Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

Caves, were now appropriated as his residence, and he became a giant of doubtful character, “ a kind of knight-errant,” who killed monster, man, and beast, and dragged them away to his den. But it is probable we have here the engrafting of a hero tradition on that of a giant; for these caves are also said to have been the abode of one Isis, who seized men and cattle, and thereupon indiscriminately satisfied the cravings of his appetite. This place of ill fame has thus been named both Isis Parlis, and Sir Hugh's Parlour, the latter being apparently an interpretation of the former, and Sir Hugh representing Ewan himself. According to a tradition still extant, a fair lady from somewhere or other, where the fame of the giant had never reached, went down to walk on the riverbank, and unconscious of her danger, approached the cave of this dreadful being She was

seen by the lurking monster, who suddenly issued from his den to seize her. Terror-stricken at the sight, the lady executed a most tremendous step across a wide cleft in the rocky bank, opening on the river beneath, and the giant in the act of pursuing her, missed his footing, and broke his neck. Such was his end. The opening in the rock over which the lady so providentially passed, is called the Maiden's Step.*

Castle Hewen is the scene of one of the old ballads of Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry, in connexion with the history of the giant, though composed many centuries later than the time at which he lived. The writer at least shows some knowledge of the topography and tradition of Cumbria, but the time chosen is that when King Arthur holds his court at “merrie Carlisle.” Our giant in this ballad figures very unattractively, being twice the size of ordinary men, and behaving most rudely to all the innocent travellers who pass his way. The wrath of the king is at length

* The Giant's Caves were doubtless excavated to form a hermitage. The labour necessary for the execution of this work, must not be supposed to be more than the zeal of a saint's followers and neophytes would be willing to undergo. We had in this county St. Herbert living on an island in Derwentwater. See the notes to Scott's Marmion for a description of St. Rule's cave at St. Andrews, a place precisely similar to the caves of the Eamont. Nor are these situations more strange than that of St. Kevin at Glendalough.

aroused, and he proceeds from Carlisle to fight the giant; but he is overcome by the power of magic, and only released on condition that he bring back an answer to the inquiry, “What is it women most desire ?" The king discovers the solution of this problem, to wit, that “women will have their will," and this brings about an entire revolution in the affairs of the giant.

Another ballad of Percy's collection has been supposed to be illustrative of the history of the Giant's Caves. According to this composition, the hero of which is Lancelot du Lac, the caves would have been the residence of one Tarquin, who held in captivity three score and four knights of the Round Table, and very obligingly kept a copper bason, to serve as a bell, hanging near his den. He was killed by Sir Lancelot. But the conjectural appropriation of this ballad is solely founded on the already conjectural name of King Arthur's Round Table in the neighbourhood.

Carl Lofts of Shap, a wonderful stone monument now destroyed, must be referred for its traditional name to the second period of the giants. The great boulders of the south of Ireland before mentioned, are accounted for (independent of the tradition already given) as the “giants' finger-stones.” And an old man of the neighbourhood once explained to an inquirer that “the giants of old used to loft there.”-lofting being understood to mean throwing stones by heaving. There seems decidedly to be a connexion between this explanation of the boulders and our Carl Lofts (Carl's Lofts). The names of the Hemps' Graves of Bewcastle, and the Kemp Howe of Westmorland (D. kämpe), must be placed in the same category, the latter meaning the giants' hill or tomb, the former the giants' graves, and showing the Anglo-Norse form of the word.

Modern times must stand accountable for the name of the Giant's Chamber in Baron Wood, Cumberland, as there is no tradition belonging thereto, as well as for the story of Hugh Hird, the Troutbeck giant, who flourished when Kentmere Hall was building. The most remarkable feat of strength recorded of this personage, was that of lifting into its place the mantle-tree of the kitchen fire-place, which ten men had in vain endeavoured to move.

[blocks in formation]

aving been sent up to London on some business, the purpose of ich is not very clear, he astonished the king by his extraordinary estling powers, and received as his reward the house in which lived, the paddock adjoining, and liberty to cut wood and peat the forest. Under the name of the “ sunny side of a wether,” devoured a whole sheep provided for his refreshment by the g, and then declared he had not got so good a dinner since he

Troutbeck.
The Danish kämpe unmistakeably exhibits in itself the rise and

of giant history; it was first champion, then giant, and lastly stler. The hero of the first period becomes the monster of the ond; whilst modern times, to supplement such a history, can y produce some person an inch or two taller than average men, h a stomach of more than the ordinary powers of gluttony.

CHAPTER IV.

MONUMENTS.

The Godhead of the religious system of the Persians, Zeruane akerene, is the root and first cause from which all things proceed. His first born are Ormuzd and Ahriman. The latter having by his own will rebelled against his creator, becomes the ruler of Darkness, in opposition to Ormuzd, the prince of Light. Ahriman's rebellion determined the Infinite Being, through Ormuzd, to create the world. The Izeds, a class of intermediate beings (the angels of the Hebrews), were first created; when Ahriman, by permission, created the evil spirits, the Devs. The world, or universe, destined to last four periods of three thousand years each, then became the battle-ground of Light and Darkness.

Ahriman being defeated in his attempt to reconquer heaven, opposes Ormuzd, physically and morally, by corrupting his works upon earth. The evil spirits are his agents, and everything wicked, and unclean in nature, everything evil in spiritual life, has its guardian Dev. It is they who occasion all the ills that flesh is heir to, and for this reason, that in every human being whose death is brought about, a Feruer, or spirit of the good creation, is removed from the earth. This belief in the Devs and the mischiefs they occasion, spread into Europe, and at the introduction of Christianity, by a very easy transition, passed over to Satan. But the cause, or interest that the evil spirits had in the destruction of the human race, was forgotten, and the earth became a sort of play-ground for the devil, whenever he chose to come hither for his amusement.

AGENCY OF THE DEVIL.

127

In modern times, everything unaccountable, however harmless it might be in itself, was ascribed to the agency of the devil. By the hope of a trifling reward-too often the soul of his employerhe might be induced to undertake the execution of any kind of structure. The Pikes on Carrock Fell are specimens of his diabolical architecture, though for what they were intended, tradition does not inform us; and the stones scattered about the summit of the hill, are the result of an accident that happened to him whilst engaged in their erection. He had finished one, and was bringing in his apron a sufficient quantity of stones to complete the second, when the apron-strings burst, and the greater part of his materials scattered in all directions. And this, it appears, is the reason why one of the Pikes is so much smaller than the other. The heap of stones in Ullswater is ascribed to a similar accident. On this occasion also he had his apron laden, and was striding in great haste from the Nab to Barton Fell, when the stones fell into the lake, and formed a bank dangerous to boats at some seasons. According to a tradition that has made its way into many

other places and countries, Kirkby Lonsdale bridge is said to be the workmanship of the devil. He had stipulated to receive for his reward the first living creature that passed over the bridge, but was cleverly cheated by the other contracting party, an old woman, who contrived to substitute a dog. At Stenkrith bridge, near Kirkby Stephen, in a cleft of the rock, a subterranean noise may be heard by any person who applies hiswear to the opening. The strange rumbling sound that issues thence is produced by the devil, who there below has a mill continually employed in grinding mustard.

Long Meg and her Daughters, the well-known Druidical monument so called, connects itself by its name with a curious, though not uncommon superstition. Tradition is silent respecting the history of this lady; who she was, and why petrified, are equally unknown. She is, however, in her present state, a very tall personage, made of much harder stone than her“ daughters,” about seventy of whom lie around her in a circle. Another version of the story declares these small stones to be her lovers. All that is

« ForrigeFortsæt »