ページの画像
PDF
ePub

by the patient, which have hideous figures painted upon them, thinking thus to frighten away the cause. If he dies, his relations endeavour to take vengeance upon those who pretended to cure him; but if one of the chiefs dies, all the conjurors are slain, unless they can save themselves by flight. - Dobrizhoffer, t. ii. 286.

They dragged the dying out. — Canto II. st. 45.

The Austral tribes sometimes bury the dying, thinking it an act of mercy thus to shorten their sufferings. (Dobrizh. t. ii. 286.) But in general this practice, which extends widely among savages, arises from the selfish feeling assigned in the text. Superstition without this selfishness, produces a practice of the same kind, though not absolutely as brutal, in the East. “ The moorda or chultries are small huts in which a Hindoo, when given over by his physicians, is deposited, and left alone to expire, and be carried off by the sacred food.”- Cruso, in Forbes, iv. 99.

“ When there is no hope of recovery, the patient is generally removed from the bed, and laid on a platform of fresh earth, either out of doors, or prepared purposely in some adjoining room or viranda, that he may there breathe his last. In a physical sense, this removal at so critical a period must be often attended with fatal consequences; though perhaps not quite so decisive as that of exposing an aged parent or a dying friend on the banks of the Ganges.' I now only mention the circumstances as forming part of the Hindoo religious system. After having expired upon the earth, the body is carried to the water-side, and washed with many ceremonies. It is then laid upon the funeral pile, that the fire may have a share of the victim : the ashes are finally scattered in the air, and fall upon the water.

“ During the funeral ceremony, which is solemn and affecting, the Brahmins address the respective elements in words to the following purport; although there may be a different

mode of performing these religious rites in other parts of Hindostan.

“ O Earth! to thee we commend our brother ; of thee he was formed; by thee he was sustained ; and unto thee he now returns!

6 O Fire! thou hadst a claim in our brother; during his life he subsisted by thy influence in nature; to thee we commit his body; thou emblem of purity, may his spirit be purified on entering a new state of existence.

“ O Air! while the breath of life continued, our brother respired by thee; his last breath is now departed; to thee we yield him.

“ O Water! thou didst contribute to the life of our brother; thou wert one of his sustaining elements. His remains are now dispersed ; receive thy share of him, who has now taken an everlasting flight !” — Forbes's Oriental Memoirs, iii. 12.

And she in many an emulous essay,
At length into a descant of her own
Had blended all their notes. Canto III. st. 39, &c.

An extract from a journal written in Switzerland will be the best comment upon the description in these stanzas, which indeed were probably suggested by my recollections of the Staubach.

66 While we were at the waterfall, some half score peasants, chiefly women and girls, assembled just out of reach of the spray, and set up — surely the wildest chorus that ever was heard by human ears, —a song not of articulate sounds, but in which the voice was used as a mere instrument of music, more flexible than any which art could produce, --sweet, powerful, and thrilling beyond description.”

It will be seen by the subjoined sonnet of Mr. Wordsworth's, who visited this spot three years after me, that he was not less impressed than I had been by this wild concert of voices.

On approaching the Staub-bach, Lauterbrunnen.

Tracks let me follow far from human kind
Which these illusive greetings may not reach;
Where only Nature tunes her voice to teach
Careless pursuits, and raptures unconfined.
No Mermaid warbles (to allay the wind
That drives some vessel towards a dangerous beach,)
More thrilling melodies! no cavernd Witch
Chaunting a love-spell, ever intertwined
Notes shrill and wild with art more musical!
Alas! that from the lips of abject Want
And Idleness tatters mendicant
They should proceed - enjoyment to enthral,
And with regret and useless pity haunt
This bold, this pure, this sky-born Waterfall !

« The vocal powers of these musical beggars (says Mr. Wordsworth), may seem to be exaggerated; but this wild and savage air was utterly unlike any sounds I had ever heard ; the notes reached me from a distance, and on what occasion they were sung I could not guess, only they seemed to belong in some way or other to the waterfall; and reminded me of religious services chaunted to streams and fountains in Pagan times.”

[blocks in formation]

Upon this subject an old Spanish romancer speaks thus : Aunque hombre no sabe lo de adelante como ha de venir, el espiritu lo siente, y antes que venga se duele dello : y de aqui se levantaron los grandes sospiros que hombres dan a sobrevienta no pensando en ninguna cosa, como a muchos acaesce; que aquel que el sospiro echa de si, el espiritu es que siente el mal que ha de ser. -Chronica del Rey D. Rodrigo, p. ii. c. 171.

Across her shoulders was a hammock flung. - Canto III. st. 45.

Pinkerton, in his Geography (vol. ii. p. 535. n. 3d edit.) says, that nets are sometimes worn among the Guaranis instead of clothes, and refers to this very story in proof of his assertion. I believe he had no other ground for it. He adds, that “ perhaps they were worn only to keep off the flies;” as if those blood-suckers were to be kept off by open net-work!

We owe something, however, to the person who introduces us to a good and valuable book, and I am indebted originally to Mr. Pinkerton for my knowledge of Dobrizhoffer. He says of him, when referring to the Historia de Abiponibus, “ the lively singularity of the old man's Latin is itself an amusement; and though sometimes garrulous, he is redundant in authentic and curious information. His work, though bearing a restricted title, is the best account yet published of the whole viceroyalty of La Plata.”

Her feet upon the crescent moon were set. Canto III. st. 51.

This is a common representation of the Virgin, from the Revelation.

Virgem de Sol vestida, e dos seus raios
Claros envoltu toda, e das Estrellas
Coroada, e debaixo os pés a Lua.

FRANCISCO DE SA DE MIRANDA.

These lines are highly esteemed by the Portugueze critics.'

Severe he was and in his anger dread,

Yet alway at his Mother's will grew mild,
So well did he obey that Maiden undefiled.

Canto III. st. 51.

- How hath the conceit of Christ's humiliation here on earth, of his dependence on his mother during the time of his formation and birth, and of his subjection to her in his infancy,

brought forth preposterous and more than heathenish transformations of his glory in the superstitious daughters of the idolatrous church! They cannot conceive Christ as King, unless they acknowledge her as Queen Dowager of heaven : her title of Lady is æquiparant to his title of Lord: her authority for some purposes held as great, her bowels of compunction (towards the weaker sex especially) more tender.

And as the Heathens frame Gods suitable to their own desire, soliciting them most (though otherwise less potent), whom they conceive to be most favourable to their present suits : so hath the blessed Virgin throughout the Romish Church obtained (what she never sought,) the entire monopoly of women's prayers in their travails; as if her presence at others' distressful labours (for she herself, by their doctrine, brought forth her first-born and only son without pain,) had wrought in her a truer feeling or tenderer touch, than the High Priest of their souls can have of their infirmities; or as if she would use more faithful and effectual intercession with her Son, than he can or will do with his Father. Some in our times, out of the weakness of their sex, matching with the impetuousness of their adulterous and disloyal zeal, have in this kind been so impotently outrageous as to intercept others' supplications directed to Christ, and superscribe them in this form unto his mother; Blessed Lady, command thy son to hear this woman's prayers, and send her deliverance! These, and the like speeches, have moved some good women, in other points tainted rather with superstition than preciseness, to dispense with the law of secrecy, seldom violated in their parliaments; and I know not whether I should attribute it to their courage or stupidity, not to be more affrighted at such blasphemies, than at some monstrous and prodigious birth. This and the like inbred inclinations unto superstition, in the rude and uninstructed people, are more artificially set forward by the fabulous Roman Legendary and his Limner, than the like were in the heathen, by heathen poets and painters." - Dr. Thomas Jackson's Works, vol. i. 1007.

« 前へ次へ »