ページの画像
PDF
ePub

On the contrary, it is useful to understand it, that if at any time in heathen lands the devil should work any of these metamorphoses, the Indians may see we are not surprised at them, and do not hold them as miraculous, but can explain to them the reason and cause of these effects, which astonish and terrify them so greatly."

He proceeds to show that the devil can only exercise this power as far as he is permitted by God, in punishment for sin, and that the metamorphosis is not real, but only apparent ; the sorcerer not being actually transformed into a lion, but seeming as if he were so both to himself and others. In what manner he can tear a man really to pieces with imaginary claws, and devour him in earnest with an imaginary mouth, the good friar has not condescended to explain. - Historia de la Orden de S. Augustin en la Provincia de N. España, pp. 34, 35.

Preserved with horrid art
In ghastly image of humanity. — Canto I. st. 13.

The more ghastly in proportion as more of the appearance of life is preserved in the revolting practice. Such, however, it was not to the feelings of the Egyptians, who had as much pride in a collection of their ancestors, as one of the strongest family feeling, could have in a collection of family pictures. The body, Diodorus says, is delivered to the kindred with every member so whole and entire that no part of the body seems to be altered, even to the very hairs of the eyelids and the eyebrows, so that the beauty and shape of the face seems just as before. By which means many of the Egyptians, laying up the bodies of their ancestors in stately monuments, perfectly see the true visage and countenance of those who were buried many ages before they themselves were born : so that in regarding the proportion of every one of these bodies, and the lineaments of their faces, they take exceeding great delight, even as if they were still living among them. (Book i.)

They believe, says Herodotus (Euterpe, § 123.), that on the

dissolution of the body the soul immediately enters into some other animal; and that after using as vehicles every species of terrestrial, aquatic, and winged creatures, it finally enters a second time into a human body. They affirm that it undergoes all these changes in the space of three thousand years. This opinion some among the Greeks have at different periods of time adopted as their mn, but I shall not, though I could, specify their names.

How little did the Egyptians apprehend that the bodies which they preserved with such care, to be ready again for use when the cycle should be fulfilled, would one day be regarded as an article of trade, broken up, exported piecemeal, and administered in grains and scruples as a costly medicine to rich patients. A preference was even given to virgin mummy.

The bodies of the Incas from the founder of the empire were preserved in the Temple of the Sun : they were seated each on his litter, and in such excellent preservation that they seemed to be alive ; according to the testimony of P. Acosta and Garcilaso, who saw them and touched them.

It is not known in what manner they were prepared, so as to resist the injuries of time. Gomara (c. 195.) says they were embalmed by the juice of certain fragrant trees, which was poured down their throats, and by unguents of gum. Acosta says that a certain bitumen was used, and that plates of gold were placed instead of eyes, so well fitted that the want of the real eye was not perceived. Garcilaso thought the chief preparation consisted in freezing them with snow. They were buried in one of the courts of the hospital of St. Andres. — Merc. Peruano, No. 221.

Hideous exhibitions of this kind are sometimes made in monasteries, where they are in perfect accord with monastic superstition. I remember seeing two human bodies dry and shrivelled, suspended in the Casa dos Ossos, at Evora, a chapel, the walls of which are lined with skulls and bones.

“ Among the remarkable objects in the vicinity of Palermo pointed out to strangers, they fail not to singularise a convent of Capuchins at a small distance from town, the beautiful

gardens of which serve as a public walk. You are shown, under the fabric, a vault divided into four great galleries, into which the light is admitted by windows cut out at the top of each extremity. In this vault are preserved, not in flesh, but in skin and bone, all the Capuchins who have died in the convent since its foundation, as well as the bodies of several persons from the city. There are here private tombs belonging to opulent families, who, even after annihilation, disdain to be confounded with the vulgar part of mankind. It is said, that in order to secure the preservation of these bodies, they are prepared by being gradually dried before a slow fire, so as to consume the flesh without greatly injuring the skin ; when perfectly dry, they are invested with the Capuchin habit, and placed upright, on tablets, disposed step above step along the sides of the vault; the head, the arms, and the feet are left naked. A preservation like this is horrid. The skin discoloured, dry, and as if it had been tanned, nay, torn in some places, glued close to the bones. It is easy to imagine, from the different grimaces of this numerous assemblage of fleshless figures, rendered still more frightful by a long beard on the chin, what a hideous spectacle this must exhibit; and whoever has seen a Capuchin alive may form an idea of this singular repository of dead friars.” Sonnini.

It is not surprising that such practices arise from superstition ; but it is strange, indeed, that they should afford any gratification to pride. That excellent man, Fletcher of Madeley, has a striking remark upon this subject.

The murderer,” says he, “ is dissected in the surgeon's hall, gratis ; and the rich sinner is embowelled in his own apartment at great expense.

The robber, exposed to open air, wastes away in hoops of iron; and the gentleman, confined to a damp vault, moulders away in sheets of lead ; and while the fowls of the air greedily prey upon the one, the vermin of the earth eagerly devour the other.”

How different is the feeling of the Hindoos upon this subject from that of the Egyptians ! “ A mansion with bones for its rafters and beams; with nerves and tendons for cords;

with muscles and blood for mortar; with skin for its outward covering; filled with no sweet perfume, but loaded with feces and urine; a mansion infested by age and by sorrow; the seat of malady, harassed with pains, haunted with the quality of darkness, and incapable of standing long. ... Such a mansion of the vital soul lets its occupier always cheerfully quit.” Inst. of Menu.

When the laden bee
Buzzed by him in its flight, he could pursue

Its course with certain ken. - Canto I. st. 20. It is difficult to account for the superior quickness of sight which savages appear to possess.

The Brazilian tribes used to eradicate the eyelashes and eyebrows, as impeding it. 66 Some Indians," P. Andres Perez de Ribas says, were so quicksighted that they could ward off the coming arrow with their own bow.” - L. ii. c. 3. p. 41.

Drinking feasts. Canto I. st. 26. The point of honour in drinking is not the same among the savages of Guiana, as among the English potators: they account him that is drunk first the bravest fellow.-- Harcourt's Voyage.

Covering with soft gums the obedient limb
And body, then with feathers overlay,

· In regular hues disposed. Canto I. st. 25. Inconvenient as this may seem, it was the full dress of the Tupi and Guarani tribes. A fashion less gorgeous and elaborate, but more refined, is described by one of the best old travellers to the East, François Pyrard.

“ The inhabitants of the Maldives use on feast days this kind of gallantry. They bruise sanders (sandal-wood), and camphire, on very slicke and smooth stones, (which they bring from the firm land,) and sometimes other sorts of odoriferous woods, After they compound it with water distilled of

flowers, and overspread their bodies with this paste, from the girdle upwards ; adding many forms with their finger, such as they imagine. It is somewhat like cut and pinked doublets, and of an excellent savour. They dress their wives or lemans in this sort, and make upon their backs works and shadows as they please.” Skin-prints Purchas calls this. — Pyrard de Luval. Purchas, p. 1655.

The abominable practice of tarring and feathering was but too well known during the American war. It even found its way to England. I remember, when a child, to have seen a man in this condition in the streets of Bristol.

The costume of the savages, who figured so frequently in the pageants of the sixteenth century, seems to have been designed to imitate the Brazilian tribes, best known to the French and English at that time. Indeed, this is stated by Vincent Carloix, when, in describing an entertainment given to Marechal de Vieilleville by the captains of the gallies at Marseilles, he says, Ayant lié six galères ensemble de front, et faict dresser les tables dessus, et tapissées en façon de grandes salles ; ayant accoustrés les forceats en Bressiliens pour servir, ils firent une infinité de gambades et de tourbions à la façon des sauvages, que personne n'avoit encore veues ; dont tout le monde, avec une extresme allaigresse, s'esbahissoit merveilleusement. Mémoires, 1. x. ch. 18.

A custom strange, and yet far spread
Thro' many a savage tribe, howe'er it grew,
And once in the old world known as widely as the new.

Canto I. st. 28.

Je la trouve chez les Iberiens, ou les premiers peuples d'Espagne; je la trouve chez les anciens habitans de l'Isle de. Corse ; elle étoit chez les Tibareniens en Asie ; elle est aujourd'hui dans quelquesunes de nos provinces voisines d'Espagne, ou cela s'appele faire couvade ; elle est encore vers le Japon, et dans l'Amerique chez les Caraibes et les Galibis. — Lafitau, Meurs des Sauvages, t. i.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« 前へ次へ »