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248 A STORY OF DARTMOOR.
Sterling once saw patrolling in every parlsh, to whom, however, he surrendered at last.
A story is told of a man wandering on a dark night over Dartmoor, whose feet slipped over the edge of a pit. He caught the branch of a tree suspended over the terrible chasm, but unable to regain the ground, shrieked for help. None came, though he cried out till his voice was gone; and there he remained dangling in agony until the grey light revealed that his feet were only a few inches from the solid ground. Such are the chief demons that bind man till cockcrow. Such are the apprehensions that waste also the moral and intellectual strength of man, and murder his peace as he regards the necessary science of his time to be cutting some frail tenure sustaining him over a bottomless pit, instead of a release from real terror to the solid ground
A FAMILIAR fable in the East tells of one who met a searful phantom, which in reply to his questioning answered— ‘I am Plague: I have come from yon city where ten thousand lie dead : one thousand were slain by me, the rest by Fear.” Perhaps even this story does not fully report the alliance between the plague and fear; for it is hardly doubtful that epidemics retain their power in the East largely because they have gained personification through fear as demons whose fatal power man can neither prevent nor cure, before which he can only cower and pray.
In the missionary school at Canterbury the young men prepare themselves to help the ‘heathen’ medically, and so they go forth with materia medica in one hand, and in the other an infallible revelation from heaven reporting plagues as the inflictions of Jehovah, or the destroying angel, or Satan, and the healing of disease the jealously reserved monopoly of God."
* 2 Chron. xvi. 12; 2 Kings xx.; Mark v. 26; James v. 14; &c., &c. The Catholic Church follows the prescription by St. James of prayer and holy 25o DE VIL DAAVCES.
The demonisation of diseases is not wonderful. To thoughtful minds not even science has dispelled the mystery which surrounds many of the ailments that afflict mankind, especially the normal diseases besetting children, hereditary complaints, and the strange liabilities to infection and contagion. A genuine, however partial, observation would suggest to primitive man some connection between the symptoms of many diseases and the mysterious universe of which he could not yet recognise himself an epitome. There were indications that certain troubles of this kind were related to the seasons, consequently to the celestial rulers of the seasons,—to the sun that smote by day, and the moon at night. Professor Monier Williams, describing the Devil-dances of Southern India, says that there seems to be an idea among them that when pestilences are rife exceptional measures must be taken to draw off the malignant spirits, supposed to cause them, by tempting them to enter into these wild dancers, and so become dissipated. He witnessed in Ceylon a dance performed by three men who personated the forms and phases of typhus fever." These dances probably belong to the same class of ideas as those of the dervishes in Persia, whose manifold contortions are supposed to repeat the movements of planets. They are invocations of the Souls of good stars, and propitiations of such as are anointing for the sick only after medical aid—of which Asa died when he preferred it to the Lord—has failed; i.e. extreme unction. Castelar remarks that the Conclave which elected Pius IX. sat in the Quirinal rather than the Vatican, “because, while it hoped for the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in every place, it feared that in the palace par excellence divine inspirations would not sufficiently counteract the effluvias of the sever.' The legal prosecutions of the “Peculiar People’ for obeying the New Testament command in case of sickness supply a notable example of the equal hypocrisy of the protestant age. England has distributed the Bible as a divine revelation in 150 different languages; and in London it punishes a sect for obedience to one of its plain
evil. Belief in such stellar and planetary influences has pervaded every part of the world, and gave rise to astrological dances. “Gebelin says that the minuet was the danse oblique of the ancient priests of Apollo, performed in their temples. The diagonal line and the two parallels described in this dance were intended to be symbolical of the zodiac, and the twelve steps of which it is composed were meant for the twelve signs and the months of the year. The dance round the Maypole and the Cotillon has the same origin. Diodorus tells us that Apollo was adored with dances, and in the island of Iona the god danced all night. The christians of St. Thomas till a very late day celebrated their worship with dances and songs. Calmet says there were dancing-girls in the temple at Jerusalem.” The influence of the Moon upon tides, the sleeplessness it causes, the restlessness of the insane under its occasional light, and such treacheries of moonshine as we have already considered, have populated our uninhabited satellite with demons. Lunar legends have decorated some well-founded suspicions of moonlight. The mother draws the curtain between the moonshine and her little Endymion, though not because she sees in the waning moon a pining Selene whose kiss may waste away the beauty of youth. A mere survival is the “bowing to the new moon:” a euphonism traceable to many myths about “lunacy, among them, as I think, to Delilah (‘languishing'), in whose lap the solar Samson is shorn of his locks, leaving him only the blind destructive strength of the ‘moonstruck.' In the purely Semitic theories of the Jews we find diseases ascribed to the wrath of Jehovah, and their cure to his merciful mood. “Jehovah will make thy plagues won
* “Mankind : their Origin and Destiny’ (Longmans, 1872), p. 91. See also Voltaire's Dictionary sor an account of the sacred dances in the Catholic Churches of Spain.
252 DESTRO WING ANGELS.
derful, and the plagues of thy seed; ... he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt whereof thou wast afraid.” The emerods which smote the worshippers of Dagon were ascribed directly to the hand of Jehovah.” In that vague degree of natural dualistic development which preceded the full Iranian influence upon the Jews, the infliction of diseases was delegated to an angel of Jehovah, as in the narratives of smiting the firstborn of Egypt, wasting the army of Sennacherib, and the pestilence sent upon Israel for David's sin. In the progress of this angel to be a demon of disease we find a phase of ambiguity, as shown in the hypochondria of Saul. “The spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.’ “ All such ambiguities disappeared under the influence of Iranian dualism. In the Book of Job we find the infliction of diseases and plagues completely transferred to a powerful spirit, a fully formed opposing potentate. The ‘sons of God,' who in the first chapter of Job are said to have presented themselves before Jehovah, may be identified in the thirty-eighth as the stars which shouted for joy at the creation. Satan is the wandering or malign planet which leads in the Ahrimanic side of the Persian planisphere. In the cosmographical theology of that country Ormuzd was to reign for six thousand years, and then Ahriman was to reign for a similar period. The moral associations of this speculation are discussed elsewhere; it is necessary here only to point out the bearing of the planispheric conception upon the ills that flesh is heir to. Ahriman is the “star-serpent’ of the Zendavasta. “When the pāris ren* Deut. xxviii. 6o. * I Sam. v. 6. * I Sam. xvi. 14. In chap. xviii. Io, this evil spirit is said to have proceeded from Elohim, a difference indicating a further step in that evolution of Jeho
vah into a moral ruler which is fully traced in our chapter on ‘Elohim and Jehovah.'