Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Oh pleasant place!" I had been well con' tent

To seek no other earthly home beside!"

Divination by a Torrent, or Taghairm. "A Wild species of magic was practised in the district of Trotterness (Skie), that was attended with a horrible solemnity. A family who pretended to oracular knowledge, practised these ceremonies. In this country is a vast cataract, whose waters, falling from a high rock, jet so far as to form a dry hollow beneath, between them and the precipice. One of these impostors was sewed up in the hide of an ox, and to add terror to the ceremony, was placed in this concavity: the trembling enquirer was brought to the place, where the shade and the roaring of the •waters increased the dread of the occasion. The question is put, and the person in the hide delivers his answer; and so ends this species of divination styled Taghairm."—Pennant's Hebrides.

Old Age of an American Savage.

At the Chapter Coffee House Club, to which I accompanied Carr and Barbauld, Thursday, February 9, 1797, Morgan (a man of noisy and boisterous abilities) related the following story, to prove that the age of the American savage is not destitute and miserable.

An European met with an aged Indian on the banks of a lake. He had lived more than eighty years. The European asked him if he was not weary of life. "No, stranger I" he replied, " our God comes over the great water once in every year; and I hope he may come and return many times before he takes me with him. In summer I can yet provide for myself by fishing. In winter the young men give me share of their provisions, and I sit with them around the fire, and hear them tell the stories of the chase, and I love to hear them."

Doltryddelan Cattle.

"Seated in a rocky valley, sprinkled over with stunted trees, and watered by the Lleder. The boundaries are rude and barren mountains; and among others, the great bending mountain Scabod, often conspicuous from most distant places. The castle is placed on a high rock, precipitous on one side, and insulated: it consists of two square towers, one forty feet by twentyfive, the other thirty-two by twenty. Each had formerly three floors. The materials of this fortress are the shattery stone of the country; yet well squared, the masonry good, and the mortar hard. The castle yard lay between the towers."1

"Llewelyn the Great ap Jorwerth Drwndwn was born here."—PEnnakt'S Snowdon, with a print.

Llys Bradwen.

"At some distance beyond these (the two pools called Llynian Cregenan, in the neighbourhood of Cader Idris), near the river Kregennan, I saw the remains of Llys Bradwen, the court or palace of Ednowain, chief of one of the fifteen tribes of North Wales, either in the reign of Gryffydd ap Cynan, or soon after. The reliques are about thirty yards square : the entrance about seven feet wide, with a large upright stone on each side, by way of door case: the walls with large stones, uncemented by any mortar. In short, the structure of this palace shows the very low state of architecture in these times; it may be paralleled only by the artless fabric of a cattle house."—Ibid.

Welsh Manners. "I Must not lead the reader into a belief that every habitation of those early times

1 This and the next extract are used up in the notes to Madoc. For " Dolwydcllan's Tower," and Kregennan, see pt. 1st x. and the engraving in vol v. of Socthey'b Poetical Wmrks.

J.W.W.

was equal in magnificence to that of Ednowain ap Bradwen. Those of inferior gentry were formed of wattles, like Indian wigwams, or Highland hovels; without gardens or orchard, and formed for removal from place to place, for the sake of new pasture, or a greater plenty of game. The furniture was correspondent; there were neither tables, nor cloths, nor napkins; but this is less wonderful, since we find, that even so lute as the time of Edward II. straw was used in the royal apartment. Notwithstanding this, the utmost hospitality was preserved. Every house was open, even to the poorest person. When a stranger entered, his arms were taken from him and laid by ; and, after the scriptural custom, water was brought to wash his feet. The fare was simple: the meal did not consist of an elegant variety, but of numbers of things put together in a large dish: the bread was thin oat cakes, such as are common in our mountainous parts at this time. The family waited on the guests, and never touched anything till they had done.when it took upwithwhatwas left. Music, and the free conversation of the young women, formed the amusements of the time, for jealousy was unknown among us. Bands of young men, who knew no profession but that of arms, often entered the houses, and were welcome guests; for they were considered as the voluntary defenders of the liberties of their country. They mixed with the female part of the family, joined their voices to the melody of the harp, and consumed the day with the most animated festivity. At length, sunk into repose, not under rich testers, or on downy beds, but along the sides of the room, on a thin covering of dried reeds, placed round the great fire, which was placed in the centre, they lay down promiscuously, covered only by a coarse home-made cloth, called Brychan or plaid, the same with the more ancient Bracha ;l and kept one another warm by lying

[ocr errors]

close together, or should one side lose its genial heat, they turn about and give the chilly side to the fire. (See Giraldus Cambrensis, Descr. Walliae, p. 888.)

"Some vein of the anticnt minstrelsie is still to be met with in these mountainous countries. Numbers of persons of both sexes assemble, and sit around the harp, singing alternately Pennylls,2 or stanzas of ancient or modern poetry. The young people usually begin the night with dancing, and when they are tired, sit down, and assume this species of relaxation. Oftentimes, like the modern improvisatore of Italy, they will sing extempore verses. A person conversant in this art, will produce a Fennyll apposite to the last which was sung; the subjects produce a great deal of mirth; for they are sometimes jocular, at others satyrical, and many amorous. They will continue singing without intermission, and never repeat the same stanza; for that would occasion the loss of the honour of being held first of the song. The audience usually call for the tune: sometimes only a few can sing to it; and in many cases the whole company : but when a party of capital singers assemble, they rarely call for a tune, for it is indifferent to them what tune the harper plays. Parishes often contend against parishes, and every hill is vocal with the chorus."—PenNant's Snowdun.

Birth of Sommona Codom.

"Sommona - Codom, the Siamese deity, was born of a virgin, who conceived by the prolific influence of the sun. The innocent virgin, ashamed to find herself with child, flew to a solitary desert, in order to conceal herself from the eyes of mankind. She was

* " Pennill," an epigram, a staff of a poem or of a song, consisting of two, three, four, or more lines. Richards in v. In 1823 I spent a night in a small cottage at the fi>ot of Carnedd Llcwelin, and in the heart of Snowdonia, with an old nnd valued friend, —and there wc heard the Welsh improvisak»re's verse in perfection.- J. W. W.

miraculously delivered upon the banks of a lake of the most beautiful babe that ever was created, without any assistance or sense of pain, CSpenser) but- having no milk wherewith to suckle him, and being unable to bear the thoughts of seeing him die, she jumped into the lake, where she set him upon the bud of a flower, which blowed of itself for his more commodious reception, and afterwards inclosed the infant as it were in a cradle."—(fathbb Tachabd. Second Voyage to Siam, Book 5.)

"As he was sitting under a tree, he was glorified in a very signal manner, and adored by angels, who came down from heaven for no other purpose. His brother Thevatat, jealous of his glory, conspired his downfall, and declared open war against him, with all the brute creation. Sommona-Codom defended himself manfully by virtue of his good works ; but nothing was so great a support and protection to him as his strict practise of the tenth commandment, which comprehends the exercise of charity, without which he must have inevitably been vanquished, notwithstanding he was endowed with all the good works contained in the nine other injunctions. The guardian angel of the earth, used her utmost endeavours to prevail on the enemies of Sommona-Codom to adore him as a god; but at last finding them obstinate and perverse, and inattentive to her repeated remonstrances, she compressed her watery locks, and poured forth such a deluge as totally destroyed them."—Pic Art.

Peopling of the World in the Belief of Laos.

"The people of Laos(Laies or Langiens) believe that the heavens existed from all eternity; that they are situate above sixteen terrestrial worlds, the pleasures whereof are justly proportioned to their respective elevation. The earth, about 18,000 years before Xacca or Xequin, was dissolved and reduced to water. A mandarin of divine

extraction, or at least something more than human, descended from the highest of the sixteen worlds, and with a stroke of his scymetar cut asunder a certain flower which swam on the surface of the water, from which sprang up a beauteous young damsel, with whom the pious mandarin was so passionately enamoured that he determined to marry her: but her inflexible modesty rendered his most endearing addresses fruitless and ineffectual. The mandarin was more generous and just than to force her to compliance; and notwithstanding it was the most disagreeable thing in nature to him to live alone, without any relations and without issue, he checked the violence of his inclination, and behaved with the utmost decency and respect. Unsuccessful as he was, however, he planted himself at an awful distance directly opposite to this inexorable beauty. He gazed upon her with all the tenderness of the most affectionate lover. By the miraculous influence of his amorous glances, she conceived, and became the joyful mother of a numerous offspring, and yet still remained a pure and spotless virgin. In process of time the virtuous mandarin thought himself in duty bound to furnish his numerous family with all the conveniences of life, and for that purpose created that beautiful variety of beings which now replenish the earth. Afterwards he returned to heaven, but could not however gain admittance therein till he had first done penance, and duly qualified himself for that happy state.

"Before this restoration of the earth to its primitive state, four deities condescended to govern and preside over it. Three of them, weary at last of the important charge, resigned their guardianship, and went higher towards the north, to taste the uninterrupted joys of solitude and retirement. Xaca, the sole remaining god, after instructing mankind in the duties of religion, fully determined to attain to the highest pitchof perfection, sunk at last into Nireupan, or the everblessed state of annihilation."—Picaet.

Siamese Heaven and Hell.

"Sohmona-codoh is likewise in Nireupan. According to the Siamese (M. de la Loubere and Pere Tachard), there are nine abodes of bliss, and nine of sorrow. The former are over our heads, and the latter under our feet. The higher each mansion the more delightful and joyous; the lower, the more dismal and tremendous: insomuch that the happy are exalted far above the stars, as the unhappy are sunk 10,000 fathoms deep below the earth. Those who inhabit the higher realms are called Thenada, the dwellers below, Pii, the men of earth, Manout.

"When a soul has once attained to so high a pitch of perfection, as that no new enjoyments here on earth, how refined soever, are suitable to the dignity of its nature, the Siamese think that it is then freed from all future transmigrations. From that happy moment it appears no more in this world, but rests for ever in Nireupan; that is to say, in a state of perfect inactivity and impassibility. In short, according to their notion, consummate happiness and the ineffable joys of Paradise entirely consist in this sort of annihilation. The remarkable passage ascribed to Musscus by the ancients, "that virtue will hereafter be rewarded with an eternal ebriety," so nearly resembles that of the impassibility of the soul, that these two opinions may be resolved into one, without the least difficulty or forced construction."

—PlCABT.

Siamese Hermits.

"The Siamese say that there are certain anchorets who live retired in the most solitary deserts, and are perfect masters of all the secrets of human nature. They perfectly understand the art of making gold, silver, and the most precious metals: there is nothing so wonderful and surprising but what they can effect with the utmost ease. They assume what forms they please, and make themselves immortal; for they are well

skilled in all the arts which are necessary for the prolongation of life. They cheerfully however resign it to God from one thousand years to another, by voluntarily sacrificing themselves on a funeral pile, reserving only one of their tribe to raise up those that are dead, by virtue of his magical incantations. It is as dangerous as it is difficult to meet with these marvellous hermits; and the lives of such as do, are in apparent danger of being lost."—Picabt.

Descent of fallen Souls compared to the Fall of the Ganges.

An Indian poet, endeavouring to illustrate the manner in which souls always descend into bodies, one more imperfect than another, in proportion to their deviating from the dictates of reason, compares them to the descent of the river Ganges, "which," says he, " fell first from the highest heavens into Chorkam; from thence on the top of Issouren; after that, on the cclebratedMountlma; from thence on the earth; from that into the sea, and from thence at last into Padalam, that is, into hell."—Pere Bouchet. PiCabt.

Japanese Penitents.

"Cebt Ain Japanese penitents make it their duty to pass over several high and almost inaccessible mountains into some of the most solitary deserts, inhabited by an order of anchorites, who, though almost void of humanity, commit them to the care and conduct of such as are more savage than themselves. These latter lead them to the brinks of the most tremendous precipices, habituate them to the practice of abstinence, and the most shocking austerities, which they are obliged to undergo with patience, at any rate, since their lives lie at stake; for if the pilgrim deviates one step from the directions of his spiritual guides, they fix him by both his hands to the branch of a tree, which stands on the brink of a precipice, and there leave him hanging till, through faintness, he quits his hold of the bough and drops. This is, however, the introduction only to the discipline they are to undergo; for in the sequel, after incredible fatigue and a thousand dangers undergone, they arrive at a plain surrounded with lofty mountains, where they spend a whole day and night with their arms across, and their face declined upon their knees. This is another act of penance, under which, if they show the least symptoms of pain, or endeavour to shift their uneasy posture, the unmerciful hermits whose province it is to overlook them, never fail with some hearty bastinadoes to reduce them to their appointed situation. In this attitude the pilgrims are to examine their consciences, and recollect the whole catalogue of their sins committed the year past, in order to confess them. After this strict examination, they march again till they come to a steep rock, which is the place set apart by these savage monks to take the general confession of their penitents; on the summit of this rock there is a thick iron bar, about three ells in length, which projects over the belly of the rock, but is so contrived, as to be drawn back again, whenever it is thought convenient. At the end of this bar hangs a large pair of scales, into one of which these monks put the pilgrim, and in the other a counterpoise, which keeps him in equilibrio; after this, by the help of a spring, they push the scales off the rock, quite over the precipice. Thus hanging in the air, the pilgrim is obliged to make a full and ample confession of all his sins, which must be spoken so distinctly, as to be heard by all the assistants at this ceremony; and he must take particular care not to omit or conceal one single sin, to be stedfast in his confession, and not to make the least variation in his account: for the least diminution or concealment, though the misfortune should prove more the result of fear than any evil intention, is sufficient to ruin the penitent to all intents and purposes; for if these inexorable hermits discern the least prevarication, he who holds the scales gives the bar a sudden jerk, by which percussion the scale gives

way, and the poor penitent is dashed to pieces at the bottom of the precipice. Such as escape through a sincere confession, proceed farther to pay their tribute of divine adoration to the deity of the place. After they have gratified their father confessor's trouble, they resort to another pagod, where they complete their devotions, and spend several days in public shows and other amusements."—Picabt. Acosta. DeBry. Pure hat.

Priest of Manipa.

"Manipa, the goddess of the people (Tartars) of Tanchuth (called Lassa, or Boratai, or Barantola), has nine heads, which form a kind of pyramid. A bold resolute young fellow, prompted by an enthusiastic rage, like him who cries Amoc amongst the Indians, and drest in armour, flies round about the city, upon some certain days in the year, like a madman, and kills every one he meets in honour of the goddess. This young enthusiast is called Phut or Buth."—Picart.

Fountain of the Fairiet.

"In the journal of Paris in the reigns of Charles VI. and VII., it is asserted that the Maid of Orleans, in answer to an interrogatory of the doctors whether she had ever assisted at the assemblies held at the fountain of the fairies near Domprein, round which the evil spirits dance? confessed that she had, at the age of twenty-seven, often repaired to a beautiful fountain in the country of Lorraine, which she named the good fountain of the fairies of our Lord."—Fabliaux, by Ellis and Wat. Le Grand.

Identity.

"CiiAftVE individu,considere' separement, differe encore de lui-mcme par l'effet du terns; il devient un autre, en quelque maniere, aux diverses epoques de sa vie. L'enfant, l'homme fait, la vieillard sont comme autant d'etrangers unis dans une seule per

« AnteriorContinuar »