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commonplace and stale. It is only by accident that we sometimes are awakened from our indifference ; we rarely, if ever, consciously go in search of the picturesque, but now and then some chance bit of coloring, some quaint grouping of people in the markets, or a bit of grotesque building, make us believe that our prosaic, workaday cities have picturesque possibilities after all, even in the midst of brick blocks and within sound of the engine whistle.
Go down to the big drawbridge, at the close of one of these winter afternoons, and your faith in the local picturesque will be materially strengthened. Far below you, out toward the lonely tower of the light, three or four coasters are lying icebound, the spars and standing rigging clearly outlined against the grayness of the sky. The crowded city tenements are blended in a bluish haze, which softens their harsh squareness into a shapeless mass of neutral color. A yellow radiance which bursts through the rents in the cloud curtain gilds a chimney top or church spire here and there, -the only lights against the somber background. The ice stretches away in a gray infinity out to sea, crackling and heaving above the restless tide in a series of muffled reports which echo sharply un. der the bridge, while the crashing fall of the great icicles which a month's frosts and thaws have built up, only to end in ruin, adds not a little to the salvos of nature's mimic artillery beneath us. There is not a breath of air; the smoke from the hazy city's chimneys pours in straight columns.
Down on the ice, centering the whole composition, never heeding the menacing cracks all about them, a few men stand armed with long poles, eagerly thrusting through into the soft mud below, searching out the eels who had hoped to pass a comfortable winter free from annoyance by rapacious anglers. They are an interesting group, these fishermen, as they stand in alert attitudes, nervously working their long spears, now clustering about some soul whose patience has been rewarded, -always in motion. Scraps of song come drifting up through the still air. Now the darkness comes on, and the men's forms become shadowy ; they move about like gray phantoms over the ice, noiselessly. Then they drift away into the twilight, until all have disappeared. The lights begin to twinkle along the shore, and the clangor of the bells sounds a curfew, telling us that the day's work is over. E. G. T.
-During all the storms of religious chaos which from time to time threatened to overwhelm Europe with impurity and superstition, the Christian faith was preserved untouched in a small isle on the northwest coast of Scotland. A band of exiled monks from Ireland had landed there years before, erected a monastery and called the place Iona, the “blessed Isle." And like the last glow of the sunset, which always seem to linger lovingly about what is now a grand old ruin, so the light of Christianity remained undimmed there for many centuries. Symbolic of this ancient and unalterable record of piety, a large stone cross stands on an eminence overlooking the sea and the neighboring bays and islands, keeping guard as it were against the desecration of memories that have passed away to oblivion. Its delicate carving is still visible, and its design is of the most antiquated order known. In fact McLean's cross is said to be the oldest Christian monument in Great Britain, and it certainly has an appearance of dignity and age that accords well with this claim. The bleak, forbidding coast of Mull with its white lines of foaming breakers is quite plain from the knoll on which the cross stands, and nowhere else on the island does the wild, desolate scenery that is the very charm of that region become so impressive. Far to the south and west stretches the wide, mysterious sea, and through a depression in the hills of the Ross of Mull, the blue outlines of Jura's mountains can be distinguished lying to the eastward. As a rule the sky is overcast and of a peculiarly leaden hue, yet on a clear, sunny day the sparkling water seems to dance in the light, the salt breezes play softly around the great stone cross, and weird, uncouth shadows fall on the headlands and precipitous shores of this sacred isle.
Many are the scenes which this cross has beheld in the past ages; as when the bell was calling the priest to vespers in the quiet of the evening, or when they formed in solemn procession to meet the boats that were slowly coming down the sound bearing a dead chieftain. Then come the scenes of carnage
that were enacted when the “Raven of the North," sweeping down upon the little isle, sacrificed the abbott and all his monks to Odin.
But with undismayed courage more monks came over, and although many fell victims to the Norse pirates, and had their
buildings sacked and burnt, nevertheless they persevered, and the name of Iona soon became famous as a sanctuary, and the home of an undefiled religion. Moreover, in the Reilag Oran, or burial place of St. Oran, there lie forty Scottish kings, two Norwegian and two Irish kings, and a red unpolished stone covers the grave of an unknown king of France, who had found his last resting place in this distant, sea-girt isle, far from the blue Mediterranean and the broad vineyards of his native land. However, they have all long since been forgotten, as well as the monks of St. Columba and their good deeds, but the massive stone cross, its intricate tracery half covered with lichens, still maintains its commanding position, a silent but significant witness.
- In nothing has literature had a greater influence than in guiding superstition. It has played the double part of diffusing throughout the race each particular fallacy and then of remaining as a record of the credulity of its time. As our literature has come down to us from two widely separated origins—from Rome and from the Sagas of the Saxons—we can trace through all its history the curious intermingling of two very different ideas. The Spirits of the Dead who appeared to our forefathers of the North were always robed in white, those who visited the dreams and inhabited the Nether world of the Southern races were as invariably the color of a shadow. One was a Ghost, the other a Shade.
Of the two, the Shade is to literature by far the greater debtor. As his birth place was in Greece and Italy, he has come to us through the classics. In the Middle Ages he belonged peculiarly to those who could read Latin. But the Ghost was the friend of the people, and stories of his white and awful form were told round every fire-side. So the two became confused. No where is the inextricable tangle of the two ideas better illustrated than in Shakspeare. Perhaps the extent of Hamlet's erudition might be proved by showing how much the spirit of his father resembled the classic "Shade of Anchises." The apparation was "in the same figure like the king that's dead," except that its shadowy form was “as the air invulnerable.” But when Horatio comments on its appearance he commits the anachronism of placing “ the sheeted dead .... in the streets of Rome.”
Never has the Shade been able to supplant the Ghost in the affections of the masses. There is more truth than at first sight appears in saying that the thin Shade of Italy cannot stand our cold climate. Although the ghostly clothing of white may be traced to the use of the shroud, this explanation fails when we consider that the Norse-men as well as the Romans burnt their dead, while this superstition was common long before Christianity and burial. The true cause of the difference in color seems to have been the difference in climate. In the warm nights of Italy there was no real darkness. The uttermost blackness even of Hades was represented by Vergil as “ when the moon is obscured by clouds.” In a grey light like this we notice those things which are dark. Who has not been startled when in the moon-light there has crossed his path a shadow ? The voices of Vergil's Shades are like the hum of insects and the rustling of leaves on a night in summer.
But in the long winters of the North, night lasted for many weeks. The silence of the frozen waste was absolute; or broken only by the wolf or the storm. Then as the snow was whirled upward, well might the rude Saxon believe that he saw the spirit of a departed chief urging his hounds to the chase. In the forests of Germany the snow-drifts gleamed fearfully through the darkness. Wiser men than he have started back in terror when, at the bend in the road, there has arisen before them the ghastly form of a blasted tree. So the Ghost of the North was tall and stately in his flowing robe of white, and his voice was deep and strong like the roar of surf or the howl of the wind. Without Shakspeare's authority it would be hard to believe that this majestic being could ever so demean himself as to "squeak and gibber."
It is the peculiar glory of the Nineteenth Century to have cast off the antiquated superstition of a Ghost's having color. With only a hint from former ages we have reached the grand truth that the impalpable substance of a spirit appears and dresses just as we do. Indeed death is by no means essential to the creation of a “Double ;" and I am told by a “ Medium” the modern witch-that my own may at this moment be sauntering down Commonwealth avenue or exploring the heart of Africa.
Dr. McPersons was regarded as a “specialist in the town where he lived, and he certainly deserved this distinction. But he had gained his reputation by means which practitioners in larger cities would certainly have scoffed at. He effected many of his cures by what some of the townspeople called “horse sense” rather than by drugs, and there was always a certain amount of indignation over the fact that he made the same charges for his services in this capacity as when he acted as a fully qualified M. D. But as no one else in the town possessed “horse sense” equal in its results to Dr. McPersons, people let him go on. In fact, Dr. McPersons used this peculiar quality of his to better effect than many doctors do their knowledge of drugs, and he was often called in when his confrere, Dr. Phipps, had failed. He was a peculiar man in looks; large, broad shouldered, with a long, wavy beard. He was peculiar also, even disagreeable at times, in manner, and he talked little. But he was good at heart and kind, and so it happened that people came to him for ordinary advice in domestic troubles, in politics, and in law. In this respect McPersons' position was a strange one, but as it all helped his practice and enlarged his power, he didn't mind the extra trouble much.
The case which made him famous, and caused Dr. Phipps to seek practice elsewhere, took place seven or eight years ago. McManus' wife had been sick for a long time, and Phipps had been unable to help her. There seemed to be nothing the matter, except that she could not, or would not, leave her bed. When McManus, with tears in his eyes and a brogue in his voice, brought the case before McPersons, that worthy gentleman decided upon an heroic treatment. First he visited Mrs. McManus and told her that she was indeed a very sick woman, which pleased that lady greatly ; and then, as McManus afterwards confided to some of his friends, he “simply talked a lot about electricity."
On the following day Mrs. McManus was to be moved on to a bed of straw, which was to be placed on a piece of tin in one corner of the room. The tin would generate electricity, McPersons said, and this, oozing through the straw, which was an extremely good conductor, would entirely relieve the unfortunate Mrs. McManus of her earthly aches and pains.
McManus, having completed the arrangements as directed, but with little faith, it must be said, the doctor called at the