Page:Grimm Goblins (1876).djvu/26

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EXTRACTS.

who rashly courted it ; and Prietorius (i., p. 140} has preserved a notice of Lb cruelty to some miuers of St Amreber^, to whom be appeared under the guise of the Scottish Kelpie, with a hone's head, aud whom he destroyed by his pestiferous breath. That the progress of popular fiction has followed a regular course, a slight consideration of the subject will tend to assure us. It is on this principle that every country in Europe has invested its popular fictions with the same common marvels ; that all acknowledge the agencv of the lifeless productions of nature ; the inter- vention of the same supernatural machinery ; the existence of elves, fairies, dwaiis, giants, witchett, and euchanters; the use of spells, charms, and amulets, and all those highly-gifted objects of whatever form or name, whose attributes refute every principle of human experience which are to conceal the possessor's person, annihilate the bounds of space, or command a gratification of all our wishes. The^e are the constantly-recurring types which embellish these popular tales. In accordance with these laws, we find in every country a popular belief in different classes of beings distinct from men and from the higher order of divinities.

WAllTON'S "DISSEKTATION O^T THE ORIGIN OP ROMANTIC FICTION

IN EUROPE."

The books of the Persians and Arabians abound with extravagant traditions about the giants Gog and Magog. These they call Jiigionge and Magionge ; and the Caucasian wall, said to be built by Alexander the Great from the Caspian to the Black Sea, in order to cover the frontiers of his dominion, and to prevent the incursions of the Scythians, is called by the Orientals the WclU of Gog and Magog, One of the most formidable giants, according to our Armorican romance, which opposed the landing of Brutus in Britain, was Goemagot. He was twelve cubits high, and would unroot an oak as easily as an hazel wand : but after a most obstinate encounter with Corineus, he was tumbled into the sea from the summit of a steep cliiF on the rocky shores of Cornwall, and dashed in pieces against the high crags of the declivity. The place where he fell, adds our historian, taking its name from the giant^s fall, is called Lam-Goemagot or Ooemagot's Leap to this day.

The old fictions about Stonehenge were detived from the inexhaustible source of extravagant imagination. We are told in this romaiioe, that the giants conveyed the stones which compose this miraculous monument from the farthest coasts of Africa. Every one of these stones is supposed to be mythical, and to contain a medicinal virtue— an idea drawn from the medical skill of the Arabians, and more particularly from the Arabian doctrine of attributing healing qualities, and other occult properties, to stones. Merlin's transformation of tJther into Gorlois, and of Ulfin into Bricel, by the power of some medical preparation, is a species of Arabian magic, which professed to work the most wonderful deceptions of this kind. The attribution of prophetical language to birds was common among the Orieutuls ; and an eagle is supposed to speak at building the walls of the city of Paladur, now Shaftesbury. The Arabians cultivated the study of philosophy, particularly astronomy, with amazing ardour. Hence arose the tradition, reported by our historian, that, in King Arthur's reign, there subsisted at Caerleon, in Glamorganshire, a college of 200 philosophers, who studied astronomy and other sciences ; and who were particularly employed in watching the courses of the stars, and predicting events to the king from their observations. Edwin's Spanish magician, by his knowledge of the flight of birds and the courses of the stars, is said to fortell future disasters. In the same strain Merlin prognosticates Cither's success in battle by the appearance of a comet.. The same enchanter's wonderful skill in mechanical powers^ by which he removes the Giants' Dance, or Stonehenge, from Ireland into England, and the notion that thia