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classic reader enquires where Hercules himself learned magic, he may consult "Les faicts et proesses du noble et vaillunt Hercules," where he will learn, that the fable of his aiding Atlas to support the heavens, arose from the said Atlas having taught Hercules, the noble knight errant, the seven liberal sciences, and, in particular, that of judicial astrology. Such, according to the idea of the middle ages, were the studies, "maximus qua docuit Atlas."—In a romantic history of Roderic, the last Gothic king of Spain, he is said to have entered one of those enchanted caverns. It was situated beneath an ancient tower near Toledo: and, when the iron gates, which secured the entrance, were unfolded, there rushed forth so dreadful a whirlwind, that hitherto no one had dared to penetrate into its recesses. But Roderic, threatened with an invasion of the Moors, resolved to enter the cavern, where he expected to find some prophetic intimation of the event of the war. Accordingly, his train being furnished with torches, so artificially composed, that the tempest could not extinguish them, the king, with great difficulty, penetrated into a square hall, inscribed all over with Arabian characters. In the midst stood a colossal statue of brass, representing a Saracen wielding a Moorish mace, with which it discharged furious blows on all sides, and seemed thus to excite the tempest which raged around. Being conjured by Roderic, it ceased from striking, until he read, inscribed on the right hand," Wretched monarch, for thy evil hast thou come hither;" on the left hand," Thou shalt be dispossessed by a strange people;" on one shoulder," I invoke the sons of Hagar;" on the other, " / do mine office." When the king had decyphered these ominous inscriptions, the statue returned to its exercise, the tempest commenced anew, and Roderic retired, to mourn over the predicted evils which approached his throne. He caused the gates of the cavern to be locked and barricaded; but, in the course of the night, the tower fell with a tremendous noise, and under its ruins concealed for ever the entrance to the mystic cavern. The conquest of Spain by the Saracens, and the death of the unfortunate Don Roderic, fulfilled the prophecy of the brazen statue. Historia verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo por el sabio Alcayde Abulcacim, traduzeda de la lengua Arabiga por Miguel de Luna, 1654, cap. vi.
The.bells would ring in Notre Dame.—P. 52, "Tantamne rem tarn negligenter f says Tyrwhitt, of his predecessor Speight; who, in his commentary on Chaucer, had omitted, as trivial and fabulous, the story of Wade and his boat Guingelot, to the great prejudice of posterity, the memory of the hero and the boat being now entirely lost. That future antiquaries may lay no.such omission to my charge, I have noted one or two of the most current traditions concerning Michael Scott. He was chosen, it is said, to go upon an embassy, to obtain from the king of France satisfaction for certain piracies committed by his subjects upon those of Scotland. Instead of preparing a new equipage and splendid retiR
nue, the ambassador retreated to his study, opened his book, and evoked a fiend in the shape of a huge black horse, mounted upon his back, and forced him to fly through the air towards France. As they crossed the sea, the devil insidiously asked his rider, What it was that the old women of Scot* land muttered at bed-time? A less experienced wizard might have answered, that it was the Pater Noster, which would have licensed the devil to precipitate him from his back. But Michael sternly replied, " What is that to thee? Mount, Diabolus, and fly!" When he arrived at Paris, he tied his horse to the gate of the palace, entered, and boldly delivered his message. An ambassador, with so little of the pomp and circumstance of diplomacy, was not received with much respect, and the king was about to return a contemptuous refusal to his demand, when Michael besought him to suspend his resolution till he had seen his horse stamp three times. The first stamp shook every steeple in Paris, and caused all the bells to ring; the second threw down three of the towers of the palace; and the infernal steed had lifted his hoof to give the third stamp, when the king rather chose to dismiss Michael, with the most ample concessions, than to stand to the probable consequences. Another time it is said, that, when residing at the tower of Oakwood, upon the Ettricke, about three miles above Selkirk, he heard of the fame of a sorceress, called the witch of Falsehope, who lived on the opposite side of the river. Michael went one morning to put her skill to the test, but was disappointed, by her denying positively any knowledge of the newomantic art. In his discourse with her, he laid his wand inadvertently on the table, which the hag observing, suddenly snatched it up, and struck him with it. Feeling the force of the charm, he rushed out of the house; but, as it had conferred on him the external appearance of a hare, his servant, who waited without, halloo'd upon the discomfited wizard his own greyhounds, and pursued him so close, that, in order to obtain a moment's breathing to reverse the charm, Michael, after a very fatiguing course, was fain to take refuge in his own jawhole (anglice, common sewer.) In order to revenge himself of the witch of Falsehope, Michael, one morning in the ensuing harvest, went to the hill above the house with his dogs, and sent down his servant to ask a bit of bread from the good-wife for his greyhounds, with instructions what to do if he met with a denial. Accordingly, when the witch had refused the boon with contumely, the servant, as his master had directed, laid above the door a paper, which he had given him, containing, amongst many cabalistical words, the well-known rhyme,—
Maister Michael Scott's man
Immediately the good old woman, instead of pursuing her domestic occupation, which was baking bread for the reapers, began to dance round the fire, repeating the rhyme, and continued this exercise till her husband sent the reapers to the honse, one after another, to see what had delayed their provision; but the charm caught each as they entered, and, losing all idea of returning, they joined in the dance and chorus. At length the old man himself went to the house; but as his wife's frolic with Mr Michael, whom he had seen on the hill, made him a little cautious, he contented himself with looking in at the window, and saw the reapers at their involuntary exercise, dragging his wife, now completely exhausted, sometimes round, and sometimes through the fire, which was, as usual, in the midst of the house. Instead of entering, he saddled a horse, and rode up the hill, to humble himself before Michael, and beg a cessation of the spell; which the good-natured warlock immediately granted, directing him to enter the house backwards, and, with his left hand, take the spell from above the door; which accordingly ended the supernatural dance.—This tale was told less particularly in former editions, and I have been, censured for inaccuracy in doing so.—A similar charm occurs in Huon du Bourdeaux, and in the ingenious Oriental tale, called the Caliph Vathek.
Notwithstanding his victory over the witch of Falsehope, Michael Scott, like his predecessor Merlin, fell at last a victim to female art. His wife, or concubine, elicited from him the secret, that his art could ward off any danger except the poisonous qualities of broth, made of the flesh of a breme sow. Such a mess she accordingly administered to the wizard, who died in consequence of eating it; surviving, however, long enough to put to death his treacherous confidante.