Obrazy na stronie

ment;” and you, Grimalkin, arch not around us—to fill the shadowy chamber your back at your sister, Puss, there with a shadowy people! And with all for that is the cat of Whittington, thrice the glittering, glancing throng, how Lord Mayor of London. Ha! enter curiously are associated in our minds dreamingly, like Lady Macbeth, the the sources whence we first drew the sleeping Beauty; and lo another Beauty! ideas of their beauty and variety ! -yea, Beauty and the Beast; and be- Yes, the well-thumbed, dog's-eared, side them-apt collocation-walk Valen- twopenny story-book of old days-with tine and Orson-another and another. its flaring red, blue, or yellow wrapper, Lo Tom Thumb! borne by the enchant- and its outrageous wood-cuts--was the er, Merlin, and scorning the perils of " conjuration and the mighty magic" the red cow's mouth; his train consists that charmed all these spirits from tho of Bigendians from Liliput. St. George vasty deep. Now, they are half forgotbears the dragon's head before King ten. The mind's eye can only see them Arthur, and Jack the Giant Killer, with dimly as through a glass. So be it. his belt emblazoned

We would not again read our nursery “This is the valiant Cornish man,

Fairy Tales. We are turned skeptical That slew the giant Cormoran,”

-we fear we should experience some

slight difficulty on the score of belief is close behind. Blunderbuss looks we have lost the faith that never thought daggers at the Man-mountain queller, of question--we can enjoy a fairy tale and his train of Brobdignagians bite as it should be enjoyed-no more. Yet their thumbs scornfully. Upon the it is permitted to call them back to rebrows of Hop-o'-my-Thumb's twelve collection, and to summon along with brothers and sisters glitter the twelve them some faint shadow of that mood golden crowns, which the twelve young of childish mind with which we originogres wore as night-caps. Wit hath ally denounced our "story-books”-conquered ferocity – innocence hath that mood which knew not incredulityoutsped the seven-league boots. Room which eagerly received and treasured up for majesty-King Cole passeth with any marvel, and then looked gapingly his pot in his hand, his pipe in his abroad for more! Interesting, too, is mouth, dancing to the strain of "his it in these musings, and easy as interfiddlers three." Ha! a rush of wings esting, to trace the physical peculiar

-“ Peter Wilkins and the flying In- ities and the characteristic habits of dians.” Peter, take care of thy wife, thought reflected in the fabulous literaor verily she will soar from thee even ture of each separate people. as a bird-she is a human bird_and In the East, indisputably, were the leave thee lone and bewildered as thy fountains from which welled forth the German namesake, surnamed Schlemil, first streams of supernatural fiction. who walked in the fair sunshine, and They have flowed through every civilcast no shadow! Behold—a mortal in ized clime, the waters receiving their the company of supernaturals! Amid tint and tone from the lands they rolled the ringing of fairyland bridles, comes over ; but if we would trace the various the chatter of a parrot--amid the glitter rivers to their source, we should arrivo of fairyland gold, comes a vision of a at one common well-head-and this is goat's-hair umbrella, and a rusty axe! reasonable. The East is a land of fer Robinson Crusoe, the immortal mortal tility of matter and of mind. The -object of many a boy's sleeping teeming earth pours forth its treasures dreams, and waking sympathies-why in the very wantonness of wealth. shouldst thou not also take thy place in Luxuriance there becomes almost rankour fool's paradise ? Come, with honest

Nature, too, when she is very Friday, who puzzled thee upon matters prodigal, is eccentric. With stupendtheological, Robinson, and bring to our ous growth is oftentimes united fantasminds again that fearful piece of satire, tic shape-the richness that cherishes when, with gun-point leveled against the one forms the other. And can we the naked, dancing, unconscious savages not trace an analogy between the phy. -Oh, Defoe, how bitter was thy wit! sical products of the East and its superthou mutteredst, "Now, Friday, fire in natural legends? In both everything the name of God!"

is on a grand scale. The banyan treo How easy is it to summon these vi- covers acres of ground; the oriental sions of half-forgotten boyhood lore genie rears his head to the very clouds;


[ocr errors]

the deserts, the palaces, the cities of ceptive; and whon the court rode forth their stories are all vast, for so are the

with "

bit and bridle ringing," no mornatural features of the land. And then tal, whose dazzled eyes beheld the the eastern fertility of imagination-the scene, could guess that its glory was " Arabian Nights" is the most wonder- delusion--that the green-robed throng ful work of fancy ever put together. were anxious and unhappy, spite their How endless are its combinations! how

pretended gayety, for every seventh unflagging its marvels!

On, on, pro

year a tribute was to be paid to hellceeds the web of story-telling-each that their shining palaces were grim wonder uuraveled, more wonderful than caves—their prancing steeds, ragweed its predecessor. There would be no switches-their broad pieces, clipped

writing out” the author of the " Ara- leaves. The fairies of the Ariel and
bian Nights." But, had they only one Titania mould dwelt under the blossom
author ? Could the overflowings of one that hangs from the bough," and war-
imagination furnish forth such a tide of bled low melodies to the nightingale ;
fiction ? Or were these marvelous but the king of the northern fairy-the
tales collected by slow degrees from Danish ballad informs us-
different lips—chanted, perhaps, to en-

"-Wonned within the hill, liven the long night in the caravanserai,

And like wind in the porch of a ruin'd church or to cheer the hot halt in the desert ?

His voice was ghastly shrill." Most of the supernatural beings of

The northern elves were woodland in oriental fiction have been reproduced in the fairy literature of other lands.

their predilections; they loved the forest

and the deer, but though they protected Its genii, however, stand alone in their vastness-peculiar to the bold fancy of

wild, they persecuted tame animals, and

no farmer's cow was safe from their the Persian fiction-weaver. In the magi of eastern tale, however, are to be found

flint-hearted arrows, unless shielded by the prototypes of the enchanters of

the magic influence of a branch of the

rowan tree. Thus we see in the more other lands. The ogre of ours is nothing else than the ghoul of oriental

peevish, deceitful, and gross porthern story; while it is equally clear that

fairy, the influence of the less sunny

climes, and the sterner and more gloomy from the peri of India sprung the fairy of Europe. And, in this particular, we

cast of thought of the Teutonic nations. cannot but think that we have improved

Let us go further north still, and amid upon the original. Beautiful was the

the rocks and snows, and stormy firths peri-pure in mind, high in aspiration,

of Norway and Lapland, we shall find rich in affection. Yet is there some

that the fairy entirely disappears, or thing still more delicate in Oberon and

degenerates into a misshapen and maTitania. They are what Campbell lignant elf, haunting sepulchral caverns, called humming-birds

or the dreary galleries of deserted

mines. The imaginations of the bards “Atoms of the rainbow fluttering round.” of Scandinavia were as vigorous as they

How glorious was their moonlight were gloomy; they sangrevelry beneath the broad-leaved oaks !

“Round the shores where loud Lofoden How deftly they tripped it, and yet Whirls to death the roaring whale ; hurt no blade of the dewy grass, which

In the halls where Runic Odin

Howls his war-song to the gale ;" grew the greener from their touch! Mortal eye might not view them, except and they attuned their lays and legends the eye of genius, which once beheld to the stern scenery which surrounded and recorded the vision of Midsum- them. Continually engaged in war or mer Night's Dream.”' But although the chase, they well knew the value of

nia was bewitched by the love-plant, iron; and it is a characteristic attribute ere dawn the spell was broken, and the of their supernatural creations, that the delicate pageant faded with the starlight! elves were all cunning workmen in The fairies of the more northern coun- metals—that they labored by the lurid tries of Europe were less exquisitely glare of unearthly fires in forging delicate beings than their compeers of swords and battle-axes, before whose the sunny south. They were capricious dints weapons and armor framed by -spiteful; they envied men their con- human hands cracked and splintered dition, and often wrought them evil;

like glass. their state was splendid, yet it was de

The domestic tendencies of England


bred up a peculiar species of house- tensions to belong to the airy aristohold goblin, occasionally useful, but cracy. And as for the Lurley maid more frequently troublesome. He was luring the boatmen over the cataract by a sort of supernatural servant of all her singing, we think of the syrens of work, and had no objection to dirty yore and refuse the claim to originality work; such were the brownies of Scot- of the modern water sprite. 'Tis in land. We are not aware whether their the recesses of the pine forests that English brethren rejoiced in any dis- the genuine German ghostly people tinctive generic appellation, but Milton dwell. There stalks the Brocken spirit has drawn their portraiture, and -crowned with a chaplet of oak-leaves,

and bearing a broken branch in its “Tells how the drudgin goblin sweat,

shadowy grasp.

There sweeps the To earn the cream-bowl duly set,

wild huntsman, the flying Dutchman When in one night, ere glimpse of morn, His shadowy flail bath thrashed the corn

of the land, with horn and whoop and That ten day-laborers could not end; halloo, careering over the trees a whirlThen lays him down, the lubber fiend, wind of men, and dogs, and horses. And stretched out all the chimney's length, And there is it-in deep dark glens, Basks at the fire bis hairy strength ; And crop full out of doors he flings,

amid the waving of sombre pines—that Ere the first cock his matin rings."

the charcoal-burner, keeping his mid

night watch, seeth a bonfire kindled, In Scotland, as well as England, and dark shadows passing and repassbrownies appear to have been a milk- ing before it. With trembling limbs loving race-and, in consequence, the and bristling hair he maketh his way occasional committers of petty larceny towards it. The blaze pales as he apin the dairy. In spite, however, of his proaches-then vanishes. Taking heart domestic labors, the absence of the of grace he rushes to the spot-and lo! brownie was generally considered better -the greensward whereon the fire than his company. It is recorded that leaped, and blazed, and crackled, is a farmer near the Borders being sorely crisp and unscathed; and the boughs, annoyed by the freaks of his superna

round which the fierce flames twined, tural inmate, who was continually turn- and roared, and wreathed, are green ing the house out of the windows, deter- and fresh, and wet with the dews of mined to dodge the brownie by “flit- midnight! ting," Anglicè, removing to another Witches are the productions of later dwelling. Accordingly the honest man times than fairies, and we suspect that packed up bug and baggage and set off. many of the tales of our beloved twoA neighbor accosted him on the way. penny books are of more recent manuI am leaving the old place,” quoth facture than is generally believed, from the brownie-haunted; "nobody could the circumstance of witches and fairies live with such an evil spirit as we have being very frequently confounded therebeen plagued with there.”—“Oh, yes, in. Now here is a grievous wrong to John, we're flitting, you see, we're flit- the land of faérie." Witches are all ting," chimed in a well-known voice very well in their way, and we have all from the interior of a churn, which was due respect for them ; but we cannot packed on the top of the luggage-cart; consent to have our little, moonlightand brownie popped out his head and dancing, green-robed elves made up nodded complacently to the new comer. into old women, like Mother Hubbard, Imagine the farmer's face !

with a crutch, a sugar-loaf cap, and The Germans have à noble Ghoste- high-heeled shoes. No; let the fairy ology. Amid the smoke of their to- lurk in butter-cups, drink dew from bacco pipes have they seen strange acorns, and dance in rings beneath tho visions. The Hartz and the Brocken oaks—the witches may bestride their are the places on earth “where spirits broomsticks, every one with her black most do congregate.".

Along the cat on her shoulders, and fly off, like Rhine, indeed, there is a tolerable

so many aërial machines, to keep their sprinkling of the unearthly, but the devil's Sabbath ; but let not the revels Rhine ghosts are mostly commonplace. of the one tribe interfere with those of The spirits of ancient barons clothed the other. We are for no cross breeds in ancient armor, and going clashing -no mules. Fairies are fairies, and about in ancient castles, may be re- witches witches, to the end of the chapspectable ghosts, but they have no pre- ter; and, by the way, English witches


had a curious national peculiarity. The lets loose a bird, and the ghoul is cheatcontinental sisterhood rode on goats or ed a second time. Verily, these gentry broomsticks; but we were always a were easily deceived.

One lawyer nautically-inclined people, and accord- would have been more than a match for ingly our witches sailed in sieves ! all the ghouls that ever feasted on

In fairy tales, be they from the East, church-yard rottenness. Our West, North, or South, it is pleasing to giants, too, were as silly as they were trace the superiority awarded to inge- big. The extensive gentleman who nuity over brute force. Everybody ripped up his stomach instead of an will remember the fisherman and the outside bag of hasty pudding, really genie. Never was any one more com

deserves no commiseration. To such pletely done than was the rebellious stupidity we can only say, sarved

you servant of King Solomon. One cannot right." He was a Welsh giant, if we help chuckling at the simplicity of the remember, and really did no credit to genie in repacking himself in the cop- the leek. per vessel. However, he profited by It would be easy to adduce many inexperience, like other fools; and on stances of the usually generous and making his second exit from the vase, manly spirit which runs through our very naïvely kicks it into the sea. A nursery literature, but we forbear. less brilliant device than the fisher- Poetic justice is always strictly awardman's, however, has been successful. ed. The morale is universally good. In a Persian tale, a ghoul informs a By these tales a child's best sympathies merchant that unless he can prove him- are stirred-its imagination is set to self to be as strong as his host (the work, and we will answer for it that in scene is the ghoul's cave) he will have his future life the man will often think the pleasure of dining—not with him-- with gratitude and affection of those but on him. The ghoul lifts a stone wildly imaginative beings, indissolubly and squeezes it, until it distils forth a mingled up with his childhood's remifluid. The merchant takes an egg for niscences of half-forgotten yet happy a stone and squeezes it to as good pur- days, when he knew no care or toil, pose as the pebble has been squeezed and when a laugh was as easily raised before. The ghoul then flings a second by the grotesque oddity of Tom stone into the air, so high that nobody Thumb, as a tear was drawn by the sad sees it come down again; the merchant fate of the Babes in the Wood.




ever doubted. His suspicions, on this

point, dated from his dream and, they DE EACON BOWSON would have noth- grew by constant meditation, into a pret

ing to do with his wife now, but made ty stout-bodied certainty. He thought her keep to separate rooms and eat that he could raise Samuel as well as alone, because, forsooth, she came of a the woman of Endor, and tried it one breed naturally magical and dangerous.” cold night, in the garden, but only froze But in spite of this, and many other his ears by the experiment. Resolved " elaborately solicitous precautions,” to be out of suspense, as to his magical he felt that the cunning old serpent was character, he consulted his sybil, bis not only getting an advantage over him, pythia, Sarah Carrier. “ Sairy,” he but had actually got it. In fact, the last said, reverently,, " am I one of the rung of his craziness was reached, and goatish flock of the bad shepherd ? Am he imagined that he had, himself, be. I one of the wizards which do afflict come a wizard. He knew that it was Salem ?'' very wrong to be one; he was perfect- " I should think you was,” replied ly willing to be damned for being one ; the girl, pettishly; for she still sulked but that he was one he now scarcely at having been separated from Rachel.


The question seemed to give her a hint ; menced hunting the house over for old she fell down at him presently, and ac

broomsticks. When he had found a cused him of tormenting her. Her reve- couple he threw them into the fire, be. lations increased in value as she contin- cause they were dirty, and got two new ued them; and, finally, she declared that ones out of his shop, which he also it was he who had afflicted her from the placed in the pantry. His next addifirst, only he had his face covered so tions to this store of material were & that she could not tell whose spectre it gigantic horse-pistol, and an old batterwas; but now she had found him out by ed cavalry-trumpet, both borrowed from his red nose sticking through a hole in a neighbor. At supper, he would only the veil.

taste of a mouthful or two, and replied The deacon surveyed his nose in a to the appetizing solicitations of Hanglass, and, observing that it was indeed nah, by telling her that he had food to red, he swallowed Sarah's assertion with eat that she knew not of. greedy gravity. This new belief quito " I know," broke in Sarah Carrier ; completed his insanity, and flung his “I seen the rum and turkey up in the thoughts, all at once, into a novel cur- pantry.” rent. The next morning he told Sarah, After dark, Mrs. Bowson ran across with great composure, that Satan had the garden to talk with Mark and his promised to make him prince of the mother about the little girl, who was so wizards, and he wanted to know if she dear to them all, and in such danger. would like to be princess of the witches The deacon remained, as usual, by his -a dangerous honor, which Sarah un- fireside, and read largely from books on civilly declined. That day, he was ob- witchcraft to the yawning Sarah. He served to be earnestly occupied in some was especially gratified with a new mysterious preparations. He made word, thaumatographical, and got it by Hannah roast him a turkey, which he heart, although it boggled him a good stowed away in the pantry, with many deal. At nine o'clock —the hour for solemn charges that none of the family Puritanic slumber--he asked Sairy should touch it. He brought in, from whether she would like to become the his shop, a couple of quart stone bot- princess of the thaumatographical powtles, and filled one with rum, the other ers of the air. Sairy once more rejected with his choice old canary, after whichthis generous offer, whereupon he

called he occupied himself, for two hours, in her à false confessor, slapped her, fastening straps to them so that they tweaked her ears, and trundled her off could be slung handily over the shoulder. to bed by the nape of the neck. The From time to time, he tried them on, girl was amazed at this new discipline, and took a gentle gallop about the and tried to daunt him by her usual room, as is to see whether they were in spittings and caterwaulings; but he any danger of breaking by such a mode fairly cuffed her down as a child will a of carriage. Apparently that peril kitten, and told her, triumphantly, that was considerable ; for they banged to. if she were a power, he was a princigether several times with a click which pality. Having locked all the members brought him up, so to speak, on his of the family into their rooms, he went haunches. Having arranged them, at back to the kitchen, built a roaring fire, last, to his satisfaction, he put them and sat up by it, over his satanic literaaway with the turkey, and renewed his ture, until near midnight. The wind cautions to the household, not to med- rose about this time, and began to beat, dle. Sarah Carrier watched all his flutter, and moan at the windows like a movements with intense curiosity, and distressed angel of outer darkness. asked hiin, twenty times, what he was Throwing down Cotton Mather's “ Memgoing to do with that turkey, and that orable Providences," relating to witchrum, and that canary. He nodded his craft, he hastily brought out the turkey, head mysteriously at her, and muttered the stone bottles, the trumpet, the pistol, something about “a good tuckout the broomsticks, and, disposing them and doing the chore bravely.” Indig- curiously on the table, proceeded to nant at what she considered a disre- mutter over them some most extraordispectful evasion, Sarah fell down at him nary extemporaries in the way of witch with great spirit, foaming and roaring benedictions. The devil's' blessing like a small cataract. But the deacon having been duly asked, he put the walked off unconcernedly, and com- pistol in his pocket, and hurried,

« PoprzedniaDalej »