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for sinking wells; a matter of considerable importance in a province so ill-watered as the northern district of Somersetshire, &c. These people are locally called jowsers; and it is probable, that from the suspicion with which their art has been usually regarded amongst people of education, as a mere legerdemain trick of Dousterswivel's, is derived the slang word to chouse for swindle. Meantime, the experimental evidences of a real practical skill in these men, and the enlarged compass of speculation in these days, have led many enlightened people to a Stoic Tox", or suspension of judgment, on the reality of this somewhat mysterious art. Now, in the East, there are men who make the same pretensions in a more showy branch of the art. It is not water, but treasures which they profess to find by some hidden kind of rhabdomancy. The very existence of trea sures with us is reasonably considered a thing of improbable occurrence. But in the unsettled East, and with the low valuation of human life whereever Mahometanism prevails, insecurity and other causes must have caused millions of such deposits in every century to have perished as to any knowledge of survivors. The sword has been moving backwards and forwards, for instance, like a weaver's shuttle, since the time of Mahmoud the Ghaznevide,* in Anno Domini 1000, in the vast regions between the Tigris, the Oxus, and the Indus. Regularly as it approached, gold and jewels must have sunk by whole harvests into the ground. A certain per-centage has been doubtless recovered: a larger per-centage has disappeared for ever. Hence naturally the jealousy of barbarous Orientals that we Europeans, in groping amongst pyramids, sphynxes, and tombs, are looking for buried treasures. The wretches are not so wide astray in what they believe as in what they disbelieve. The treasures do really exist which they fancy; but then also the other treasures in the glorious antiquities have that existence for our sense of beauty which to their brutality is inconceivable. In
these circumstances, why should it surprise us that men will pursue the science of discovery as a regular trade? Many discoveries of treasure are doubtless made continually, which, for obvious reasons, are communicated to nobody. Some proportion there must be between the sowing of such grain as diamonds or emeralds, and the subsequent reaping, whether by accident or by art. For, with regard to the last, it is no more impossible, prima fronte, that a substance may exist having an occult sympathy with subterraneous water or subterraneous gold, than that the magnet should have a sympathy (as yet occult) with the northern pole of our planet.
The first flash of careless thought applied to such a case will suggest, that men holding powers of this nature need not offer their services for hire to others. And this, in fact, is the objection universally urged by us Europeans as decisive against their pretensions. Their knavery, it is fancied, stands self-recorded; since, assuredly, they would not be willing to divide their subterranean treasures, if they knew of any. But the men are not in such self-contradiction as may seem. Lady Hester Stanhope, from the better knowledge she had acquired of Oriental opinions, set Dr Madden right on this point. The Oriental belief is that a fatality attends the appropriator of a treasure in any case where he happens also to be the discoverer. Such a person, it is held, will die soon, and suddenly-so that he is compelled to seck his remuneration from the wages or fees of his employers, not from the treasure itself.
Many more secret laws are held sacred amongst the professors of that art than that which was explained by Lady Hester Stanhope. These we
shall not enter upon at present: but generally we may remark, that the same practices of subterranean deposits, during our troubled periods in Europe, led to the same superstitions. And it may be added, that the same error has arisen in both cases as to some of these superstitions. How often must it have struck people of liberal feelings, as a scandalous proof of
* Mahmood of Ghizni, which, under the European name of Ghaznee, was so recently taken in one hour by our Indian army under Lord Keane. Mahmood was the first Mahometan invader of Hindostan.
the preposterous value set upon riches by poor men, that ghosts should popularly be supposed to rise and wander for the sake of revealing the situations of buried treasures. For ourselves, we have been accustomed to view this popular belief in the light of an argument for pity rather than for contempt towards poor men, as indicating the extreme pressure of that necessity which could so have demoralized their natural sense of truth. But certainly, in whatever feelings originating, such popular superstitious as to motives of ghostly missions did seem to argue deplorable misconception of the relation subsisting between the spiritual world and the perishable treasures of this perishable world. Yet, when we look into the Eastern explanations of this case, we find that it is meant to express, not any overvaluation of riches, but the direct contrary passion. A human spirit is punished-such is the notion punished in the spiritual world for excessive attachment to gold, by degradation to the office of its guardian; and from this office the tortured spirit can release itself only by revealing the treasure and transferring the custody. It is a penal martyrdom, not an elective passion for gold, which is thus exemplified in the wanderings of a treasure-ghost.
But, in a field where of necessity we are so much limited, we willingly pass from the consideration of these treasure or khasné phantoms (which alone sufficiently ensure a swarm of ghostly terrors for all Oriental ruins of cities) to the same marvellous apparitions, as they haunt other solitudes even more awful than those of ruined cities. In this world there are two mighty forms of perfect solitudethe ocean and the desert: the wilder ness of the barren sands, and the wil derness of the barren waters. Both are the parents of inevitable supersti. tions-of terrors, solemn, ineradicable, eternal. Sailors and the children of the desert are alike overrun with spiritual hauntings, from accidents of peril essentially connected with those modes of life, and from the eternal spectacle of the infinite. Voices seem to blend with the raving of the sea, which will for ever impress the feeling of beings more than human: and every chamber of the great wilderness which, with little interruption, stretches
from the Euphrates to the western shores of Africa, has its own peculiar terrors both as to sights and sounds. In the wilderness of Zin, between Palestine and the Red Sea, a section of the desert well known in these days to our own countrymen, bells are heard daily pealing for matins, or for vespers, from some phantom convent that no search of Christian or of Bedouin Arab has ever been able to discover. These bells have sounded since the Crusades. Other sounds, trumpets, the Alala of armies, &c., are heard in other regions of the Desert. Forms, also, are seen of more people than have any right to be walking in human paths; sometimes forms of avowed terror; sometimes, which is a case of far more danger, appearances that mimic the shapes of men, and even of friends or comrades. This is a case much dwelt on by the old travellers, and which throws a gloom over the spirits of all Bedouins, and of every cafila or caravan. We all know what a sensation of loneliness or "ceriness" (to use an expressive term of the ballad poetry) arises to any small party assembling in a single room of a vast desolate mansion: how the timid among them fancy continually that they hear some remote door opening, or trace the sound of suppressed footsteps from some distant staircase. Such is the feeling in the desert, even in the midst of the caravan. The mighty solitude is seen: the dread silence is anticipated which will succeed to this brief transit of men, camels, and horses. Awe pre vails even in the midst of society: but, if the traveller should loiter behiud from fatigue, or be so imprudent as to ramble aside-should he from any cause once lose sight of his party, it is held that his chance is small of recovering their traces. And why? Not chiefly from the want of footmarks where the wind effaces all impressions in half an-hour, or of eyemarks where all is one blank ocean of sand, but much more from the sounds or the visual appearances which are supposed to beset and to seduce all insulated wanderers.
Every body knows the superstitions of the ancients about the Nympholeptoi, or those who had seen Pan. But far more awful and gloomy are the exist ing superstitions, throughout Asia and Africa, as to the perils of those who
are phantom-haunted in the wilderness. The old Venetian traveller Marco Polo states them well: he speaks, indeed, of the Eastern or Tartar deserts; the steppes which stretch from European Russia to the footsteps of the Chinese throne; but exactly the same creed prevails amongst the Arabs, from Bagdad to Suez and Cairo-from Rosetta to Tunis-Tunis to Timbuc too or Mequinez. "If, during the daytime," says he, any person should remain behind until the caravan is no longer in sight, he hears himself un expectedly called to by name, and in a voice with which he is familiar. Not doubting that the voice proceeds from some of his comrades, the unhappy man is beguiled from the right direction; and soon finding himself utterly confounded as to the path, he roams about in distraction until he perishes miserably. If, on the other hand, this perilous separation of himself from the caravan should happen at night, he is sure to hear the uproar of a great cavalcade a mile or two to the right or left of the true track. He is thus seduced on one side: and at break of day finds himself far removed from man. Nay, even at noon-day, it is well known that grave and respectable men to all appearance will come up to a particular traveller, will bear the look of a friend, and will gradually lure him by earnest conversation to a distance from the caravan; after which the sounds of men and camels will be heard continually at all points but the true one; whilst an insensible turning by the tenth of an inch at each separate step from the true direction will very soon suffice to set the traveller's face to the opposite point of the compass from that which his safety requires, and which his fancy represents to him as his real direction. Marvellous, indeed, and almost passing belief, are the stories reported of these desert phantoms, which are said at times to fill the air with choral music from all kinds of instruments, from drums, and the clash of arms: so that oftentimes a whole caravan are obliged to close up their open ranks, and to proceed in a compact line of march."
Lord Lindsay, in his very interesting travels in Egypt, Edom, &c., agrees with Warton in supposing (and probably enough) that from this account of the desert traditions in Marco Polo was derived Milton's fine passage in Comus:
"Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And aery tongues that syllable men's
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses."
But the most remarkable of these
desert superstitions, as suggested by the mention of Lord Lindsay, is one which that young nobleman, in some place which we cannot immediately find, has noticed, but which he only was destined by a severe personal loss immediately to illustrate. Lord L. quotes from Vincent le Blanc an anec. dote of a man in his own caravan, the companion of an Arab merchant, who disappeared in a mysterious manner. Four Moors, with a retaining fee of 100 ducats, were sent in quest of him, but came back re infecta. "And 'tis uncertain," adds Le Blanc, "whether he was swallowed up in the sands, or met his death by any other misfortune; as it often happens, by the relation of a merchant then in our company, who told us, that two years before, traversing the same journey, a comrade of his, going a little aside from the company, saw three men who called him by his name; and one of them, to his thinking, favoured very much his companion; and, as he was about to fol. low them, his real companion calling him to come back to his company, he found himself deceived by the others, and thus was saved. And all travellers in these parts hold, that in the deserts are many such phantasms seen, that strive to seduce the traveller." Thus far it is the traveller's own fault, warned as he is continually by the extreme anxiety of the Arab leaders or guides, with respect to all who stray to any distance, if he is duped or enticed by these pseudo-men: though, in the case of Lapland dogs, who ought to have a surer instinct of detection for counterfeits, we know from Sir Capel de Broke and others, that they are continually wiled away by the wolves who roam about the nightly encampments of travellers. But there is a secondary disaster, according to the Arab superstition, awaiting those whose eyes are once opened to the discernment of these phantoms. To see them, or to hear them, even where the traveller is careful to refuse their lures, entails the certainty of death in no long time. This is another form of that universal faith which made it impossible for any man to survive a bodily commerce, by
whatever sense, with a spiritual being. We find it in the Old Testament, where the expression, "I have seen God and shall die," means simply a supernatural being; since no Hebrew believed it possible for a nature purely human to sustain for a moment the sight of the Infinite Being. We find the same faith amongst ourselves, in case of doppelgänger becoming apparent to the sight of those whom they counterfeit; and in many other varieties. We modern Europeans, of course, laugh at these superstitions; though, as La Place remarks, (Essai sur les Probabilités,) any case, however apparently incredible, if it is a recurrent case, is as much entitled to a fair valuation as if it had been more probable beforehand.* This being premised, we, who connect superstition with the personal result, are more impressed by the disaster which happened to Lord Lindsay, than his lordship, who either failed to notice the nexus between the events, or possibly declined to put the case too forward in his reader's eye, from the solemnity of the circumstances, and the private interest to himself and his own family, of the subsequent event. The case was this:-Mr William Wardlaw Ramsay, the companion (and we believe relative) of Lord Lindsay, a man whose honourable character, and whose intellectual accomplishments speak for themselves, in the posthumus memorabilia of his travels published by Lord L., had seen an array of objects in the desert, which facts immediately succeeding demonstrated to have been a mere ocular lusus, or (according to Arab notions) phantoms. During the absence from home of an Arab sheikh, who had been hired as conductor of Lord Lindsay's party, a hostile tribe (bearing the name of Tellaheens) had assaulted and pillaged his tents. Report of this had reached the English travelling party; it was known that the Tellaheens were still in motion, and a hostile rencounter was looked for for some days. At length, in crossing the well-known valley of the
Wady Araba, that most ancient channel of communication between the Red Sea and Judea, &c., Mr Ramsay saw, to his own entire conviction, a party of horse moving amongst some sand-hills. Afterwards it became certain, from accurate information, that this must have been a delusion. It was established, that no horsemen could have been in that neighbourhood at that time. Lord Lindsay records the case as an illustration of "that spiritualized tone the imagination naturally assumes, in scenes presenting so little sympathy with the ordinary feelings of humanity;" and he reports the case in these pointed terms:-" Mr Ramsay, a man of remarkably strong sight, and by no means disposed to superstitious credulity, distinctly saw a party of horse moving among the sand-hills; and I do not believe he was ever able to divest himself of that impression." No-and, according to Arab interpre tation, very naturally so; for, accord. ing to their faith, he really had seen the horsemen ; phantom horsemen certainly, but still objects of sight. The sequel remains to be told-by the Arabian hypothesis, Mr Ramsay had but a short time to live—he was under a secret summons to the next world. And accordingly, in a few weeks after this, whilst Lord Lindsay had gone to visit Palmyra, Mr Ramsay died at Damascus.
This was a case exactly correspond ing to the Pagan nympholepsis-he had seen the beings whom it is not lawful to see and live. Another case of Eastern superstition, not less determined, and not less remarkably fulfilled, occurred some years before to Dr Madden, who travelled pretty much in the same route as Lord Lindsay. The doctor, as a phrenologist, had been struck with the very singu lar conformation of a skull which he saw amongst many others on an altar in some Syrian convent. He offered a considerable sum in gold for it; but it was by repute the skull of a saint;
* "Is as much entitled to a fair valuation under the laws of induction as if it had been more probable beforehand : -one of the cases which La Place notices as entitled to a grave consideration, but which would most assuredly be treated as a trivial phenomenon, unworthy of attention, by common-place spectators, is--when a run of success, with no apparent cause, takes place on heads or tails, (pile ou croix.) Most people dismiss such a case as pure accident. But La Place insists on its being duly valued as a fact, however unaccountable as an effect. So again, if, in a large majority of experiences like those of Lord Lindsay's party in the desert, death should follow, such a phenomenon is as well entitled to its separate valuation as any other.
and the monk with whom Dr M. attempted to negotiate, not only refused his offers, but protested that even for the doctor's sake, apart from the interests of the convent, he could not venture on such a transfer: for that, by the tradition attached to it, the. skull would endanger any vessel carrying it from the Syrian shore: the vessel might escape; but it would never succeed in reaching any but a Syrian harbour. After this, for the credit of our country, which stands so high in the East, and should be so punctiliously tended by all English men, we are sorry to record that Dr Madden (though otherwise a man of scrupulous honour) yielded to the temptation of substituting for the saint's skull another less remarkable from his own collection. With this saintly relic he embarked on board a Grecian ship; was alternately pursued and met by storms the most violent; larboard and starboard, on every quarter, he was buffeted: the wind blew from every point of the compass; the doctor honestly confesses that he often wished this baleful skull back in safety on the quiet altar from which he took it; and finally, after many days of anxiety, he was too happy in finding himself again restored to some oriental port, from which he secretly vowed never again to sail with a saint's skull, or with any skull, however remarkable phrenologically, not purchased in an open market.
Thus we have pursued, through many of its most memorable sections, the spirit of the miraculous as it moulded and gathered itself in the superstitions of Paganism; and we have shown that, in the modern superstitions of Christianity, or of Mahometanism, (often enough borrowed from Christian sources,) there is a pretty regular correspondence. Speaking with a reference to the strictly popular belief, it cannot be pretended for a moment, that miraculous agencies are slumbering in modern. ages. For one superstition of that nature which the Pagans had, we can produce twenty. And if, from the
collation of numbers, we should pass to that of quality, it is a matter of notoriety, that from the very philosophy of Paganism, and its slight root in the terrors or profounder mysteries of spiritual nature, no comparison could be sustained for a moment between the true religion and any mode whatever of the false. Ghosts we have purposely omitted, because that idea is so peculiarly Christian* as to reject all counterparts or affinities from other modes of the supernatural. The Christian ghost is too awful a presence, and with too large a substratum of the real, the impassioned, the human, for our present purposes. We deal chiefly with the wilder and more aerial forms of superstition; not so far off from fleshly nature as the purely allegoric-not so near as the penal, the purgatorial, the penitential. In this middle class, "Gabriel's hounds" -the "phantom ship"-the gloomy legends of the charcoal burners in the German forests-and the local or epichorial superstitions from every district of Europe, come forward by thousands, attesting the high activity of the miraculous and the hyperphysical instincts, even in this generation, wheresoever the voice of the people makes itself heard.
But in Pagan times, it will be objected, the popular superstitions blended themselves with the highest political functions, gave a sanction to national counsels, and oftentimes gave their starting point to the very primary movements of the state. Prophecies, omens, miracles, all worked concurrently with senates or princes. Whereas in our days, says Charles Lamb, the witch who takes her pleasure with the moon, and summons Beelzebub to her sabbaths, nevertheless trembles before the beadle, and hides herself from the overseer. Now, as to the witch, even the horrid Canidia of Horace, or the more dreadful Erichtho of Lucan, seems hardly to have been much respected in any era. But for the other modes of the supernatural, they have entered into more frequent combinations with state functions and state movements in our modern ages
* “ Because that idea is so peculiarly Christian.”—One reason, additional to the main one, why the idea of a ghost could not be conceived or reproduced by Paganism, lies in the fourfold resolution of the human nature at death, viz. :-1. corpus ; 2. manes; 3. spiritus; 4. anima. No reversionary consciousness, no restitution of the total nature, sentient and active, was thus possible. Pliny has a story which looks like a ghost story; but it is all moonshine-a more simulacrum.