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THE CRAFTY WOLF I43
his ancestors did the priests of Cluny. The skin of the wolf appears in folklore as a charm against hydrophobia; its teeth are best for cutting children's gums, and its bite, if 3urvived, is an assurance against any future wound or pain.
The tragedy which is so foolishly sprung upon the nerves of children, Little Red Riding-Hood, shows the wolf as a crafty animal. There are many legends of a like character which have made it a favourite figure in which,
to represent pious impostors. In our figure Io, the wolf appears as the “dangerous confessor;’ it was intended, as , Mr. Wright thought, for Mary of Modena, Queen of James II., and Father Petre. At the top of the original are the words “Converte Angliam,' and beneath, “It is a foolish sheep that makes the wolf her confessor.’ The craft of the wolf is represented in a partly political partly social turn given by an American fabulist to one of AEsop's fables.
The wolf having accused the lamb he means to devour of fouling the stream, and receiving answer that the lamb was drinking farther down the current, alters the charge and says, “You opposed my candidature at the caucus two years ago.” “I was not then born,' replies the lamb. The wolf then says, “Any one hearing my accusations would testify that I am insane and not responsible for my actions,’ and thereupon devours the lamb with full faith in a jury of his countrymen. M. Toussenel says the wolf is a terrible strategist, albeit the less observant have found little in his character to warrant this attribute of craft, his physiognomy and habits showing him a rather transparent highwayman. It is probable that the fables of this character have derived that trait from his association with demons and devils supposed to take on his shape. In a beautiful hymn to the Earth in the ‘Atharva Veda” it is said, ‘The Earth, which endureth the burden of the oppressor, beareth up the abode of the lofty and of the lowly, suffereth the hog, and giveth entrance to the wild boar.' Boar-hounds in Brittany and some other regions are still kept at Government expense. There are many indications of this kind that in early times men had to defend themselves vigorously against the ravages of the wild boar, and, as De Gubernatis remarks," its character is generally demoniacal. The contests of Hercules with the Erymanthian, and of Meleager with the Calydonian, Boar, are enough to show that it was through its dangerous character that he became sacred to the gods of war, Mars and Odin. But it is also to be remembered that the third incarnation of Vishnu was as a Wild Boar; and as the fearless exterminator of snakes the pig merited this association with the Preserver. Provided with a thick coat of fat, no venom can harm him unless it be on the
1 ‘Zoolog. Myth., ii. 7. Trübner & Co.
lip. It may be this ability to defy the snake-ordeal which, after its uncleanliness had excepted the hog from human voracity in some regions, assigned it a diabolical character. In rabbinical fable the hog and rat were created by Noah to clear the Ark of filth; but the rats becoming a nuisance, he evoked a cat from the lion's nose. It is clear that our Asiatic and Norse ancestors never had such a ferocious beast to encounter as the Grisly Bear (Ursus horribilis) of America, else the appearances of this animal in Demonology could never have been so respectable. The comparatively timid Asiatic Bear (U. /abiatus), the small and almost harmless Thibetan species (U. Thibetanus), would appear to have preponderated over the fiercer but rarer Bears of the North in giving us the Indo-Germanic fables, in which this animal is, on the whole, a favourite. Emerson finds in the fondness of the English for their national legend of “Beauty and the Beast” a sign of the Englishman's own nature. ‘He is a bear with a soft place in his heart; he says No, and helps you.’ The old legend found place in the heart of a particularly representative American also—Theodore Parker, who loved to call his dearest friend ‘Bear,’ and who, on arriving in Europe, went to Berne to see his favourites, from which its name is derived. The fondness of the Bear for honey—whence its Russian name, medvyed, ‘honey-eater’—had probably something to do with its dainty taste for roses and its admiration for female beauty, as told in many myths. In his comparative treatment of the mythology of the Bear, De Gubernatis” mentions the transformation of King Trisankus into a bear, and connects this with the constellation of the Great Bear; but it may with equal probability be related to the many fables of princes who remain under the form of a bear
* ‘Zoolog. Myth.." ii. IoS sew. VOL. I. g. Myth., W K
until the spell is broken by the kiss of some maiden. . It is worthy of note that in the Russian legends the Bear is by no means so amiable as in those of our Western folklore. In one, the Bear-prince lurking in his fountain holds by the beard the king who, while hunting, tries to quench his thirst, and releases him only after a promise to deliver up whatever he has at home without his knowledge; the twins, Ivan and Maria, born during his absence, are thus doomed—are concealed, but discovered by the bear, who carries them away. They are saved by help of the bull. When escaping the bear Ivan throws down a comb, which becomes a tangled forest, which, however, the bear penetrates; but the spread-out towel which becomes a lake of fire sends the bear back.” It is thus the ferocious Arctic Bear which gives the story its sombre character. Such also is the Russian tale of the Bear with iron hairs, which devastates the kingdom, devouring the inhabitants until Ivan and Helena alone remain ; after the two in various ways try to escape, their success is secured by the Bull, which, more kindly than Elisha, blinds the Bear with his horns.” (The Bear retires in winter.) In Norwegian story the Bear becomes milder-a beautiful youth by night, whose wife loses him because she wishes to see him by lamplight: her place is taken by a long-nosed princess, until, by aid of the golden apple and the rose, she recovers her husband. In the Pentameron,” Pretiosa, to escape the persecutions of her father, goes into the forest disguised as a she-bear ; she nurses and cures the prince, who is enamoured of her, and at his kiss becomes a beautiful maid. The Bear thus has a twofold development in folklore. He used to be killed (13th century) at the end of the Carnival in Rome, as the
Afanasies, v. 28. * Ibid., 9, 27. * ii. 6 (De Gubernatis, ii. 117).
Devil.” The Siberians, if they have killed a bear, hang his skin on a tree and apologise humbly to it, declaring that they did not forge the metal that pierced it, and they meant the arrow for a bird; from which it is plain that they rely more on its stupidity than its good heart. In Canada, when the hunters kill a bear, one of them approaches it and places between his teeth the stem of his pipe, breathes in the bowl, and thus, filling with smoke the animal's mouth, conjures its soul not to be offended at his death. As the bear's ghost makes no reply, the huntsman, in order to know if his prayer is granted, cuts the thread under the bear's tongue, and keeps it until the end of the hunt, when a large fire is kindled, and all the band solemnly throw in it what threads of this kind they have ; if these sparkle and vanish, as is natural, it is a sign that the bears are appeased.” In Greenland the great demon, at once feared and invoked, especially by fishermen, is Torngarsuk, a huge Bear with a human arm. He is invisible to all except his priests, the Anguekkoks, who are the only physicians of that people. ... The extreme point of demonic power has always been held by the Serpent. So much, however, will have to be said of the destructiveness and other characteristics of this animal when we come to consider at length its unique position in Mythology, that I content myself here with a pictorial representation of the Singhalese Demon of Serpents. If any one find himself shuddering at sight of a * Rather the devil of lust than of cruelty, according to Du Cange: “Occidunt ursum, occiditur diabolus, id est, temptator nostrae carnis.” * De Plancy (Dict. Inf.), who also relates an amusing legend of the bear who came to a German choir, as seen by a sleepy chorister as he awoke ; the naïve narrator of which adds, that this was the devil sent to hold the singers to their duty : The Lives of the Saints abound with legends of pious bears, such as that commemorated along with St. Sergius in Troitska Lavra, near
Moscow; and that which St. Gallus was ungracious enough to banish from Switzerland ater it had brought him firewood in proof of its conversion.