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Who thought From Death, as from some living foe, to fly. — Canto II. st. 44.
An opinion of this kind has extended to people in a much higher grade of society than the American Indians.
“ After this Death appeared in Dwaraką in a human shape, the colour of his skin being black and yellow, his head close shorn, and all his limbs distorted. He placed himself at men's doors, so that all those who saw him shuddered with apprehension, and became even as dead men from mere affright. Every person to whose door he came shot an arrow at him; and the moment the arrow quitted the bow-string they saw the spectre no more, nor knew which way he was gone.". Life of Creeshna.
This is a poetical invention; but such an invention has formed a popular belief in Greece, if M. Pouqueville may be trusted,
“ The Evil Eye, the Cacodæmon, has been seen wandering over the roofs of the houses. Who can dare to doubt this? It was in the form of a withered old woman, covered with funeral rags ; she was heard to call by their names those who are to be cut off from the number of the living. Nocturnal concerts, voices murmuring amid the silence of the darkest nights, have been heard in the air ; phantoms have been seen wandering about in solitary places, in the streets, in the markets; the dogs have howled with the most dismal and melancholy tone, and their cries have been repeated by the echoes along the desert streets. It is when such things happen, as I was told very seriously by an inhabitant of Nauplia di Romania, that great care must be taken not to answer if you should be called during the night: if you hear symphonies bury yourself in the bed clothes, and do not listen to them; it is the Old Woman, it is the Plague itself that knocks your
door.” — Pouqueville, 189. The Patagones and other Austral tribes attribute all diseases to an evil spirit. Their conjurors therefore beat drums
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 flood.” 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!
“ 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,
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 starrzas, which indeed were probably suggested by my recollections of the Staubach.
“ 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
“ 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.”
Some dim presage.
Canto III. st. 41.
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
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,
Canto III. st. 51.
6. 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,