« AnteriorContinuar »
and those of West Kent • Kentish Men,' one feels quite sure that our friend's reply is tantamount to disowning that part of the country in which Strood and Rochester are situate, and possibly it may be on the score of the caudal addition under the imputation of which it labours. It is observable, by the way, that this general sentiment of repudiation is adverse to the eccentric theory of Lord Monboddo, who, from all we read of him, might, had he lived till now, have welcomed a gorilla as a superior man and brother.' About these human tails Mr. Baring-Gould collects a variety of travellers' tales, which locate the wearers of them in the island of Formosa, in Æthiopia, and in Abyssinia, where Dr. Wolf, among others, is convinced of their existence. As late as 1852, a physician at the hospitals in Constantinople, Dr. Hubsch, saw a tailed negress of the tribe of the “Niam-niams,
who ate meat raw, and whose clothes fidgetted her,' as indeed well they might. After this it will be a comfort to the devout believers in the “human form divine' to read Mr. Baring-Gould's cheering conclusions (p. 151).
Yet notwithstanding all this testimony in favour of tailed men and women, it is simply a matter of impossibility for a human being to have a tail ; for the spinal vertebræ in man do not admit of elongation, as in many animals; for the spine terminates in the os sacrum, a large and expanded bone of peculiar character entirely precluding all possibility of production to the spine as in caudate animals.' *
We forbear to dwell on the myth, or scandal, of Pope Joan, on which, in connection with the vulgar errors touching Antichrist, our author has a graphic chapter. Fair play, however, obliges us to remark that he is somewhat hard upon Mosheim, a historian who has his faults, but on whom in this matter it is unjust to charge malignity and want of truth. His offence is that he asserts that no one prior to the Reformation considered this story of a female Pope incredible or disgraceful,' and that he assumes the truth of a ridiculous story. To the latter count the simple answer is, that Mosheim qualifies the tale, just as Mr. Baring-Gould would one of his myths, with a prefatory, story-telling, 'It is said.' To the former we reply that such a statement is at least colourable, when the Chronology prefixed by Thomas of Elmham to the
* Had Sir Oran Haut-ton (in Mr. Peacock's admirable novelette of.Melincourt ') a tail, or had he sat it off in his evenings with Captain Hawltaught? It is recorded that he used a stick for attack and defence; whereas Dr. Wolf's men and women with large tails, could knock down a horse with them.'-Curious Myths,' p. 148.
· History of the Monastery of St. Augustine, Canterbury,' about the beginning of the fifteenth century, contains this entry :-
A.D. 855. Joannes. Iste non computatur. Fæmina fuit'- ' An Iricism which might be translated
"John. He don't count. He was a woman'and when Gibbon, who discredits the fable, declares that it was repeated and believed without offence till the Reformation, and that Joan's statue long occupied a place among the Popes in the Cathedral of Sienna.'* It would be enough to say, without falling foul of Mosheim, that the story has long since been exploded ; and indeed if, as writers maintain, it arose out of the licentiousness and effeminacy of Pope John XII., we are not sure that Rome gains very much by voting the Papess a myth.
We may just glance at the intensely human interest of the story of Tanhäuser, which is in this volume neatly told and abundantly paralleled. The minnesinger's easy yielding to the lures of the pagan goddess of love ; his seven-year abandonment to guilty pleasure beneath the Venusberg; his remorse when pleasure palled ; his calling on the Virgin-Mother, and her guidance of him straightway to a rift in the mountain-side through which he emerged to the upper air; his tender of confession to the priest ; his quest of absolution from the Pope, which Urban IV., in the sternness of his heart, denies him; his falling back, in despair, on the sin from which he had sought release with tears; the budding of Urban's staff to show him, too late, how awful is the power of binding and of loosing ; all these are component features of the most graceful form of a myth, which, in one shape or other, is common to every branch of the Aryan family. It is Ulysses and Calypso over again, but it is the Odyssean episode with a Christian epimyth. It is sadder and of deeper meaning than the familiar Scotch legend of Thomas of Ercildoune, or the German Waterman and Annelie,' or the myth of Elidor in Giraldus Cambrensis. For it superadds the lesson, never to thrust out the returning prodigal, nor to bar up with self-righteous austerity the tear-besought place of repentance.
Many myths, besides those with which Mr. Baring-Gould has entertained us, remain without a 'vates sacer' in our literature, Many are to be found in county collections, or float about in
unce of him strarged to the uppsolution from
* •Memorials and Chronicles; Historia Monasterii S. Augustini Cantuariensis,' p. xvi., ed. by C. Hardwick, M.A., 1858. Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall,' &c. vol. vi. p. 183, ed. W. Smith.
allaties submergede they remain" spouses) out or whateve
local traditions, written or unwritten. What is wanted is a tolerably handy compact book of these, which shall be philosophic in arrangement, systematic in classification, and catholic in scope. How many have stumbled upon foot-prints of St. Catherine's mare and foal' on the Old Red Sandstone, which they would be glad to have set side by side, in accessible literature, with the 'Friar's heel’ at Stonehenge, Kybi's foot' at Holyhead, “Father Cuddy's knee' at Killarney, and · Buddha's foot’ in Ceylon, before these traditions vanish away in the clearer light of geology? Who would not rejoice in a review of all the giants' wives who in Wales, in Cornwall, and, no doubt, in all the lands, have dropped huge stones (green, grey, or whatever colour was most obnoxious to their spouses) out of their aprons upon the sand, where they remain unto this very day? Or of the cities submerged between Land's End and Scilly rocks,'
all down the lonely coast of Lyonesse,' or under Llangorse Lake in Brecknockshire, or wherever else a deep, dark, solitary expanse of water has suggested to untutored fancy the superstition that men and men's haunts have been engulfed by the water-flood ? Or of such devil's tricks as are called up by the legend attaching to the parish church of Churchdown (vulgo *Chosen '), which men's hands would have reared upon the level plain, had not the Archfiend's busy fingers carried off to the top of the hill, which overlooks the vale of Gloucester, night after night, what the workmen built in the day?
These look at first like local superstitions, but, if grouped by loving research and intelligent parallelism, they would help to dispel the mists of ignorance even while providing food for fancy. So, too, might we say of the Acta Sanctorum'and monkish legends. Compare them and collate them. Retain them not for truths, but for the sake of whatsoever of truth or beauty underlies their fabulous surface. Nor let the Arthurian legends fade out of remembrance through lack of such popular English accounts of the Round Table, and of Merlin, the enchanter, as our French neighbours possess in the pleasant volumes of Hersart de la Villemarqué.* This ought not so to be, while Tennyson's Guinevere,' the noblest poem of a noble poet, teaches our age what lessons of the chivalrous ideal are to be gleaned and reproduced from the Round Table annals. If it be true that there are Sermons in stones and good in everything,' why not in myths and legends, which are things of beauty, and will mostly yield germs of truth to such as approach them in a spirit of
* • Myrdhinn, ou l'Enchanteur Merlin.' Paris, 1862. •Les Romans de la Table Ronde. Paris, 1860.
thoughtful inquiry? Coleridge wrote, in his Translation of the
The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
They live no longer in the faith of reason.'* A beautiful but a desponding utterance; the last words of which it is the duty and interest of every one who can foresee what life would be with its facts but without its poetry, to do his uttermost to controvert.
Nero , 8670 Sum Pac
ART. VIII.-1. New America. By William Hepworth Dixon.
2 Vols. London, 1867. 2. Across the Continent : a Summer's Journey to the Rocky Moun
tains, the Mormons, and the Pacific States, with Speaker Colfax. By Samuel Bowles, Editor of the 'Springfield (Mass.) Repub
lican. London, 1866. 3. A Journey to Great Salt Lake City, by Jules Rémy and Julius
Brenchley, M.A.; with a Sketch of the History, Religion, and Customs of the Mormons, and an Introduction on the Religious Movement in the United States. By Jules Rémy. 2 Vols.
London, 1862. 4. The City of the Saints. By (Captain) Richard F. Burton.
2nd Edition. 1862. 5. A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(commonly called Mormons), including an Account of their Doctrine and Discipline, with the Reason of the Author for leaving the said Church. By John Carrill, a Member of the Legisla
ture of Missouri. St. Louis, 1839. 6. The History of the Saints, or an Exposé of Joe Smith and
Mormonism. By John C. Bennett (formerly Mayor of Nauvoo).
Boston, 1842. 7, 8. The City of the Mormons, or Three Days in Nauvoo in
1842; and, The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, or the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Mormons. By the Rev. H. Caswall. London, 1843. 9. Mormonism and the Mormons : a Historical View of the Rise and Progress of the Sect self-styled Latter-Day Saints. By D, T. Kidder. New York, 1844.
10. The Mormons : a Discourse delivered before the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania, March 26, 1850. By Th. L. Kane.
Philadelphia, 1850. 11. The Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, 'a Contemporary His
tory. Edited by Charles Mackay. London, 1851. 4th
Edition, London, 1856. 12. Utah and the Mormons. The History, Government, Doctrines,
Customs, and Prospects of the Latter-Day Saints. From Personal Observation during a Six Months' Residence at Great Salt Lake City. By Benjamin G. Ferris, late Secretary of Utah
Territory. New York and London, 1854. 13. Mormonism Unveiled, or a History of Mormonism to the
Present Time. London, 1855. 14. Geschichte der Mormonen, oder Jüngsten-Tages-Heiligen, in
Nordamerika. Von Theodor Olshausen, Göttingen, 1856. 15. Fifteen Years among the Mormons ; being the narrative of
Mrs. Mary E. V. Smith, late of Great Salt Lake City, a Sister of one of the Mormon High-Priests. By N. W. Green. New York, 1858.
[The above works are by Gentiles' or “ A postates :' those which follow proceed from the Mormons themselves.] 16. The Book of Mormon : an Account written by the hand of
Mormon upon Plates taken from the Plates of Nephi. Translated by Joseph Smith, jun., Palmyra, New York. Third European Edition, stereotyped, 1830. Liverpool and London,
1852. 17. The Book of Doctrines and Covenants of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints, selected from the Revelations of God. By Joseph Smith, President. (First published in America in 1832.) Second European Edition. Liverpool,
1849. 18. A Voice of Warning and Instruction to all People. By
Parley P. Pratt. New York, 1837. (This is an Introduction
to the Doctrines of the Mormons.) 19. The Word of the Lord to the Citizens of London. By H. C.
Kimball and W. Woodruff. London, 1839. 20. The Millennium, and other Poems : to which is annexed a
Treatise on the Regeneration and Eternal Duration of Matter.
By P. P. Pratt. New York, 1840. 21. A Cry out of the Wilderness. By Elder Hyde. (First pub
lished in German and in Germany.) 1842. 22. The Pearl of Great Price : being a Choice Selection from the
Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith. Liverpool, 1842. (Containing the Translations of the · Papyri of Abraham.')