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THE BROOD OF MIDNIGHT.
their horses stumble and start as they ride (according to the narration of that holy man Ketellus in Nubrigensis, that had an especial grace to see devils); and if a man curse and spur his horse for stumbling, they do heartily rejoice at it.'
While observing a spirited and imaginative picture by Macallum of the Siege of Jerusalem, it much interested me to observe the greater or less ease with which other visitors discovered the portents in the air which, following the narrative of Josephus, the artist had vaguely portrayed. The chariots and horsemen said to have been seen before that event were here faintly blent with indefinite outlines of clouds; and while some of the artist's friends saw them with a distinctness greater, perhaps, than that with which they impressed the eye of the artist himself, others could hardly be made to see anything except shapeless vapour, though of course they all agreed that they were there and remarkably fine.
It would seem that thus, in a London studio, there were present all the mental pigments for frescoing the air and sky with those visions of aërial armies or huntsmen which have become so normal in history as to be, in a subjective sense, natural. In the year 1763, an author, styling himself Theophilus Insulanus, published at Edinburgh a book on Second-Sight, in which he related more than a hundred instances of the power he believed to exist of seeing events before they had occurred, and whilst, of course, they did not exist. It is not difficult in reading them to see that they are all substantially one and the same story, and that the sight in operation was indeed second ; for man or woman, at once imaginative and illiterate, have a second and supernumerary pair of eyes inherited from the traditional superstitions and ghost stories which fill all the air they breathe from the cradle to the grave.
While the mind is in this condition, that same nature whose apparitions and illusions originally evoked and fostered the glamoury, still moves on with her minglings of light and shade, cloud and mirage, giving no word of explanation. There are never wanting the shadowy forms without that cast their shuttles to the dark idols of the mental cave, together weaving subtle spells round the half-waking mind.
In the year 1743 all the North of England and Scotland was in alarm on account of some spectres which were seen on the mountain of Souter Fell in Cumberland. The mountain is about half-a-mile high. On a summer evening a farmer and his servant, looking from Wilton Hall, half a mile off, saw the figures of a man and a dog pursuing some horses along the mountain-side, which is very steep; and on the following morning they repaired to the place, expecting to find dead bodies, but finding none. About one year later a troop of horsemen were seen riding along the same mountain-side by one of the same persons, the servant, who then called others who also saw the aerial troopers. After a year had elapsed the above vision was attested before a magistrate by two of those who saw it. The event occurred on the eve of the Rebellion, when horsemen were exercising, and when also the popular mind along the Border may be supposed to have been in a highly excited condition.
What was seen on this strongly-authenticated occasion? Was anything seen? None can tell. It is open to us to believe that there may have been some play of mirage. As there are purely aërial echoes, so are there aërial reflectors for the eye. On the other hand, the vision so nearly resembles the spectral processions which have passed through the mythology of the world, that we can never be sure that it was not the troop of King Arthur,
SPECTRES OF SOUTER FELL.
... emerging from Avallon to announce the approaching
strife. A few fleecy, strangely-shaped clouds, chasing :'. each other along the hillside in the evening's dusk would 1 have amply sufficed to create the latter vision, and the
danger of the time would easily have supplied all the Second-Sight required to reveal it to considerable numbers. In questions of this kind a very small circumstance
-a phrase, a name, perhaps—may turn the balance of into probabilities. Thus it may be noted that, in the instance - just related, the vision was seen on the steep side of
Souter Fell. Fell means a hill or a steep rock, as in Drachenfels. But as to Souter, although, as Mr. Robert Ferguson says, the word may originally have meant sheep, it is found in Scotland used as 'shoemaker' in connection with the fabulous giants of that region. Sir Thomas Urquhart, in the seventeenth century, relates it as the tradition of the two promontories of Cromarty, called 'Soutars,' that they were the work-stools of two giants who supplied their comrades with shoes and buskins. Possessing but one set of implements, they used to Aling these to each other across the opening of the firth, where the promontories are only two miles apart. In process of time the name Soutar, shoemaker, was bequeathed by the craftsmen to their stools. It is not improbable that the name gradually connected itself with other places bearing traditions connecting them with the fabulous race, and that in this way the Souter Fell, from meaning in early times much the same as Giants' Hill, preserved even in 1743-44 enough of the earlier uncanny associations to awaken the awe of Borderers in a time of rebellion. The vision may therefore have been seen by light which had journeyed all the way from the mytho
? In his very valuable work, ‘Northmen in Cumberland and Westmoreland.” Longmans. 1856.
logic heavens of ancient India : substantially subjectivesuch stuff as dreams and dreamers are made of—no doubt there were outer clouds, shapes and afterglows enough, even in the absence of any fata morgana to suppy canvas and pigment to the cunning artist that hides in the eye.
In an old tale, the often-slain Vampyre- bat only requests, with pathos, that his body may be laid where no sunlight, but only the moonlight, will fall on it-only that! But it is under the moonshine that it always gains new life. No demon requires absolute darkness, but haldarkness, in which to live: enough light to disclose a Somewhat, but not enough to define and reveal its nature, is just what has been required for the bat-eyes of fable and phantasy, which can make vampyre of a sparrow or giant out of a windmill.
Glamour! A marvellous history has this word of the artists and poets,—sometimes meaning the charm with which the eye invests any object; or, in Wordsworth's phrase, “the light that never was on land or sea.' But no artist or poet ever rose to the full height of the simple term itself, which well illustrates Emerson's saying, •Words are fossil poetry. Professor Cowell of Cambridge says : ‘Glám, or in the nominative Glámr, is also a poetical name for the Moon. It does not actually occur in the ancient literature, but it is given in the glossary in the Prose Edda in the list of the very old words for the Moon.' Vigfusson in his dictionary says, “The word is interesting on account of its identity with Scot. Glamour, which shows that the tale of Glam was common to Scotland and Iceland, and this much older than Grettir (in the year 1014)." The Ghost or Goblin Glam seems evidently to have arisen from a personification of the delusive and treacherous effects of moonlight on the benighted traveller,
245 Quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna
Est iter in sylvis. Now, there is a curious old Sanskrit word, glau or gláv, which is explained in all the old native lexicons as meaning 'the moon. It might either be taken as 'waning,' or in a casual sense 'obscuring.'
The following lines from an early mediæval poet, Bhása (seventh century), will illustrate the deceptive character of moonlight from a Hindu point of view. The strong and wild Norse imagination delights in what is terrible and gloomy: the Hindu loves to dwell on the milder and quieter aspects of human life.
•The cat laps the moonbeams in the bowl of water, thinking them to be milk: the elephant thinks that the moonbeams, threaded through the intervals of the trees, are the fibres of the lotus-stalk. The woman snatches at the moonbeams as they lie on the bed, taking them for her muslin garment: oh, how the moon, intoxicated with radiance, bewilders all the world !'
A similar passage, no doubt imitated from this, is also quoted :
“The bewildered herdsmen place the pails under the cows, thinking that the milk is flowing; the maidens also put the blue lotus blossom in their ears, thinking that it is the white; the mountaineer's wife snatches up the jujube fruit, avaricious for pearls. Whose mind is not led astray by the thickly clustering moonbeams ?'1
In the Icelandic legend of the struggle between the hero Grettir, translated by Magnússen and Morris (London, 1869), the saga supplies a scenery as archæological as if the philologists had been consulted. “Bright moonlight was there without, and the drift was broken, now
1 Journal of Philology,' vi. No. II. On the Word Glamour and the Legend of Glam, by Professor Cowell.