tells in his journal of a frightful
sea-monster that he saw on July 6, 1734. It raised itself so high out
of the water, he says, that its head overtopped the mainsail. It had a
long and pointed snout, and spouted like a whale; its fins were like
great wings. Another very circumstantial account is that given by
Captain Laurent de Ferry of Bergen in 1746. His creature had a
horse-like head, raised some two feet out of the water; in colour it
was grey, but it had a white mane and large black eyes. Seven or eight
coils of the creature were visible, a fathom or so of space between
each. De Ferry says that he shot at and wounded the monster, and that
the water was reddened with its blood for some time after. He does not
specify whether the weapon used was the longbow or not, but it seems
highly probable that it was.

Where the account given is so exceedingly definite as it is, for
example, in these two last instances, we are placed in the awkward
predicament of either having to believe in the monster so graphically
described, or to disbelieve the narrators of the stories; to conclude,
in plain words, that Egede, despite his professions, was lying
deliberately--a very Munchausen--and that De Ferry was either a
credulous idiot himself, or wilfully concluded that the landsmen's
credulity might be safely played upon.

It has been suggested that a long line of tumbling porpoises, rolling
after each other in the quaint way that they do, may have deceived
people into a belief that what they saw were the coils of one of these
great mythical monsters of the deep; but, however such an appearance
might deceive a landsman, it is evident that those who go down to the
sea in ships and occupy themselves in the great waters are too
familiar with the appearance of a shoal of porpoises to be thus

The ribbon fish may in some cases have given rise to the idea of a
serpent of the sea, as the appearance of their elongated, band-like
bodies swimming through the water with a gentle serpentine or
undulatory motion would be very suggestive. They have been known to
attain a length of sixty feet; specimens of this size have actually
been captured by trawlers, though even yet we are a long way from the
sea serpents gravely mentioned by Pontoppidan in his "Natural History
of Norway" as being over six hundred feet long.

On the occasion of the reported appearance of the sea serpent to
Captain McQuahee, Professor Owen in a letter published in the _Times_
suggested that the creature seen may have been one of the larger
species of seals found in the Southern Seas. At the Falkland Islands
and in the Kerguelen and Crozet groups the sea elephant attains a size
of some twenty feet in length, and some such creature as this,
swimming rapidly through a calm sea with its head raised, and with a
long wake behind it, caused by the action of its paddles, placed at
the posterior extremity of the body, like the screw of a steamer, may
have been the foundation of some of the stories told of these
mysterious monsters of the deep.

A good sea-serpent story is found in Captain Taylor's "Reminiscences."
One day, when his ship was lying at anchor in Table Bay, "an enormous
monster" about one hundred feet in length was seen advancing with
snake-like motion round Green Point into the harbour. The head
appeared to be crowned with long hair, and the keener-sighted amongst
the observers could see the eyes and distinguish the features of the
monster. The military were called out, and after peppering the object
at a distance of five hundred yards, and making several palpable hits,
it was observed to become quite still, and boats ventured off to
complete the destruction. The "sea serpent" proved to be a mass of
gigantic sea-weed, which had been undulated by the ground swell, and
had become quiescent when it reached the still waters of the bay.
Probably if mariners would attack the "monster" in the same manner
whenever it is seen, we should hear little more of the sea serpent.

Stories of sea serpents are almost as old as the hills, and in many
cases quite as difficult to digest.

In 1808 the body of a great sea monster was cast ashore at Stronsay,
one of the Orkneys. This was some fifty feet long, and every one, even
the fishermen themselves, declared that the sea serpent had turned up
at last. A naturalist, however, decided that it was only an unusually
fine specimen of the great basking shark; so we are as far off as
ever, after all, from an authentic monster, and seem in every case to
have only offered for our acceptance either outrageous hoaxes and
impositions, the imaginations of the credulous, or, at the very best,
cases of mistaken identity.

Amongst other serpent myths we may certainly place that most
uncomfortable creation of the fancy, the Adissechen, a serpent with a
thousand heads that, according to the Indian mythology, bears up the
universe; and the Iormungandur, the serpent that according to the
Scandinavian myth, encircles the whole earth, and binds it together in
its flight through space.

It was a very old belief that the serpent's egg was hatched by the
joint labour of several serpents, and was buoyed up into the air by
their hissing. Any one so intrepid as to catch it while thus suspended
'twixt earth and heaven bore away with him a talisman of mighty power,
giving him strength to prevail in every contest, and the favour of all
whose favour was worth the having. It could only be captured at the
gallop, and even then the risk of being stung to death was a peril
most imminent. Pliny tells us that he had himself seen one of these
notable proofs of prowess, and that it was about as large as a
moderately large apple.

The Fire-Drake was, according to mediæval fancy, a fiery serpent or
dragon, keeping guard over hidden treasure. The drake, of course, has
no affinity with the familiar ducks and drakes on the farmer's pool,
nor even with the ducks and drakes that people make of their money
when they burn their fingers in too rash speculation, but is clearly
suggested by the Latin word, _draco_, for a dragon. We find an
interesting reference in Shakespeare to the word in his "Henry VIII.,"
scene 3 of act v.--"There is a fellow somewhat near the door; he
should be a brazier by his face, for, o' my conscience, twenty of the
dog-days now reign in his nose: all that stand about him are under the
line, they need no further penance. That fire-drake."

De Thaun in his "Bestiary" tells us of the Aspis, "a serpent cunning,
sly, and aware of evil. When it perceives people who make enchantment,
who want to enchant it, to take and snare it, it will stop very well
the ears it has. It will press one against the earth; in the other it
will stuff its tail firmly, so that it hears nothing. In this manner
do the rich people of the world: one ear they have on earth to obtain
riches, the other Sin stops up; yet they will see a day, the day of
Judgment. This is the signification of the Aspis without doubt." De
Thaun always endeavours to see a religious meaning in everything, and
where the moral declines to fit quite accurately to the facts, by a
simple process of reversal the facts are made to fit to the moral. The
creature that he had in his mind, and which would naturally occur to
him from his familiarity with the Bible, is no doubt identical with
the deaf adder that we are told in one of the Psalms stoppeth her ear,
and refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer. Though the old author
avowedly has no doubt as to the signification he assigns to the
creature's obstinate refusal to be charmed, one cannot but feel that
his explanation is rather halting. A man who would amass riches has at
least as much need of his eyes as of his ears, and his transition from
the ear stopped up by sin to the awakened eye at the great day of
account is also somewhat lame. The transition should have been not
arbitrarily from one faculty to another, but in the sharp contrast
between the sense first deliberately blunted and lost through sin, to
be then at last terribly restored by the trumpet peal of the dread day
of doom. Indeed, if it were not that we are all prepared instinctively
to place the worst possible construction upon anything a creature so
repellent to us may do, it is evident that the allegory might have
been equally developed from quite another point of view. Had the dove
shown a similar alacrity to bury one ear in the earth while it stuffed
its tail into the other, we should have heard nothing of this wilful
blunting of the senses to good counsel, but much, _au contraire_, of
its determined resistance to temptation and evil.

The ancients believed in a horrible little brute called the
Amphisbena, "a small kind of serpent which moveth backward or forward,
and hath two heads, one at either extreme." Galen, Pliny, Nicander,
and many other early writers gravely describe this especially
objectionable little reptile. Ælian, who was so far in advance of his
age as to call the Chimæra and Hydra fables, believed fully in the
amphisbena. Some few serpents really have the power of taking a mean
advantage of those they assault by springing at them from directions
not always "straight to your front," as the drill sergeants express
it,[29] but none, of course, have an equal facility for moving either
backward or forward; and certainly still more of course, no serpent at
present known to science, or likely to be, has a head "at either

  [29] Appendix R.

The Kraken is another notable example of the studies in unnatural
history of the ancients. Pliny gravely narrates that one of these
monsters--the "mountain fish" of the old Norsemen--haunted the ocean
off the coasts of Spain and North Africa, but, owing to its bulk, was
unable to penetrate through the Straits of Gibraltar into the
Mediterranean. According to some old writers the kraken, when floating
on the surface of the sea, stretched to a length of about a mile and a
half, and appeared like an island. It is a difficult problem to say
which would be the most embarrassing position--for a seaman to find
himself stranded on the creature's back on its sudden arrival at the
surface, or to be engulfed in the whirlpool that would arise from its
sinking again into the depths of ocean. One old writer tells us of a
party of sailors that, from the tangled sea-weed on the creature's
back, took the kraken for an island, and after fishing for some time
with some little success in the pools of water in the hollows of his
back, proceeded to light a fire to cook their take, and suddenly found
themselves engulfed in the sea when the heat became sufficiently
great to awaken their animated island from its nap. Alaus Magnus,
archbishop of Upsala, describes this colossus of the deep as the
kraken, but he stops short at the length of a mile; while Pontoppidan,
bishop of Bergen, adds that a whole regiment of soldiers could
manoeuvre on its back; while yet a third ecclesiastic, another bishop,
tells us that he did actually erect an altar on the creature's back
and celebrate mass. We are told that the kraken submitted to the
ceremony without flinching, but no sooner was it over than it plunged
into the depths of the sea, to the great astonishment and peril of the
divine. It may at first seem curious that so many of these stories
should spring from ecclesiastics, but it must be remembered that they
were in these early days the great repositories of truth, the laity
being steeped in ignorance and superstition.

It has been conjectured that the kraken myth has sprung from stories
of gigantic cuttle-fish or octopus, the devil fish described so
vividly by Victor Hugo in his "Toilers of the Sea;" but one can hardly
fall in quite readily with this notion, since the leading idea, so to
speak, in the kraken belief is that of a monstrous and quiescent mass,
suggestive more than anything else of an island rising from the sea,
while the dominant idea in our minds of the octopus is of a creature
armed with far-stretching and numerous arms that enwrap their hapless
victim in their pitiless embrace. The kraken would scarcely have been
described without any reference to these fearful feelers, armed with
double rows of suckers, if the myth had had the origin that has been
in several directions claimed for it. The belief in the kraken chiefly
springs, probably, from that delight in something tremendously big
that has also given us the roc carrying away elephants in its talons,
or the serpent that encompasses the world in its folds, so that we
need not then too anxiously strive to find any counterpart of it in

"They that sail on the sea tell of the dangers thereof, and when we
hear it with our ears we marvel thereat.

"For therein be strange and wondrous works, variety of all kinds of
beasts, and whales created."[30]

  [30] Ecclesiasticus xliii. vers. 24, 25.

De Thaun describes something very kraken-like, but he bestows upon it
the title of Cetus. _Cetus_, we need scarcely remind our readers, is a
Latin word applied in a general sense to all kinds of large sea-fish,
and though the whale is strictly speaking a mammal and not a fish at
all, we find the word reappearing in modern use in the term cetaceous,
as applied to all creatures of the whale kind. The author of the
"Bestiary" tells us that "Cetus is a very great beast; it lives always
in the sea. It takes the sand of the sea, spreads it on its back,
raises itself up in the sea, and will be at tranquillity. The seafarer
sees it, and thinks that it is an island, and goes to arrive there to
prepare his meal. The Cetus feels the fire and the ship and the
people; then he will plunge if he can, and drown them. When he wants
to eat he begins to gape, and the gaping of his mouth sends forth a
smell so sweet, that the little fish will enter into his mouth, and
then he will kill them, thus will he swallow them." In a Jewish work
entitled "Bara Bathra" we read of a whale so large that a ship was
three days in sailing from its head to its tail. Of course this would
not be at Cunard liner pace; still it certainly does give one the idea
of a very considerable fish. But this monster of the deep sinks into
insignificance in its length of but a hundred miles or so when we
compare it with the fish Pheg (mentioned in an ancient Chinese book,
the Tsi-hiai), that churns up five hundred miles of blue ocean into
silvery foam when it starts its stupendous paddles in motion for a
cruise. This is indeed, to quote Polonius, "very like a whale." When
any one's credulity finds no difficulty in digesting such a tale as
that, their powers of absorption must be well nigh as striking as the
narration itself.

    "The imperious seas breed monsters; for the dish
    Poor tributary rivers as sweet fish."[31]

  [31] "Cymbeline," Act iv. sc. 2.

According to Jewish tradition the Leviathan was a great fish; so
great, they taught, that one day it swallowed another fish nearly a
thousand miles long. Many of the Jewish legends in the Talmud and
elsewhere possess little or nothing of graceful fancy, but simply
endeavour to excite wonder by gross exaggeration. There were
originally two of these leviathans, a male and a female; but if their
numbers had increased beyond this, the world would have been soon
destroyed; so the female was killed, and laid up in salt for the great
feast to be held at the coming of the Messiah. Such is the Jewish
tradition. Leviathan is mentioned in the Bible in several places,
notably in the magnificent description that comprises the whole of the
forty-first chapter of the book of Job. It is curious that a very
similar legend to that we have just referred to was believed by the
Jews in connection with the Behemoth mentioned in the preceding
chapter of Job. Any one reading the fine description of the creature
there given will have little difficulty in agreeing with most
commentators that the hippopotamus is intended; but the Jews held that
behemoth is a huge animal which has subsisted alone since the
creation, and that it is reserved to be fattened for the great
rejoicings that are to be held in the days of the advent of the
promised Messiah. Every day they believe that he eats up the grass of
a thousand hills, and that at each draught, when he is thirsty, he
swallows up as much water as the Jordan yields in the course of six

It would probably be found that nine out of ten people would at once
declare that their idea of the leviathan was that it was a large fish,
and the tenth person would have very little doubt either. We do not
mean that these typical folk would really believe in its existence as
a special monster, but they would be quite prepared to say in an
offhand way that the whale was intended under this name. Burton in his
"Miracles of Art and of Nature" (A.D. 1678) has a passage that clearly
shows this interchange of words, and the evident idea that the two
terms, whale and leviathan, are synonymous. He writes, under the
description of Norway--"The whales do so terrifie the shores, the Seas
being there so deep, and therefore a fit habitation for those great
leviathans." He, however, goes on to tell us that "the People of the
Sea-coast have found a remedy, which is by casting some water
intermixt with Oyle of Castor, the smell whereof forces them
immediately to retire, and without this help there were no Fishing on
the Coasts." The remedy for the boisterous presence of these great
monsters seems at first a feeble one, until we bear in mind how gladly
we too in our child-days would have immediately retired, if we could,
at the awful odour of the coming castor-oil. "One touch of nature
makes the whole world kin."

The beautiful description of the wonders of creation in the 104th
Psalm, the stretching firmament and the chariots of cloud, the fowls
of heaven, and the trees so full of sap and vigour, concludes with a
reference to the leviathan that has no doubt done much to associate
the name with the whale,[32] and which, in fact, could only apply to
some such great creature of the waters; so that we can only conclude
that the term was used somewhat vaguely by the different Old Testament
writers, as it is now tolerably unanimously held that the leviathan of
the book of Job is the crocodile.

  [32] "This great and wide sea wherein are things creeping
  innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there
  is that leviathan, whom Thou hast made to play therein" (Ps. civ.
  25, 26).

No creature of the whale tribe inhabits the Mediterranean; neither is
the whale clothed in coat-of-mail, nor is it fierce in disposition;
but if any one will carefully read the description given of the
crocodile in the book of Job they will find point after point of
appropriate detail, allowance being made partly for the wealth of
Oriental and poetic imagery, and partly for the wonderful difference
between assailing the crocodile in these later days with a rifle-ball
as against the old sling, spear, or arrow. What a modern sportsman
might lightly esteem would be a very different creature indeed to
attack when the world was in its youth.

    "Who can strip off his outer garment?
    Who can open the doors of his face?
    Round about his teeth is terror.
    His strong scales are his pride,
    Shut up together as with a close seal.
    They are joined one to another,
    They stick together that they cannot be sundered.
    In his neck abideth strength,
    And terror danceth before him.
    If one lay at him with the sword it cannot avail,
    Nor the spear, the dart, nor the pointed shaft.
    He counteth iron as straw,
    And brass as rotten wood.
    The arrow cannot make him flee:
    Sling-stones are turned with him into stubble.
    He laugheth at the rushing of the javelin.
    Upon earth there is not his like,
    That is made without fear."

The poetical ideas that clustered during classic times and the Middle
Ages round the Nautilus were, after all, as mythical as they were

    "The tender nautilus who steers his prow,
    The sea-borne sailor of his shell canoe,
    The ocean Mab, the fairy of the sea"[33]--

has, alas! no foundation in hard fact; and the lesson that Pope would
teach when he bids us--

    "Learn of the little nautilus to sail,
    Spread the thin oar and catch the rising gale"--

is equally impracticable. The sad fiction-dispelling truth is, that in
no case does the little argonaut use its arms as sails or as oars. It
rises, it is true, occasionally to the surface, as other cuttle-fish
forms do, but when there its only means of propulsion are the _jets
d'eau_ from its funnel, these jets consisting of the water which has
been used in respiration. In Pliny's "Natural History," as translated
by Philemon Holland, and published in London in 1601, we find that
"among the greatest wonders of nature is that fish which of some is
called nautilos, of others pompilos. This fish, for to come aloft upon
the water, turneth upon his backe, and raiseth or heaveth himselfe up
by little and little; and to the end he might swim with more ease as
disburdened of a sinke, he dischargeth all the water within him at a
pipe. After this, turning up his two foremost clawes or armes, hee
displaieth and stretcheth out betweene them a membrane or skin of a
wonderful thinnesse: this serveth him instead of a saile in the aire
above water. With the rest of his armes or clawes he roweth and
laboureth under water, and with his tail in the midst he directeth his
course, and steereth as it were with an helme. Thus holdeth he on and
maketh way in the sea, with a fair show of a galley under saile. Now
if he be afraide of anything by the way, hee makes no more adoe, but
draweth in water to baillise his bodie, and so plungeth himselfe downe
and sinketh to the bottome."

  [33] Byron.

While the Dolphin, like the nautilus, has a veritable existence, and
may be duly found amongst the works of nature, it has also, like the
nautilus again, served as the foundation for a considerable amount of
mythical lore. Thus Pliny, in his so-called Natural History, from
which we have already drawn so many curious extracts, writes--"The
swiftest of all other living creatures whatsoever, and not of sea-fish
only, is the dolphin; quicker than the flying fowl, swifter than the
arrow shot out of a bow." The dolphin, so termed, of the mediæval
heralds is a purely conventional form, having no counterpart whatever
in Nature. "They are much deceived," wrote an authority on natural
history a little more than a hundred years ago, "who imagine Dolphins
to be of the Figure they are usually represented on Signs; that Error
being more owing to the unbridled License of Statuaries or Painters
than to any such Thing found in Fact." A much earlier writer, Gillius,
tells us that when he was "in a Ship where many Dolphins were taken,
he observed them so to deplore with Groans, Lamentations, and a Flood
of Tears their Condition, that he himself, out of Compassion, could
not forbear weeping, and so threw one that he observed to groan more
than ordinary (the Fisherman being asleep) into the Water again, as
choosing rather to damage the Fisherman than not to relieve the
Miserable. But this gave him but little Rest, for all the Others
increased their Groans, as seeming, by not obscure Signs, to beg the
same Deliverance." Another well-known belief in connection with the
dolphin is the imaginary brilliancy of its supposititiously changeful
colours when, having failed to find any one, like Gillius,
compassionate enough to throw it overboard, it presently succumbs to
its hard fate. The idea has been a favourite one with poets in all
ages, but one example from Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" will
suffice as an illustration:--

                            "Parting day
    Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues
    With a new colour as it gasps away;
    The last still loveliest, till--'tis gone--and all is gray."

According to some of the ancient writers, the eyes of the dolphin were
in those most unlikely and unserviceable places, their blade-bones;
they were also said to dig graves for their dead on the sandy shores
of the sea, and to follow them to their burial in mournful procession.
They were, too, an excellent means of travelling when other means of
locomotion were not available. Thus the fifty daughters of Nereus
travelled in safety on their backs, we are told in classic mythology
in the dry-as-dust style of such fountains of knowledge as are
available for reference ordinarily; but these statements help us but
little to realise the scene that struck the eyes or the imaginations
of the ancients when this bevy of charming girls, a good fifty strong,
rode hither and thither in happy _abandon_ in the brilliant summer
sunlight of the azure Mediterranean Sea, their steeds the willing
dolphins; a scene as unlike the frowsy omnibuses, the dreary chariots
of moody men and women, that loom through the murk of a London fog, or
that fill to suffocation with resentful fellow passengers, when the
prolonged drizzle becomes a heavy downpour, as one can possibly

The dolphin's love of music, again, was a firm article of faith to the
ancients, and most of our readers are no doubt acquainted with the
story of the sweet singer, Arion, who, forced to leap into the sea to
escape the cruelty of the sailors, escaped to land on the back of a
dolphin--one of many that had long followed the ship in rapturous
appreciation of the sweet melodies of the singer; and how Arion--

              "With harmonious strains
    Requites his hearer for his friendly pains."

Another strange fish believed in by our forefathers was the Acipenser,
"a fish of an unnatural making and quality," as an old writer terms
him; and indeed he may very well do so, as we are told that "his
scales are all turned towards the head." We are not, therefore, much
surprised to learn that "he ever swimmeth against the stream," though
we might well be still more astonished if we ever found him swimming
at all.

The Remora. This was held to affix itself so firmly to a ship that
neither wind nor waves could dislodge it, while its presence (even
worse than that of the more prosaic barnacles and other sea
impedimenta that plague the modern shipowner by fouling the bottom of
his good ship, and so retarding her course) brought the voyage to an
abrupt conclusion. Pliny indeed only says that "there is a little
fish, keeping ordinarily about rockes, named Echeneis. It is thought
that if it settle and sticke to the keele of a ship under water, it
goeth the slower by that meanes," whereupon it is called the
stay-ship. But all these marvels have a wonderful way of growing more
and more marvellous, and subsequent writers, not content with merely
impeding the vessels in their increasingly wondrous stories, soon
accredited the remora with the much more striking power of altogether
arresting their progress. We see a relic and survival of this old
belief in the following lines of Ben Jonson--

                        "I say a remora,
    For it will stay a ship that's under sail."

And again much more elaborately worked out in Spenser's "Visions of
the World's Vanity"--

    "Looking far forth into the ocean wide,
      A goodly ship, with banners bravely dight,
    And flag in her top-gallant, I espied,
      Through the main sea making her merry flight;
    Fair blew the wind into her bosom right,
      And th' heavens looked lovely all the while,
    That she did seem to dance as in delight,
      And at her own felicity did smile;
    All suddenly there clove unto her keel
      A little fish that men call Remora,
    Which stopt her course, and held her by the heel,
      That wind nor tide could move her thence away.
    Strange thing me seemeth that so small a thing
      Should able be so great an one to wring."

We have already seen how Leviathan, according to the Talmud, is to
form a feast for the Saints; and on turning to the Koran we find a
very similar belief, for the food of Mohammed's Paradise is to
consist, we are there told, of the flesh of the ox Balam and of the
fish Nun. To allay any apprehension on the part of the faithful that
these viands will not "go round," as a schoolboy would say, we are
reassured on reading that the liver alone of the fish Nun will supply
an adequate portion for seventy thousand hungry souls.

  [Illustration: {THE SEA-LION}]

The vastness and mystery of the depths of the sea has naturally led to
their being peopled at all ages and amidst almost all peoples with
strange and monstrous forms like the Chilon, fish-like in body, but
having the head of a man; or the Dies, the creature of a day, whose
life's span ran its course in the hours between the rising and the
setting of the sun; or more rarely with forms of more poetic beauty,
like those sweet water-wagtails, the mermaidens we have already
alluded to. Our illustration is a representation of the sea lion as
believed in, or at least delineated, by the author of one of the
mediæval treatises on more or less natural history that has come under
our notice. Ælian describes fish having the heads of lions, rams, and
so forth; and it is, of course, sufficiently evident that when a man
has once got upon that train of ideas there is nothing to hinder his
turning the whole "Zoological Gardens" into the shadowy depths of
ocean, and evolving from his inner consciousness not only camel-fish
or gazelle-fish, but fifty other equally striking creations. Rondelet,
in a book published in the year 1554, gives sufficiently strange
illustrations of sea-bishops and sea-monks; and another mediæval
writer, Francisci Boussetti, represents in all good faith other forms
equally bizarre; but the greatest storehouse by far, so far as our own
experience of these old authors goes, is to be found in the "Historia
Monstrorum" of Aldrovandus, a book most copiously illustrated, and
full of the most extraordinary conglomerations of diverse creatures,
or of wild imaginings that find no counterpart in any way in Nature at
all. Of these we need give but one example, the very peculiar biped
here represented.

  [Illustration: {THE HARPY}]

Most of us, even the veriest landsmen, must have heard of "Davy
Jones's Locker," though few could give it a "local habitation" as well
as "a name." Almost all superstitious people--and certainly sailors as
a body may be classed as such--have a great objection to telling their
beliefs to those whom they think will not receive their communications
in a sympathetic spirit; hence it is often exceedingly difficult in
most cases to arrive at all at a satisfactory conclusion, as, even
after an explanation has been given, we find that what we were told
was a mere putting off of the matter at issue, and their real belief
has all the time been concealed from us. The following explanation of
the seaman's phrase we give for what it is worth, which in our humble
opinion is not much. We are told that Jones is a corruption of Jonah
the prophet, while _deva_ or _duffa_ amongst the natives of the West
India islands is a spirit or ghost. The sailor's locker, we are all
aware, is the one place on board where his private possessions are
more or less safe, so that when we hear of an unfortunate having gone
to Davy Jones's Locker, we may conclude that he is believed to have
gone to some far-down place of safe-keeping in the Spirit-world, as
Jonah, by inference, did. It is, however, a decidedly weak point in
this explanation that Jonah, whatever may have been his experiences in
the depths of the sea, soon exchanged his temporary "locker" for dry
land again, and was no doubt ultimately gathered to his fathers in the
bosom of mother-earth. Smollett, in his "Peregrine Pickle," ignores
all reference to the faithless prophet, and, without seeking out the
why or the wherefore of the name, goes, we think, very much more
directly to the point when he writes--"This same Davy Jones, according
to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the
evil spirits of the deep, and is seen in various shapes, warning the
devoted wretch of death and woe." Like the Irish Church and many other
venerable institutions, Davy is now probably disestablished, or
shelved like some fine old admiral on the half-pay list, though it
would be interesting to hear the opinion of some navy chaplain on the
point, as these old superstitions die very hardly, and at times rather
clash with more orthodox theology.

The widespread worship of the serpent is a subject of the greatest
interest, though it would take us far away from our present subject if
we dwelt at length upon it. The place held by the serpent in ancient
mythologies has, however, caused the creature to pass far from the
region of commonplace zoological fact into the realm of myth.

One old belief more precise than nice was that the serpent first
vomits forth its venom before drinking, in order that it may not
poison itself by swallowing it; while another curious belief was, that
sleeping children whose ears were licked by serpents thereby received
the gift of foretelling future events. Cassandra was said thus,
amongst other less famous personages more or less believed in by the
ancients, to have received the gift of prophecy.

In Squier's "Serpent Worship in America" many legends are given that
admirably illustrate the feelings of the North American aborigines,
the Peruvians, Mexicans, and other dwellers on that continent with
regard to the great serpent that typifies to them, as to so many other
races, the great Evil Power.

One of these, an Ojibiway legend, we must venture on quoting, for,
somewhat lengthy as it is, it supplies an excellent illustration of
this belief in the malign power of the serpent, and incidentally gives
an echo of the widespread belief in a deluge, a belief extending from
the legends of the Far West to those of distant China.

The Indian legend runs as follows:--"One day, on returning to his
lodge in the wilderness after a long journey, Manabazho, the great
teacher, missed from it his young cousin: he called his name aloud,
but received no answer. He looked around on the sand for the tracks of
his feet, and he there for the first time discovered the trail of
Meshekenabek, the Great Serpent. He then knew that his cousin had been
seized by his great enemy. He armed himself and followed on his track:
he passed the great river and crossed mountains and valleys to the
shores of the deep and gloomy lake, now called Manitou Lake, Spirit
Lake, or the Lake of Devils. The trail of Meshekenabek led to the edge
of the water. At the bottom of this lake was the dwelling of the
serpent, and it was filled with evil spirits, his attendants and
companions. Their forms were monstrous and terrible, but most, like
their master, bore the semblance of serpents. In the centre of this
horrible assemblage was Meshekenabek himself, coiling his voluminous
folds round the cousin of Manabazho. His head was red as with blood,
and his eyes were fierce and glowed like fire: his body was all over
armed with hard and glistening scales of every shade and colour.
Manabazho looked down upon the writhing spirits of evil, and he vowed
deep revenge. He directed the clouds to disappear from the heavens,
the winds to be still, and the air to become stagnant over the lake of
the Manitous, and bade the sun shine on it with all its fierceness;
for thus he sought to drive his enemy forth to seek the cool shadows
of the trees that grew upon its banks, so that he might be able to
take vengeance upon him.

"Meanwhile Manabazho seized his bow and arrows, and placed himself
near the spot where he deemed the serpents would come to enjoy the
shade; he then transformed himself into the stump of a withered tree,
that his enemies might not discover his presence. The winds became
still, the air stagnant, the sun shone hot upon the lake of the evil
Manitous. By-and-by the waters became troubled, and bubbles rose to
the surface, for the rays of the hot sun penetrated to the horrible
brood within its depths. The commotion increased, and a serpent lifted
up its head high above the centre of the lake and gazed around the
shores. Directly another came to the surface, and they listened for
the footsteps of Manabazho; but they heard him nowhere on the face of
the earth, and they said one to another, 'Manabazho sleeps,' and then
they plunged again beneath the waters, which seemed to hiss as they
closed over them. It was not long before the Lake of Manitous became
more troubled than before; it boiled from its very depths, and the hot
waves dashed wildly against the rocks on its shores. The commotion
increased, and soon Meshekenabek, the Great Serpent, emerged slowly to
the surface and moved toward the shore. His blood-red crest glowed
with a deeper hue, and the reflection from his glancing scales was
like the blinding glitter of a snow-covered forest beneath the morning
sun of winter. He was followed by all the evil spirits, so great a
number that they covered the shores of the lake with their foul and
trailing carcases. They saw the broken, blasted stump into which
Manabazho had transformed himself, and suspecting it might be one of
his disguises, one of them approached and wound his tail around it,
and sought to drag it down, but Manabazho stood firm, though he could
hardly refrain from crying aloud.

"The Great Serpent wound his vast folds among the trees of the forest,
and the rest also sought the shade, while one was left to listen for
the steps of Manabazho. When they all slept Manabazho drew an arrow
from his quiver; he placed it in his bow, and aimed it where he saw
the heart beat against the sides of the Great Serpent. He launched it,
and with a howl that shook the mountains and startled the wild beasts
in their caves, the monster awoke, and, followed by its frightened
companions, uttering mingled sounds of rage and terror, plunged again
into the lake. When the Great Serpent knew that he was mortally
wounded, both he and the evil spirits around him were rendered tenfold
more terrible by their great wrath, and they arose to overwhelm
Manabazho. The water of the lake swelled upwards from its dark depths,
and with a sound like many thunders it rolled madly on his track,
bearing the rocks and trees before it with resistless fury. High on
the crest of the foremost wave, black as the midnight, rode the
writhing form of the wounded Meshekenabek, and red eyes glared around
him, and the hot breaths of the monstrous brood hissed fiercely after
the retreating Manabazho. Then thought Manabazho of his Indian
children, and he ran by their villages, and in a voice of alarm bade
them flee to the mountains, for the Great Serpent was deluging the
earth in his expiring wrath, sparing no living thing. The Indians
caught up their children, and wildly sought safety where he bade them.

"Manabazho continued his flight along the base of the western hills,
and finally took refuge on a high mountain beyond Lake Superior, far
to the North. There he found many men and animals who had fled from
the flood that already covered the valleys and plains, and even the
highest hills. Still the waters continued to rise, and soon all the
mountains were overwhelmed, save that on which stood Manabazho. Then
he gathered together timber and made a raft, upon which the men and
women and the animals that were with him all placed themselves. No
sooner had they done so than the rising floods closed over the
mountain, and they floated alone on the surface of the waters. And
thus they floated many days; and some died, and the rest became
sorrowful, and reproached Manabazho that he did not disperse the
waters and renew the earth, that they might live. But though he knew
that his great enemy was by this time dead, yet could he not renew the
world unless he had some earth in his hands wherewith to commence the
work. This he explained to those who were with him, and he said that
were it ever so little, even a few grains, then could he disperse the
waters and renew the world.

"The beaver then volunteered to go to the bottom of the deep and get
some earth, and they all applauded her design. She plunged in, and
they waited long: when she returned she was dead; they opened her
hands, but there was no earth in them. 'Then,' said the otter, 'will I
seek the earth,' and the bold swimmer dived from the raft. The otter
was gone still longer than the beaver, but when he returned to the
surface he too was dead, and there was no earth in his claws.

"'Who shall find the earth?' exclaimed all those on the raft, 'now
that the beaver and the otter are dead?' 'That will I,' said the
musk-rat, and he quickly disappeared between the logs of the raft. The
musk-rat was gone very much longer than the otter, and it was thought
that he would never return, when he suddenly rose close by, but he was
too weak to speak, and he swam slowly towards the raft. He had hardly
got upon it when he too died from his great exertion. They opened his
little hands, and there, closely clasped between the fingers, they
found a few grains of fresh earth. These Manabazho carefully collected
and dried in the sun, and then he rubbed them into fine powder in his
palms, and rising up he blew them abroad upon the waters. No sooner
was this done than the flood began to subside, and soon the trees on
the mountains were seen, and then the mountains and hills emerged from
the deep, and the plains and the valleys came into view, and the
waters disappeared from the land. Then it was found that the Great
Serpent, Meshekenabek, was dead, and that the evil Manitous, his
companions, had returned to the depths of the Lake of Spirits, from
which, for the fear of Manabazho, they never more dared to come
forth. In gratitude to the beaver, the otter, and the musk-rat, these
animals were ever after held sacred by the Indians, and they became
their brethren; and they were never killed nor molested until the
medicine-men of the stranger made them forget their relations and
turned their hearts to ingratitude."

As we propose to deal, in conclusion, with some few examples of the
fabledom that has grown around various plants, we may fitly usher in
this new section of our subject with some little account of the old
belief that the barnacle-shells of our shores, or, as some writers
held, a tree called the barnacle-tree, developed into Solan-geese,[34]
as the transition from the mythical animal kingdom to the fabulous
vegetable kingdom will thus be rendered less abrupt.

  [34] "From the most refined of saints
       As naturally grow miscreants,
       As barnacles turn Solan-geese
       In the islands of the Orcades."

  [Illustration: {THE BARNACLE TREE}]

This barnacle-goose tree was a great article of faith with our
ancestors in the Middle Ages. Gerarde, for example, in his History of
Plants gives an illustration of it in all good faith--a branch bearing
barnacles and by its side a barnacle goose. Following, however, the
plan we have adopted throughout of going directly to the
fountain-head, Gerarde shall give us his own description of this
wonder of Nature. We may, however, point out before doing so that the
error arose from a near resemblance of two distinct words suggesting
that there must be an identity of nature in the things so named. A
common kind of shell was in the Middle Ages called pernacula, while
the Solan-goose, in France called the barnache, was the bernacula.
Both words being popularly corrupted into barnacle, it was natural
that the two things should be considered as identical. Gerarde saves
this crowning wonder until the end of his book, and then discourses as
follows concerning it:--"Hauing trauelled from the grasses growing in
the bottom of the fenny waters, the woods, and mountaines, euen vnto
Libanus it selfe; and also the sea, and bowels of the same, wee are
arriued at the end of our Historie: thinking it not impertinent to the
conclusion of the same, to end with one of the maruells of this land
(we may say of the world). The historie whereof to set forth according
to the worthinesse and raritie thereof would not only require a large
and peculiar volume, but also a deeper search into the bowels of
nature than mine intended purpose wil suffer me to wade into, my
sufficience also considered; leauing the historie thereof rough hewen
unto some excellent men, learned in the secrets of nature, to be both
fined and refined: in the meantime take it as it falleth out, the
naked and bare truth, though vnpolished. There are found in the North
parts of Scotland and the Island adiacient, called Orchades, certain
trees whereon do grow certaine shells of a white colour tending to
russet, wherein are contained little liuing creatures, which shells in
time of maturitie do open, and out of them do grow those little liuing
things, which falling in the water do become fowles, which we call
Barnakles; in the North of England trant geese, and in Lancashire tree
geese; but the other that do fall vpon the land perish and come to
nothing. Thus much by the writings of others, and also from the mouths
of people of those parts, which may very well accord with truth.

"But what our eyes have seene and hands haue touched we shall declare.
There is a small Island in Lancashire called the pile of Foulders,
wherein are found the broken pieces of old and bruised ships, some
whereof have been cast thither by Shipwracke, and also the trunks and
bodies with the branches of old and rotten trees cast up there
likewise; whereon is found a certain spume or froth that in time
breedeth vnto certain shels in shape like those of the Muskle, but
sharper pointed and of a whitish colour, wherein is contained a thing
in forme like a lace of silke finely wouen as it were together, one
end thereof is fastened vnto the belly of a rude masse or lumpe, which
in time commeth to the shape and forme of a Birde. When it is
perfectly formed the shell gapeth open, and the first thing that
appeareth is the foresaid lace or string; next come the legs of the
bird hanging out, and as it groweth greater it openeth the shell by
degrees til at length it is all come forth and hangeth onely by the
bill; in short space after it commeth to full maturitie and falleth
into the sea, where it gathereth feathers and groweth to a fowle
bigger than a Mallard and lesser than a goose, hauing blacke legs, and
bill and beake, and feathers blacke and white spotted in such manner
as is our magpie, which the people of Lancashire call by no other name
than a tree goose: which place aforesaid and all those parts adjoining
do so much abound thereinth that one of the best is bought for three
pence. For the truth hereof, if any doubt, may it please them to
repaire unto me, and I shall satisfie them by the testimonie of good

"Moreover it would seeme that there is another sort hereof; the
historie of which is true and of mine owne knowledge: for trauelling
vpon the shore of our English coast betweene Douer and Rumney, I found
the trunke of an olde rotten tree, which (with some helpe that I
procured by fishermen's wives that were there attending their husbands
returne from the sea) we drew out of the water upon dry land: vpon
this rotten tree I found growing many thousands of long crimson
bladders, in shape like vnto puddings newly filled, which were very
clear and shining: at the nether end whereof did grow a shell fish
fashioned somewhat like a small Muskle, but much whiter, resembling a
shell fish that groweth vpon the rokes about Garnsey and Garsey,
called a lympit. Many of these shells I brought with me to London,
which after I had opened I found in them liuing things without form or
shape: in others which were nearer come to ripeness I found liuing
things that were very naked, shaped like a bird: in others the birds
couered with soft downe, the shell halfe open and the bird ready to
fall out, which no doubt were the fowles called Barnakles. I dare not
absolutely avouch euery circumstance of the first part of this history
concerning the tree that beareth those buds aforesaid, but will leave
it to a further consideration, howbeit that which I have seen with
mine eyes and handled with mine hands, I dare confidently avouch and
boldly put down for veritie.

"They spawn as it were in March and Aprille: the geese are formed in
May and June and come to fulnesse of feathers in the moneth after.

"And thus hauing through God's assistance discoursed somewhat at large
of Grasses, Herbes, Shrubs, Trees, and Mosses, and certain
Excrescences of the earth, with other things more incident to the
historie thereof, we conclude and end our present volume with this
wonder of England. For the which God's name be ever honored and

We extract the foregoing from the first edition of "Gerarde's Historie
of Plants," published in 1597. After his death Thomas Johnson,
"Citizen and Apothecarie of London," brought out another edition in
1633, and he adds the following note to Gerarde's statement:--"The
Barnakle, whose fabulous breed my Author here sets downe, and diuers
others haue also delieured, were found by some Hollanders to haue
another originall, and that by egges, as other birds haue; for they in
their third voyage to finde out the North-East passage to China and
the Moluccos about the eightieth degree and eleven minutes of
Northerly latitude, found two little islands, in the one of which they
found abundance of these geese sitting upon their egges, of which they
got one goose and tooke away sixty egges."

Parkinson, in his "Theater of Plants," published in 1640, gives a
picture of a barnacle-tree growing by the sea-shore, and several geese
swimming beneath it, at the end of the description of the 14th tribe
of plants, "Marsh Water, and Sea Plants, with Mosses and Mushromes."

Though the insertion of the woodcut, as our readers will see, would
give one at a casual glance the impression that he was a believer, his
comments are sufficiently indicative of his state of mind:--"To finish
this treatise of sea plants let me bring this admirable tale of
untruth to your consideration, that whatever hath formerly beene
related concerning the breeding of these Barnakles to be from shels
growing on trees, &c., is utterly erroneous, their breeding and
hatching being found out by the Dutch and others in their navigations
to the Northward, as that third of the Dutch in Anno 1536 doth
declare." As Gerarde's book was published after the Dutch narrative,
we can only conclude that he either had not seen it or that he is one
more illustration of the old saying that "A man convinced against his
will, remains the same opinion still."

  [Illustration: {THE BARNACLE TREE}]

  [Illustration: {THE BARNACLE TREE}]

In Munster's Cosmography, a book which was several times reprinted
between 1550 and 1570, we find an illustration of the wonderful
goose-yielding tree, which we here reproduce in facsimile. Munster
discourses as follows on the matter:--"In Scotland are found trees,
the fruit of which appears like a ball of leaves. This fruit, falling
at its proper time into the water below, becomes animated and turns to
a bird which they call the tree-goose. This tree also grows in the
island of Pomona, not far distant from Scotland towards the north."
Saxo Grammaticus, another old cosmographer, also mentions this tree.
Æneas Sylvius notices it too; he says--"We have heard that there was a
tree formerly in Scotland, which growing by the margin of a stream
produced fruit of the shape of ducks; that such fruit, when nearly
ripe, fell, some into the water and some on land. Such as fell on land
decayed, but such as fell into the water quickly became animated,
swimming below, and then flying into the air with feathers and wings.
When in Scotland, having made diligent enquiry concerning this matter
of King James, we found that the miracle always kept receding, as this
wonderful tree is not found in Scotland but in the Orcadian isles."
Æneas Sylvius, afterwards better known to the world as Pope Pius II.,
visited Scotland in the year 1448. His book is in the Latin tongue.
William Turner, one of the earliest writers on Ornithology, describes
the Bernacle goose as being produced from "something like a fungus
growing from old wood lying in the sea." He quotes Giraldus Cambrensis
as his authority for the statement, but says he, "As it seemed not
safe to popular report, and as, on account of the singularity of the
thing, I could not give entire credit to Giraldus, I, when thinking of
the subject of which I now write, asked a certain clergyman, named
Octavianus, by birth an Irishman, whom I knew to be worthy of credit,
if he thought the account of Giraldus was to be believed. He swearing
by the gospel, declared that what Giraldus had written about the
generation of this bird was most true; that he had himself seen and
handled the young unformed birds, and that if I should remain in
London a month or two he would bring me some of the brood." In Lobel
and Pena's "Stirpium Adversaria Nova," published in London in 1570,
there is a figure of the "Britannica Concha Anatifera" growing on a
stem from a rock, while beneath, in the water, ducks are swimming
about. In his description the writer refers to the accepted belief in
such a bird, but declines expressing an opinion of his own until he
shall have had an opportunity of visiting Scotland and judging for
himself. Ferrer de Valcebro, a Spanish writer who wrote a book on
birds in 1680, tells the story of the production from a tree of a bird
he calls the Barliata, and lectures his countrymen soundly at their
want of belief, and more than insinuates that it is not really so much
a want of faith as a contemptible jealousy because the wonder is not
found on Spanish soil.

A still more wonderful tree must be the Kalpa-Tarou mentioned in the
Hindu mythology, since from this can be gathered not only Solan-geese,
but what else may be desired. Whether so multitudinous an array of
articles as may be included in the idea of whatever any one and every
one, no matter how diverse their tastes may be, could desire, all hung
exposed to the view, like the varied display on a Christmas-tree, or
whether they sprang into existence as called for, we are unable to
say. In either case the tree would be a most valuable possession; the
housewife would no longer have to wait for the plums or raspberries to
ripen for jam-making, but could at once, even in midwinter, replenish
her waning stores with an abundant supply all ready-made; while the
connoisseur of choice old etchings, the collectors of rare coins, or
the schoolboy earnestly desiring a six-bladed knife could all equally
go away with their varied requirements met. The tree is also called
the tree of the imagination; and it might, we fear, be equally called
the imaginary tree, as all the resources of science are strained in
vain to tell us anything more definite about it.

Mohammed tells us in the Koran that a Lote-tree stands in the seventh
heaven on the right hand of the throne of Allah, an idea derived, no
doubt, from that Tree of Life that bloomed a while in earthly Eden,
and that shall be found again in the celestial Paradise of God. The
mystical tree that passes out of sight in the earliest chapters of the
Bible as the woe descends upon mankind, and reappears at its close, is
the welcome symbol that the weary ages of sin and sorrow are at an end
for ever, that all tears shall be wiped from off all faces, that there
shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying: for all the
bitter past is over, and the former things are now for ever passed

The sacred tree of the Assyrians, so often seen in the sculptures from
Nineveh and Kyonjik, the idolatrous groves of the Israelites, the
Hindu tree worship, all point to a most interesting symbolism that
would be out of place in our present pages, but that will afford
matter of the deepest interest to those who care to work the subject

Our readers will no doubt remember the reference in Homer's Odyssey to
the Lotophagi, the people who eat of the lotus-tree, and in so doing
forgot their friends and homes in their far-off land, losing all
desire to return to their native shores, and caring for nought but to
rest in ease in the benumbing pleasures of Lotus-land.

The immortal Amaranth, "a flower which once in Paradise, fast by the
tree of life, began to bloom, but soon for man's offence to Heaven
removed," must not be omitted from our pages. Clement of Alexandria
refers to it as the _Amarantus flos, symbolum immortalitatis_, and it
was thus received for centuries. The name is from the Greek word for
immortal, and was bestowed upon it from its never-withering flowers of
ruby red. Felicia Hemans, amongst others, refers to it in her fine
poem on "Elysium:"--

          "Fair wert thou, in the dreams
    Of elder time, thou land of glorious flowers,
    And summer winds, and low-toned silvery streams
    Dim with the shadows of thy laurel bowers!
      Where, as they passed, bright hours
    Left no faint sense of parting, such as clings
    To earthly love, and joy in loveliest things."

We could not forbear quoting the opening lines, but the reference we
seek occurs a few verses farther on, in allusion to those--

    "Who, called and severed from the countless dead,
    Amidst the shadowy Amaranth-bowers might dwell
          And listen to the swell
    Of those majestic hymn notes, and inhale
    The spirit wandering in th' immortal gale."

The passage in our New Testament translated "A crown of glory that
fadeth not away" is in the original Greek "The amaranthine crown of
glory." Milton is frequently found to use the word; it occurs several
times in the "Paradise Lost." The following fine passage from the
third book of that poem will sufficiently well illustrate his
application of it--

    "The multitude of angels, with a shout
    Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
    As from blest voices, uttering joy. Heaven rang
    With jubilee, and loud hosannas filled
    The eternal regions. Lowly reverent
    Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground
    With solemn adoration, down they cast
    Their crowns inwove with amaranth and gold--
    Immortal amaranth."

This plant Milton represents as "shading the fount of life," and with
its blood-red flowers--

    "With these, that never fade, the spirits elect
    Bind their resplendent locks."

The Egyptians wreathed their dead in chaplets of the sacred lotus to
prepare their spirits for entrance into the presence of the great
Osiris. Several other plants, however, were also employed, but whether
their employment was symbolic or not we have no means of ascertaining.

Amongst the various vegetable curiosities and treasures,--seeds,
gums, wood-sections, and the like--preserved in the large Museum at
Kew, will be found--though thousands tramp by them unknowingly--what
we may almost venture to call some of the most wonderful things in the
world. They are but chaplets, wreaths, and garlands of dried leaves
and flowers, until presently we realise that we are gazing on
memorials of the dead that were buried with them more than a thousand
years before the Christian era. The imagination is then awed as our
thoughts attempt to bridge over the interval of two thousand years
between these present days and that far-off morning in the childhood
of the world when the beautiful fresh flowers of the blue lotus of the
Nile were placed in the coffin of Rameses II. Almost all the history
of the world has been made since those fragile emblems of passing
beauty were laid in the tomb. Empires and monarchies have risen,
flourished, and decayed in the interval, and yet this very day, within
a mile of where we write these lines, remain, with all their solemn
teaching, these wreaths of flowers gathered in the sunshine of old
Egypt twenty centuries ago.

    "The past is but a gorgeous dream,
    And time glides by us like a stream,
      While musing on thy story,
    And sorrow prompts a deep alas!
    That like a pageant thus should pass
      To wreck all human glory."

Changeless in the midst of mighty changes, these delicate petals are
far more wonderful even than the great monuments of Egypt, its
pyramids, temples, and obelisks, wonderful as these are, for on those
Time has worked with its corroding tooth, while on these it has had
but little power. Changeless, again, in all their pristine and
God-given beauty, while all the fashions of earth have passed through
their kaleidoscope changes, "to one thing constant never," these
beautiful lilies of the Nile yet expand their petals every year at Kew
within a short distance of these dried flowers of the same species
that sprang into existence in the far-off river of Egypt in the dim
centuries of the mighty past.[35]

  [35] Appendix S.

The Asphodel, referred to by Homer and many later poets, was a plant
having edible roots that were laid in the tombs of the dead to nourish
the departed spirit in its wanderings in the dim world of shadows.
Lucian has a very good illustrative passage that we may here quote.
The words are put into the mouth of Charon, and are as follows:--"Down
here with us there is nothing to be had but asphodel, and libations
and oblations, and that in the midst of mist and darkness; but up in
heaven it is all bright and clear, and plenty of ambrosia there, and
nectar without stint." The plant referred to by the classic poets was
supposed to be the narcissus, but in mediæval days the wild daffodil
was intended, at least by the poets, while the herbalists were all at
sea in the matter, and applied the name to several different plants.

Gerarde, in his "Historie of Plants," refers to Galen as an authority,
quoting from his "Faculties of Nourishments" in defence of the plant
he selects, but does not seem to have heard of the old belief in its
forming a food for the immortals, and can indeed give it no higher
effect in staying the ravages of time and decay than that "the ashes
of this Bulbe mixed with oile and hens grease cureth the falling of
the haire." Parkinson, in his "Theatrum Botanicum," brings the plant
down to a still lower level, and not only sees no poetry in it, but
rather more than hints at a fraud, for he says--"The countrey people
know no other name thereof or propertie appropriate unto it but
knavery, which, whether they named it so in knavery, or knew any use
of knavery in it, I neither can learn nor am much inquisitive

We may here remark parenthetically that the old herbals are full of
the most delightfully quaint reading, and are often freely illustrated
with pictures at least as curious, the frontispieces especially being
of the most elaborate and allegorical nature. The "Rariorum Plantarum
Historia" of Clusius is now before us as we write, and we learn from
its title-page that it was published at Antwerp in the year 1601. We
have Adam on one side, in the simplicity of costume of Eden's earliest
days, and on the other Solomon, with crown and royal robes and
sceptre, bearing in his hands a book. Adam is claimed by the mediæval
herbalists as not only a tiller of the ground, but also as a student
of botanical science, while Solomon, we all remember, wrote a treatise
that dealt with plants, from the lordly cedar to the lowly hyssop of
the wall. Above Adam, in a pot, is a Turk's-cap lily, and by his side
is the fritillary, while Solomon has associated with him the cyclamen
and the crown imperial. The illustrations in the body of the book are
very numerous and quaint, and, though the book, it will be remembered,
is a history of rare plants, include such common things as the marsh
marigold, the bindweed, and the yellow loosestrife. Clusius, or
Charles d'Ecluse, to give him his true name, was a Dutch botanist,
born 1526, died 1609. He was for some time the director of the
Botanical Garden at Vienna, and afterwards the Professor of Botany at
Leyden University, where he died.

The Herbal published by Matthiolus at Venice in the year 1633 is a
particularly fine book. The illustrations are very large, very
numerous, and very good. Another interesting book to see is that of
Dodoens, translated by Henry Lyte, "Armigeri, Somersetensis, Angli."
The title-page of our copy of the work runs as follows:--"A Nievve
Herball, or Historie of Plantes: vvherein is contayned the vvhole
discourse and perfect description of all sortes of Herbes and Plantes:
their diuers and sundry kindes: their straunge Figures, Fashions, and
Shapes: their Names, Natures, Operations, and Vertues: and that not
onely of those whiche are here growyng in this our Countrie of
Englande but of all others also of forrayne Realmes commonly vsed in
Physicke. First set foorth in the Doutche or Almaigne tongue, by that
learned D. Rembert Dodoens, Physition to the Emperour, and nowe first
translated out of French into English, by Henry Lyte, Esquyer. At
London by me Gerard Dewes, dwelling in Pawles Churchyarde at the signe
of the Swanne, 1578."

Still earlier in time is "The Vertuose Boke of Distyllacyon of the
waters of all maner of Herbes, first compyled by Jherom Bruynswyke,
and now newly translated out of Duyche, by Lawrence Andrew," the
edition before us being published in London in the year 1527.

In 1551 we find the first appearance of Turner's Herbal, a book that
was for a long time a standard authority. It is divided into three

(1.) "A New Herball, wherein are conteyned the names of Herbes in
Greke, Latin, Englysh, Duch, Frenche, and in the Potecaries and
Herbaries Latin, with the properties, degrees, and naturall places of
the same, gathered and made by Wylliam Turner, Physicion unto the Duke
of Somersettes Grace, imprinted at London, by Steven Mierdman, Anno

(2.) A Book of the natures and properties as well as of the bathes of
England as of other bathes in Germany and Italy, etc., by William
Turner, Doctor of Physik, imprinted at Collen, by Arnold Birckman, in
the year of our Lorde, MDLXII.

(3.) A most excellent and perfecte homish apothecarye, etc.,
translated out of the Almaine Speche into English, by John Hollybush,
imprinted at Collen by Arnold Birckman, MDLXI."

The latter part of this "homely physick booke for all the grefes and
diseases of the bodye" was really the work, so far at least as
translation went, of Miles Coverdale, the notable divine and
translator of the Bible, Hollybush being merely a pseudonym.

The only other quaint old tome that we need here refer to, though, of
course, it must be clearly understood that we have named but a few of
the delightful old books on plant-lore that have come down to us, is
the somewhat specialised work of Newton. Its title is as follows:--

"An Herbal for the Bible, containing a plaine and familiar exposition
of such Similitudes, Parables, and Metaphors, both in the Olde
Testament and the Newe, as are borrowed and taken from Herbs, Plants,
Trees, Fruits, and Simples, by observation of their vertues,
qualities, natures, properties, operations and effects: and by the
Holie Prophets, Sacred Writers, Christ Himselfe, and His blessed
Apostles usually alledged, and into their heauenly Oracles, for the
better beautifieng and plainer opening of the same, profitably
inserted. Drawen into English by Thomas Newton, imprinted at London by
Edmund Bollifant, 1587."

The Ambrosia often referred to by the old writers and by more modern
poets was originally the food of the gods, nectar being the drink. It
is in this sense referred to by Homer and Ovid, though afterwards the
two ingredients of the Olympian bill of fare became a good deal
confused together; thus in the beautiful fable of Cupid and Psyche, in
the "Golden Ass" of Apuleius, we find Jupiter conferred on Psyche the
gift of immortality by giving her a cup of ambrosia to drink. The term
was also sometimes used as descriptive of anything delicious to the
taste, fragrant in perfume, or welcome to the eye, from the idea that
whatever was used by the immortals, associated with them as an
attribute, or that would be grateful in any way to them must be
surpassingly excellent. Thus we read in the Iliad of the "ambrosial
curls" of Zeus, a somewhat extreme case of departure from the
ordinarily limited sense in which the word was most commonly used.[36]
As the word ambrosia means literally "not mortal," it could evidently
in this more extended sense be applied by Homer with perfect propriety
to the curls or aught else that pertained to the ruler of Olympus.

  [36] "He spoke, and awful bends his sable brows,
       Shakes his ambrosial curls, and gives the nod,
       The stamp of fate and sanction of the god:
       High heaven with trembling the dread signal took,
       And all Olympus to the centre shook."
           --_Iliad_, Book I. lines 683-87.

In the South Kensington Museum may be seen a picture by Francis Danby,
bearing the title of "The Upas-tree of the Island of Java." The whole
picture is exceedingly dark, but one can just discern in the centre of
it the form of a tree, and around this are human bodies and skeletons.
The myth of the upas has been created on the very smallest data, and
furnishes a striking example of how great a structure of error, not to
say gross and wilful exaggeration, can be reared on a basis of truth.
The neighbourhood of the tree is unhealthy, not on account of anything
in the tree itself, but because it grows in the hot and humid valleys
of Java, rank with malaria and fever. A Dutch physician, named
Foersch, published in 1783 a narrative of his visit to the island, and
amongst his wild statements we find that where the upas grows "not a
tree or blade of grass is to be found in the valley or the surrounding
mountains, not a bird, beast, reptile, or living thing lives in its
neighbourhood." He adds that "on one occasion 1600 refugees encamped
within fourteen miles of it, and all but 300 died within two months:"
this might easily arise from the malarial vapours, but his picture of
the tree standing in the midst of the desolation it had itself created
is utterly at variance with the facts. So entirely do the actual facts
belie the legend that nothing prospers in its neighbourhood, it is
found in the midst of the rich vegetation of the tropics, while the
birds perch in its ample branches, and the wild beasts prowl beneath
them. So far is it from being the case, to quote one of our own poets,
that "Fierce in dead silence on the blasted heath fell upas sits, the
hydra tree of death,"--the last relic of the marvellous is gone, when
we recall the fact that thousands of holiday-makers have passed
harmlessly through the hothouses at Kew, where a specimen of the plant
may be seen, and that the refugees from London more or less
permanently encamped within a mile or two of it have so far escaped
damage from its proximity. The Upas belongs to the same family as the
invaluable bread-fruit and cow-tree, but, instead of possessing their
beneficent properties, yields, when wounded, a thick milky fluid of a
very poisonous nature, and which is employed by the natives on their
arrows and spear-heads with deadly effect.

The first published account of the Upas-tree will be found in De Brys
"India Orientalis," but the scanty particulars of the earlier author
become considerably amplified in Sir Thomas Herbert's book of
travels, published in London in the year 1634, and entitled
"Relations of some yeares Travaile." A little later on, in 1688, we
find the tree again referred to in the "Description historique du
Royaume de Macaçar" of Father Gervaise. The author, who had really
resided in Macassar for several years, affirms that the mere touch or
smell of some of the poisons produced by the natives is sufficient to
produce death, and one of the most deadly of these was said by him to
be produced from the sap of the Upas. He tells us that arrows dipped
in this juice were as fatal in their effects twenty years afterwards
as at their first preparation. In Koempfer's book, published in the
year 1712, we have the plant again described; a large mixture of fable
is at once apparent, but much of this he gives on the authority of the
natives, and he takes occasion to express his strong doubts of their
veracity. According to him, or them, the collection of the sap is
attended with imminent peril, for not only must the seeker after the
tree penetrate far into places infested with wild beasts, but he must,
when he has found the object of his search, be careful to pierce it on
the side from whence the wind blows, or he would quickly be suffocated
by the noxious effluvia given forth when the tree is wounded.

    "Lo! from one root, the envenomed soil below,
    A thousand vegetative serpents grow;
    In shining rays the scaly monster spreads
    O'er ten square leagues his far-diverging heads;
    Or in one trunk entwists his tangled form,
    Looks o'er the clouds and hisses in the storm.
    Steeped in fell poison, as his sharp teeth part,
    A thousand tongues in quick vibration dart;
    Snatch the proud eagle towering o'er the heath,
    Or pounce the lion, as he stalks beneath;
    Or strew, as marshall'd hosts contend in vain,
    With human skeletons the whitened plain."

Apart from the evil influence exerted on Europeans by climatic and
miasmatic drawbacks, the mountain of mystery that has been reared
around the dread name of Upas has but little foundation in fact. Its
juice is very plentifully yielded, and is of a virulently poisonous
character, and even its smell is injurious. In clearing ground near
the Upas the natives dread to approach it on this account; but unless
the trunk is severely wounded or the tree felled the injurious effects
are in the imagination only, and the tree may be approached or
ascended with impunity. The Upas is one of the largest of the forest
trees of Java, and it is surrounded as other trees are with the usual
sturdy vegetation of the tropical wilderness.

The Rev. Dr. Parker, a well-known missionary in Madagascar, gives a
description of two trees that recall in their detail much that has
hitherto in an especial degree been ascribed to the Upas. In both
these species the leaf is spear-head shaped, dark green in colour,
very glossy in surface, and very hard and brittle to the touch, and
both exude a thick milky juice, while the fruit is like a long black
pod, the end being red. One species is a tree with large leaves and a
somewhat peculiar stem, as the bark hangs down in long flakes and
shows a fresh growth of bark forming beneath and preparing to take the
place of the old bark as it falls. The other species is a shrub, with
smaller leaves, and the bark not peeling off the stem. Both species
are said to possess the power of poisoning any living creatures that
approach them, the symptoms of poisoning being severe headache,
bloodshot eyes, and a delirium that is presently hushed in death.
These trees are natives of Zululand, and only a few persons are
believed to have the power of collecting the fruits of the Umdhlebi,
and these dare not approach the tree except from the windward side.
They also sacrifice a goat or sheep to the demon of the tree. The
fruit is collected for the purpose of being used as an antidote to the
poisonous effects of the tree from whence they fall, for only the
fallen fruit may be collected. As regards habitat, these trees grow on
all kinds of soil, but the tree-like species prefers barren and rocky
ground. In consequence of the fears of the natives the country around
one of these trees is always uninhabited, although in other respects
fertile and desirable.

In Persia, we are told, there is a plant, the Kerzereh flower, that
loads the air with deathly odour, and that if a man inhales the hot
south wind that passes over these flowers during June and July it
kills him. Moore, in his Poem of "The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan,"
alludes to this belief in the lines--

    "With her hands clasp'd, her lips apart and pale,
    The maid had stood, gazing upon the veil
    From whence these words, like south winds through a fence
    Of Kerzrah flowers, came filled with pestilence."

The Mandrake, a plant belonging to the same natural order as the
deadly nightshade, henbane, and thorn-apple, had in the Middle Ages
many mystic properties assigned to it. The roots are often forked, and
when either by nature or art they could be supposed to roughly
resemble a man it was looked upon as a talisman securing good fortune
to its possessor. The belief in the narcotic and stupefying properties
of the plant is referred to in Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra,"
in the lines--

    "Give me to drink mandragora
    That I might sleep out this great gap of time
    My Antony is away"--

and again in "Othello"--

    "Not poppy, not mandragora,
    Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
    Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep."

The victories of the Maid of Orleans over the English were ascribed to
her possession of a mandrake root. Gerarde, writing in the year 1633,
says that the root is long and thick, and divided into two or three
parts; but as to its resemblance to a man, "it is no otherwise than in
the roots of carrots, parsnips and such like forked or divided into
two or more parts, which nature taketh no account of. There hath been
many ridiculous tales brought up of this plant, whether of old wiues
or some runnagate Surgeons or physicke-mongers I know not, but sure
some one or more that sought to make themselves famous and skilful
aboue others were the first broachers of that error. They adde
further, that it is never or very seldome to be found growing
naturally but under a gallows.[37] They fable further and affirme that
he who would take vp a plant thereof must tie a dog there unto to pull
it up, which will giue a great shreeke at the digging vp, otherwise if
a man should do it he should surely die in short space after. All of
which dreames and old wiues fables you shall from henceforth cast out
from your books and memory, knowing this that they are all and euery
part of them false and most untrue, for I my selfe and my seruants
also have digged up, planted and replanted very many and yet could
neuer perceiue shape of man. But the idle drones that have little or
nothing to do but to eat and drink have bestowed some of their time
in carving the roots of Brionie, which falsifying practice had
confirmed the errour amongst the simple and unlearned people who haue
taken them upon their report to be the true Mandrakes."[38] Parkinson
in like manner, in his "Theater of Plants," published in 1640, writes,
after describing the plant:--"Those idle forms of the mandrakes which
have beene exposed to view publikely both in ours and other lands and
countries are utterly deceitful, being the work of cuning knaves,
onely to get money by their forgery: do not misdoubt of this relation
no more than you would of any other plant set downe in this booke, for
it is the plaine truth whereon everyone may relie." The cry of the
mandrake is several times referred to by Shakespeare and others of our
poets; thus in "Romeo and Juliet" we get the line--

    "Shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth"--

and in the second part of "King Henry VI." Suffolk exclaims--

    "Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan."

  [37] "It is supposed to be a creature having life, engendered under
  the earth of some dead person, put to death for murder."--Thomas
  Newton, "Herball to the Bible."

  [38] "Like a man made after supper of a cheese paring; when he was
  naked he was for all the world like a forked radish, with a head
  fantastically carved upon it with a knife."--Second part of "King
  Henry IV.," Act iii. scene 2.

It was believed that a small dose of the mandrake made persons proud
of their beauty, but that a larger quantity deprived them of their
senses still more completely, and made them yet more effectually

Dr. Browne, in his gallant crusade against popular errors, says that
the resemblance of the mandrake to the human form "is a conceit not to
be made out by ordinary inspection, or any other eyes than such as
regarding the clouds behold them in shapes conformable to
pre-apprehension;" and as to the danger of gathering the plant, he
justly holds it "a conceit not only injurious unto truth and
confutable by daily experience, but somewhat derogatory to the
providence of God: That is, not only to impose so destructive a
quality on any plant, but conceive a vegetable whose parts are useful
unto many should in the only taking up prove mortall unto any. To
think he suffereth the poison of Nubia to be gathered, yet not this to
be moved! That he permitteth arsenick and minerall poisons to be
forced from the bowells of the earth, yet not this from the surface
thereof! This were to introduce a second forbidden fruit and inhance
the first malediction; making it not only mortal for Adam to taste the
one, but capitall unto his posterity to eradicate the other."

The orthodox way of plucking up the mandrake was to stand to the
windward of it and, after drawing three circles round it with a naked
sword to dig it up with one's face looking to the west; the shrieks
that would follow were in any case a trial to weak nerves, and at an
earlier period were held to be fatal to the hearer. Philip de Thaun
gives the following stratagem as the only available way of becoming
the possessor of it:--"The man who is to gather it must fly round
about it, must take great care that he does not touch it, then let him
take a dog and let it be tied to it, which has been close shut up, and
has fasted for three days, and let it be shewn bread and called from
afar. The dog will draw it to him, the root will break, it will send
forth a cry, and the dog will fall down dead at the cry which he will
hear. Such vertue this herb has that no one can hear it but he must
always die, and if the man heard it he would directly die. Therefore
he must stop his ears, and take care that he hear not the cry lest he
die, as the dog will do which shall hear it. When one has this root it
is of great value for medicine, for it cures of every infirmity except
only death, where there is no help." The office of the herbalist was
no sinecure when such a task could be expected of him, as great care
had to be exercised not to touch the plant. The tying-up of the dog to
it must have been particularly risky, and the consequences of the dog
making a premature rush for the bread before the man had time to stop
his ears were especially alarming. The writings of De Thaun are full
of interesting matter, but his great object was to see in nature
figures and symbols of religious truths, hence his narratives have
often a somewhat forced character. Thus he tells us that "in India
there is a tree of which the fruit is so sweet that the doves of the
earth go seeking it above all things, they eat the fruit of it, seat
themselves in the tree, they are in repose as long as they are
sheltered by it. There is a dragon in the earth which makes war on the
birds; the dragon fears so much the tree, that on no acconnt dare it
approach it or touch the shadow, but it goes round at a distance, and,
if it can, does them injury. If the shadow is to the right then it
goes to the left, if it is to the left the dragon goes to the right.
The doves have so much understanding which are above in the tree when
they see the dragon go all around, which goes watching them, but it
does them no harm, nor will they ever have any harm as long as they
are in the tree, but when they leave the tree and depart, and the
dragon shall come then, it will kill them. This is a great meaning,
have it in remembrance." This Indian tree stands not obscurely for the
Saviour of the world, while the doves are His faithful ones sheltered
in Him from the wiles of the Evil One. When we read story after story
all equally _apropos_, we cannot help feeling that a pious fraud has
now and then been indulged in, and the comely whole has been attained
by a little judicious pruning in one direction, and a little forcing
in another, and thus we lose faith in them, at least as examples of
the current beliefs of our forefathers.

The Arabs call the mandrake the devil's candle, from a belief that the
leaves give out at night a phosphorescent light; and Moore, with his
usual felicity, has introduced the idea in his poem of the

    "How shall she dare to lift her head,
    Or meet those eyes, whose scorching glare
    Not Yeman's boldest sons can bear?
    In whose red beam, the Moslem tells,
    Such rank and deadly lustre dwells,
    As in those hellish fires that light
    The Mandrake's charnel leaves at night."

Another old name for the plant was the Enchanter's nightshade, though
that very suggestive and rather awe-inspiring title has in these later
days become somehow transferred to a very insignificant weed that is
common enough in some old gardens and on waste ground, but which is
all too small to bear so formidable a title.

The Hebrew word _Dudaim_ has, in Genesis and in the Song of Solomon,
been translated in the Authorised English Version of the Bible as the
mandrake, but this would appear to be nothing more than a guess,
various commentators, Calmet, Hasselquist, and others who have written
on the subject, not being by any means unanimous. Some tell us that
the term is a general one for flowers, while others translate it as
lilies, violets, or jessamine, or as figs, mushrooms, bananas,
citrons, or melons. Whence we may fairly conclude that no one really
knows, and that the whole matter resolves itself into a guess,
fortified more or less by dogmatic assertion as a make-weight for the
missing knowledge.

One of the most interesting of the old books on our shelves is the
"Miracles of Art and Nature, or a Brief Description of the several
varieties of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Plants and Fruits of other
Countreys, together with several other Remarkable Things in the World,
By R. B. Gent." The author's name thus modestly veiled is Burton, and
the date of the book is 1678. In his preface he says--"I think there
is not a chapter wherein thou wilt not find various and remarkable
things worth thy observation," and this observation of his is strictly
within the truth. He arranges his short chapters geographically, but
in the most arbitrary way--not alphabetically, not according to the
natural grouping together of the countries of which he treats, nor
indeed according to any settled method. In fact, he is sufficiently
conscious of this, for, to quote his preface again, he says--"'Tis
probable they are _not_ so Methodically disposed as some hands might
have done, yet for Variety and pleasure sake they are pleasingly
enough intermixed." We open the book at random and find "Chap. XX.,
Castile in Spain; XXI., Norway; XXII., Zisca of Bohemia; XXIII.,
Assiria; XXIV., Quivira in California." Adopting his own random and
haphazard way of going to work, we will pluck from his quaint pages
some few of his botanical facts and fancies. His opening chapter deals
with Egypt, and in his description of the palm-tree he refers to a
very old belief that we may allow him to set forth in his own
words:--"It is the nature of this tree though never so ponderous a
weight were put upon it not to yield to the burthen, but still to
resist the heaviness, and endeavour to raise itself the more upward.
For this cause planted in Churchyards in the Eastern Countrys as an
Emblem of the Resurrection." A little further on, in his description
of Sumatra, we read of "a tree whose Western part is said to be rank
poyson and the Eastern part an excellent preservative against it," and
of "a sort of Fruit that whosoever eateth of it, is for the space of
twelve hours out of his Wits." Travellers' tales have sometimes
proverbially been difficult of belief, and it must have been some such
as these that procured them their evil report, for we read too that in
this same island "there is a river plentifully stored with Fish, whose
Water is so hot that it scalds the skin," and that "the cocks have a
hole in their backs, wherein the Hen lays her Eggs and hatches her
young ones." A few pages further on we read of a tree in Peru, "the
North part whereof looking towards the Mountains, brings forth its
Fruits in the Summer only; the Southern part looking towards the Sea,
fruitful only in Winter." Our old author evidently delights in sharp
contrasts. It is curious, however, that the Coca-leaf, which has
within the last few years been highly commended for those who have
exhausting exercise, is in this book of over 200 years old fully
referred to:--"The leaves whereof being dried and formed into little
pellets are exceedingly useful in a Journey; for melting in the mouth
they satisfie both hunger and thirst and preserve a man in his
strength, and his Spirits in Vigour; and are generally esteemed of
such sovereign use, that it is thought no less than 100,000 Baskets
full of the leaves of this tree are sold yearly at the Mines of
Potosia only. Another plant they tell us of, though there is no name
found for it, which if put into the hands of a sick person will
instantly discover whether he be like to live or dye. For if on the
pressing it in his hand he look merry and cheerful it is an assured
sign of his recovery, as on the other side of Death, if sad and
troubled." A few pages further on we find ourselves at Sodom and the
Dead Sea:--"If but an Aple grow near it, it is by Nature such that it
speaks the Anger of God: for without 'tis beautiful and Red, but
within nothing but dusty Smoak and Cinders." This belief is a very
ancient one. We find it, for instance, in the writings of Tacitus, and
it has supplied moralists in all ages with an illustration. In "The
Merchant of Venice," for instance, we find the lines--

    "A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
    O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!"--

and again in "Childe Harold"--

    "Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore, all ashes to the taste."

The apple has indeed entered largely into history and legend.
According to some writers the forbidden fruit of Eden was a kind of
apple, and the _pomum Adami_ in one's throat may be accepted as a
record of the old belief. "The fruit of that forbidden tree, whose
mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe." Our
readers, too, will recall the golden apple of discord that created
strife alike on high Olympus and amongst the sons of men, and that led
to the fall of Troy. On the other hand, we read of the apple of
perpetual youth in Scandinavian mythology, the food of the gods; and
in the "Arabian Nights" of the apples of Samarkand that would cure all
diseases. The apples of Istkahar were all sweetness on one side, all
bitterness on the other; while Sir John Mandeville tells us that the
pigmies were fed with the odour alone of the apples of Pyban. Amidst
this maze of fancy and legend it would perhaps be scarcely fair to
even mention the more historic apple that fell at Woolsthorpe at the
feet of Newton, and set his mind thinking on the problem of

  [39] We remember some time ago an interesting article by Dr. Adolf
  Dux, entitled "La tombe du Savant" appearing in the "Pester Lloyd."
  The savant was Bolyai, professor of mathematics and physics at
  Maros-Vásárhely. No statue, no marble mausoleum with sides covered
  with laudatory inscriptions, marks the place where he lies, but the
  tomb, by its occupant's strict direction, is overshadowed by the
  boughs of an apple-tree--"En souvenir des trois pommes qui out joué
  un rôle si important dans l'histoire de l'humanité, et il désignait
  ainsi la pomme d'Ève, et celle de Pâris qui réduisirent la terre à
  l'esclavage, et la pomme de Newton, qui la replaça au rang des
  astres." Strangely enough, when Dr. Dux visited the tomb there hung
  on the tree just three apples--"ni plus ni moins."

At Crete our old author, Burton, finds a plant called Alimos, which it
is only necessary to chew to take away all sense of hunger for a whole
day; but this wonder pales before those of the flora of Nova Hispania,
the country we now call Mexico. "Amongst the Rarities of Nova
Hispania, though there be many Plants in it of Singuler Nature, is
mentioned that which they call Eagney or Meto, said to be one of the
principal: a Tree which they both Plant and Dress as we do our Vines;
it hath on it 40 kinds of leaves, fit for several uses; for when they
be tender they make of them Conserves, Paper, Flax, Mantles, Mats,
Shoes, Girdles and Cordage, upon them they grow divers prickles so
strong and sharp that the people use them instead of Staws." What
Staws may be we cannot say, so we must be content to know that Meto
thorns make a very efficient substitute, and are for all practical
purposes as good as having the real thing. "From the top of the Tree
cometh a Juice like Syrrup, which if you Seeth it will become Honey;
if purified, Sugar; the Bark of it maketh a good plaister and from the
highest of the Boughs comes a kind of Gum, a Soveraigne Antidote
against poysons." The tree furnishes at once costume and confection,
antidote and rope, and we can hardly wonder at the people of New Spain
setting considerable store by it.

It would be curious to see the forms of the forty leaves; we can well
imagine that a plant suggesting about equally by its foliage the rose,
palm, bullrush, buttercup, cactus, horse-chestnut, and thirty-four
other plants would give our botanists some little difficulty before it
got definitely assigned its just place.

Brazil, like Mexico, is a very large place, and a very long way off,
and two hundred years ago the Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company was a
thing of the far future; there was therefore abundant room for play of
the imagination; thus we read of a kind of corn "which is continually
growing and always ripe; nor never wholly ripe, because always
growing;" and of another plant that yields so sovereign a balm that
"the very beasts being bitten by venomous Serpents resort to it for
their cure." It is interesting, amongst the other strange wonders,
animal and vegetable, that are duly set forth, to come across a plant
that must be very familiar to most persons, the sensitive plant, the
_Mimosa sensitiva_ of Brazil, though in his description of it our
author cannot resist an added touch of the marvellous, imputing to it
a power of observation that later writers would hesitate to confirm,
for he says--"The herb Viva when roughly touched will close the
leaves, and not open them again until the man that had offended it had
got out of sight." We must not, however, devote more attention to
"R. B. Gent," great as the temptation to do so may be, for his book is
a perfect mine of the marvellous. Another curious old book to ponder
over awhile is the English Dictionary of Henry Cockeram, as he
certainly produces some extraordinary illustrations of unnatural
history. The book was published in the year 1655, and did not profess
to deal with scientific matters alone, but was, to use the author's
own language, "an interpreter of hard English words, enabling as well
ladies and gentlewomen, young scholars, clerks, merchants, as also
strangers of any nation, to the understanding of the more difficult
authors already printed in our language, and the more speedy attaining
of an elegant perfection of the English tongue." Amongst these hard
English words sadly needing an interpretation we will select but five
as a sample of the whole:--"Achemedis, an herb which being cast into
an army in time of battle causeth the soldiers to be in fear." This
probably would be some kind of runner. "Anacramseros, an herb, the
touch thereof causeth love to grow betwixt man and man." "Hippice, an
herb borne in one's mouth, keeps one from hunger and thirst."
"Ophyasta, an herb dangerous to look on, and being drunke it doth
terrifie the inside with a sight of dreadful serpents, that condemned
persons for fear thereof do kill themselves." "Gelotaphilois, an herb
drunk with wine and myrrh, causeth much laughter."

Amidst the mist of error some few men declined to believe quite all
that they were told, but exercised for themselves the right of
individual judgment. The book we have just referred to was published,
as we have seen, in the year 1655, and abounds in strange imaginings;
yet five years before this we find a still better-known book, "the
Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very many Received Tenants
and commonly Presumed Truths" of Dr. Browne. The list of commonly
presumed truths he ventures to dispute is a very long one, and
includes such items of faith as that a diamond is made soft if placed
in the blood of a goat, that a pailful of ashes will contain as much
water as it would without them, that the two legs on one side of a
badger are shorter than the two on the other side, and so on. As he
approaches the vegetable kingdom he prefaces his remarks as
follows:--"We omit to recite the many vertues and endlesse faculties
ascribed unto plants which sometimes occurre in grave and serious
authors, and we shall make a bad transaction for Truth to concede a
verity in half. Swarms of others there are, some whereof our future
endeavours may discover; common reason I hope will save us a labour in
many whose absurdities stand naked in every eye, errors not able to
deceive the Emblem of Justice and need no Argus to descry them. Herein
there surely wants expurgatory animadversions whereby we might strike
out great numbers of hidden qualities, and having once a serious and
conceded list we might with more encouragement and safety attempt
their Reasons." On turning to the list of "vertues" in any old Herbal,
we find, as Browne says, "endlesse faculties ascribed, and many of
them of a character that woulde we should have imagined have been,
during even the darkest ages, difficult or impossible of credence."
Thus in Gerarde's herbal published in 1633, we find amongst our
British plants one available "against the biting of the Sea-dragon,"
two more "a remedy against the poyson of the Sea-hare," one "against
vaine imaginations," another "an especial remedy against the
nightmare," and no less than thirty-eight preservatives "against the
bitings of serpents." We will, however, confine ourselves to three
illustrative instances of the way in which the author of these
inquiries into various received beliefs proceeds to demolish them. He
says, in the first place, that "many things are delivered and believed
of plants wherein at least we cannot but suspend. That there is a
property in Basil to propagate scorpions and that by the smell thereof
they are bred in the brains of men is a belief much advanced by
Hollerius, who found this insect in the brains of a man that delighted
much in this smell. Wherein besides that we finde no way to conjoin
the effect unto the cause assigned herein the moderns speak but
timorously, and some of the Ancients quite contrarily. For according
unto Oribasius, physitian unto Julian, the Africans, men best
experienced in poisons, affirm whosoever hath eaten Basil although he
be stung with a Scorpion shall feel no pain thereby; which is a very
different effect, and rather antidotally destroying than promoting its
production." Pliny and other ancient writers mention the old belief
that the bay-tree, the tree of Apollo, was a preservative against
thunder, or rather against lightning; hence Tiberius and some other of
the Roman Emperors wore a wreath of bay as an amulet; and in an old
English play we find the lines--

                    "Reach the bays,
    I'll tie a garland here about his head,
    'Twill keep my boy from lightning."

Browne discourses on the point as follows:--"That Bayes will protect
from the mischief of lightning and thunder is a quality ascribed
thereto, common with the fig tree, eagle and skin of a seale. Against
so famous a quality Vicomercatus produceth experiments of a Bay-tree
blasted in Italy, and therefore although Tiberius for this interest
did wear a Laurell about his temples yet did Augustus take a more
probable course, who fled under arches and hollow vaults for
protection." A most unimperial picture this, great Cæsar deserting his
throne and shutting himself up in his wine-cellar when he heard the
distant rumbling of the coming storm. "If we consider the three-fold
effect of Jupiter's Trisulk, to burn, discusse, and terebrate, and if
that be true which is commonly delivered, that it will melt the blade
yet passe the scabbard, dry up the wine yet leave the hog's head
entire, though it favour the amulet it may not spare us; it will be
unwise to rely on any preservative, 'tis no security to be dipped in
Styx or clad in the armour of Ceneus."[40]

  [40] Appendix T.

There are many curious legends associated with plants in classic
mythology, such as the metamorphoses of various lucky or unlucky
persons who gained the favour or incurred the wrath of the gods, and
were in consequence punished or rewarded by finding themselves
laurel-bushes and the like; but all this is duly set forth in any
mythological dictionary, and may be there hunted up quite readily by
the curious.

Other legends are associated with religious symbolism, such as the
belief that the palm-tree cannot be bowed down to earth, but stands
erect, no matter how heavily weighted; but if we were once to enter
upon this most interesting subject, the preceding pages of our book
would be but a small fragment indeed of all that it would be possible
to introduce.

  [Illustration: {THE PALM}]

A very good illustration of the symbolic use of the palm-tree may be
seen on the frontispiece of the "Eikon Basilike," published in the
year 1648. The "Royal Martyr" kneels before a table on which is placed
a Bible. In his hand he has taken a crown of thorns, marked "Gratia;"
at his feet is the royal crown of England, with the inscription
"Vanitas," while in the air above him is a starry crown marked
"Gloria." Outside the room we see a landscape. Conspicuous in the
foreground is a palm-tree standing erect with two heavy weights tied
to it, and the legend, "Crescit sub pondere virtus;" while beyond
this is a raging sea and a rock rising from its midst, with the
legend, "Immota triumphans." The sky is black with rolling clouds, and
on either side of the rock we see dark faces in the clouds blowing
vehemently against it. Beneath is the "Explanation of the Embleme" in
two columns, the one Latin and the other in the vulgar tongue. The
English is as follows:--

    "Though clogged with weights of miseries
    Palm-like depressed I higher rise.
    And as th' immoved Rock outbraves
    The boist'rous Windes and raging waves,
    So triumph I. And shine more bright
    In sad Affliction's Darksom night.
    That Splendid, but yet toilsom Crown
    Regardlessly I trample down.
    With joie I take this Crown of Thorn,
    Though sharp yet easie to be born.
    That Heavenlie Crown, already mine,
    I view with eies of Faith Divine.
    I slight vain things and do embrace
    Glorie, the just reward of Grace."

This belief in the impossibility of depriving the palm-tree of its
power of upward growth made it a rather popular emblem with those who
thought themselves rather "put upon" by fortune or the lack of
appreciation from their fellows. Mary Stuart, for example, selected as
one of her badges the palm-tree, with the motto, "Ponderibus virtus
innata resistit," and other illustrations of the old belief might
readily be brought forward.

As these plants, too, whether associated with mythology or religious
or other symbolism, are not in themselves fabulous, but are actual
laurels, palms, or the like, they need scarcely be dwelt upon at any
length in these pages, as our purpose has been rather to deal with
forms wholly mythical than to enter with any degree of fulness into
the mythical beliefs that have grown round forms in themselves

We cannot, in conclusion, do better, we are sure, than transfer bodily
to our book the appeal to the reader that appears on the title-page of
a quaint little black-letter treatise published in the year 1548--the
"Boke of Husbandry" by one Fitzherbert:--

    "Go thou lytell boke, with due reuerence
    And with an humble hert, recommend me
    To all those, that of theyr beneuolence
    Thys lytell treatyse doth rede heare or se
    Wherewith I praye them contented to be,
    And to amende it in place behouable
    Where as I haue fauted or be culpable--
    For herde it is, a man to attayne
    To make a thynge perfyte at the first sighte
    But whan it is red and well ouer seene
    Fautes may be founde that neuer came to lyght
    Though the maker do his diligence and might
    Praying them to take it as I haue intended
    And to forgiue me yf I haue offended."





The life and death of St. George, as generally accepted, are so
different to the details given by Gibbon in his "History of the
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," that we give, as a foil, a
sketch of the latter as well. From Gibbon it would appear that George,
surnamed the Cappadocian, was born in Cilicia in a fuller's shop, that
he raised himself from this obscure origin by his talents as a
parasite, and that those whom he so shamelessly flattered and
assiduously fawned on repaid their worthless dependent by procuring
for him lucrative contracts to supply the army with bacon and other
stores. Herein he accumulated, as some other army contractors have
done since, a vast sum of money by the basest acts of fraud and
corruption, until matters became so bad and his shortcomings so
notorious that he absconded with his ill-gotten gains. After the
disgrace attached to this had in some measure subsided, we next find
him embracing, with real or affected zeal, the doctrines of Arianism,
and on the death of the Archbishop Athanasius the prevailing faction
promoted the ex-contractor to the vacant chair. He had scarcely been
established in this high and responsible office ere he sullied the
dignity of his position by acts of the greatest cruelty against those
who differed from him, and by the development anew of the keenest
avarice. He asserted for himself the right to various important
monopolies, and impoverished the State while he enriched himself by
alone supplying salt, paper, and various other necessaries. The people
at length rose in rebellion, and on the accession of Julian he lost
the high support that had hitherto, by aid of the civil and military
power of the State, maintained him in his position. He was
ignominiously dragged in chains to the public prison, and the mob,
impatient of the delays of the law, or apprehensive that he might use
his wealth and influence to stifle inquiry, presently forced open the
gates and tore him to pieces. The Church was at that time an arena of
fierce dissension between the Arians and Athanasians, and his
followers, conveniently ignoring the facts of his life, asserted that
the rival party in the Church had stirred up the strife against him.
He received the just reward of his tyranny, or possibly the saintly
crown of the martyr for his faith, in the year 361, and in 494 Pope
Gelasius formally and officially admitted his claim to a position
amongst the saints of the Church. We find him held in great reverence
in the sixth century in Palestine, Armenia, and Rome. His fame was
brought home from the East by the Crusaders, and his popularity in
England dates from that time. So much party feeling has clustered
around the matter, and so many learned authorities have been drawn up
on one side or the other, that we can only feel that no real verdict
one way or the other is now possible.


As we have already in the body of the text given in full detail the
accepted prose version of the conflict of St. George with the dragon,
it seemed scarcely advisable to repeat these details in metrical form.
As we feel, at the same time, that such old ballads will probably
possess interest for some, at least, of our readers, we, instead of
banishing the story from our book entirely, dismiss it to the Appendix
merely, where it can be equally readily read or ignored in accordance
with individual tastes. The ballad, as given in Dr. Percy's
"Reliques," is based on ancient black-letter copies in the Pepys
Collection. In the original the poem is forty-four verses long, but we
content ourselves with those that relate to the combat with the
dragon, and leave out those that affect what may be termed the
politics of the court, the promise of the maiden to the hero, the
subsequent endeavours to evade the bargain, and the various
consequences to St. George and others that arose from this breach of

    "Of Hector's deeds did Homer sing,
      And of the sack of stately Troy,
    What griefs fair Hélena did bring,
      Which was Sir Paris' only joy:
    And by my pen I will recite
      St. George's deeds, an English knight.

    Against the Sarazens so rude
      Fought he full well and many a day;
    Where many gyants he subdued,
      In honour of the Christian way:
    And after many adventures past
      To Egypt land he came at last.

    Now as the story plain doth tell,
      Within that countrey there did rest
    A dreadful dragon fierce and fell,
      Whereby they were full sore opprest,
    Who by his poisonous breath each day,
      Did many of the city slay.

    The grief whereof did grow so great
      Throughout the limits of the land,
    That they their wise men did entreat
      To show their cunning out of hand;
    Which way they might this fiend destroy,
      That did the country thus annoy.

    The wise men all before the king
      This answer framed incontinent;
    The dragon none to death might bring
      By any means they could invent:
    His skin more hard than brass was found,
      That sword nor spear could pierce nor wound.

    When this the people understood,
      They cryed out most piteouslye,
    The dragon's breath infects their blood,
      That every day in heaps they dye:
    Among them such a plague it bred,
      The living scarce could bury the dead.

    No means there were, as they could hear,
      For to appease the dragon's rage,
    But to present some virgin dear,
      Whose blood his fury might assuage;
    Each day he would a maiden eat,
      For to allay his hunger great.

    This thing by art the wise men found,
      Which truly must observed be;
    Wherefore throughout the city round
      A virgin pure of good degree
    Was by the king's commission still
      Taken up to serve the dragon's will.

    Thus did the dragon every day
      Untimely crop some virgin flower,
    Till all the maids were worn away,
      And none were left him to devour:
    Saving the king's fair daughter bright,
      Her father's only heart's delight.

    Then came the officers to the king
      That heavy message to declare,
    Which did his heart with sorrow sting;
      She is, quoth he, my kingdom's heir:
    O let us all be poisoned here,
      Ere she should die, that is my dear.

    Then rose the people presently,
      And to the king in rage they went;
    They said his daughter deare should dye,
      The dragon's fury to prevent:
    Our daughters all are dead, quoth they,
      And have been made the dragon's prey:

    And by their blood we rescued were,
      And thou hast saved thy life thereby;
    And now in sooth it is but faire,
      For us thy daughter so should die.
    O save my daughter, said the king;
      And let ME feel the dragon's sting.

    Then fell fair Sabra on her knee,
      And to her father dear did say,
    O father strive not thus for me,
      But let me be the dragon's prey;
    It may be for my sake alone
      This plague upon the land was thrown.

    'Tis better I should dye, she said,
      Than all your subjects perish quite;
    Perhaps the dragon here was laid,
      For my offence to work his spite:
    And after he hath sucked my gore
      Your land shall feel the grief no more.

    What hast thou done, my daughter dear,
      For to deserve this heavy scourge?
    It is my fault, as may appear,
      Which makes the gods our state to purge:
    Then ought I die, to stint the strife,
      And to preserve thy happy life.

    Like madmen, all the people cried,
      Thy death to us can do no good;
    Our safety only doth abide
      In making her the dragon's food.
    Lo, here I am, I come, quoth she,
      Therefore do what you will with me.

    Nay stay, dear daughter, quoth the queen,
      And as thou art a virgin bright,
    Thou hast for vertue famous been,
      So let me cloath thee all in white;
    And crown thy head with flowers sweet,
      An ornament for virgins meet.

    And when she was attired so,
      According to her mother's mind,
    Unto the stake she then did go;
      To which her tender limbs they bind:
    And being bound to stake and thrall
      She bade farewell unto them all.

    Farewell, my father dear, quoth she,
      And my sweet mother meek and mild;
    Take you no thought nor weep for me,
      For you may have another child:
    Since for my country's good I dye,
      Death I receive most willinglye.

    The king and queen and all their train
      With weeping eyes went then their way,
    And let their daughter there remain,
      To be the hungry dragon's prey;
    But as she did there weeping lye,
      Behold St. George came riding by.

    And seeing there a lady bright
      So rudely tyed unto a stake,
    As well became a valiant knight,
      He straight to her his way did take:
    Tell me, sweet maiden, then quoth he,
      What caitiff thus abuseth thee?

    And, lo, by Christ his cross I vow,
      Which here is figured on my breast,
    I will revenge it on his brow,
      And break my lance upon his chest:
    And speaking thus whereas he stood,
      The dragon issued from the wood.

    The lady that did first espy
      The dreadful dragon coming so,
    Unto St. George aloud did cry
      And willed him away to go;
    Here comes that cursed fiend, quoth she,
      That soon will make an end of me.

    St. George then looking round about,
      The fiery dragon soon espied,
    And like a knight of courage stout,
      Against him did most fiercely ride;
    And with such blows he did him greet,
      He fell beneath his horse's feet.

    For with his lance that was so strong,
      As he came gaping in his face,
    In at his mouth he thrust along,
      For he could pierce no other place;
    And thus within the lady's view
      This mighty dragon straight he slew.

    The favour of his poisoned breath
      Could do this holy knight no harm;
    Thus he the lady saved from death,
      And home he led her by the arm:
    Which when King Ptolemy did see,
      There was great mirth and melody."


In Hippeau's comments on the non-reliability of much of the natural
history of Guillaume he points out that not only was it difficult for
these early writers to ascertain the truth, but that the truth in its
lower sense was not really much striven after or valued. He
says--"N'oublions pas que les pères de l'Église se préoccupèrent
toujours beaucoup plus de la pureté des doctrines qu'ils avaient à
développer, que de l'exactitude scientifique des notions sur
lesquelles ils les appuyaient. L'object important pour nous, dit Saint
Augustin (Ps. cii., àpropos de l'aigle, qui disait-on, brise contre la
pierre l'éxtrémité de son bec devenue trop long) est de considérer la
signification d'un fait et non d'en discuter l'authenticité.

"Dans la vaste étendue des Cieux, au sien des mers profondes, sur tous
les points du globe terrestre, il n'est pas un phénomène, pas une
étoile, pas un quadrupède, pas un oiseau, pas une plante, pas une
pierre, qui n'éveille quelque souvenir biblique, qui ne fournisse la
matière d'un enseignement moral, qui ne donne lieu à quelqu' effusion
du coeur, qui n'ait à révéler quelque secret de Dieu."


The palm was by old writers called the phoenix-tree, and in Greek the
same word is used to express both the bird and the tree.

    "_Sebastian._ Now I will believe
    That there are unicorns; that in Arabia
    There is one tree, the phoenix' throne; one phoenix
    At this hour reigning there.

    _Antonio._              I'll believe both;
    And what does else want credit come to me,
    And I'll be sworn 'tis true; travellers ne'er did lie,
    Though fools at home condemn them."--_Tempest._


"The story of Guy is so obscured with fable that it is difficult to
ascertain its authenticity. He was the hero of succeeding Earls of
Warwick. William Beauchamp called his eldest son after him. Thomas by
his last will bequeathed the sword and coat-of-mail of this worthy to
his son. Another christened a younger son after him, and dedicated to
him a noble tower, whose walls are ten feet thick, the circumference
126, and the height 113 feet from the bottom of the ditch. Another
left as an heirloom to his family a suit of arras wrought with his
story. His sword and armour, now to be seen in Warwick Castle, were by
patent, 1 Henry VIII., granted to William Hoggeson, yeoman of the
battery, with a fee of 2d. per day. In the porter's lodge at the
castle they still show his porridge-pot, flesh-fork, iron shield,
breastplate and sword, horse furniture, walking staff nine feet high,
and even a rib of the dun cow which he pretended to have killed on
Dunsmore Heath. In short, his fame and spirit seem to have inspired
his successors, for from the Conquest to the death of Ambrose Dudley
there was scarce a scene of action in which the Earls of Warwick did
not make a considerable figure."--_Camden's Britannia_, vol. ii.,


Of the "Bestiary" of Philip de Thaun only one copy of the MS. is
known, that in the Cottonian Collection, though of another of his
quaint treatises, the "Livre des Créatures," there are seven copies
extant. Three of these are in the Vatican Library, and in England one
may be seen in the Sloane Library, and another in the Cottonian. The
author had as his great patron Adelaide of Louvain, the second queen
of King Henry I. He dedicates his "Bestiary" to her in the following

    "Philippe de Thaun into the French language
    Has translated the Bestiary, a book of science,
    For the honour of a jewel who is a very handsome woman,
    Aliz is she named, a queen is she crowned,
    Queen is she of England, may her soul never have trouble."

His poems are the earliest examples extant of the Anglo-Norman
language; we give herewith an illustration of it, the translation
being from the excellent reproduction of the book by Thomas Wright,

    "En un livre divin, que apelum Genesim,
    Iloc lisant truvum quæ Dés fist par raisum
    Le soleil e la lune, e esteile chescune.
    Pur cel me plaist à dire d'ico est ma materie,
    Que demusterai e à clers e à lai,
    Chi grant busuin en unt, e pur mei perierunt.
    Car unc ne fud loée escience celée;
    Pur ço me plaist à dire, ore i seit li veir Sire!"

    "In a divine book, which is called Genesis
    There reading, we find that God made by reason
    The sun and the moon, and every star.
    On this account it pleases me to speak, of this is my matter,
    Which I will show both to clerks and to laics,
    Who have great need of it, and will perish without it.
    For science hidden was never praised;
    Therefore it pleases me to speak, now may the true Lord be with it."


As the limited space at our disposal prevents anything like an
exhaustive account of the wonders narrated by Mandeville and others,
we give the titles of some few old works, in case the reader may care
to dive into them at greater length than is here at all possible. The
first we would mention is Richard Hackluyt's black-letter folio,
published in 1589. Its full title runs as follows:--"The Principal
Navigations; Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation, made by
Sea or over Land to the most remote and farthest distant Quarters of
the earth at any time within the compasse of these 1500 yeeres."
Another is "Purchas his Pilgrimage, or Relations of the World, Asia,
Africa and America and the Ilands adiacent," published in London in
the year 1614; a very quaint and interesting old book. The "Ortus
Sanitatis" is another very curious old black-letter volume, dealing
with animals, plants, &c., and richly illustrated with very remarkable
woodcuts. To these we may add Marco Polo's travels in the thirteenth
century, detailing the observations of this early traveller on many
remarkable places and things seen or heard of by him, chiefly in the
East. Struy's "Perillous and most Unhappy Voyages through Moscovia,
Tartary, Italy, Greece, Persia, Japan," &c., is another interesting
old volume. It was published in the year 1638, and is illustrated by
divers curious plates. To this list we need only add the "Natvrall and
Morall Historie of the East and West Indies," by Joseph Acosta; 1604.
"Intreating of the Remarkable things of Heaven, of the Elements,
Mettalls, Plants, and Beasts which are proper to that Country." Where
we have given a date it is simply that of the copy that has come
under our own cognisance: many of these works were of sufficient
popularity to run through several editions, sometimes several years
apart; nevertheless the dates we give will give an approximate notion
that is decidedly better than nothing. This list might readily be
extended tenfold.


The sphinx is described in Bacon's book, "The Wisdom of the Ancients,
Written in Latin by the Right Honourable Sir Francis Bacon Knt. Baron
of Verulam and Lord Chancellor of England, and done into English by
Sir Arthur Gorges Knt." After narrating the story, he expounds it as
follows:--"This Fable contains in it no less Wisdom than Elegancy, and
it seems to point at Science, especially that which is joyn'd with
Practice, for Science may not absurdly be call'd a Monster, as being
by the ignorant and rude Multitude always held in Admiration. It is
diverse in Shape and Figure by reason of the infinite Variety of
Subjects wherein it is conversant. A Maiden Face and Voice is
attributed unto it for its gracious Countenance and Volubility of
Tongue. Wings are added, because Sciences and their Inventions do pass
and fly from one to another, as it were in a Moment, seeing that the
Communication of Science is as the kindling of one Light at another.
Elegantly also it is feigned to have sharp and hooked Talons, because
the Axioms and Arguments of Science do fasten so upon the Mind, and so
strongly apprehend and hold it, as that it stir not nor evade, which
is noted also by the Divine Philosopher--The Words of the Wise are as
Goads and Nails driven far in.

Moreover, all Science seems to be placed in steep and high Mountains,
as being thought to be a lofty and high thing, looking down upon
Ignorance with a scornful Eye. It may be observed and seen also a
great Way, and far in compass, as things set on the Tops of Mountains.

Furthermore, Science may well be feigned to beset the High-way,
because which way soever we turn in this Progress and Pilgrimage of
Human Life we meet with some Matter or Occasion offered for
Contemplation. Sphynx is said to have received from the Muses divers
difficult Questions and Riddles, and to propound them unto Men, which
remaining with the Muses are free (it may be) from savage Cruelty;
for, so long as there is no other end of Study and Meditation than to
know, the Understanding is not racked and imprisoned, but enjoys
Freedom and Liberty, and even Doubts and Variety find a kind of
Pleasure and Delectation. But when once these Enigmas are delivered by
the Muses to Sphynx, that is, to Practice, so that it be sollicited
and urged by Action and Election and Determination, then they begin to
be troublesome and raging, and unless they be resolved and expedited
they do wonderfully torment and vex the Minds of Men, distracting, and
in a manner rending them into sundry Parts.

Moreover, there is always a twofold Condition propounded with Sphynx
her Enigmas. To him that doth not expound them, distraction of Mind,
and to him that doth, a Kingdom, for he that knows that which he
sought to know hath attain'd the end he aim'd at, and every Artificer
also commands over his Work.

Moreover it is added in the Fable, that the Body of Sphynx, when she
was overcome, was laid upon an Ass, which indeed is an elegant
Fiction, seeing there is nothing so acute and abstruse but, being well
understood and divulged, may be well apprehended by a slow Capacity.
Neither is it to be omitted that Sphynx was overcome by a Man lame in
his Feet; for when Men are too swift of Foot and too speedy of Pace in
hasting to Sphynx, her Enigmas, it comes to pass that, she getting the
upper Hand, their Wits and Minds are rather distracted by Disputations
than that ever they come to command by Works and Effects."


The spaces in the frieze of the Parthenon, known architectively as the
metopes, were filled with sculptures illustrating the struggle between
the Lapithæ and the Centaurs. Thirty-nine of these slabs remain in
their original position in the temple, while seventeen are in the
British Museum and one in the Louvre. In their beauty and bold design
they are some of the grandest monuments of Greek art. Other very fine
examples may be seen in the fragments in our national collection from
the frieze of the temple of Apollo Epicurius, near Phigalia, and the
Theseum at Athens. There are also two very fine single statues of
centaurs in the Capitoline Museum.


Centaury is so called from an old myth that Chiron, the centaur, cured
himself from a wound given by a poisoned arrow by using some plant
that Pliny, therefore, calls _Centaurium_; but whether it was this
plant, or a knapweed, or any plant at all, or whether there even
ever was a centaur named Chiron, or a centaur named anything else, are
points we must be content to leave. Linnæus called the plant the
_Chironia_; its modern generic name merely signifies red, as most of
the flowers in the genus have blossoms of some tint of red; but in the
specific name _Centaurium_ we recognise that the old myth still finds
commemoration. In some parts of England the rustics corrupt centaury
into sanctuary, and the Germans call it the _tausend-gulden-kraut_.
This strange name is built upon another corruption, some of the old
writers having twisted _Centaurea_ into _Centum aurei_, and the
Germans have lavishly multiplied by ten the hundred golden coins. The
centaury is said to be a good and cheap substitute for the medicinal
gentian, and, as a hair-dye, was for a long time held in repute for
the production of a rich golden yellow tint.

    "My floure is sweet in smell, bitter my iuyce in taste,
    Which purge choler, and helps liuer, that else would waste."

The centaury still figures largely in rustic medicine and in the
prescriptions of the herbalists; we have seen the country agents of
these latter with armfuls of centaury as large as they could carry.
Into all its accredited virtues in mediæval times we need not here go;
in fact, if our readers will make out at random a list of some twenty
of the ills of suffering mortality, and boldly assert that such ills
need not exist at all in a world that also produces centaury, they
will be sufficiently near the mark for practical purposes.


A good illustration of this may be seen in Brathwait's book, published
in 1621, and entitled "Nature's Embassie, or the Wilde-Man's Measures
danced by twelve Satyres," the dance itself being very quaintly
represented on the curious old woodcut title.


An old author whose voluminous works on natural history are very
interesting and curious, and richly illustrated with engravings at
least as quaint in character as the text. The "Historia Monstrorum,"
was published in folio at Bologna in 1642, and is full of the most
extraordinary animal forms. His various works range in date from 1602
to 1668, and are, with one exception--Venice--published either at
Bologna or Frankfort. All are very curious, and will well repay our
readers if they can get an opportunity of seeing them.

Another book of very similar character is Boiastuau's "Histoires
Prodigeuses," published in Paris in 1561, a strange assemblage of
curious and monstrous figures.


Bacon, in his "Wisdom of the Ancients," writes as follows:--"The Fable
of the Syrens seems rightly to have been apply'd to the pernicious
Allurements of Pleasure, but in a very vulgar and gross manner. And
therefore to me it seems that the Wisdom of the Ancients have with a
farther reach or insight strained deeper Matter out of them, not
unlike the Grapes ill press'd; from which though some Liquor were
drawn, yet the best was left behind. This Fable hath relation to Men's
Manners, and contains in it a manifest and most excellent Parable. For
Pleasures do for the most proceed out of the Abundance and Superfluity
of all things, and also out of the Delights and jovial Contentments of
the Mind; the which are wont suddenly as it were with winged
Inticements to ravish and rap Mortal Men: But Learning and Education
brings it so to pass as that it restrains and bridles Man's Mind,
making it so to consider the Ends and Events of Things as that it
clips the Wings of Pleasure. These Syrens are said to dwell in remote
Isles: for that Pleasures love Privacy and retired places, shunning
always too much Company of People. The Syren's Songs are so commonly
understood, together with the Deceits and Danger of them, as that they
need no Exposition. But that of the Bones appearing like white Cliffs,
and descry'd afar off, hath more Acuteness in it; for thereby it is
signify'd that, albeit the Examples of Afflictions be manifest and
eminent, yet do they not sufficiently deter us from the wicked
Enticements of Pleasures.

As for the Remainder of this Parable, tho' it be not over mystical,
yet it is very grave and excellent: For in it we set out three
Remedies for this violent enticing Mischief: to wit, Two from
Philosophy, and One from Religion. The first Means to shun these
inordinate Pleasures is to withstand and resist them in their
Beginnings and seriously to Shun all Occasions to entice the Mind,
which is signified in that stopping of the Ears; and that Remedy is
properly used by the meaner and baser sort of People, as it were
Ulysses Followers or Mariners; whereas more heroick and noble Spirits
may boldly converse even in the midst of these seducing Pleasures, if
with a resolved Constancy they stand upon their Guard and fortify
their Minds; and so take greater Contentment in the Trial and
Experience of this their approved Virtue, learning rather thoroughly
to understand the Follies and Vanities of those Pleasures by
Contemplation, than by Submission. Which Solomon avouched of himself
when he reckoned up the Multitude of those Solaces and Pleasures
wherein he swam, doth conclude with this sentence--Wisdom also
continued with me. Therefore these Heroes, and Spirits of this
excellent Temper, even in the midst of these enticing Pleasures, can
shew themselves constant and invincible and are able to support their
own virtuous Inclination against all heady and forcible Perswasions
whatsoever; as by the Example of Ulysses, that so peremptorily
interdicted all pestilent Counsel as the most dangerous and pernitious
Poysons to captivate the Mind: But of all other Remedies in this Case
that of Orpheus is most predominant: For they that chaunt and resound
the Praise of the Gods confound and dissipate the Voices and
Incantations of the Syrens, for Divine Meditations do not only in
Power subdue all sensual Pleasures, but also far exceed them in
Swiftness and Delight."


"A Scorneful Image or Monstrous Shape of a Marvellous Strange Fygure
called Sileni Alcibiadis presentyng ye state and condio of this
present world, and inespeciale of the Spirituallte how farre they be
from ye perfite trade and life of Criste, wryte in the later tonge by
that famous Clerke Erasmus and lately translated into Englyshe." A
rare old black-letter book.


    "All those airy shapes you now behold
    Were human bodies once, and clothed with earthly mould;
    Our souls, not yet prepared for upper light,
    Till doom's-day wander in the shades of night."
        --Dryden, _The Flower and the Leaf_.


Before finally dismissing the Fairies we would just refer our readers
to a very curious book amongst the Lansdowne MSS. (No. 231) in the
British Museum. It was written by John Aubrey, in the year 1686, and
is entitled "Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme." The title, however,
is no guide whatever to the character of the book, which seems to be
merely a note-book for the writing down, without any apparent system
or order, of any curious matters that came before him. Scattered
throughout these notes are various references to the Fairies; and
though they naturally, to a certain extent, repeat what we have
already written, they are perhaps sufficiently interesting to quote,
as they were the popular notions current at the time. We can only give
them in the disjointed way in which we find them, as they are mixed up
with all kinds of other matter.

"Not far from Sr Bennet Hoskyns there was a labouring man that rose up
early every day to goe to worke; who for a good while many dayes
together found a ninepence in the way that he went. His wife
wondering how he came by so much money was afraid he gott it not
honestlye; at last he told her, and afterwards he never found any

"They were wont to please the Fairies, that they might doe them no
shrewd turnes, by sweeping clean the Hearth and setting by it a dish
of fair water half sad breade, whereon was sett a messe of milke sopt
with white bread. And on the morrow they would find a groat of which
if they did speak of it they never had any again. Mrs H. of Hereford
had as many groates or 3ds this way as made a little silver cup or
bowle of (I thinke) 3lbs value, wh her daughter preserves still."

"In the vestry at Frensham, on the N. side of the chancel, is an
extraordinary great kettle or caldron, which the inhabitants say, by
tradition, was brought hither by the fairies, time out of mind, from
Borough hill, about a mile from hence. To this place, if any one went
to borrow a yoke of oxen, money, &c., he might have it for a year or
longer, so he kept his word to return it. There is a cave, where some
have fancied to hear musick. On this Borough hill is a great stone
lying along, of the length of about six feet: they went to this stone
and knocked at it, and declared what they would borrow and when they
would pay, and a voice would answer when they should come, and that
they should find what they desired to borrow at that stone. This
caldron, with the trivet, was borrowed here after the manner
aforesaid, but not returned according to promise, and though the
caldron was afterwards carried to the stone it could not be received,
and ever since that time no borrowing there. The people saw a great
fire one night not long since, the next day they went to see if any
heath was burnt there, but found nothing."

"Some were led away by the Fairies, as was a third riding upon
Hackpen with corn led a dance to ye Devises. So was a shepherd of Mr
Brown of Winterburn-Basset, but never any afterwards enjoy themselves.
He sayd that ye ground opened, and he was brought into strange places
underground, where they used musicall Instruments, Viols and Lutes,
such (he sayd) as Mr Thomas did play on."

"Virgil speakes somewhere (I think in ye Georgiques) of Voyces heard
louder than a Man's. Mr Lancelot Morehouse did averre to me that he
did once heare such a loud laugh on the other side of a hedge, and was
sure that no Human voice could afford such a laugh."

"In Germany old women tell stories received from their Ancestors that
a Water-monster, called the Nickard, doth enter by night the chamber,
and stealeth when they are all sleeping the new-born child, and
supposeth another in its place, which child growing up is like a
monster and commonly dumb. The remedy whereof that the Mother may get
her own child again--the mother taketh the Suppositium and whipps it
so long with the rod till the sayd Monster, the Nickard, bringes the
Mother's own child again, and takes to him the Suppositium, which they
call Wexel balg."

In another curious old book on our shelves, the "Philosophical
Grammar" of Benjamin Martin, published in 1753, we find another
allusion to the belief in Fairies. The book is written in the question
and answer style once so popular, and after a long dissertation on the
Animal Kingdom, we come at last to the question, "Pray before we leave
this survey of the Animal Creation let me ask your opinion of
Griffins, the Phoenix, Dragons, Satyrs, Syrens, Unicorns, Mermaids
and Fairies. Do you think there really are any such things in
Nature?" The answer is so far to the point, and so interesting in
itself as showing the state of mind on the whole subject, that we give
it in all its fulness.

"The _Phoenix_ is mentioned by _Pliny_, and other Antients, more
credulous than skilful; but has long since been rejected as a vulgar
Error. The _Griffin_ and _Harpy_ have had a Place given them in Modern
Histories of Nature, but not without great Reproach and Ridicule to
the Authors. _Satyrs_, _Syrens_, and _Fairies_, are all Poetical
Fictions. The _Scripture_ makes mention of the _Dragon_ and the
_Unicorn_, and most _Naturalists_ have affirmed that there have been
such Creatures, and given Descriptions of them; but the Sight of these
Creatures or credible Relations of them, having been so very rare, has
occasioned many to believe there never were any such Animals in
Nature; at least it has made the History of them very doubtful. As to
_Mer-men_ and _Mer-maids_, there certainly are such Creatures in the
Sea as have some distant Resemblance of some Parts of the Human Shape,
Mien, and Members; but not so perfectly like them, 'tis very probable,
as has been represented. In all such ambiguous Pieces of History 'tis
better not to be positive, and sometimes to suspend our Belief, rather
than credulously embrace every current Report, or vulgar Assertion
which may perhaps expose us to Ridicule.

It makes but little for the Credit of the Histories of _Dragons_,
_Unicorns_, _Mer-maids_, &c., that their names are not to be found in
the Transactions of our celebrated Royal Society, who, 'tis well
known, derive their Intelligence at the best Hand from almost all
Parts of the World. At least, I can find no mention of any such
Creatures in the seven Volumes of Abridgments by _Lowthorp, Eames, and

2. The _Histoire Naturelle de l'Universe_ gives an Account of several
Persons who have described the _Unicorn_; and particularly Father
_Lobos_, in his Voyage to the _Abyssine Empire_, says, that this
Animal is of the Shape and Size of a fine-made and well-proportion'd
Horse, of a bay Colour with a black Tail and Extremities; he adds,
that the Unicorns of _Tuacua_ have very short Tails; and those of
_Ninina_ (a Canton in the same Province) have theirs very long, and
their Manes hanging over their Heads. _Vol._ IV. _Page_ 3.

3. _Du Mont_ says, he saw the Head of a Dragon which was set up over
the _Water-Gate_ in the City of _Rhodes_; this Dragon was 33 Feet
long, and wasted all the Country round, 'till it was slain by _Deodate
de Gozon_, a Knight of _St. John_. He says, the _Head_ was like that
of an Hog, but much larger; its _Ears_ were like a Mule's, but cut
off; the _Teeth_ were extraordinary sharp and long; the _Throat_ wide;
its _Eyes_ hollow, and burning like two Coals. It had two little Wings
on its Back; its _Legs_ and _Tail_ like those of a Lizard, but strong,
and arm'd with sharp and venomous Talons. His Body was cover'd with
Scales which was Proof against Arms. See the Manner of his being
kill'd in the _Atlas Geographicus_, Vol. III. Page 43, 44.

4. _Ludolphus_, in his _Ethiophic_ History, tells us, that in the
_Abyssine Empire_, there are voracious scaly Dragons of the largest
Size, tho' not venomous or hurtful otherwise than by the Bite, and
they look like the Bark of an old Tree. _Atlas Geographicus_, Vol. IV.
Page 614.

5. The _Stories_ of _Mer-maids_, _Satyrs_, &c. had undoubtedly their
Original from such Animals as have in some Respects a Likeness to the
_human Shape_ and _Features_. Among these the _Monkey_ Kind, the
_Orang-Outang_, and the _Quoja Morron_ are the chief on Land; and the
Fish call'd the _Mermaid_ (tho' it has nothing of the _Human Form_)
and some other unusual Animals in the Sea."


Where several sons are contemporaneous, and all have the right to bear
the paternal arms, they are thus distinguished--the eldest son adds to
them what is known as a label; the second, a crescent; the third, a
five-pointed star; the fourth, a martlet; the fifth, an annulet; the
sixth, a fleur-de-lys; the seventh, a rose; and so on. A very good and
easily accessible example of this "differencing" of the arms may be
seen in those borne by the Prince of Wales, the silver label
stretching across the top of the shield, blazoned in all other
respects like those of the Queen, marking the relationship.


Bruce tells us, for instance, that the horned viper, or Cerastes, the
"worm of Nile" that was the cause of the death of Cleopatra, has a way
of creeping until it is alongside its victim, and then making a sudden
sidelong spring at the object of its attack. In his book he narrates a
curious instance that came under his notice at Cairo, where several of
these reptiles had been placed in a box. "I saw one crawl up the side,
and there lie still, as if hiding himself, till one of the people who
brought them to us came near him and though in a very disadvantageous
position, sticking as it were perpendicularly to the side of the box,
he leaped near the distance of three feet, and fastened between the
man's forefinger and thumb."


Amongst the things displayed in the case are portions of a wreath from
the coffin of Rameses II. (1100-1200 B.C.), composed of sepals and
petals of _Nymphæa cærulea_ on strips of leaves of the date-palm, and
another wreath made from the _N. Lotus_.

Another wreath is from the coffin of Aahmes I. (1700 B.C.), composed
of leaves of willow and flowers of the _Acacia Nilotica_.

There are also two garlands from the tomb of the Princess Nzi Khonsou
(1000 B.C.), composed in the one case of willow leaves and the flower
heads of the _Centauræa depressa_, and in the other of the _Papaver
Rhæas_, the common scarlet poppy so familiar to every one who has ever
seen an English cornfield or railway embankment in summer.

There are, in addition, leaves of the wild celery and of the olive and
vine, all quite clearly distinguishable.

The ancient Egyptians were exceedingly fond of flowers, and even made
rare plants a portion of the tribute exacted from dependent or
conquered territories. One old writer tells us that "those flowers,
which elsewhere were only sparingly produced, even in their proper
season, grew profusely in Egypt at all times, so that neither roses,
nor any others, were wanting there, even in the middle of winter."
Their living rooms were always adorned with bouquets or growing
plants, and the stands that served for holding them have been found in
the tombs. On the arrival of guests at a banquet servants came forward
with garlands of flowers and placed them round their necks, a custom
we may see graphically depicted in the mural painting in the tombs,
while a single lotus flower was often placed in the hair.


The Bay enters very largely into the various extraordinary
compounds--astrological, medicinal, and the like--of the ancients.
Thus--to quote but one instance out of many that might be
given--Albertus Magnus, in his treatise "De Virtutibus Herbarum,"
tells us that if any one gathers some bay leaves and wraps them up
with the tooth of a wolf, no one can speak an angry word to the
bearer; while, put under the pillow at night, it will bring in a
vision before the eyes of a man who has been robbed, the thief and all
his belongings. He further goes on to tell us that if set up in a
place of worship, none who have broken any contract or agreement will
be able to quit the place till this most potent combination be
removed. "This last is tried and most true."



    "So essential did I consider an Index to be to every book, that I
    proposed to bring a Bill into Parliament to deprive an author, who
    publishes a book without an Index, of the privilege of copyright,
    and, moreover, to subject him to a pecuniary penalty."
        --Campbell's _Lives of the Chief-Justices of England_.

    Aahmes I., chaplets from coffin of, 233

    "Absalom and Achitophel," Dryden, 126

    "Abyssinia, Life in," Parkyns, 14

    Achemedis, herb, 199

    Acipenser, 158

    Acosta, "Natvrall and Morall Historie," 219

    Adam, earliest botanist, 181

    Adder, wilfully deaf, 67, 148

    Addison's "Milton Imitated," 99

    Adelaide of Louvain, 218

    Adissechen, the thousand-headed, 146

    Adolf Dux, article by, 197

    Ælian on aspis, 147; on basilisk, 49;
      on lion and ram-headed fish, 160;
      on unicorn, 9

    Æneas Sylvius on barnacle tree, 174

    Ætius on basilisk, 49;
      on dryinus, 49

    "Africa, History of," Leo, 30

    Agnus Dei, as a badge, 74

    Alaus Magnus on kraken, 150

    Albertus Magnus, "De Virtutibus Herbarum," 234;
      dragon, 28;
      on pigmies, 125

    Alchemists and phoenix, 54

    Aldrovandus, "Monstrorum Historia," 31, 79, 87, 161

    Alimos plant, 197

    Amaranth, 177

    Amazons, 95

    Ambrosia, 183

    Amphisbena, 148

    Anacramseros plant, 199

    Andromeda and Perseus, 19

    Annulet as mark of cadency, 232

    Anthropophagi, 94

    Antipathy between dragon and elephant, 42;
      between serpent and stag, 15

    Antony and Cleopatra, 91, 188

    Apples of Hesperides, 40;
      of Istkahar, 196;
      of perpetual youth, 196

    Apollo Epicurius, temple of, 222

    Apuleius, "The Golden Ass," 184

    Arabia, home of the phoenix, 50

    "Arabian Nights," 7, 40, 69, 132, 140, 196

    Archaic pottery, British Museum, 85

    Ardoynus on basilisk, 49

    Arian _v._ Athanasian, 209

    Arimaspian gold, 69

    Arimaspians, 98

    Arion and the dolphins, 158

    Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso," 50, 70

    Aristotle on chameleon, 77;
      on pigmies, 125

    Arms of City of London, 70;
      of Prince of Wales, 234;
      of William de Valence, 134

    Arrowheads or Celts, 108

    "Art of Love," King's, 49

    Asbestos, 61

    Asphodel, 180

    Aspis, 147

    Assembly of Beaux Esprits, Paris, 10

    Ass, Indian, of Ctesias, 7

    "As you Like it," 54

    "Atlas Geographicus," 231

    Aubrey's "Gentilisme and Judaisme," 31, 227

    Augustine, St., on the manipulation of facts, 216;
      on monsters, 41

    Avebury stones, 58

    Avicen on basilisk, 49

    Bacon on the sphinx legend, 83;
      "Wisdom of the Ancients," 220, 224

    Badge of Jane Seymour, 53

    Balam, the ox, 159

    Ballad of dragon of Wantley, 33;
      of St. George and dragon, 211

    "Bara Bathra," 151

    Basil, herb, 200

    Basilisk, king of serpents, 48, 91

    Barliata, 175

    Barnacle goose-tree, 168

    Bartolomeo, standard of, 6

    Basking shark, 146

    Bay tree, 234

    Beaumont and Fletcher's "Woman Hater," 48

    Beaux Esprits, assembly of, 10

    Behemoth legend, 152

    Ben Jonson on remora, 159

    "Bestiare Divin" of Guillaume, 43

    Bestiary of De Thaun, 67, 147, 218

    Bewick's books, 2

    Bible Herbal of Newton, 183

    Bible references to adder, 67;
      amaranth, 178;
      cockatrice, 46;
      dragon, 19;
      giants, 129;
      leviathan, 152;
      mandrake, 193;
      unicorn, 4

    Bird of paradise, 135

    Blemmyes, headless men, 97

    Boar, 15, 49

    Boiastuau, "Histoires Prodigeuses," 224

    "Boke of Husbandry," Fitzherbert, 204

    Bolyai, tomb of, 197

    Bones preserved in churches, 59

    Borghese centaur, 85

    Borrowing from the fairies, 228

    Boussetti on monsters, 161

    Brathwait's "Nature's Embassie," 224

    Breydenbach's Travels, 62

    Briaræus, 94, 99

    Bristol, great bone at, 59

    "Britannia," Camden, 217

    "Britannica Concha Anatifera," 175

    British Museum, centaur, 85, 222;
      Lansdowne MSS., 31;
      Scythian lamb, 71

    Brobdingnag, men of, 99

    Browne's "Pseudodoxia Epidemica," 199;
      "Vulgar Errors," 31, 69, 190

    Brownie, 119

    Bruce on the horned viper, 232

    Bruynswyke's Herbal, 182

    Bryony roots carved into human form, 190

    Bucca, 121

    Buckland's "Curiosities of Natural History," 60

    Buffalo, 12

    Burton's "Miracles of Art and Nature," 4, 71, 93, 153, 194

    Bury Palliser's "Historic Badges," 6

    Bushmen, the modern pigmies, 127

    Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage,157, 196;
      on nautilus, 155

    Cadency in heraldry, 232

    Cader Idris, the giant's seat, 131

    Cadwallader, ensign of, 33

    Caerleon, great bone at, 59

    Camden's "Britannia," 217

    "Canterbury Tales," 104

    Capitoline Museum sculptures, 222

    Cassandra's gift, 163

    Catacombs of Rome, 5

    Cathay and the vegetable lamb, 71

    Catoblepas of Pliny, 49

    Caxton and the "Legenda Aurea," 22

    Cedric the Victorious, 33

    Celtic pen-dragon, 33

    Celts or arrow-heads, 108

    Centaur, 84

    Centaury, 85, 222

    Cerastes or horned viper, 232

    Cetus of De Thaun, 151

    "Ceylon," Tennant, 127

    Chameleon, 76, 91

    Changeful colours of dolphin, 157

    Changelings, 110

    Chang, the Chinese giant, 130

    Chaplets in Egyptian tombs, 178

    Charles II., dedication to, 47

    Chaucer on Sir Guy of Warwick, 56

    Chesterfield, great bone at, 59

    "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," Byron, 157, 196

    Chilon, 160

    Chimæra, 84, 149

    China, the dragon symbol, 27

    Chiron the Centaur, 222

    "Chronicles," Holingshead, 113

    City of London, arms of, 70

    Clawed men of Surinam, 97

    Clement of Alexandria, 177

    Clusius, "Rariorum Plantarum Historia," 181

    Coats, the heraldic chimæra, 84

    Coca leaf, 195

    Cockatrice, 44

    Cockeram's "English Dictionary," 198

    Coinage, the unicorn, 6

    Colebrand the champion, 55

    Coleridge on giants, 132

    "Comedy of Errors," 90, 91

    Comptes Royaux of France, 6

    "Comus," Milton, 119

    "Coriolanus," 40

    "Corona Dedicatoria" of Sylvester, 53

    "Cosmography" of Munster, 173

    Cotter, the Irish giant, 130

    Cottonian MSS., 218

    Coventry, great bone at, 58

    Crane and pigmy combats, 125

    Crescent as a mark of cadency, 232

    Crest of Earl Douglas, 64

    Crocodile, reference in Job, 154

    Ctesias on griffin, 68;
      Indian ass, 7;
      on pigmies, 126

    Cupid and Psyche, 184

    "Curiosities of Natural History," Buckland, 60

    Cuttle fish, 150

    Cwm Pwcca, Brecon, 122

    Cyclops, 82, 94, 98

    "Cymbeline," 39, 54

    Cyoeraeth, 121

    Dacien and St. George, 25

    Danby, picture by, 184

    Dart, 44

    Darwin on vampyre bat, 76

    Davy Jones's locker, 161

    Dead as a door nail, 124

    Dead Sea apples, 196

    Deaf adder, 67, 148

    De Bry's "India Orientalis," 185

    Decker on the unicorn, 6

    "Decline and Fall of Roman Empire," 22, 209

    De Ferry and sea-serpent, 144

    Democritus on chameleon, 78

    "Description Historique de Macaçar," 186

    "Description of 300 Animals," 2, 44

    De Thaun, 8, 67, 136, 147, 151, 191, 218

    Device of Francis I., 61;
      of Henry VII., 33

    Devil fish, 150

    Devil's candle, 193

    "De Virtutibus Herbarum," 234

    Diamond softening, 199

    Dies, 160

    Diocletian the persecutor, 25

    Dioscorides on basilisk, 49

    Discourses of Virtuosi of France, 10

    "Discoverie of Witchcraft," 103

    "Display of Heraldry," Guillim, 7

    Dodoens, Herbal of, 182

    Dog-headed men, 93, 96

    Dolphin, 156

    Donatus, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    Dragon, 2, 16, 133, 192, 211, 229

    Dragonhill, Berkshire, 33

    Dragonnades, 39

    Dragon overthrown, knighthood of, 27

    Druids and fairies, 102

    Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, 126;
      on basilisk, 48;
      "Flower and the Leaf," 227;
      translation from Ovid, 52

    Dryinus of Ætius, 49

    Dudaim, 193

    Dugdale on Guy of Warwick, 55

    Dugong and Manatee, 91

    Du Mont and the dragon of Rhodes, 231

    Dun cow legend, 55

    Eagle gazing on the sun, 133

    Eagney or Meto, 197

    Earl Douglas, crest of, 64

    Eastern Soudan and Uganda, 7

    Echeneis or Remora, 158

    Echidna, 40, 88

    Eden's "Historie of Travayle," 94

    Egede and the sea-serpent, 144

    Egg-talisman, 147

    Egyptian form of sphinx, 82;
      love of flowers, 235

    Egyptian representations of giraffe, 63

    Eikon Basilike, 202

    El Dorado and Sir W. Raleigh, 95

    Elephant, 15, 79;
      antipathy between dragon and, 42

    Elf-bolts, 109

    Elizabeth, Queen, badge of, 53

    El Kazwini, Arab writer, 7

    "Elysium," Felicia Hemans', 177

    Empusa, 14

    Enchanter's nightshade, 193

    "English Cyclopædia of Natural History," 7

    "English Dictionary" of Cockeram, 198

    "English Parnassus" of Poole, 103, 120

    Enmity between stag and serpent, 15

    Epitaph on Gryphius, 70

    Erasmus on headless men, 97;
      Sileni Alcibiadis, 228

    Ethiopia, unicorns in, 4

    Exodus, reference to unicorn in, 5

    "Faculties of Nourishment," Galen, 180

    Fairies, 99, 227

    Fairy rings, 104

    Falstaff, on fairies, 110;
      the salamander, 64

    Fanesii of Scandinavia, 98

    Father Pigafetta on dragons, 30

    Fauns and satyrs, 86

    Featley's recantation, 31

    Felicia Hemans' "Elysium," 177

    Ferrer de Valcebro on the Barliata, 175

    Ferry, Laurent de, on sea-serpent, 144

    _Field_, extract from, 65

    Field of the cloth of gold, 61

    Fire-drake, 147

    "Fire-worshippers," Moore, 193

    Fish nun, 159

    Fitzherbert's "Boke of Husbandry," 204

    Fletcher's "Purple Island," 51

    Fleur-de-lys as mark of cadency, 232

    "Flower and the Leaf," Dryden, 227

    Foersch on upas tree, 185

    Forty-leaved plant, 197

    Four-footed serpents, 71

    Francisci Boussetti on sea-monsters, 161

    Friar's lantern, 123

    Fuller's "Holy State," 132

    Galen on aspis, 147;
      on basilisk, 49;
      "Faculties of Nourishment," 180

    Garcias ab Horto, on unicorn, 9

    Gargoyles of draconic form, 28

    Ge and Tartaros, rebellion of, 131

    Gelasius, Pope, and St. George, 210

    Gelotaphilois, herb, 199

    Generation of the cockatrice, 44

    "Gentilisme and Judaisme" of Aubrey, 31

    "Gentleman's Magazine," extract from, 117

    Geography of Strabo, 125

    George, St., and dragon, 23, 31, 209-211

    "Gerania" of Joshua Barnes, 127

    Gerarde, "History of Plants," 168, 180;
      asphodel, 180;
      barnacle goose-tree, 168;
      mandrake, 189

    Gervaise, "Description de Macaçar," 186

    Gervase, on fairies, 102

    Ghoul, 75

    Giant Colebrand, 55

    Giants, 128

    Giants' Causeway, 130

    Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of Roman Empire," 22, 209

    Gillius the compassionate, 156

    Giraffe or seraffa, 63

    Giraldus Cambrensis on barnacle trees, 175

    Glanvil, on griffin, 68;
      on salamander, 60

    Gnomes, 119

    Godes-andsacan, 20

    "Golden Ass" of Apuleius, 184

    Golden fruit of the Hesperides, 40

    Graham's "Sketches of Perthshire," 121

    Greek form of sphinx, 82

    Greene on the apples of the Hesperides, 40

    Green, Matthew, "The Spleen," 132

    Grevinus on basilisk, 49

    Griffin, 2, 68, 229

    Groats from Fairyland, 109, 120, 228

    Gryphius, device of, 70

    Guerino, Meschino, 98

    Guild processions in Middle Ages, 86

    Guiana, Hartsinck on, 97;
      Sir W. Raleigh on, 95

    Guillaume, "Bestiare Divin," 43

    Guillim, "Display of Heraldry," 7, 41, 46, 88, 134

    "Gulliver's Travels," 132

    Guy of Warwick and the Dun Cow, 55, 217

    Hackluyt's "Voyages," 97, 219

    Halliwell on anthropophagi, 94

    Hameh-bird, 140

    "Hamlet," satyr, 86

    "Handmayd to Religion," 31

    Harpy, 48, 86, 230

    Harrington and the sea-serpent, 142

    Hartsinck on Guiana, 97

    Headless men, 94

    Hemans, Felicia, poem by, 177

    Heraldic bird-forms, 134;
      dolphin, 156

    "Herball to the Bible" of Newton, 189

    Herbert's "Jacula Prudentum," 132;
      "Relations of some yeares Travaile," 186

    Herb Viva, 198

    Hercules and the pigmies, 126

    "Henry IV.," 74, 112, 123

    "Henry VI.," 54, 91

    "Henry VIII.," 54, 56, 147

    Heraldic cockatrice, 46;
      dolphin, 156;
      griffin, 70;
      Pegasus, 73;
      phoenix, 53;
      unicorn, 4

    "Heraldry, display of," by Guillim, 7, 41, 46

    Herodotus, griffin, 69;
      phoenix, 50, 52;
      pigmies, 125

    Hesiod, chimæra, 84;
      harpy, 87

    Hesperides, garden of the, 40

    Heylin on St. George, 31

    Hilary, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    Hindu sacred groves, 177

    Hippeau on Guillaume, 44, 216

    Hippice, 199

    "Histoire Naturelle," 231

    "Histoires Prodigeuses," Boiastuau, 224

    "Historia Monstrorum," 31, 79, 87, 161, 224

    "Historic Badges," Palliser, 6

    "Historie of Travayle" of Eden, 94

    "History of Africa," John Leo, 30

    "History of Ethiopia," Ludolphus, 231

    "History of Plants," 168, 180

    Hog-faced gentlewoman, 92

    Holingshead's "Chronicles," 113

    Holland's edition of Pliny, 155

    Hollerius, 201

    Hollybush, Miles Coverdale, 183

    "Holy State," Fuller, 132

    "Holyday devotions," 31

    Home of the pigmies, 126

    Homer, ambrosia, 183;
      asphodel, 180;
      centaur, 85;
      harpy, 87;
      "Iliad," 125, 184;
      "Odyssey," 177

    Hondius and Sir W. Raleigh, 95

    "Honour, Titles of," Selden, 32

    Hoole's "Orlando Furioso," 50

    Horned viper or cerastes, 232

    Hudibras, quotation from, 168

    "Humana Physiognomonia," of Porta, 93

    Humma-bird, 136

    Huppe-bird, 136

    Hydra, 149

    Ibis, 137

    Idolatrous groves, 177

    Ignis fatuus, 122

    Iliad, 125, 184

    Indian ass, 7;
      serpent legend, 163

    "India Orientals," of De Bry, 185

    Invisibility of fairies, 103

    Iormungandur the encircler, 146

    Isaiah, reference to cockatrice, 46

    Isidore on onocentaur, 85

    Jack-o'-Lantern, 122

    Jack the Giant-killer, 128

    "Jacula Prudentum," by Herbert, 132

    Jane Seymour, badge of, 53

    Java and its upas trees, 184

    Jeremiah, cockatrice, 46;
      dragon, 41

    "Jerusalem Delivered," Tasso, 99

    Jewish tradition, 152, 159

    Job, leviathan, 152;
      unicorn, 5

    Jodocus Hondius, 95

    John Leo, "History of Africa," 30

    John of Arragon, salamander device of, 61

    Johnson on Gerarde, 172

    Joshua Barnes, the "Gerania," 127

    Juvenal, pigmy combats, 125

    Kadmos, founding of Thebes, 38

    Kalli Naga, 20

    Kalpa Tarou tree, 176

    Kelpies, 102, 121

    Kerzereh flowers, 188

    Kew, lotus chaplets at, 179, 233;
      upas tree at, 185

    Keymis on Guiana, 96

    "King Henry IV.," 74, 112, 123, 190

    "King Henry VI.," 54, 91, 190

    "King Henry VIII.," 54, 56

    "King Lear," 39

    "King Richard III.," 40, 45

    "King's Art of Love," 49

    Knockers, 117

    Kobold, 119

    Koempfer on upas tree, 186

    Koran, the fish nun, 159;
      the lote tree, 176;
      the ox Balam, 159

    Kraken, 149

    Kuchlein's illustrations, 98

    Kyonjik sculptures, 177

    Label as a mark of cadency, 232

    Ladon and the Hesperides, 40

    "Lalla Rookh," 107, 135

    "L'Allegro" of Milton, 120, 123

    Lamia, 13

    Lane's "Arabian Nights," 7, 40, 69

    Languedoc and its dragon, 21

    Lansdowne MSS. in British Museum, 31, 227

    Lapithæ and Centaurs, 222

    Laurence Keymis on Guiana, 96

    Laurent de Ferry and sea-serpent, 144

    "Legenda Aurea" of Voraigne, 22

    Legends of the Talmud, 152, 159

    Leo, "History of Africa," 30

    Leviathan, 152, 159

    "Life in Abyssinia," Parkyns, 14

    Lig-draca, 20

    Lilliput, men of, 99, 126

    Lion, 3

    Lion-headed fish, 160

    "Lives of the Saints," 22

    Livre des Créatures, De Thaun, 218

    Lobel and Pena's book, 175

    Lobos, Father, and the unicorn, 231

    Lomie, 71

    London, arms of City of, 70

    Long-eared men or Fanesii, 98

    Lote tree of Koran, 176

    Lotophagia, 177

    Loup-garou or wehr-wolf, 75

    Loup, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    Louvre, Borghese centaur, 85, 222

    Lucian on asphodel, 180

    Ludolphus, "History of Ethiopia," 231

    Lurlei of the Rhine, 90

    Lyte and Dodoens, herbal of, 182

    Mab, the fairy queen, 103, 120

    "Macaçar; Description Historique du Royaume de," 186

    "Macbeth," 39

    Magrath, the giant, 130

    Maid of Orleans and the mandrake, 189

    Mallwyd, great bone at, 59

    Manatees and Dugongs, 91

    Mandeville on griffin, 68;
      headless men, 97;
      pigmies, 196;
      vegetable lamb, 71

    Mandrake, 188

    Man-eater and Rompo, 12

    Mansfield Parkyns' "Life in Abyssinia," 14

    Manticora, 13

    Maori traditions, 127

    Marcel, St., dragon-slayer, 21

    Marco Polo's travels, 219

    Marks of abatement and augmentation, 88;
      of cadency, 134

    Martha, St., dragon-slayer, 21

    Martial, St., dragon-slayer, 21

    Martin, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    Martin's "Philosophical Grammar," 229

    Martlet, 134, 232

    Mary Stuart, badge of, 204

    Matthew Green, "The Spleen," 132

    Matthiolus, herbal of, 181

    McQuahee and the sea-serpent, 143, 145

    "Measure for Measure," 131

    Mediæval dragon recipes, 29;
      festivals, 98

    "Merchant of Venice," 196

    Mermaid, 90, 160, 231

    Metamorphoses, 202

    Meto or Eagney, 197

    Metopes of Parthenon, 222

    Michovius on griffin-land, 69

    "Midsummer Night's Dream," 39, 90, 120

    Miles Coverdale, Hollybush, 183

    Milton, amaranth, 178;
      Arimaspians, 98;
      chimæra, 84;
      gorgon, 84;
      griffin, 69;
      harpy, 87;
      hydra, 84;
      "L'Allegro," 120, 123;
      "Paradise Lost," 98, 123, 178;
      Will o' the wisp, 123

    "Milton imitated," Addison, 99

    Mimosa sensitiva, 198

    Minotaur, 48

    "Miracles of Art and Nature," Burton, 4, 71, 93, 153, 194

    Monacella, St., bone of, 59

    Money, fairy, 109, 120, 227, 228

    "Monstrorum Historia" of Aldrovandus, 31, 79, 87, 161, 224

    Monuments of Egypt, 63

    Moore, "Fire worshippers," 193;
      Kerzereh flower, 188;
      "Lalla Rookh," 107, 135;
      "Paradise and the Peri," 54, 136;
      "Veiled Prophet of Khorassan," 188

    More Hall of Wantley, 34

    Mountain fish, 149

    Mouse, 16

    "Much Ado about Nothing," 87

    Munster's "Cosmography," 173

    Murphy the Irish giant, 130

    Musical tastes of the dolphin, 158

    Narcissus, possibly the asphodel, 180

    National Library, Paris, 44

    "Natural History of Norway," Pontoppidan, 145

    "Nature's Embassie," Brathwait, 223

    "Natvrall and Morall Historie" of Acosta, 219

    Naud the pen-dragon, 33

    Nautilus, 155

    Nech of Scandinavia, 121

    Nectar of the gods, 183

    Newton's "Bible Herbal," 183, 189

    Newts spitting fire, 64

    Nicander on the aspis, 147

    Nickard, 229

    "Night Thoughts," Young, 126

    Nineveh and Persepolis, sculptures at, 19

    Ninina, unicorns of, 231

    Nis, 119

    Nixies, 102

    Nova Hispania, flora of, 197

    Nun, the fish, 159

    "Nuremburg Chronicle," 97

    Nymphs, 119

    Nzi Khonsou, the princess, 233

    Oats, fairy, 100

    Oberon, 103

    Octavianus the reliable, 175

    Octopus, 150

    Odysseus, the Lotophagi, 177;
      the Sirens, 89

    Og, the king of Bashan, 129

    Ojibiway legend of the serpent, 163

    Olaus Magnus and the sea-serpent, 143

    Onocentaur, 85

    Ophyasta, herb, 199

    Oppian, pigmy combats, 125

    Order of the dragon, 22;
      of the dragon overthrown, 27

    Oribasius on the basil, 201

    Origin of fairies, 101

    "Orlando Furioso," of Ariosto, 50, 70

    Orpheus and the Sirens, 89

    "Ortus sanitatis," 219

    Osiris the judge, 178

    "Othello," 189

    Ovid on ambrosia, 183;
      phoenix, 52

    Owen, Professor, on sea-serpents, 145

    Ox Balam, the, 159

    Ox, wild, 15

    Oyle of castor, 153

    Palliser's "Historic Badges," 6

    Palm-tree emblem, 194, 202

    Pan, 124

    Paracelsus on the phoenix, 54

    "Paradise Lost," Milton, 98, 123

    "Paradise and the Peri," Moore, 54, 136

    Parker on poisonous trees, 187

    Parkinson's "Theater of Plants," 172, 180, 190

    Parkyns' "Life in Abyssinia," 14

    Parthenon sculptures, 85, 222

    Paulus Venetus on unicorn, 9

    Peccata Naturæ, 42

    Pedal sunshades, 98

    Pegasus, 73

    Pelican legend, 133

    Pelion on Ossa, 131

    Pen-dragon, 33

    Pennant Melangell, great bone at, 59

    Percy's "Reliques of Antient English Poetry," 34, 56, 211

    "Peregrine Pickle" of Smollett, 162

    "Pericles," 40, 87

    Persepolis, sculptures at, 19

    Perseus and Andromeda legend, 19

    "Perthshire, Sketches of," 121

    Pheg of the Tsi-hiai, 152

    Philip de Thaun, 8, 67, 191

    Philostratus on the pigmies, 125

    "Philosophical Grammar," Martin, 229

    Phoca, Pooka, or Pwcca, 121, 133

    Phoenix, 50, 134, 217, 229

    Phoenix-tree, 217

    Pigafetta on dragons, 30

    Pigmies, 124

    Pink centaury, 85

    Pliny on basilisk, 48;
      bay-tree, 201;
      chameleon, 78;
      dolphin, 156;
      dragon, 29, 42;
      Echeneis, 158;
      Fanesii, 98;
      giant, 130;
      kraken, 149;
      nautilus, 155;
      phoenix, 51;
      pigmies, 125;
      salamander, 60;
      serpent's eggs, 147;
      sphinx, 82;
      stag, 15;
      unicorn, 9;
      wolf, 11

    Plutarch's giant, 130

    Poison-detecting cups, 4, 6, 7

    Poison of salamander, 62

    Polonius and the whale, 152

    Polyphemus, the foe of Ulysses, 99

    Pomum Adami, 196

    Pontoppidan, Kraken, 150;
      "Natural History of Norway," 145

    Poole's "English Parnassus," 103

    Pope, nautilus, 155;
      "Rape of the Lock," 119

    Pope Pius II. on barnacle trees, 175

    Porpoises as sea-serpents, 144

    Porta's "Humana Physiognomonia," 93

    Potto, 16

    Prester John, 126

    Prince of Wales, arms of, 232

    Prior on the chameleon, 77

    "Proper study of mankind is man," 81

    Psalms, reference to adder, 67;
      leviathan, 154;
      unicorn, 5

    "Pseudodoxia Epidemica," 199

    Puck, 102

    Purchas Pilgrimage, 219

    "Purple Island" of Fletcher, 51

    Python, 20

    Queen Elizabeth, badge of, 53

    Queen Mab, 103, 120

    Quentin Durward, Scott, 12

    Raleigh, Sir W., voyage to Guiana, 95

    Rameses II., 179, 233

    Ram-headed fish, 160

    "Rape of the Lock," 119;
      of Lucrece, 70

    "Rariorum Plantarum Historia" of Clusius, 181

    Red-dragon ensign, 33

    Red lion, 3

    Reginald Scot on witchcraft, 103

    Regulus, 46

    "Relations of some yeares Travaile," 186

    "Reliques of Antient English Poetry," 34, 56, 211

    "Reminiscences," Taylor, 145

    Remora, 158

    Resurrection, phoenix type of, 50

    Rhinoceros horn cups, 7

    Rhodes, dragon of, 231

    Ribbon fish, 145

    Richardson on phoenix, 54

    Riddle of the sphinx, 83

    Robin Goodfellow, 102, 119

    Roc, 69, 137

    Romanus, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    "Romeo and Juliet," 40, 45, 190

    Rompo or man-eater, 12

    Rondelet's sea-monsters, 161

    Rose as mark of cadency, 232

    Royal arms, supporters of, 6

    Royal Society, Proceedings of, 10, 71, 230

    Rustic beliefs as to newts, &c., 64

    Sacred trees, 177

    Sagittarius, 85

    Saint George and the dragon, 23, 211

    Saint Mary Redcliff, large bone at, 59

    Saints as dragon-slayers, 20, 21

    Salamander, 60

    Sanguis huppæ, 137

    Satyrs, 86, 229

    Saxo Grammaticus on barnacle tree, 174

    Saxon martyrology, 32

    Scaliger on basilisk, 49

    Scoresby's "Voyages," 92

    Scot, Reginald, on witchcraft, 103

    Scotland and the unicorn, 6

    Scott, elf-possession, 113;
      friar's lantern, 123;
      wolf, 12

    Sketches of Nineveh and Persepolis, 19, 128

    Scythian lamb, 71

    Sea bishop, 161;
      elephant, 72, 145;
      hare, 200;
      horse, 72;
      lion, 160;
      monk, 161;
      serpent, 48, 141

    Selden's "Titles of Honour," 32

    Sensitive plant, 198

    Seraffa of Breydenbach, 63

    Serpent worship, 141, 163

    Shakespeare, basilisk, 48;
      cockatrice, 45;
      dragon, 39;
      fire-drake, 147;
      griffin, 70;
      harpy, 87;
      mandrake, 188;
      Pegasus, 73;
      phoenix, 53, 218;
      pigmies, 126;
      will-o'-the-wisp, 123;
      unicorn, 217

    Sigonius on basilisk, 49

    Sileni Alcibiadis, 226

    Sindbad the Sailor, 69, 138

    Siren, 14, 89, 224, 229

    Sirena, 18

    Sirenia, 92

    Sir Walter Raleigh and Guiana, 95

    "Sketches of Perthshire," 121

    Skimker, Mistress, 92

    Sloane Library, 218

    Smollett's "Peregrine Pickle," 162

    Solinus on basilisk, 49

    Sourd story from the _Field_, 65

    South Kensington Museum, 184

    Sowing of dragon's teeth, 38

    Spenser's "Visions of the World's Vanity," 159

    Sphinx, 82, 220

    Spirits of the mine, 117

    "Spleen," Matthew Green, 132

    Squier's "Serpent Worship," 163

    Stag, 14

    Standard of Bartolomeo d'Alviano, 6

    Staple Hill stone ring, 58

    Star as mark of cadency, 232

    Stephen, arms of King, 85

    "Stirpium Adversaria Nova," 175

    Strabo on pigmies, 125

    Stronsay, sea monster at, 146

    Struy's Voyages, 219

    Stuttgard anthropophagi, 98

    Suchenwirt on battle-cries, 32

    Supporters of the Royal Arms, 4, 6

    Surinam, clawed men of, 97

    Sylene and its dragon, 22

    Sylphs, 119

    Sylvester's "Corona Dedicatoria," 53

    Symbol, dragon as a, 28;
      stag as a, 15

    Symbolism of phoenix, 50, 55

    Tacitus, Dead Sea apples, 196;
      phoenix, 55

    Tailed men, 93

    Talmud, legends of the, 152, 159

    "Taming of the Shrew," 73

    Tartarian lamb, 71

    Tartaros and Ge, rebellion of, 131

    Tasso's "Jerusalem Delivered," 99

    Tausend-gulden-kraut, 224

    Tavernier on birds of paradise, 135

    Taylor's "Reminiscences," 145

    "Tempest," fairy-rings, 108;
      harpy, 87;
      phoenix, 218;
      unicorn, 218

    Templars, device of the, 74

    Tennant's "Ceylon," 127

    Tertullian on phoenix, 50

    "Theater of Plants," Parkinson, 172, 190

    "Theatrum Botanicum," 180

    Thebes, founding of, by Kadmos, 38

    Theocritus, on wolf, 11

    Theseum at Athens, 224

    Thevet on unicorn, 9

    "Three hundred animals," 2, 44

    Throne of Tippoo Sultan, 136

    "Titles of Honour," Selden, 32

    "Toilers of the Sea," Victor Hugo, 150

    Tomb of Bolyai, 197

    Travellers' tales, 195, 216

    "Travels," Breydenbach, 62

    Tree of Life, 176

    Tree of the Imagination, 176

    Trichrug, the giant's chair, 130

    Tritons, 90

    "Troilus and Cressida," 39

    Tsi-hiai and the pheg, 152

    Tuacua, unicorns of, 231

    Turner, barnacle geese, 175;
      herbal, 182

    "Twelfth Night," 45

    Typhon, 20

    "Uganda and the Eastern Soudan," 7

    Ulysses and Polyphemus, 99

    Umdhlebi tree, 187

    Unicorn, 3, 62, 217, 229

    Upas tree, 184

    Upton on the harpy, 88

    Vampyre, 14, 74

    Vartomannus on unicorn, 9

    Vatican Library, 218

    Vegetable lamb, 71

    "Veiled Prophet of Khorassan," 188

    Venetus, Paulus, on unicorn, 9

    Veran, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    "Vertuose Boke of Distyllacyon," of Bruynswyke, 182

    Victor Hugo, "Toilers of the Sea," 150

    Victor, St., dragon-slayer, 20

    Virgil, centaur, 84;
      evil eye, 47;
      harpy, 88;
      wolf, 11

    Virtuosi, discoveries of, 10

    Vishnu, 20

    "Visions of the World's Vanity," Spenser, 159

    Viva, herb, 198

    Voraigne's "Legenda Aurea," 22

    "Voyages," Hackluyt, 97;
      Raleigh, 95;
      Scoresby, 92;
      Struy, 219

    Vulcan and the Cyclops, 99

    "Vulgar Errors," Sir Thomas Browne, 31, 69

    Wantley, dragon of, 33

    "Warwickshire" of Dugdale, 55

    Water fairies, 102

    Waterton on vampyre bat, 76

    Weasel and cockatrice combat, 45

    Wehr-wolf or loup-garou, 75

    Wexel balg, 229

    Whale bones in churches, 60

    White Horse Hill, Berkshire, 33

    Wild boar, 15;
      ox, 15

    William de Valence, arms of, 134

    Will o' the wisp, 122

    Winged serpent, 19

    "Wisdom of the Ancients," Bacon, 219, 224

    Witches, 103

    Wolf, 11, 30

    "Woman Hater," Beaumont and Fletcher, 48

    Wright on De Thaun, 218

    Wynkyn de Worde, 22

    Xanthus, monument from, 87

    Ylio of De Thaun, 68

    Young's "Night Thoughts," 126

    Zeus, ambrosial locks of, 184;
      rebellion against, 131

    Zodiac, the Sagittarius, 85

    Zululand, poisonous trees in, 187


Transcriber's Note

Archaic and variant spelling is preserved as printed.

Minor punctuation errors have been repaired.

Hyphenation has been made consistent in the main body of the text, but
is preserved as printed in quoted matter.

Page 132 includes the phrase "... but enough has been quoted to show
how valuable these personages have in poesy and general literature."
It seems that there is a word missing following 'have,' but as there
is no way to determine with certainty what that word should be, it is
preserved as printed.

The following amendments have been made on the assumption that the
originals were typographic errors:

    Page 9--Solimus amended to Solinus--... Pliny, Ælian,
    Solinus, and Paulus ...

    Page 14--Laimæ amended to Lamiæ--The Lamiæ, who took the
    forms ...

    Page 42--aminals amended to animals--... had not happened in
    the creation of animals ...

    Page 62--frigidty amended to frigidity--The story of the
    extreme frigidity ...

    Page 98--Julias amended to Julius--... the counterfeit
    presentments of Julius Cæsar, ...

    Page 103--mischeivous amended to mischievous--... was the
    sweet but mischievous Mab ...

    Page 110--changlings amended to changelings--The references
    in that play to changelings ...

    Page 122--powerfull amended to powerful--... we find the
    following powerful illustrative passage, ...

    Page 126--Liliputians amended to Lilliputians--... as the
    Lilliputians did Gulliver.

    Page 149--Chimera amended to Chimæra--... as to call the
    Chimæra and Hydra fables, ...

    Page 150--sufficienly amended to sufficiently--... when the
    heat became sufficiently great to awaken ...

    Page 171--adoining amended to adjoining--... and all those
    parts adjoining do so ...

    Page 182--my amended to me (confirmed against title page of
    original publication)--At London by me Gerard Dewes, ...

On page 238, the index entries following Hercules and up to Herodotus
are out of order. There are also two entries for Heraldic. This has
all been preserved as printed.

Entries in the Table of Contents, List of Illustrations and Index have
been made consistent with the main body text as follows:

    Page vii--Dragonades amended to Dragonnades--... The
    Dragonnades ...

    Page ix--Gerard's amended to Gerarde's--... from Gerarde's
    "Herbal," ...

    Page 1--Dragonades amended to Dragonnades--... The
    Dragonnades ...

    Page 235--Achmedis amended to Achemedis--Achemedis, herb, 199

    Page 235--Achipenser amended to Acipenser--Acipenser, 158

    Page 236--Bousetti amended to Boussetti--Boussetti on
    monsters, 161

    Page 236--Brittannica amended to Britannica--"Britannica
    Concha Anatifera,", 175

    Page 237--Cocatrice amended to Cockatrice--Cockatrice, 44

    Page 237--Royeaux amended to Royaux--Comptes Royaux of
    France, 6

    Page 238--index entries adjusted so that first mention of
    Gervase becomes Gervaise.

    Page 238--omitted page number added to entry for Heraldic
    dolphin--Heraldic ... dolphin, 156; griffin, ...

    Page 238--Prudentium amended to Prudentum--Herbert's "Jacula
    Prudentum," 132; ...

    Page 239--Pallisir amended to Palliser--"Historic Badges,"
    Palliser, 6

    Page 239--Joducus amended to Jodocus--Jodocus Hondius, 95

    Page 240--Nixes amended to Nixies--Nixies, 102

    Page 240--Nuremberg amended to Nuremburg--"Nuremburg
    Chronicle," 97

    Page 242--Rondolet's amended to Rondelet's--Rondelet's
    sea-monsters, 161

    Page 242--Sinbad amended to Sindbad--Sindbad the Sailor, 69,

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myth-Land" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.