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that a dragon had been seen. Nor would it be a long step from this office of the dragon as the herald of greatness to placing that monster on banners. From these banners would grow sagas of dragons encountered and slain. The devices might thus multiply. Some process of this kind would account for the entirely good reputation of the dragon in China and Japan, where it is the emblem of all national grandeur. It would also appear'to underlie the proud titles of the Pythian Apollo and Bellerophon, gained from the monsters they were said to have slain. The city of Worms takes its name from the serpent instead of its slayer.1 Pendragon, in the past—and even our dragoon of the present-are names in which the horrors of the monster become transformed in the hero's fame. The dragon, says Mr. Hardwicke, was the standard of the West Saxons, and of the English previous to the Norman Conquest. It formed one of the supporters of the royal arms borne by all the Tudor monarchs, with the exception of Queen Mary, who substituted the eagle. Several of the Plantagenet kings and princes inscribed a figure of the dragon on their banners and shields. Peter Langtoffe says, at the battle of Lewis, fought in 1264, ‘The king schewed forth his schild, his dragon full austere.' Another authority says the said king (Henry III.) ordered to be made 'a dragon in the manner of a banner, of a certain red silk embroidered with gold ; its tongue like a flaming fire must always seem to be moving; its eyes must be made of sapphire, or of some other tone suitable for that purpose.'?

It will thus be seen that an influence has been introduced into dragon-lore which has no relation whatever to the dernon itself. This will explain those variants of the

1 Others derive the name from the ancient Borbetomagus.

: Traditions, p. 44.

MELUSINA.

367 legend of Melusina—the famous woman-serpent—which invest her with romance, Melusina, whose indiscreet husband glanced at her in forbidden hours, when she was in her serpent shape, was long the glory of the Chateau de Lusignan, where her cries announced the approaching death of her descendants. There is a peasant family still dwelling in Fontainebleau Forest who claim to be descended from Melusina; and possibly some instance of this kind may have dropped like a seed into the memory of the author of 'Elsie Venner' to reappear in one of the finest novels of our generation. The corresponding sentiment is found surrounding the dragon in the familiar British legend of the Laidley 1 Worm. The king of Northumberland brought home a new Queen, who was also a sorceress, and being envious of the beauty of her stepdaughter, changed that poor princess into the worm which devastated all Spindleton Heugh. For seven miles every green thing was blighted by its venom, and seven cows had to yield their daily supplies of milk. Meanwhile the king and his son mourned the disappearance of the princess. The young prince fitted out a ship to go and slay the dragon. The wicked Queen tries unsuccessfully to prevent the expedition. The prince -leaps from his ship into the shallow sea, and wades to the rock around which the worm lay coiled. But as he drew near the monster said to him :

Oh, quit thy sword, and bend thy bow,

And give me kisses three ;
If I'm not won ere the sun goes down,

Won I shall never be.
He quitted his sword and bent his bow,

He gave her kisses three;
She crept into a hole a worm,

But out stept a ladye.

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368

VICTORIOUS DRAGONS.

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

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

Equally significant is the legend that when King Arthur

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

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

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370

MERLIN AND VORTIGERN.

caused by the struggle of these two dragons underground. When the monsters were unearthed they fought terribly, until the white one

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

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

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

Beyond the glory reflected upon a monster from his conqueror, there would be reason why the alchemist and the wizard should encourage that aspect of the dragon. The more perilous that Gorgon whose blood Esculapius used, the more costly such medicament; while, that the remedy may be advantageous, the monster must not be wholly destructive. This is so with the now destructive

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