Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

prayed and past with them, and saw them making merrie with pypes, and gude cheir and wine :-She was carried with them, and when she telled any of these things, she was sairlie tormented by them; and the first time she gaid with them, she gat a sair straike frae one of them, which took all the poustie (power] of her side frae her, and left an ill-far'd mark on her side.

“ She saw the gude neighbours make their sawes [salves] with panns and fyres, and they gathered the herbs before the sun was up, and they cam verie fearful sometimes to her, and flaide (scared] her very sair, which made her cry, and threatened they would use her worse than before ; and at last they tuck away the power of her haile syde frae her, which made her lye many weeks. Sometimes they would come and sitt by her, and promise that she should never want if she would be faithful; but if she would speak and tell of them, they should murther her. Mr William Sympsoune is with them who healed her, and telt her all things ;-he is a young man, not six years

older than herself, and he will appear to her before the court comes ;-he told her he was taken away by them; and he bidd her sign herself that she be not taken away, for the teind of them are tane to hell everie yeare."

Another apparition of a similar kind may be found in the pamphlet which was published A. D. 1696, under the patronage and recommendation of Dr Fowler, Bishop of Gloucester, relative to Ann Jefferies, “ who

"*

* Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. page 215.

was fed for six months by a small sort of airy people, called fairies.” There is every reason to suppose, that this female was either affected with hysteria, or with that highly-excited state of nervous irritability, which, as I have shewn, gives rise to ecstatic illusions. The account of her first fit is the only one which re. lates to the present subject. In the year 1695, says . her historian, “ she then being nineteen years of age, and one day knitting in an arbour in the garden, there came over the hedge to her (as she affirmed) six persons, of a small stature, all cloathed in

green,

which she called fairies : upon which she was so frighted, that she fell into a kind of convulsive fit: but when we found her in this condition, we brought her into the house, and put her to bed, and took great care of her. As soon as she recovered out of the fit, she cries out, “ They are just gone out of the window; they are just gone out of the window. Do you not see them ?' And thus, in the height of her sickness, she would often cry out, and that with eagerness ; sions we attributed to her distemper, supposing her light-headed.” This narrative of the girl seemed highly interesting to her superstitious neighbours, and she was induced to relate far more wonderful stories, upon which not the least dependence can be placed, as the sympathy she excited eventually induced her to become a rank impostor.*

which expres

* Before dismissing the subject of fairies, I shall slightly ad. vert to the strange blending which took place of Grecian and Teu. tonic fables. “ We find,” says Sir Walter Scott, “ the elves, occasionally arrayed in the costume of Greece and Rome, and the

But besides fairies, or elves, which formed the subject of many spectral illusions, a domestic spirit deserves to be mentioned, who was once held in no small degree of reverence. In most northern countries of Europe, there were few families that were without a shrewd and knavish sprite, who, in return for the attention or neglect which he experienced, was known to

Sometimes labour in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn ;
And sometimes make the drink to bear no barm.”

Mr Douce, in his Illustrations of Shakspeare, has shewn, that the Samogitæ, a people formerly inhabiting the shores of the Baltic, who remained idolatrous so late as the 15th century, had a deity named Putscet, whom they invoked to live with them, by placing in the barn, every night, a table covered with bread, butter, cheese, and ale. If these were taken away, good fortune was to be expected; but, if they were left, nothing but bad luck. This spirit is the same as the goblin-groom, Puck, or Robin Goodfellow of the English, whose face and hands were either of a russet or green colour, who was attired in a suit of leather, and armed with a flail. For a much lesser fee than was originally given him, he would assist in threshing, churning, grinding malt or mustard, and sweep

fairy queen and her attendants, transformed into Diana and her nymphs, and invested with their attributes and appropriate insignia.” Mercury was also named by Harsenet in the year 1602, the Prince of the Fairies.

ing the house at midnight.* A similar tall “ lubbarfiend,” habited in a brown garb, was known in Scotland. Upon the condition of a little wort being laid by for him, or the occasional sprinkling, upon a sacrificial stone, of a small quantity of milk, he would ensure the success of many domestic operations. According to Olaus Magnus, the northern nations regarded domestic spirits of this description as the souls of men who had given themselves up during life to illicit pleasures, and were doomed, as a punishment, to wander about the earth, for a certain time, in the peculiar shape which they assumed, and to be bound to mortals in a sort of servitude. It is natural, therefore, to expect, that these familiar spirits would be the subject of many apparitions, of which a few relations are given in Martin's Account of the Second Sight in Scotland. “ A spirit,” says this writer, “ called Browny, was frequently seen in all the most considerable families in the isles and north of Scotland, in the shape of a tall man ; but within these twenty or thirty years he is seen but rarely.”

It is useless to pursue this subject much farther. In the course of a few centuries, the realms of superstition were, in the west of Europe, increased to an almost immeasurable extent. The consequence was,

*“ He would chafe exceedingly,” says Scot, “ if the maid or good-wife of the house, having compassion of his nakedness, laid anie clothes for him, beesides his messe of white bread and milke, which was his standing fee. For in that case he saith, What have we here? Hemton hamten, here will I never more tread nor stampen.”

that the air, the rocks, the seas, the rivers, nay every lake, pool, brook, or spring, became so filled with spirits, both good and evil, that of each province it might be said, in the words of the Roman satirist, “Nostra regio tam plena est numinibus, ut facilius possis deum quam hominem invenire.” Hence the modification which took place of systems of demonology, so as to admit of the classification of all descriptions of devils, whether they had been derived from Grecian, Roman, Teutonic, Celtic, or Eastern systems of mythology. “Our schoolmen, and other divines," says Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, « make nine kinds of bad divels, as Dionysius hath of angels. In the first rank are those false gods of the Gentiles, which were adored heretofor in several idols, and gave oracles at Delphos and elsewhere, whose prince is Belzebub. The second rank is of liars and equivocaters, as Apollo, Pythius, and the like. The third are those vessels of anger, inventers of all mischief, as that of Theutus in Plato. Esay calls them vessels of fury; their prince is Belial. The fourth are malicious, revengeful divels, and their prince is Asmodeus. The fifth kind are coseners, such as belong to magicians and witches; their prince is Satan. The sixth are those aerial divels that corrupt the air, and cause plagues, thunders, fires, &c. spoken of in the Apocalyps and Paule; the Ephesians name them the princes of the aire : Meresin is their prince. The seventh is a destroyer, captaine of the furies, causing wars, tumults, combustions, uproares, mentioned in the Apocalyps, and called Abaddon. The eighth is that accusing or calumniating divel, whom the Greeks

« AnteriorContinuar »