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LA DAME BLANCHE. 203

Richard Doyle enriched the first Exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery in London, 1877, with many beautiful pictures inspired by European Folklore. They were a pretty garniture for the cemetery of dead religions. The witch once seen on her broom departing from the high crags of Cuhillan, cheered by her faithful dwarf, is no longer unlovely as in the days when she was burned by proxy in some poor human hag ; obedient to art—a more potent wand than her own—she reascends to the clouds from which she was borne, and is hardly distinguishable from them. Slowly man came to learn with the poet—

It was the mountain streams that fed
The fair green plain's amenities."

Then the giants became fairies, and not a few of these wore at last the mantles of saints. A similar process has been undergone by another subject, which finds its pretty epitaph in the artist's treatment. We saw in two pictures the Dame Blanche of Normandy, lurking in the ravine beside a stream under the dusk, awaiting yon rustic wood-cutter who is presently horizontal in the air in that mad dance, after which he will be found exhausted. As her mountain-sister is faintly shaped out of the clouds that cap Cuhillan, this one is an imaginative outgrowth of the twilight shadows, the silvery glintings of moving clouds mirrored in pools, and her tresses are long luxuriant grasses. She is of a sisterhood which passes by hardly perceptible gradations into others, elsewhere described—the creations of Illusion and Night. She is not altogether one of these, however, but a type of more direct danger—the peril of fords, torrents, thickets, marshes, and treacherous pools, which may seem shallow, but are deep. The water-demons have been already described in their

"John Sterling.

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obvious aspects, but it is necessary to mention here the simple obstructive river-demons haunting fords and burns, and hating bridges. Many tragedies, and many personifications of the forces which caused them, preceded the sanctity of the title Pontifer. The torrent that roared across man's path seemed the vomit of a demon: the sacred power was he who could bridge it. In one of the most beautiful celebrations of Indra it is said: “He tranquillised this great river so that it might be crossed; he conveyed across it in safety the sages who had been unable to pass over it, and who, having crossed, proceeded to realise the wealth they sought; in the exhilaration of the soma, Indra has done these deeds.” In Ceylon, the demon Tota still casts malignant spells about fords and ferries. Many are the legends of the opposition offered by demons to bridge-building, and of the sacrifices which had to be made to them before such works could be accomplished. A few specimens must suffice us. Mr. Dennys relates a very interesting one of the ‘Loh-family bridge’ at Shanghai. Difficulty having been found in laying the foundations, the builder vowed to Heaven two thousand children if the stones could be placed properly. The goddess addressed said she would not require their lives, but that the number named would be attacked by small-pox, which took place, and half the number died. A Chinese author says, “If bridges are not placed in proper positions, such as the laws of geomancy indicate, they may endanger the lives of thousands, by bringing about a visitation of smallpox or sore eyes.' At Hang-Chow a tea-merchant cast himself into the river Tsien-tang as a sacrifice to the Spirit of the dikes, which were constantly being washed away. The “Devil's Bridges,' to which Mephistopheles alludes * “Rig-Veda,” ii. 15, 5. Wilson. 1854.

IXE VIL’S BRIDGES. 205

so proudly, are frequent in Germany, and most of them, whether natural or artificial, have diabolical associations. The oldest structures often have legends in which are reflected the conditions exacted by evil powers, of those who spanned the fords in which men had often been drowned. Of this class is the Montafon Bridge in the Tyrol, and another is the bridge at Ratisbon. The legend of the latter is a fair specimen of those which generally haunt these ancient structures. Its architect was apprentice to a master who was building the cathedral, and laid a wager that he would bridge the Danube before the other laid the coping-stone of the sacred edifice. But the work of bridging the river was hard, and after repeated failures the apprentice began to swear, and wished the devil had charge of the business! Whereupon he of the cloven foot appeared in guise of a friar, and agreed to build the fifteen arches—for a consideration. The fee was to be the first three that crossed the bridge. The cunning apprentice contrived that these three should not be human, but a dog, a cock, and a hen. The devil, in wrath at the fraud, tore the animals to pieces and disappeared; a procession of monks passed over the bridge and made it safe; and thereon are carved figures of the three animals. In most of the stories it is a goat which is sent over and mangled, that poor animal having preserved its character as scape-goat in a great deal of the Folklore of Christendom. The Danube was of old regarded as under the special guardianship of the Prince of Darkness, who used to make great efforts to obstruct the Crusaders voyaging down it to rescue the Holy Land from pagans. On one occasion, near the confluence of the Vilz and Danube, he began hurling huge rocks into the river-bed from the cliffs; the holy warriors resisted successfully by signing the cross and singing an anthem, but the huge stone first thrown caused a whirl

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and swell in that part of the river, which were very dangerous until it was removed by engineers. It is obvious, especially to the English, who have so long found a defensive advantage in the silver streak of sea that separates them from the Continent, that an obstacle, whether of mountain-range or sea, would, at a certain point in the formation of a nation, become as valuable as at another it might be obstructive. Euphemism is credited with having given the friendly name ‘Euxine' to the rough ‘Axine' Sea, “terrible to foreigners.' But this is not so certain. Many a tribe has found the Black Sea a protection and a friend. In the case of mountains, their protective advantages would account at once for Milton's celebration of Freedom as a mountain nymph, and for the stupidity of the people that dwell amid them, so often remarked; the very means of their independence would also be the cause of their insulation and barbarity. It is for those who go to and fro that knowledge is increased. The curious and inquiring are most apt to migrate; the enterprising will not submit to be shut away behind rocks and mountains; by their departure there would be instituted, behind the barriers of rock and hill, a survival of the stupidest. These might ultimately come to worship their chains and cover their craggy prison-walls with convents and crosses. The demons of aliens would be their gods. The climbing Hannibals would be their devils. It might have been expected, after the passages quoted from Mr. Ruskin concerning the bovine condition of Alpine peasantries, that he would salute the tunnel through Mont Cenis. The peasantries who would see in the sub-alpine engine a demon are extinct. Admiration of the genii of obstruction, and horror of the demons that vanquished them, are discoverable only in folk-tales distant enough to be pretty, such as the interesting Serbian story of ‘Satan's jugglings

A SERBIAM FOZA-TALE. 207

and God's might,’ in which fairies hiding in successively opened nuts vainly try to oppose with fire and flood a shedemon pursuing a prince and his bride, to whose aid at last comes a flash of lightning which strikes the fiend dead. One of the beautiful “Contes d'une Grand'mère, by George Sand, Le géant Yeous, has in it the sense of many fables born of man's struggle with obstructive nature. With her wonted felicity she places the scene of this true human drama near the mountain Yéous, in the Pyrenees, whose name is a far-off echo of Zeus. The summit bore an enormous rock which, seen from a distance, appeared somewhat like a statue. The peasant Miquelon, who had his little farm at the mountain's base, whenever he passed made the sign of the cross and taught his little son Miquel to do the same, telling him that the great form was that of a pagan god, an enemy of the human race. An avalanche fell upon the home and garden of Miquelon; the poor man himself was disabled for life, his house and farm turned in a moment into a wild mass of stones. Miquel looked up to the summit of Yéous; the giant had disappeared ; henceforth it was the mighty form of an organic monster which the boy saw stretched over what had once been their happy home and smiling acres. The family went about begging, Miquelon repeating his strange appeal, ‘Le géant s'est couché surmoi.' But when at last the old man dies, the son resolves to fulfil the silent dream of his life; he will encounter the giant Yéous still in possession of his paternal acres. With eyes of the young world this boy sees starting up here and there amid the vast debris, the head of the demon he wishes to crush. He hurls stones hither and thither where some fearful feature or limb appears. He is filled with rage; his dreams are filled with attacks on the giant, in which the colossal head tumbles only to reappear on the shoulders; every broken limb has the self-repairing power. There is

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