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usual solemnity of devotion. Friday has been pitched scent from the family of the prophet. Europeans geneupon, because it is said Adam was created on that day, rally imagine the crescent to be a common symbol of and because the resurrection is prophesied to be on Mohammedanism, as the cross is of Christianity; but that day of the week. Perhaps a desire to avoid Satur- we believe this is founded on mistake. The crescent, day or Sunday, the days reverenced respectively by from a very early period, was a heraldic ensign of Jews and Christians, may also have influenced its adop- Byzantium or Constantinople, and has been approtion. Friday is called El-Goomah, or The Assembly; priated by the Turks since their capture of that city. and on the forenoon of that day large congregations The Mohammedans are generally affected with the assemble in the mosques, when, in addition to the usual most superstitious reverence for imaginary saints and prayers, a sermon or address is delivered, and lessons favourites of God. They imagine that idiots and read from the Koran, by the officiating imâms. After ) Iunatics are under the immediate inspiration of Heathis service, all kinds of work go on as usual.
ven; and, unless these be dangerously mischievous, All religions, above the meanest paganism, have pos- they are permitted all sorts of license. Most of the sessed a body of priests or functionaries, to whom the reputed saints of Egypt,' says Mr Lane, are either knowledge of the faith was confided, and by whom its lunatics, idiots, or impostors. Any one who is deranged precepts were enforced. Considering that Mohammed by religious excitement becomes a welee, or an especial must bave been conversant with the constitution and favourite of the Almighty, and is supposed to be gifted import of the Jewish priesthood, as laid down in the with supernatural powers. Almost every celebrated Levitical law, and also acquainted with the arrange-saint, deceased, is honoured by an anniversary birthday ments of the Christian church, it is remarkable that festival ; and on occasion of these festivals, many perhe instituted po order of clergy, but, on the contrary, sons visit the tomb of the saint, both as a duty and as left his religion to be professed by the people at large, a supposed means of obtaining a special blessing. Bewithout any distinction as to rank or qualification. On sides the various classes of saints, there are different this account Mohammedanism has no priesthood, and orders of durueeshes, or dervises, sonie of whom subsist cannot be said to constitute in any country what we by begging, and others by performing at religious fesunderstand by the term church. Wherever it is estab- tivals; a few devote themselves to religious seclusion, lished as the religion of the community, mosques or ) and gain a character for exalted piety. chapels have been erected, generally by endowments Mohammedanism, from shortly after the death of its from wealthy individuals; and these are individually founder, has been divided into two great parties or sects, under the charge of a warden, who is custodier of the 'who split upon the disputes concerning the Caliphate, revenues, and appoints the ministers of religion and or spiritual and civil supremacy, and received the name inferior servants. Two imâms,' says Mr Lane,' are of Sunnites and Shiites. The Sunnites take their appelemployed to officiate in each of the larger mosques : one lation from the Sunna, or collections of traditions reof them, called the khateeb, preaches and prays before lating to Islamism, which they believe to be of equal the congregation on the Friday; the other is an imam importance with the Koran. "The term Shiites signifies ratib, or ordinary imâm, who recites the five prayers of heretics, which they are called by the opposite party, every day in the mosque, at the head of those persons from their misbelief. The adherents of the doctrine who may be there at the exact times of those prayers : that Ali, son-in-law of Mohammed, was properly his but in most of the smaller mosques both these offices are successor, reject the Sunna. The Turks are Sunnites, and performed by one imam. There are also to each mosque the Persians are Shiites, and each hates the other with one or more muezzins (to chant the call to prayer), implacable animosity. The Sunnites, we believe, are and bowwabs (or doorkeepers); and several other ser- reckoned the orthodox sect, and acknowledge the reignvants are employed to sweep the mosque, spread the ing sultan as the true successor of Mohammed. mats, light the lamps, and attend the water-wheel by Besides differing as to the credibility of the Sunna, which the tank or fountain, and other receptacles for and the successorship of the prophet, the Mohammedan water, necessary to the performance of ablutions, are world is divided into four minor sects--the Hhana fees, supplied. The imâms, and those persons who perform Shafees, Malikees, and Hhambelees, being so called from the lower offices, are all paid from the funds of the the respective doctors whose tenets they have adopted. mosque, and not by any contributions exacted from the The Turks,' says Mr Lane, * are of the first sect, which people. The condition of the imâms is very different, is the most reasonable.' About the middle of last cenin most respects, from that of Christian priests. They tury, a great schism, or attempt at reformation, broke have no authority above other persons, and do not enjoy out in Arabia, headed by Mohainmed, son of Abdel Waany respect but what their reputed piety and learning hab, a pious and learned sheikh. Young Mohammed may obtain them : nor are they a distinct order of men claimed divine inspiration, and taught, like the Koran set apart for religious offices, like our clergy, and com- (the doctrines of which he but partially received), the posing an indissoluble fraternity; for a man who has existence of an only God, the Creator of the world, the acted as imâm to a mosque, may be displaced by the rewarder of the good, and the punisher of the bad; but warden of that mosque, and, with his employment and he rejected all the stories contained in the Koran, espesalary, loses the title of imam, and has no better chance cially those concerning Mobammed, whom he considered of being again chosen for a religious minister than any merely a man beloved of God, but branded the worship other person competent to perform the office. The of him as a crime directly opposed to the true adoration imams obtain their livelihood chiefly by other means of the Deity. He also condemned the ornaments and than the service of the mosque, as their salaries are splendour which are found in the mosques and the very small, that of a khateeb being generally about a sepulchres of pretended saints. In short, he stripped piastre (nearly 25d. of our money) per month. Mohammedanism of all its trappings, and reduced it to
*The Mohammedans,' continues the same authority, little else than a pure Theism. Ali who should oppose observe the utmost decorum in their public worship. this new doctrine were to be destroyed by fire and Their looks and behaviour in the mosque are not those sword. His doctrines being adopted by some influenof enthusiastic devotion, but of calm and modest piety: tial chiefs, spread with wonderful celerity, and the Nerer are they guilty of a designedly irregular word Wahabees, as his followers were called, shook the staor action during their prayers. The pride and fana- bility of the empire of the Turks in Asia. After a hnt ticism which they exhibit in common life, in inter- war of many years, the Wahabees were suppressed by course with persons of their own or of a different Mehemet Ali, the late pasha of Egypt; but their docfaith, seem to be dropped on their entering the mosque, trines are still far from being exterminated.
the adoration of their Creator.'
Mohammedans have an extreme reverence for a green or disconnected with religious belief, and which have colour, which is used exclusively as the hue of turbans prevailed both in ancient and modern times, a notice or other garments by those who claim hereditary de- will be found in the following number.
MANKIND have in all ages been prone to the most of the lower regions, who were supposed to hate the lamentable superstitions. The enlightened nations of light of day, they were made at midnight. It was antiquity were no more exempted from them than the customary on some occasions to dance round the altars most ignorant. The Jews, as we are repeatedly in- whilst they sang the sacred hymns, which consisted of formed in Scripture, could with difficulty be restrained three stanzas or parts. The pouring out of libations of from idolatrous and superstitious practices, and con- wine to the gods, and a thousand other follies, were fined to the worship and service of the only true God. perpetrated and believed. The appearance of comets This remarkable tendency of the Hebrew nation was and eclipses were ominous of great public disasters, it in all likelihood caused by their sojourn for the space being the general belief that they were special signs of four hundred years among the Egyptians, whose made to warn mankind of approaching troubles ; in whole system of religion was a mass of idolatrous ob- all which we see a lamentable proof of the follies and servances. They had a number of ideal gods, to whom weakness to which even a refined people may be exthey erected temples of prodigious size and architectural posed if ignorant of the laws of nature. splendour; the principal of these deities were Osiris The superstitious delusions of the Greeks and Roand Isis, which are thought to have been typical of the mans may be said to have died out at the final dismemsun and moon. But they also offered worship to various berment of the Roman empire, and the overrunning of animals, as the ox or bull (hence the golden calf of the western Europe by the Gothic nations. The introduc. Hebrews), to which they gave the name of Apis ; the tion of Christianity also tended powerfully to root out dog, the wolf, the hawk, the ibis or stork, the cat, and the old superstitious usages, though a few survived to other creatures; they likewise paid adoration to the a later date. For these reasons, the superstitions and Nile, personifying it in the crocodile, to which temples matters of credulous belief which afterwards affected were erected, and priests set apart for its service. The the people of northern and western Europe, including Egyptians, notwithstanding their learning (See HISTORY the British islands, were in a great measure of ScandiOF ANCIENT Nations), also believed in dreams, lucky navian and Gothic origin. and unlucky days, omens, charms, and magic. In a word, they were grossly superstitious, and seem to have had but a feeble conception, if any, of the laws which The superstitions of the European Northmen, or Scanregulate the ordinary phenomena of nature.
dinavians—under which term are included the early The Greeks and Romans possessed an equally insuffi- inhabitants of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland cient idea of an omnipresent and omnipotent God, the --were of a kind remarkably accordant with the cold creator and ruler of the universe. Their notions of and stern character of the regions which they occupied. divinity, like those of other Pagans, were grovelling and Like the ancient Greeks, the Scandinavians had seats contemptible. The gods whom they adored were ima- of the gods and of the blest, which they called Asgard gined to have been at one period rulers or heroes on and Walhalla (or Valhalla), and these bore the same earth, and still had their habitation somewhere within relation in their character to the Olympus and Elythe Grecian territory, or at no great distance from it. sium of the Greeks, that the countries of the north, with Besides their belief in this vain mythology, both Greeks their stormy climes, their icy mountains, and perilous and Romans put faith in divination, oracles, the magical waters, bore to the perfumed and verdant plains of power of amulets, and dreams. Bees, ants, and various Hellas, and the fair blue skies overhanging the smooth reptiles and beasts, were imagined to have the power of Ionian Sea. Nothing could afford better proof of the giving omens of good or bad fortune. The phenomena utterly fanciful nature of all these mythologies, than of the atmosphere and planetary bodies were likewise the fact, that they were thus modelled and modified in a fertile source of superstitious delusions; and so also every case by the earthly habits, the wants and likings, were certain signs or marks on the intestines of victims the territorial position, and ignorance of geography and slain as sacrifices at the altars. The mode of sacrificing astronomy, of the individual tribes among whom they in Greece is worthy of observation. Bulls, goats, sheep, respectively originated. pigeons, cocks, and other creatures, were immolated to The deification of one or more great princes or rulers the gods of the country. Sometimes there was a heca- seems to have constituted the basis of the Scandinavian, tomb, or sacrifice of a hundred animals at a time, to as well as of every other Pagan mythology. Odin, the appease the manes or restless spirits of the deceased. supreme deity of the Scandinavians, and the ruler of A notion prevailed that the animals to be sacrificed heaven and earth, appears, like the Hellenic Jupiter, would show signs of satisfaction on being brought to to have been a distinguished chief and warrior of early the altars, if the gods to whom they were offered felt times. Although it is asserted by some that a divinity pleased with the oblation. On bringing forward a bull of the name of Odin was worshipped from the most or goat, the officiating priest drew a knife from the remote ages, there is reason to believe that the worship forehead to the tail, at which, if the victim struggled, of this personage, in the north at least, had its real it was rejected, as not acceptable to the gods; but if it origin a few centuries before the commencement of the stood quietly at the altar, then they thought the gods Christian era, when a powerful chieftain of the name were pleased with it: yet a bare non-resistance was not was driven by the Romans from his dominions between thought sufficient, unless it gave its assent by a gra- the Euxine and Caspian, and took refuge in Scandinacious nod. To try if it would nod, they poured water via, the whole of which he subjected to his sway. Like or barley into its ear. Being satisfied with the sign, Mohammed, this chief appears to have established a new the priest proceeded to pour wine, and sometimes fruits religion, of which he himself assumed to be the earthly and frankincense, between the horns of the victim, and head, as the servant or minister of a divine being of the afterwards struck it down, and bled it to death. Great same name. In the course of time, however, this disdexterity was requisite in striking down and bleeding tinction was entirely lost, and the persons and acts of a victim; for if it did not fall at once upon the ground, the divine and earthly Odin became inextricably blended or stamped, or kicked, or struggled to be loose, or did in the mythology and traditions of the north. The great not bleed freely, or seemed to die with pain, it was records of the religious and legendary knowledge of the thought unacceptable to the gods; all these being un- Scandinavians are the Eddas and Sagas of Iceland, lucky omens. To the celestial gods, sacrifices were partly written in poetry and partly in prose. The oldest made in the morning about sunrise; but to the deities of the Eddas, a series of poetical fragments, was col. No. 77.
lected from oral tradition in the eleventh century, and Balder, the second son of Odin, was the most beauti. the others are of later date. The acts of the deities ful and amiable of the Aser, or gods. Unlike the rest and heroes of the north, their loves and wars, the crea of his brethren, he was fond of peace, and had the power tion of the world, and prophetic revelations, form the of allaying tempests, and acting as a mediator, to avert general subject of these pieces.
divine wrath. His decrees were irrevocable. In some The Scandinavians, like the Greeks, believed that the points he resembled the Apollo of the Greeks, but the universe was originally a chaos, or mass of confused general qualities of that personage found a closer vapours, peopled by a race of Rimthursar, or evil spirits representative in Braga or Bragi
, the god of eloquence of gigantic bulk. A being of nobler nature sprang up and poetry. Niord, the god of the sea, and his son among these, named Bure, from whom were descended Freys, the god of rain, were also important deities of Odin and his two brothers Vile and Ve. These younger the north. Every element, or important natural phe. divinities followed exactly the same course with the nomenon, was under the guidance, in like manner, of northern giants that was pursued by Jupiter and his some celestial personage. Frigga, the Scandinavian brothers with regard to the Titans, or older and gigantic Juno, was the bestower of fertility and plenty. Freia
, deities of Greece. Odin began to war with the Rim- or Freya, the daughter of Niord, was the 'Venus of thursar, and having at last overcome their great chief Asgard and the patroness of matrimony. Freia was Ymer, he created the world out of that giant's body. assisted in her duties by Siona and Sofna, the first of His flesh became the mould, his bones the rocks, his whom made lovers faithful, while the other reconciled hair the vegetable tribes, his blood the ocean, and his them when they quarrelled. Eyra was the physician skull the heavens, at the four corners of which were of the gods. There were various other minor divinities placed certain dwarfs, called North, South, East, and in the Scandinavian mythology, though not nearly so West, whose duty it was to sustain the celestial dome. many as in the Grecian roll. The deficiency was made After this, the luminaries of the sky were set in their up among the northerns by the assignnient of more places, and the order of the seasons appointed. Natt multitudinous duties to the greater deities. Thus Odin, (Night) wedded one of the Aser, or celestial family of from the extent of his government, received as many Òdin, and gave birth to Dag (Day). These deities travel as one hundred and twenty distinct names, each indialternately round the world in cars, drawn by single cating some individual quality ascribed to him. horses. Every great body, as in the Grecian mytho. The great ball appointed for the reception of the logy, was represented by a divinity: Frigga, or the spirits of the brave, when they left earth for the seat Earth, was the daughter of Odin, and also became his of the gods, was called Valhalla. Twelve beautiful, yet wife. The inhabitants of the earth, or mankind, were terrible nymphs, named Valkyries (choosers of the slain), created by Odin and his brothers. Two pieces of wood, were the guides of the good spirits to the hall of Val. the one of ash and the other of elm, formed the mate- halla, and supplied them with mead. The occupation rials of the first pair of mortals, who were distinguished of drinking this northern nectar, and of eating the fat for personal beauty and intellectual ability.
of the wild boar Serimner-which, after serving as the The race of deities inhabited Asgard, a place sup- daily food of thousands, became whole again every posed by some to have been the city in Asia whence night-filled up all those intervals of time in Valhalla the real or mortal Odin was expatriated. The fabu- that were not passed in fighting. None but those who lous Asgard was pictured as containing numerous had shown surpassing bravery on earth were admitted palaces and balls, the largest of which was the Man- into this Scandinavian paradise; and when there, their sion of Joy, where Allfader (Odin) sat on his throne daily amusement was to fight with one another till all, amid his divine family. This throne was named Lid- or nearly all, were cut in pieces. But little harm as skialfa, or the Terror of Nations, and from it he could done in this way, for the spiritual bodies soon reunited, overlook the whole earth. Two ravens, Hugin (Spirit) and enabled the warriors to appear, entire in lithe and and Muninn (Memory), sat always at his ear, and com- limb, at the feasts that followed these extraordinary municated to him intelligence of all things that were engagements. The skulls of enemies were the drinking. going on in the universe. Among the deities who dwelt cups used at the entertainments of Valhalla, and the in Asgard, one of the most important was Thor, or guests are described as being almost perpetually in a Asathor, son of Odin by Frigga, and the Mars, or war- state of inebriation. It was only when the cock ani. rior-god, of the Scandinavians.
nounced the arrival of morning that these terrible Thor is described as the god of thunder, and the heroes arose from table, to issue to the field of battle strongest of beings, earthly or heavenly. He is the son through the five hundred and forty gates of Valhalla, of Odin and Frigga, or, in other words, of the Sun and and hack each other to pieces anew. Such was the the Earth. When he moves, the earth trembles. He never-ending round of employment destined for the holds in his hand a powerful hammer called the Crusher departed heroes of Scandinavia. (miölner), with which he annihilates all who oppose him, The mythology of the Scandinavians survived till and who offend the gods. In battle, Thor is always girt a much later date than any other system of heathen with a magic girdle, which has the power of inspiring worship in Europe. It was not abolished till the him with a divine fury, and redoubling his strength. eleventh century. St Olaf, king of Norway, and a On his right hand he wears an iron gauntlet, with which zealous supporter of Christianity, usually receives the he grasps and wields the formidable crusher. This credit of having overturned this most barbarous form latter instrument was forged by a dwarf named Sindri, of religion. In the course of his efforts to Christianise the prototype of the deformed blacksmith-deities of the his subjects, he ordered a statue of Thor, and the Greeks, Vulcan and his Cyclops. The hammer pos- pedestal on which it stood, to be broken in pieces, and sesses the wonderful power of never missing its aim, showed the people that the meat which had been laid and when launched at any object, returns to the hand down for the use of the god was not eaten by him, but of Thor, after having destroyed his foe. Thor is some- by a host of rats and other vermin that had formed a times called Aukistor, or Thor of the Car, from his lodgment about the foundation of the colossal image. riding on a chariot, drawn by two powerful he-goats, Whatever might have been the influence of the mythonamed Sangniostr and Tangrisner. This deity has a logy of the Scandinavians in Britain, it disappeared spouse named Sipia, famous for her beautiful hair. shortly after its overthrow on the continent of Europe,
After Odin, Thor was the most cherished deity of or only lingered in a kind of traditional existence Scandinavia, and had statues and temples erected to amidst the remote islands of Orkney and Shetland, till him everywhere. The statues of him were usually finally banished by the progress of a more general forined of clay, and represented a tall figure, with a intelligence. The dread names of Odin, Thor, and red-painted beard, indicative of the lightning which he other deities of the north, who for centuries weighed was supposed to wield. Bread and meat were supplied down the human faculties, and kept up the reign of daily to the god by his worshippers, and at stated times superstition, are now only perpetuated in the appellalibations were poured out in his honour.
tions affixed to some of the days of the week. Thus
our term Wednesday is derived from Odin's or Wodin's | impeded. The general introduction of Christianity about day, that being the day of the week in which the the year 600, abolished, as a matter of course, the grosser northern Jupiter, or supreme ruler of the gods, was Pagan observances, but failed to extirpate the more most honoured and worshipped. Thursday is from familiar and less obvious superstitions of the people. Thor, the second in dignity among these fabulous Witchcraft, wizardry, magic, divination, preparations deities : as this day was called Dies Jovis by the Ro- of charms, and other mystic follies having no foundamans, we have here a confirmation that Thor the tion in truth, continued to flourish, although opposed thunderer was equivalent either to Mars, or the thun- both by the more intelligent clergy and the kings. It dering Jove of the Grecian mythology. Friday takes is from the statutes, indeed, which Alfred, Canute, and its appellation from Freya, the daughter of Niord, and other monarchs passed for the prevention of magical corresponds with the Dies Veneris, or Venus day of practices, that we chiefly know their nature and extent. the Greeks and Romans. Saturday is derived in the Wiglaer, a wizard, and wicca, a witch, are persons same manner from the god Saeter of the Scandina- severely denounced. Penalties are enjoined if any one vians, and Saturn of the Greeks. Tuesday, or anciently should destroy another by wiccecraeft. They appear Tiesday (a pronunciation still preserved in Scotland), to have used philters; for it is declared a crime in any is supposed to be from Tisa, the wife of Thor, and the one to use witchcraft, or potions to produce another's reputed goddess of justice. Sunday and Monday were love. Canute enjoins his people not to worship fire or respectively named from the Sun and Moon, both by floods, wells or stones, or any sort of tree ; not to frame the northern and southern nations of Europe, from a death-spells, either by lot or otherwise'; and not to remote period of time. The circumstance of there effect anything by phantoms. Wizards, we also learn, being such a marked resemblance between the cha- pretended to the power of letting loose tempests, and racters of the deities whose names were employed to controlling the visible operations of nature. distinguish the same days of the week both by Greeks The introduction of Christianity, as has been menand Scandinavians, is not a little remarkable, and has tioned, failed to dissipate the familiar superstitions of never, as far as we know, been the subject of explana- the English; a circumstance which can excite no surtion by philologists or antiquaries. The fact is only prise, as no pains were taken to enlighten the undercertain, that the names of the days of the week now standings of the people, or make them acquainted with used by every civilised people, are founded upon the the true causes of natural phenomena. We accordmythological observances of either the Grecian or the ingly find that from the seventh to the sixteenth cenScandinavian races.
tury the belief in demons, spirits, lubber-fiends, and elves, of every shade and character, prevailed without
intermission, and with no further challenge from the At a comparatively early era, the mythology and clergy than as being individually manifestations of the minor superstitions of the Scandinavians, as well as the devil, on whom now the whole load of superstition was follies of Druidism, disappeared in Britain as the fami- based. One goblin in particular formed the theme of liar superstitions of the Anglo-Saxon race became innumerable legends. What was his name originally predominant. Like the Scandinavians of the north, the in continental Europe, whence he emigrated with the Anglo-Saxons deduced their descent from Odin, whom Anglo-Saxons, is of little consequence; in England he they worshipped along with Thor, Freya, and other became known by the title of Father Rush, from a beimaginary deities of the Gothic people. They also lief that he had on one occasion personated a monk or worshipped idols emblematic of the sun, moon, earth, friar, and, to serve his own malignant purposes, had in and various seasons and circumstances. In particular, that capacity long imposed on a religious brotherhood; they sacrificed to one goddess called Eostre, in the afterwards, this appellation went out of repute, and month of April, and her name still expresses the festi- he was popularly known and feared by the familiar val of Easter in the Christian church. In token of name of Robin Goodfellow, and performed many usedevotional feelings towards the sun, they solemnised a ful services in the rural districts. It is not a little festival to that luminary on the day of December in strange that both monks and clergy sanctioned these which the days began to lengthen, a log of wood being fancies, and increased their number by the propagation burnt on the occasion, as an emblem of returning light of legends, which we venture to say could not now and heat. From this ancient practice, therefore, may receive the approbation of a single individual, lay or be traced the custom of burning the Yule log at Christ- clerical, in England. Of these it is only necessary to mas, which is still continued in many parts of England. mention the absurd stories which were fabricated and Among the Anglo-Saxon superstitions was included a circulated respecting Dunstan, abbot of Glastonbury, belief in giants, dwarfs, and elves, all of a spiritual and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, who died in order, but partaking in some degree of human attri- the year 988. When a boy, he is stated to have studied butes and feelings. In the term elfi or elves, we have theology so sedulously as to reduce him to the point of one of the earliest traces on record of those ideal fairy death, when he was suddenly restored by some divine tribes who afterwards figured in the familiar supersti- medicine sent to him by an angel in a storm. So extions of the British islands. The Gothic nations, of traordinary a circumstance could not but demand whom the Anglo-Saxons were a branch, had various grateful thanksgivings, and Dunstan started from his orders of elves, who were understood to haunt the bed, and ran with full speed towards the church. Satan fields, the woods, mountains, and waters, and received met him in the way, surrounded with numerous black denominations accordingly, as field-elfin, dun-elfin, &c. dogs, and endeavoured to defeat his pious intention. But Whether this varied race of spirits originated in the Dunstan was not to be overcome; he instantly prayed East, whence so many superstitions spread into ancient for ability, and was enabled to cudgel the devil and Europe, is not satisfactorily known, although it is pro- his black dogs so effectually, that they left him and the bable that they did, and were of the same genus as the angel together; the latter of whom, finding the church peri of the Persians, a being not dissimilar in character door fastened, took up the pious youth in his arms, and to our fay or fairy. Both in the Scandinavian and conveyed him to his devotions through the roof. AnAnglo-Saxon superstitions, elves formed an important other time the devil attempted to intrude himself upon order of beings, not unlike in character to the demi- St Dunstan's studies in his laboratory; but the saint gods, naïads, dryads, and other imaginary spirits of the speedily punished his impertinence, by taking from the Greek and Roman mythologies, and, like them, exerted fire his tongs, which were red hot, and with them seized & certain influence over human affairs.
the nose of the fiend, who was thereupon glad to make Besides a belief in these mysterious elfin tribes, the his escape. It is lamentable to think how such vain Anglo-Saxons brought with them to England the still imaginations should have so long weighed upon the darker and more dangerous doctrines of witchcraft and understandings of the people, and engrafted a habitual divination, before which the reasoning powers of the dread of the supernatural, which till this day exerts people quailed, and all intellectual advancement was an influence over the untutored mind.
beauty, became personifications of fantastic ugliness.
In short, the Fairy Eden was a day-dream-a thing of Among the various supernatural beings to whom the show without substance. ignorance and credulity of mankind have given an This is the general account given of the fairy state, imaginary existence, the fairies occupy a prominent but few of the legends on the subject agree on all place, and are especially worthy of notice. The cha- points. From a very early period, however, every fairy racters of different classes of spirits have become so annalist concurred in giving to the king and queen of mingled and confounded together in the lapse of time, the fairies the names of Oberon and Titania. Oberon that it is difficult to define individual species with cor- is the Elb-rich, or Rich Elf, of the Germans, and was rectness and precision; but there is one characteristic endowed with his modern name, as well as with new which appears to distinguish the fairy from every other attributes, by the old French romancers, who reprebeing of a similar order. Most spirits could contract sented him as a tiny creature of surpassing loveliness, and diminish their bulk at will; but the fairy alone with a crown of jewels on his head, and a horn in his seems to have been regarded as essentially small in hand that set all who heard it to the dancing. size. The majority of other spirits, also, such as dwarfs, It was the belief that unchristened children were brownies, and the like, are represented as deformed peculiarly liable to be carried off by the fairies, who creatures, whereas the fairy has almost uniformly been sonetimes left little changelings of their own blood in described as a beautiful miniature of the human being, place of the infants of mortal kind. Ben Jonson, in perfect in face and form. These points of distinction, his 'Sad Shepherd,' makes the tending and nurture of with a dress of pure green, are the principal features human changelings to be one of the favourite elfin which serve to mark the personal individuality of the employments :fairies as a supernatural race.
* There, in the stocks of trees, white fays do dwell, The origin of the fairy superstition is ascribed by
And span-long elves, that dance about a pool, most writers to the Celtic people; but the blending of
With each a little changeling in their arms.' the Gothic tribes with the Celts led to the admixture of many attributes of the northern spirits with those Various charms were used in Scotland for the restoraproper to the fairies. Thus the latter race, which ap- tion of stolen children. The most efficacious was be. pears to have been intrinsically good and benevolent, lieved to be the roasting of the supposititious child has been gifted with attributes of the very opposite upon live embers, when it was understood that the kind, borrowed from the trolls and elves of the north. false infant would disappear, and the true one be left In Scotland, and other countries where the Celtic tra- in its place. It is to be hoped that this cruel and monditions predominated, the fairies retained in part the strous practice was seldom followed. The possession of original and better features of their character, and what are called toadstones was also held to be an were usually called the Good Neighbours, or the Men efficient preservative against the abduction of children of Peace ; but even there their character was deteri- by the fairies. In Waldron's ' Account of the Isle of orated by a considerable leaven of elfin or dwartish Man'we find various stories of children kidnapped by malignancy. This evil part of their nature caused much the fairies. In one case, where a woman had given annoyance to mankind, and more especially their pro- birth to a child, her attendants were enticed from the pensity to the kidnapping of human beings. Unchris- house by a cry of • Fire !' and while they were out, the tened infants were chietly liable to this calamity, but child was taken from the helpless mother by an invi. sometimes adult men and women were also carried off. sible hand; but the sudden re-entry of some of the The reason for these abductions is to be found, accord gossips compelled the fairies to drop the child, and it ing to the authorities on this subject, in the necessity was found sprawling on the threshold. The fairies, which the fairies lay under of paying 'kane,' as it was who seemed to have taken a particular liking to this called, to the master-fiend; or, in other words, of yield- woman's offspring, tried to carry off her second child ing up one of their number septennially into his hands in the same way; but failed again. On a third trial by way of tribute. They greatly preferred on such they succeeded, and left behind them a changeling, a occasions to make a scape-goat of some member of the withered and deformed creature, which neither spoke human family. They also carried of young married nor walked during an existence of nine years, and ate women to be nurses to their infants; and in Ireland, nothing but a few herbs. It is to be feared that this at this day, when a young woman falls a victim to puer- changeling superstition must have been the cause of peral disease, the more ignorant of the country people much deplorable cruelty. That very member of a assert that she has been removed for this purpose. family who, from natural misfortunes and defects, re
The necessity for the latter kind of kidnapping shows quired the kindliest tending, would but too often be the fairies to have been family people. They are always neglected and wretchedly misused, on the plea of its represented as living, like mankind, in large societies, being an alien. We may smile at many of the credu. and under a monarchical form of government. The lous fancies respecting the fairies; but there are in this Salique law seems to have had no countenance among order of superstitions, as in almost all others, some them; for we more often hear of fairy queens than of points which strongly exhibit to us the baleful effects fairy kings, though both are frequently spoken of. The inevitably attendant upon ignorance of every kind. Land of Faërie was situated somewhere under ground, Numberless stories of a ridiculous kind have been and there the royal fairies held their court. in their told relative to the intercourse of the fairies with palaces all was beauty and splendour. Their pageants mankind. Some of the poor creatures arraigned in and processions were far more magnificent than any Scotland in past times for witchcraft, admitted that Eastern sovereigns could get up, or poets devise. having had correspondence with the fairies. There They rode upon milk-white steeds. Their dresses, of can be little doubt that these wretched beings, whom brilliant green, were rich beyond conception; and when the torture forced into the confession of some kind they mingled in the dance, or moved in procession or other of supernatural traffic, were induced to among the shady groves, or over the verdant lawns of admit an association with fairies, in the hope that earth, they were entertained with delicious music, such this would be looked upon as less sinful than a league as mortal lips or hands never could emit or produce. with the enemy of mankind. The trials of Bessie At the same time most of the legendary tales on the Dunlop and Alison Pearson, in the years 1576 and subject represent these splendours as shadowy and un- 1588, illustrate this statement. Bessie Dunlop avowed substantial. When the eye of a seer, or any one gifted that her familiar was one Thome Reid, the ghost of with supernatural powers, was turned upon the fairy a soldier slain at Pinkie in 1547, and who after his pageantries or banquets, the illusion vanished. Their death seems to have become an inmate of Elf-land. seeming treasures of gold and silver became slate- She related that this Thome Reid, who appeared frestones, their stately halls became damp caverns, and quently to her in the likeness of an elderly man, gray. they themselves, from being miniature models of human coated and gray-bearded, wished her to go with him to