« ZurückWeiter »
storm-demons of the coast, an exaltation recently proclaimed by the Government of the empire in obedience, as the edict stated, to the belief prevailing among sailors. In this the Chinese are a long way behind the mariners and fishermen of the French coast, who have for centuries, by a pious philology, connected “Maria' with “La Marée' and ‘La Mer;' and whenever they have been saved from storms, bring their votive offerings to sea-side shrines of the Star of the Sea. The old Jewish theology, in its eagerness to claim for Jehovah the absolutism which would make him “Lord of lords,’ instituted his responsibility for many doubtful performances, the burthen of which is now escaped by the device of saying that he ‘permitted' them. In this way the Elohim who brought on the Deluge have been identified with Jehovah. None the less must we see in the biblical account of the Flood the action of tempestuous water-demons. What power a christian would recognise in such an event were it related in the sacred books of another religion may be seen in the vision of the Apocalypse—“The Serpent cast out of his mouth a flood of water after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away with the flood; and the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood.’ This Demon of Inundation meets the explorer of Egyptian and Accadian inscriptions at every turn. The terrible Seven, whom even the God of Fire cannot control, “break down the banks of the Abyss of Waters.” The God of the Tigris, Tourtak (Tartak of the Bible), is ‘the great destroyer.’” Leviathan “maketh the deep to boil like a pot: ' ' when he raises up himself the mighty are afraid; by reason of breakings they purify themselves.'” In the Astronomical Tablets, which Professor Sayce
* “Cuneiform Ins.," iv. 15. * Ib. ii. 27. * Job xli.
dates about B.C. 16oo, we have the continual association of eclipse and flood: ‘On the fifteenth day an eclipse takes place. The king dies; and rains in the heaven, floods in the channels are.’ ‘In the month of Elul (August), the fourteenth day, an eclipse takes place. . . . Northward . . . its shadow is seen; and to the King of Mullias a crown is given. To the king the crown is an omen; and over the king the eclipse passes. Rains in heaven, floods in the channels flow. A famine is in the country. Men their sons for silver sell.’ ‘After a year the Air-god inundates.'" In the Chaldaeo-Babylonian cosmogony the three zones of the universe were ruled over by a Triad as follows: the Heaven by Anu ; the surface of the earth, including the atmosphere, by Bel; the under-world by Nouah.” This same Nouah is the Assyrian Hea or Saviour; and it is Noah of the Bible. The name means a rest or residence,—the place where man may dwell. When Tiamat the Dragon, or the Leviathan, opens ‘the fountains of the great deep,' and Anu ‘the windows of Heaven,' it is Hea or Noah who saves the life of man. M. François Lenormant has shown this to be the probable sense of one of the most ancient Accadian fragments in the British Museum. In it allusion is made to ‘the serpent of seven heads . . . that beats the sea.” Hea, however, appears to be more clearly indicated in a fragment which Professor Sayce appends to this:– Below in the abyss the forceful multitudes may they sacrifice. The overwhelming fear of Anu in the midst of Heaven encircles his path.
The spirits of earth, the mighty gods, withstand him not.
* “Records of the Past,’ i. * Lenormant, “La Magie.' * “Records of the Past," iii. 129.
I Io THE FLOOD.
ADAR, the striker of the fortresses of the rebel band, opened.
In this primitive fragment we find the hero of the mountain (Noah), invoking both Bel and Nebo, aerial and infernal Intelligences, and Adar the Chaldaean Hercules, for their “inspiration’—that breath which, in the biblical story, goes forth in the form of the Dove (‘the herald of his rest' in the Accadian fragment), and in the wind' by which the waters were assuaged (in the fragment ‘the spirits of the earth' which are given into the hand of the violent “hero of the mountain,’ whom alone the gods ‘will not urge').
The Hydra may be taken as a type of the destructive water-demon in a double sense, for its heads remain in many mythical forms. The Syrian Dagon and Atergatis, fish-deities, have bequeathed but their element to our
* The god of the Euphrates. The Assyrian has of the high places.” * “Records of the Past," iii. 129, 130.
OLD NICK. I I I
Undines of romance. Some nymphs have so long been detached from aqueous associations as to have made their names puzzling, and their place in demonology more so. To the Nixy (voxo) of Germany, now merely mischievous like the British Pixy, many philologists trace the common phrase for the Devil, ‘Old Nick.’ I believe, however, that this phrase owes its popularity to St. Nicholas rather than to the Norse water-god whose place he was assigned after the christian accession. This saintly Poseidon, who, from being the patron of fishermen, gradually became associated with that demon whom, Sir Walter Scott said, “the British sailor feared when he feared nothing else,' was also of old the patron of pirates; and robbers were called ‘St. Nicholas' clerks.’ 1 In Norway and the Netherlands the ancient belief in the demon Nikke was strong; he was a kind of Wild Huntsman of the Sea, and has left many legends, of which “The Flying Dutchman’ is one. But my belief is that, through his legendary relation to boys, St. Nicholas gave the name Old Nick its modern moral accent. Because of his reputation for having restored to life three murdered children St. Nicholas was made their patron, and on his day, December 6, it was the old custom to consecrate a Boy-Bishop, who held office until the 28th of the month. By this means he became the moral appendage of the old Wodan god of the Germanic races, who was believed in winter time to find shelter in and shower benefits from evergreens, especially firs, on his favourite children who happened to wander beneath them. ‘Bartel,’ ‘Klaubauf,' or whatever he might be called, was reduced to be the servant of St. Nicholas, whose name is now jumbled into ‘Santaclaus.’ According to the old custom he appeared
* “Henry IV.,’ Part 1st, Act 2. ‘Heart of Mid-Lothian,’ xxv. An interesting paper on this subject by Mr. Alexander Wilder appeared in The Evolution, New York, December 16, 1877.
i I 2 AV/CK OF THE WOODS.
attended by his Knecht Klaubauf-personated by those who knew all about the children—bringing a sort of doomsday. The gifts having been bestowed on the good children, St. Nicholas then ordered Klaubauf to put the naughty ones into his pannier and carry them off for punishment. The terror and shrieks thus caused have created vast misery, among children, and in Munich and some other places the authorities have very properly made such tragedies illegal. But for many centuries it was the custom of nurses and mothers to threaten refractory children with being carried off at the end of the year by Nicholas; and in this way each year closed, in the young apprehension, with a Judgment Day, a Weighing of Souls, and a Devil or Old Nick as agent of retribution. Nick has long since lost his aquatic character, and we find his name in the Far West (America) turning up as “The Nick of the Woods,'—the wild legend of a settler who, following a vow of vengeance for his wrongs, used to kill the red men while they slept, and was supposed to be a demon. The Japanese have a water-dragon—Kappa —of a retributive and moral kind, whose office it is to swallow bad boys who go to swim in disobedience to their parents' commands, or at improper times and places. It is not improbable that such dangers to the young originated some of the water-demons,—probably such as are thought of as diminutive and mischievous, e.g., Nixies. The Nixa was for a long time on the Baltic coast the female ‘Old Nick, and much feared by fishermen. Her malign disposition is represented in the Kelpie of Scotland, —a water-horse, believed to carry away the unwary by sudden floods to devour them. In Germany there was a river-goddess whose temple stood at Magdeburg, whence its name. A legend exists of her having appeared in the market there in christian costume, but she was detected by