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SPECTRES OF SOUTER FE/I. 243
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 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 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 fling 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.
244 MoowSHINE WAMPVRE.
logic heavens of ancient India: substantially subjective— such 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 supply 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 halfdarkness, 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 Glâmr, 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 IoI4).’ 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,
Quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligná Est iter in sylvis. Now, there is a curious old Sanskrit word, glau or gldv, 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 mediaeval poet, Bhāsa (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 ?” In the Icelandic legend of the struggle between the hero Grettir, translated by Magnússen and Morris (London, 1869), the saga supplies a scenery as archaeological as if the philologists had been consulted. ‘Bright moonlight was there without, and the drift was broken, now
* “Journal of Philology," vi. No. 11. On the Word Glamour and the Legend of Glam, by Professor Cowell.
drawn over the moon, now driven off from her; and even as Glam fell, a cloud was driven from the moon, and Glam glared up against her.' When the hero beheld these glaring eyes of the giant Ghost, he felt some fiendish craft in them, and could not draw his short sword, and “lay well nigh 'twixt home and hell.’ This half-light of the moon, which robs the Strong of half his power, is repeated in Glam's curse: ‘Exceedingly eager hast thou sought to meet me, Grettir, but no wonder will it be deemed, though thou gettest no good hap of me; and this I must tell thee, that thou now hast got half the strength and manhood which was thy lot if thou hadst not met me: now I may not take from thee the strength which thou hast got before this ; but that may I rule, that thou shalt never be mightier than now thou art . . . therefore this weird I lay on thee, ever in those days to see these eyes with thine eyes, and thou wilt find it hard to be alone—and that shalt drag thee unto death.’ The Moon-demon's power is limited to the spell of illusion he can cast. Presently he is laid low; the ‘short sword' of a sunbeam pales, decapitates him. But after Glam is burned to cold coals, and his ashes buried in skin of a beast “where sheep-pastures were fewest, or the ways of men,' the spell lay upon the hero's eyes. “Grettir said that his temper had been nowise bettered by this, that he was worse to quiet than before, and that he deemed all trouble worse than it was ; but that herein he found the greatest change, in that he was become so fearsome a man in the dark, that he durst go nowhither alone after nightfall, for then he seemed to see all kinds of horrors. And that has fallen since into a proverb, that Glam lends eyes, or gives Glamsight to those who see things nowise as they are.’ In reading which one may wonder how this world would
LUAWAR THEOLOGY 247
look if for a little moment one's eyes could be purged of glamour. Even at the moon's self one tries vainly to look: where Hindu and Zulu see a hare, the Arab sees coils of a serpent, and the Englishman sees a man; and the most intelligent of these several races will find it hard to see in the moon aught save what their primitive ancestors saw. And this small hint of the degree to which the wisest, like Merlin, are bound fast in an air-prison by a Vivien whose spells are spun from themselves, would carry us far could we only venture to follow it out. ‘The Moon,' observed Dr. Johnson unconsciously, “has great influence in vulgar philosophy.” How much lunar theology have we around us, so that many from the cradle to the grave get no clear sight of nature or of themselves | Very closely did Carlyle come to the fable of Glam when speaking of Coleridge's ‘prophetic moonshine,' and its effect on poor John Sterling. “If the bottled moonshine be actually substance 2 Ah, could one but believe in a church while finding it incredible ! . . . The bereaved young lady has taken the veil then | . . . To such lengths can transcendental moonshine, cast by some morbidly radiating Coleridge into the chaos of a fermenting life, act magically there, and produce divulsions and convulsions and diseased developments.’ One can almost fancy Carlyle had ringing in his memory the old Scottish ballad of the Rev. Robert Kirk, translator of the Psalms into Gaelic, who, while walking in his nightgown at Aberfoyle, was “snatched away to the joyless Elfin bower.’
It was between the night and day
The item of the night-gown might have already prepared us for the couplet; and it has perhaps even a mystical connection with the vestment of the ‘black dragoon’ which