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288 SALT.

fruit. The Rabbins say that not only Adam and Eve, but
the animals in Eden, partook of that fruit, and came under
the power of Sammael the Violent, and of his agent Azrael,
the demon of Death. The Phoenix, having refused this
food, preserved the power of renovating itself.
It is an example of the completeness and consistency
with which a theory may organise its myth, that the fatal
demons are generally represented as abhorring salt—the
preserving agent and foe of decay. The ‘Covenant of
Salt' among the ancient Jews probably had this signifi-
cance, and the care with which Job salted his sacrifice is
considered elsewhere. Aubrey says, “Toads (Saturnine
animals) are killed by putting salt upon them. I have
seen the experiment.’ The devil, as heir of death-demons,
appears in all European folklore as a hater of salt. A
legend, told by Heine, relates that a knight, wandering in
a wood in Italy, came upon a ruin, and in it a wondrous
statue of the goddess of Beauty. Completely fascinated,
the knight haunted the spot day after day, until one evening
he was met by a servant who invited him to enter a villa
which he had not before remarked. What was his surprise
to be ushered into the presence of the living image of his
adored statuel Amid splendour and flowers the enrap-
tured knight is presently seated with his charmer at a
banquet. Every luxury of the world is there; but there
is no salt | When he hints this want a cloud passes over
the face of his Beauty. Presently he asks the servant to
bring the salt; the servant does so, shuddering; the knight
helps himself to it. The next sip of wine he takes elicits
a cry from him: it is liquid fire. Madness seizes upon
him; caresses, burning kisses follow, until he falls asleep
on the bosom of his goddess. But what visions ! Now he
sees her as a wrinkled crone, next a great bat bearing a
torch as it flutters around him, and again as a frightful

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ABAppoly. 289

monster, whose head he cuts off in an agony of terror. When the knight awakes it is in his own villa. He hastens to his ruin, and to the beloved statue; he finds her fallen from the pedestal, and the beautiful head cut from the neck lying at her feet. The Semitic Angel of Death is a figure very different from any that we have considered. He is known in theology only in the degradation which he suffered at the hands of the Rabbins, but originally was an awful but by no means evil genius. The Persians probably imported him, under the name of Asuman, for we do not find him mentioned in their earlier books, and the name has a resemblance to the Hebrew shamad, to exterminate, which would connect it with the biblical “destroyer’ Abaddon. This is rendered more probable because the Zoroastrians believed in an earlier demon, Vízaresha, who carried souls after death to the region of Deva-worshippers (India). The Chaldaic Angel of Death, Malk-ad Mousa, may have derived his name from the legerd of his having approached Moses with the object of forcing his soul out of his body, but, being struck by the glory of Moses' face, and by virtue of the divine name on his rod, was compelled to retire. The legend is not so ancient as the name, and was possibly a Saga suggested by the name; it is obviously the origin of the tradition of the struggle between Michael and Satan for the body of Moses (Jude 9). This personification had thus declined among the Jews into being evil enough to be identified with Samaël,-who, in the Book of the Assumption of Moses, is named as his assailant, and subsequently with Satan himself, named in connection with the New Testament version. It was on account of this degradation of a being described in the earlier books of the Bible as the commissioner of Jehovah that there was

gradually developed among the Jews two Angels of Death, VOI. I. T

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one (Samaël, or his agent Azrael) for those who died out of the land of Israel, and the other (Gabriel) for those who had the happier lot of dying in their own country. This relegation of Samaël to the wandering Jews—who if they died abroad were not supposed to reach Paradise with facility, if at all—is significant. For Samaël is pretty certainly a conception borrowed from outlying Semitic tribes. What that conception was we find in Job xviii. 18, where he is ‘the king of Terrors,' and still more in the Arabic Azrael. The legend of this typical Angel of Death is that he was promoted to his high office for special service. When Allah was about to create man he sent the angels Gabriel, Michael, and Israfil to the earth to bring clay of different colours for that purpose; but the Earth warned them that the being about to be formed would rebel against his creator and draw down a curse upon her (the Earth), and they returned without bringing the clay. Then Azrael was sent by Allah, and he executed his commission without fear; and for this he was appointed the angel to separate souls from bodies. Azrael had subordinate angels under him, and these are alluded to in the opening lines of the Sura 79 of the Koran : By the angels who tear forth the souls of some with violence; And by those who draw forth the souls of others with gentleness. The souls of the righteous are drawn forth with gentleness, those of the wicked torn from them in the way shown in the Russian picture (Fig. 19), which is indeed an illustration of the same mythology. These terrible tasks were indeed such as were only too likely to bring Azrael into the evil repute of an executioner in the course of time; but no degradation of him seems to have been developed among the Moslems. He seems to have been associated in their minds with Fate, and similar stories were told of him. Thus it is related that

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once when Azračl was passing by Solomon he gazed intently upon a man with whom Solomon was conversing. Solomon told his companion that it was the Angel of Death who was looking at him, and the man replied, “He seems to want me: order the wind to carry me from hence into India;' when this was done Azrael approached Solomon and said, “I looked earnestly at that man from wonder, for I was commanded to take his soul in India.’” Azrael was often represented as presenting to the lips a cup of poison. It is probable that this image arose from the ancient ordeal by poison, whereby draughts, however manipulated beforehand with reference to the results, were popularly held to be divinely mingled for retributive or beneficent effects. “Cup' thus became among Semitic tribes a symbol of Fate. The ‘cup of consolation,’ ‘cup of wrath,' cup, of trembling,’ which we read of in the Old Testament; the ‘cup of blessing,' and ‘cup of devils,’ spoken of by Paul, have this significance. The cup of Nestor, ornamented with the dove (Iliad, xi. 632), was probably a ‘cup of blessing,' and Mr. Schliemann has found several of the same kind at Mycenae. The symbol was repeatedly used by Christ,-' Let this cup pass from me,’ “The cup that my Father hath given me to drink shall I not drink it,” “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink of,'—and the familiar association of Azrael's cup is expressed in the phrase ‘taste of death.’ One of the most pleasing modifications of the belief in the Angel of Death is that found by Lepsius” among the Mohammedan negroes of Kordofan. Osrain (Azrael), it is said, receives the souls of the dead, and leads the good to their reward, the bad to punishment. ‘He lives in a tree, el Segerat mohana (the tree of fulfilling), which has as many

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292 DEATH AAWD THE COBBLER.

leaves as there are inhabitants in the world. On each leaf is a name, and when a child is born a new one grows. If any one becomes ill his leaf fades, and should he be destined to die, Osrain breaks it off. Formerly he used to come visibly to those whom he was going to carry away, and thus put them in great terror. Since the prophet's time, however, he has become invisible; for when he came to fetch Mohammed's soul he told him that it was not good that by his visible appearance he should frighten mankind. They might then easily die of terror, before praying; for he himself, although a courageous and spirited man, was somewhat perturbed at his appearance. Therefore the prophet begged God to make Osrain invisible, which prayer was granted.’ Mr. Mackenzie adds on this that, among the Moravian Jews, at new moon a branch is held in its light, and the name of a person pronounced : his face will appear between the horns of the moon, and should he be destined to die the leaves will fade. Mr. John Ruskin has been very severe upon the Italians for the humour with which they introduce Death as a person of their masque. “When I was in Venice in 1850, he says, “the most popular piece of the comic opera was “Death and the Cobbler,” in which the point of the plot was the success of a village cobbler as a physician, in consequence of the appearance of Death to him beside the bed of every patient who was not to recover; and the most applauded scene in it was one in which the physician, insolent in success, and swollen with luxury, was himself taken down into the abode of Death, and thrown into an agony of terror by being shown lives of men, under the form of wasting lamps, and his own ready to expire.” On which he expresses the opinion that “this endurance of fearful images is partly associated with indecency, partly

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