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of heavenly wrath because upon them, the desert the approach of so me disa
unusual solicitude amongst the Pagans But, quitting this province of the ornithomancy grew into an elaboominous, where it is made the object rate science. But if every rule and of a direct personal inquest, whether distinction upon the number and the by private or by national trials, or the position of birds, whether to the right sortilegy of events, let us throw our or the left, had been collected from eyes over the broader field of omens, our own village matrons amongst ouras they offer themselves spontaneously selves, it would appear that no more to those who do not seek, or would even of this Pagan science had gone to willingly evade them. There are few wreck than must naturally follow the of these, perhaps none, which are not difference between a believing and a universal in their authority, though disbelieving government. Magpies are every land in turn fancies them still of awful authority in village life, (like its proverbs) of local prescription according to their number, &c.; for and origin. The death-watch extends a striking illustration of which we may from England to Cashmere, and across refer the reader to Sir Walter Scott's India diagonally to the remotest nook Demonology, reported not at second. of Bengal, over a three thousand hand, but from Sir Walter's personal miles' distance from the entrance of communication with some seafaring the Indian Punjaub. A hare crossing fellow-traveller in a stage-coach. a man's path on starting in the morn- Among the ancient stories of the ing, has been held in all countries same class is one which we shall re. alike to prognosticate evil in the peat-having reference to that Herod course of that day. Thus, in the Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Confessions of a Thug, (which is par. Great, before whom St Paul made his tially built on a real judicial docus famous apology at Cæsarea. This ment, and every where conforms to Agrippa, overwhelmed by debts, had the usages of Hindostan,) the hero of fled from Palestine to Rome in the the horrid narrative * charges some latter years of Tiberius. His mother's disaster of his own upon having ne. interest with the widow of Germani. glected such an omen of the morning. cus procured him a special recommenThe same belief operated in Pagan dation to her son Caligula. Viewing Italy. The same omen announced to this child and heir of the popular GerLord Lindsay's Arab attendants in manicus as the rising sun, Agrippa
* " The hero of the horrid narrative." Horrid it certainly is; and one incident in every case gives a demoniacal air of coolness to the hellish atrocities, viz. the regular forwarding of the bheels, or grave-diggers. But else the tale tends too much to monotony; and for a reason which ought to have checked the author in carrying on the work to three volumes, namely, that although there is much dramatic variety in the circumstances of the several cases, there is none in the catastrophes.
The brave man and the coward, the erect spirit fighting to the last and the poor creature that despairs from the first—all are confounded in one undistinguishing end by sudden strangulation. This was the original defect of the plan. The sudden surprise, and the scientific noosing as with a Chilian lasso, constituted in fact a main feature of Thuggee. But still, the gradual theatrical arrangement of each Thug severally by the side of a victim, must often have roused violent suspicion, and that in time to intercept the suddenness of the murder. Now, for the sake of the dramatic effect, this interception ought more often to have been introduced-else the murders are but so many blind surprises as if in sleep.
had been too free in his language. heedfully-that, when next you see True, the uncle of Germanicus was the bird which now perches above the reigning prince; but he was old, your head, you will have only five and breaking up. True, the son of days longer to live! This event will Germanicus was not yet on the be surely accomplished by that same throne; but he soon would be ; and mysterious god who has thought fit Agrippa was rash enough to call to send the bird as a warning the Emperor a superannuated old sign; and you, when you come to fellow, and even to wish for his death. your glory, do not forget me that Sejanus was now dead and gone ; foreshowed it in your humiliation.'" but there was no want of spies : The story adds, that Agrippa affected and a certain Macro reported his to laugh when the German concluded; words to Tiberius. Agrippa was in after which it goes on to say, that in consequence arrested ; the Emperor a few weeks, being delivered by the himself condescending to point out death of Tiberius ; being released the noble Jew to the officer on duty. from prison by the very prince on The case was a gloomy one, if Tibe. whose account he had incurred the rius should happen to survive much risk; being raised to a tetrarchy, and longer: and the story of the omen afterwards to the kingdom of all Juproceeds thus:-“Now Agrippa stood dea; coming into all the prosperity in his bonds before the Imperial pa- which had been promised to him by lace, and in his affliction leaned against the German; and not losing any part
; a certain tree, upon the boughs of of his interest at Rome through the which it happened that a bird had assassination of his patron Caligulaalighted which the Romans call bubo, he began to look back respectfully to or the owl. All this was steadfastly the words of the German, and forwards observed by a German prisoner, who with anxiety to the second coming of asked a soldier what might be the the bird. Seven years of sunshine name and offence of that man habited had now slipped away as silently as in purple. Being told that the man's a dream. A great festival, shows and name was Agrippa, and that he was vows, was on the point of being cele. a Jew of high rank, who had given a brated in honour of Claudius Cæsar, personal offence to the Emperor, the at Strato's Tower, otherwise called German asked permission to go near Cæsarea, the Roman metropolis of and address him; which being grant- Palestine. Duty and policy alike reed, he spoke thus :- This disaster, I quired that the king of the land doubt not, young man, is trying to should go down and unite in this your heart ; and perhaps you will not mode of religious homage to the embelieve me when I announce to you peror. He did so; and on the second beforehand the providential deliver- morning of the festival, by way of ance which is impending. However, doing more conspicuous honour to the this much I will say—and for my sin. great solemnity, he assumed a very cerity let me appeal to my native sumptuous attire of silver armour, gods, as well as to the gods of this burnished so highly as to throw back Rome, who have brought us both into a dazzling glare from the sun's morntrouble—that no selfish objects prompt ing beams upon the upturned eyes of me to this revelation-for a revelation the vast multitude around him. Imit is-and to the following effect :-It mediately from the sycophantish part is fated that you shall not long remain of the crowd, of whom a vast majority in chains. Your deliverance will be were Pagans, ascended a cry of glori. speedy ; you shall be raised to the fication as to some manifestation of very highest rank and power ; you Deity. Agrippa, gratified by this shall be the object of as much envy success of his new apparel, and by as now you are of pity ; you shall this flattery, not unusual in the case retain
your prosperity till death; and of kings, had not the firmness you shall transmit that prosperity to (though a Jew, and conscious of the your children. But'--and there wickedness, greater in himself than. the German paused. Agrippa was in the heathen crowd) to reject the agitated; the bystanders were atten- blasphemous homage. Voices of adotive; and after a time, the German, ration continued to ascend ; when sud. pointing solemnly to the bird, pro- denly, looking upward to the vast ceeded thus:--- But this remember awnings prepared for screening the
audience from the noonday heats, the self in his sadde, drew his bow.string king perceived the same ominous bird to his ear; his Jewish hatred of Pagan which he had seen at Rome in the auguries burned within him ; his inday of his aflliction, seated quietly, evitable shaft went right to its mark, and looking down upon himself. in and the beautiful bird fell dead. The that same moment an icy pang shot augur turned round in fury. But through his intestines. He was remov- the Jew laughed at him.
16 This ed into the palace; and at the end of bird, you say, should have furnished five days, completely worn out by us with omens of our future fortunes. pain, Agrippa expired in the 54th But had he known any thing of his year of his age, and the seventh of own, he would never have perched his sovereign power.
where he did, or have come within the Whether the bird, here described range of Mosollam's archery. How as an owl, was really such, may be should that bird know our destiny, who doubted, considering the
did not know that it was his own to be nomenclature of the Romans for all shot by Mosollam the Jew?" zoological purposes, and the total in- Now, this is a most common but a difference of the Roman mind to all most erroneous way of arguing. In distinctions in natural history which a case of this kind, the bird was not are not upon the very largest scale. supposed to have any conscious acWe should much suspect that the bird quaintance with futurity, either for was a magpie. Meantime, speaking his own benefit or that of others. of ornithoscopy in relation to Jews, But even where such a consciousness we remember another story in that may be supposed, as in the case of subdivision of the subject which it oneiromancy, or prophecy by means may be worth while repeating ; not of dreams, it must be supposed limited, merely on its own account, as wearing and the more limited in a personal a fine oriental air, but also for the sense as they are illimitable in a correction which it suggests to a very sublime one. Who imagines that,
because a Daniel or Ezekiel foresaw In some period of Syrian war- the grand revolutions of the earth, fare, a large military detachment therefore they must or could have was entering at some point of foreseen the little details of their own Syria from the desert of the Eu- ordinary life? And even descending phrates. At the head of the whole from that perfect inspiration to the array rode two men of some distinc- more doubtful power of augury tion: one was an augur of high repu. amongst the Pagans, (concerning tation, the other was a Jew called which the most eminent of theologians Mosollam, a man of admirable beauty, have held very opposite theories,) a matchless horseman, an unerring one thing is certain, that, so long as archer, and accomplished in all mar. we entertain such pretensions, or distial arts. As they were now first cuss them at all, we must take them coming within enclosed grounds, after with tlie principle of those who proa long march in the wilderness, the fessed such arts, not with principles of augur was most anxious to inaugurate our own arbitrary invention. the expedition by some considerable One example will make this clear:
Watching anxiously, there. There are in England* a class of men fore, he soon saw a bird of splendid who practise the Pagan rhabdomancy plumage perching on a low wall. in a limited sense. They carry a rod “ Halt !” he said to the advanced or rhabdos (poboos) of willow: this guard : and all drew up in a line. At they hold horizontally; and by the that moment of silence and expecta- bending of the rod towards the ground tion, Mosollam, slightly turning him- they discover the favourable places
*“ There are in England.”—Especially in Somersetshire, and for twenty miles round Wrington, the birthplace of Locke. Nobody sinks for wells without their advice. We ourselves knew an amiable and accomplished Scottish family, who, at an estate called Belmadrothie, in memory of a similar property in Ross-shire, built a house in Somersetshire, and resolved to find water without help from the jowser. But after sinking to a greater depth than ever had been known before, and spending nearly £200, they were finally obliged to consult the jowser, who found water at once.
for sinking wells; a matter of con- these circumstances, why should it siderable importance in a province so surprise us that men will pursue the ill-watered as the northern district of science of discovery as a regular Somersetshire, &c. These people are trade? Many discoveries of treasure locally called jowsers; and it is pro- are doubtless made continually, which, bable, that from the suspicion with for obvious reasons, are communicated which their art has been usually re- to nobody. Some proportion there garded amongst people of education, must be between the sowing of such as a mere legerdemain trick of Dous- grain as diamonds or emeralds, and terswivel's, is derived the slang word the subsequent reaping, whether by to chouse for swindle. Meantime, accident or by art. For, with regard the experimental evidences of a real to the last, it is no more impossible, practical skill in these men, and the primâ fronte, that a substance may enlarged compass of speculation in exist having an occult sympathy with these days, have led many enlightened subterraneous water or subterraneous people to a Stoic Foxn, or suspension gold, than that the magnet should of judgment, on the reality of this have a sympathy (as yet occult) with somewhat mysterious art. Now, in the northern pole of our planet. the East, there are men who make the The first flash of careless thought same pretensions in a more showy applied to such a case will suggest, branch of the art. It is not water, that men holding powers of this nature but treasures which they profess to need not offer their services for hire find by some hidden kind of rhabdo- to others. And this, in fact, is the mancy. The very existence of trea: objection universally urged by us sures with us is reasonably considered Europeans as decisive against their a thing of improbable occurrence. pretensions. Their knavery, it is But in the unsettled East, and with fancied, stands self-recorded; since, the low valuation of human life where assuredly, they would not be willing ever Mahometanism prevails, inse- to divide their subterranean treasures, curity and other causes must have if they knew of any. But the men caused millions of such deposits in are not in such self-contradiction as every century to have perished as to may seem. Lady Hester Stanhope, any knowledge of survivors. The from the better knowledge she had sword has been moving backwards acquired of Oriental opinions, set Dr and forwards, for instance, like a Madden right on this point. The weaver's shuttle, since the time of Oriental belief is that a fatality attends Mahmoud the Ghaznevide, * in Anno the appropriator of a treasure in any Domini 1000, in the vast regions case where he happens also to be the between the Tigris, the Oxus, and discoverer. Such a person, it is held, the Indus. Regularly as it approach will die soon, and suddenly—so that ed, gold and jewels must have sunk he is compelled to seek his remuneraby whole harvests into the ground. tion from the wages or fees of his emA certain per-centage has been doubt- ployers, not from the treasure itself. less recovered: a larger per-centage Many more secret laws are held has disappeared for ever. Hence sacred amongst the professors of that naturally the jealousy of barbarous art than that which was explained by Orientals that we Europeans, in grop- Lady Hester Stanhope. These we ing amongst pyramids, sphynxes, and shall not enter upon at present: but tombs, are looking for buried trea- generally we may remark, that the
The wretches are not so wide same practices of subterranean depo. astray in what they believe as in what sits, during our troubled periods in they disbelieve. The treasures do Europe, led to the same superstitions. really exist which they fancy; but And it may be added, that the same then also the other treasures in the error has arisen in both cases as to glorious antiquities have that exist- some of these superstitions. How often ence for our sense of beauty which to must it have struck people of liberal their brutality is inconceivable. In feelings, as a scandalous proof of the preposterous value set upon riches from the Euphrates to the western by poor men, that ghosts should po. shores of Africa, has its own peculiar pularly be supposed to rise and wan. terrors both as to sights and sounds. der for the sake of revealing the situ- In the wilderness of Zin, between Pa. ations of buried treasures. For our. lestine and the Red Sea, a section of selves, we have been accustomed to the desert well known in these days view this popular belief in the light to our own countrymen, bells are of an argument for pity rather than heard daily pealing for matins, or for contempt towards poor men, as for vespers, from some phantom conindicating the extreme pressure of vent that no search of Christian or of that necessity which could so have de. Bedouin Arab has ever been able to moralized their natural sense of truth. discover. These bells have sounded But certainly, in whatever feelings since the Crusades. Other sounds, originating, such popular superstitious trumpets, the Alala of armies, &c., are as to motives of ghostly missions did heard in other regions of the Desert. scem to argue a deplorable miscon Forms, also, are seen of more people ception of the relation subsisting be- than have any right to be walking in tween the spiritual world and the human paths ; sometimes forms of perishable treasures of this perishable avowed terror; sometimes, which is a world. Yet, when we look into the case of far more danger, appearances Eastern explanations of this case, we that mimic the shapes of men, and find that it is meant to express, not even of friends or comrades. This is any overvaluation of riches, but the a case much dwelt on by the old tra. direct contrary passion. A human vellers, and which throws a gloom spirit is punished-such is the notion over the spirits of all Bedouins, and -punished in the spiritual world for of every cafila or caravan. We all excessive attachment to gold, by de know what a sensation of loneliness gradation to the office of its guardian ; or “ ceriness” (to use an expressive and from this office the tortured spirit term of the ballad poetry) arises to can release itself only by revealing any small party assembling in a single the treasure and transferring the cus- room of a vast desolate mansion : bow tody. It is a penal martyrdom, not the timid among them fancy continuan elective passion for gold, which is ally that they hear some remote door thus exemplified in the wanderings of opening, or trace the sound of supa treasure-ghost.
* Mahmood of Ghizni, which, under the European name of Ghaznee, was so recently taken in one hour by our Indian army under Lord Keane. Mahmood was the first Mahometan invader of Hindostan,
pressed footsteps from some distant But, in a field where of necessity staircase. Such is the feeling in the we are so much limited, we willingly desert, even in the midst of the carą. pass from the consideration of these The mighty solitude is seen: treasure or khasné phantoms (which the dread silence is anticipated which alone sufficiently ensure a swarm of will succeed to this brief transit of ghostly terrors for all Oriental ruins men, camels, and horses. Awe pre. of cities) to the same marvellous ap. vaiis even in the midst of society: paritions, as they haunt other solitudes but, if the traveller should loiter beeven more awful than those of ruined hiud from fatigue, or be so imprudent cities. In this world there are two as to ramble aside-should he from mighty forms of perfect solitude- any cause once lose sight of his party, the ocean and the desert: the wilder. it is held that his chance is small of ness of the barren sands, and the wil. recovering their traces. And why? derness of the barren waters. Both Not chiefly from the want of footare the parents of inevitable supersti. marks where the wind effaces all imtions-of terrors, solemn, ineradicable, pressions in half-an-hour, or of eyeeternal. Sailors and the children of marks where all is one blank ocean of the desert are alike overrun with spi- sand, but much more from the sounds ritual hauntings, from accidents of or the visual appearances which are peril essentially connected with those supposed to beset and to seduce all
aodes of life, and from the eternal insulated wanderers.
, which will for ever impress the feeling or those who had seen Pan. But far of beings more than human: and more awful and gloomy are the existevery chamber of the great wilderness ing superstitions, throughout Asia and which,with little interruption, stretches Africa, as to the perils of those who