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Tangiers; the more easterly break the journey, so to speak, from Mentone and Monte Carlo, via Corsica and Sardinia, to the African coast about Bona and Tunis. Neither way, it is important to remember, need they ever for a minute be out of sight of land; and in most cases, from their elevated standpoint, they can see both shores at once from the very beginning. What need, then, to call in a supernatural sense, out of pure wantonness, any more than in the case of the sailor who steers straight from one headland to another visible one right in front of him? Instincts are seldom or never miraculous; they are only fixed and confirmed habits.
Once more, when the returning swift, on his homeward journey from Spain and Africa, sights the well-remembered cliffs of perfidious Albion, it is easy enough for him (as the balloonist would soon tell us) to find his way straight across country to King's Peddington or Nettlecombe Parva. Familiar landmarks everywhere guide his course, landmarks to which he has long been accustomed in his daily excursions throughout the live-long summer. We forget, in fact, in our reasonings about these things, that the swift is always accustomed to taking a bird's-eye view of the world in general; that a broad and enlightened conception of the features of the country is a birthright of his race, and that narrow, confined, or grovelling ideas are utterly foreign to his lofty notion of domestic policy. He moves forever in an exalted sphere; he is an aeronaut who has solved the problem of steerage and motive power; able to rise as high as a balloon, he can direct his motion as the balloonist cannot. Hence to his cosmopolitan soul a little excursion from Cape Town to Devonshire is nothing much greater than a seven days' walking tour in hilly country to our own crawling human legs and confined faculties.
Add that the eyes of birds are exceedingly keen, or almost telescopic, and I think it must be admitted that the way of a bird on the wing is, after all, no very serious or inscrutable mystery.
And now at last I arrive fairly, after so much digression (who does not love digression ?), at the nest itself, the precursor and foreshadower of the edible
birds'-nests of Celestial cookery. For the peculiarity of the swift's architectural views is simply this: he does not merely weave and interweave the materials of his home, like other birds, but glues them together by a special secretion, a sort of sticky jelly which he fabricates on purpose, and of which he alone among birds possesses the secret. His nest is usually placed under the roof of a house or the battlements of a church tower, and is rudely constructed of bits of grass, fibrous roots, moss and lichen, wool, hair, fur, and feathers, or the cottony down of seeds and plants, all securely felted and agglutinated together by a very sticky gelatinous mixture. Here we catch evolution actually in the act; the thin shreds or fibres which thus connect the straws and feathers of the swift's nest are the raw material of the edible bird's-nest, which consists entirely of that particular element (in the purest specimens) unmixed with any unpleasant foreign body. Not but that the edible bird's-nest itself is about as unpleasant a thing to eat as any yet devised by the Celestial imagination; for both in the swift and in the Chinese swiftlet the jelly-like matter is really, to quote the delicate language of science,
inspissated mucus from the salivary glands. The general reader will. forgive my saying that this is one of the numerous passages in classical or scientific authors best left untranslated in the original tongue.
I ought to mention in passing that our own swift seldom builds a nest for himself at all; he usually takes possession by forcible means of the lares and penates of some unhappy sparrow, whom he forcibly ejects without form of law; and it is only when driven to the last extremity for want of anybody to dispossess that he can be induced to construct a dwelling for himself. He is by choice a robber, and only by compulsion a peaceable householder. this indisposition to collect materials for a nest on his own account is clearly at the bottom of the curious habit of making edible bird's-nest from hardened saliva; and as it flows naturally from the other habits and manners of the swift family, it gives us at once the true key to the entire situation. For the swifts being by nature aërial birds, with
a great indisposition to settle on the ground, where they are about as much out of their element as a seal is on dry land, do not readily collect the sticks and straws and grasses and bits of refuse of which most birds habitually construct their tiny homes. When forced to build a nest for themselves, they use for the most part light fragments of grass, thistledown, and feathers, all of which can be gathered on the wing, while borne by the breezes through the upper air. These materials they cement together with their copious mucus, for which purpose their salivary glands are peculiarly large and fully developed. As the spider spins its web out of its own body, so the swift finds it cheaper in the end to build a nest out of its own secretions than to collect material in unsuitable places.
An American swift-ahead as usual of the effete British representatives of the family-carries the same principle a step further, and constructs its nest of small twigs, glued together by a brownish mucilage, almost as copious as that of the edible species, but not quite so clear or pure or jelly-like. This Yankee bird's-nest swells and softens in warm water exactly like the genuine article, but it has not so far been employed for cookery by the Heathen Chinee of Chicago and San Francisco. In time, no doubt, it will be duly exploited by some intelligent American Francatelli, and bird's-nest soup will delight the palate of diners at Delmonico's as it already delights the almond-eyed gourmets of Pekin and Yokohama.
The true edible bird's-nest swiftlet is a native of Ceylon and of the Malay region; and it builds in caves where materials for architecture are necessarily scanty, or on .sea cliffs of inaccessible height. More than most other swifts, this tropical species is a confirmed highflyer, hawking for its food around the summits of the mountains, and much indisposed to settle on the ground upon any pretext. Hence it has learned to carry to the furthest possible limit the family habit of making a nest quite literally all out of its own head," without the slightest extraneous aid of any sort. The best and cleanest nests, which fetch the highest price, are composed entirely of pure mucus from the salivary
glands. The material in its hardened state is brittle, fibrous, white, and transparent, very like pure gum arabic, or even glass ;" and the inner lining consists of nothing but small soft feathers. Inferior nests, which command a smaller price in the Chinese market, are composed in part of dry grasses, hair, and down, welded together by the fibrous gummy secretion. In short, as Mr. Darwin bluntly puts it, The Chinese make soup of dried saliva." This sounds horrid enough, to be sure; but when we ourselves give up coloring jellies with defunct cochineal insects, it will be time for us to cast the first stone at the Oriental cuisine.
In shape the nests are much like hanging pouches glued on to the wall of the cave by their own mucus, and containing each two eggs. All the swifts, indeed, are very small layers, as is invariably the case with the most active animals; the laziest livers have (other things equal) the largest families. The "take" is in October, and most of the nests go to China, where the soup ranks as a high luxury. I tasted some in Paris a few years since, and did not find it by any means unpalatable; but how much of the effect was due to the nests themselves, and how much to the skilful manipulation of the Parisian chef, I should be sorry to vouch for on such slight acquaintance.
It is worth mention that the swallows, like the swifts, are greatly averse to building their own nests if they can possibly avoid it, and for the same reason. Their structure does not properly fit them for picking up materials on their own account, and so they prefer, whenever they can, to seize upon the readymade home of an inoffensive neighbor, or to adopt an old one, instead of building at first hand. These adaptive resemblances between the two birds are so very close as almost to deceive the very elect. Mr. Darwin has pointed out that other swifts which construct their nests of seaweed, glued together with mucus, or of irregular fibres of the gummy substance, bridge over the distance between our own swifts and the true edible nestbuilding species. It is almost always so in nature; the various stages by which each kind has been evolved linger on somewhere side by side one with an
other, just as all the successive steps in human civilization may still be found in Africa or Peru, Australia or Europe, from the naked savage with his fire drill
and his boomerang, to the finished product, with his steam printing-press and his Woolwich Infant.-Cornhill Magazine.
PAGANISM IN ENGLAND.
BY J. THEODORE BENT.
I Do not intend for a moment to suggest that Englishmen exist who still offer sacrifices to Odin and Thor, or that there are traces of druidical worship still lurking among us unawares; our Paganism is derived entirely from a different source, and has been introduced into England through the medium of Christianity itself.
Having spent several winters in what we may call the cradle of Christianity, that is to say among the Christian population of remote corners of Turkey and Greece, I have taken special interest in noting down the numerous traces of Pagan worship which the orthodox church has countenanced, and which, from the isolation of these parts from the rest of Christendom, for centuries. have been maintained from generation to generation. A Byzantine writer and statesman of the 11th century-Michael Psellos by name-the Voltaire of his age both as regards philosophy and love of writing, gives us the key-note for this investigation, by enunciating as his theory that Jupiter and the gods of the Iliad are the same as the gods of the Christians, transformed into angels, cherubs, and saints."
Apparently, when the Christian religion was imposed by Constantine on the inhabitants of his empire, the instructors of the people made use of saints to whom they could transfer the attributes of the much-beloved gods. They tried, doubtless with infinite trouble to themselves, to blend the old cult into the new; and more especially in the islands of the Egean Sea, where Paganism lingered longest, it is easy to recognize how the ancient temples of Poseidon were turned into churches of St. Nicholas, the seaman's saint; how St. Mammas usurped the attributes of Pan, the herdsman's god; how Charon is still to the Greek peasant the much
dreaded lord of the lower earth, and so on through instances innumerable.
Western Christianity and western culture have always borrowed from the East, and I propose now, through comparison with existing customs in the East, to show how much still exists among ourselves of the religion of Greece and Rome. Let us begin with our patron saint himself, the brave St. George, and by carefully comparing the myth of his contest with the dragon, as told more especially among the Greek peasants, with the myth of Perseus and Andromeda, we shall find that they are almost identical. St. George, the mythical knight-saint of Cappadocia, who saved the princess from the dragon, is none other than Perseus of our mythological tale; Andromeda is the princess; the horse on which he rode to the encounter is Pegasus; thus we have the dramatis persona complete, and some little points which at first seem different will agree when closely looked into.
In the first place, it will appear that Perseus' victory was over a dragon of the sea, whereas St. George's was over a monster that lived on land, or rather in a well at some distance from the sea. Now, on turning to Eusebius, who. lived of course about the time of the mutation of the tale, we find him connecting the dragon which St. George is supposed to have destroyed, with the dragon of the sea, the great Leviathan mentioned in Isaiah, and which the Septuagint translates by the word dpákwv. This will satisfactorily account for the anomaly that a knight in armor has always found favor with mariners and maritime races. He was the patron saint of the Genoese merchants, and they called their great bank, the parent in fact of all modern banks, by his name; his mythical contest with the dragon is carved in the dark slate mar
ble of Lavagna over numerous Genoese lintels. There we see the king's daughter about to be sacrificed, the shepherds and their flocks all carefully delineated. In maritime Portugal also St. George was the cry always raised in battle, and it was at the decisive battle of Aljuberrotta, in 1385, that the Portuguese, under John II., effectually threw off the Castilian yoke to the cry of St. George for Portugal. And St. George was the saint that King Richard Cœur de Lion chose, when on his crusade as his patron, and in this capacity brought him home with him to England.
In popular song, the mouthpiece of religious myths all the world over, the Greek peasant has preserved for us faithfully the idea of the winged horse, Pegasus; they sing of St. George hastening to the rescue on his horse with flying feet;" and furthermore, in the sacred conventional pictures which the Greeks worship, the horse is often represented with wings attached to his feet. Again, the Greeks in their songs have preserved for us another Pagan feature in connection with St. George, for just as their ancestors attributed to their gods mundane passions, so now do the Greeks to their saints. On Paros they have the festival of "the drunken St. George" in November, when the new wine vats are tapped, and much insobriety takes place, and in a popular song they tell a tale of a maiden who prayed to St. George to deliver her from a Turkish lover, and offered him oil, candles, and other gifts if he would protect her, but the Turk offered the saint far more than the maiden, and the cruel St. George sold her for gain.
St. George is supposed to possess the power of driving away rats, mice, fleas, and all vermin; on his day they light fires, and dance around them singing incantations which are considered efficacious in effecting this purpose, for they say that a saint who had power to subdue so powerful an enemy as the dragon, must of necessity have power to drive away the lesser vermin which torment mankind.
From Cappadocia to Beyrout, where the dragon lived, St. George is represented both in song and on sacred pictures to have gone by sea on his farfamed horse. This distinctly connects
him with Perseus; in fact, from the numerous parallels to be adduced from modern Greek folk-lore, there can be no reasonable doubt as to the continuity of the myth.
Yet anyone who was to raise the cry of Perseus for merry England, would be considered either a heathen or a lunatic, and what would the aristocracy of this country say if they were told that they had been married in a temple of Perseus not far from Hanover Square.
Our neighbors the French are much more attached to St. Denis than we are ; and it is a curious coincidence, that the gay laughter-loving Frenchmen should have chosen as their patron saint one whom we shall, by carefully tracing his pedigree through eastern legends, show to be intimately connected with the winegod Dionysos. A slight change of name was usually adopted by the eastern divines when placing a Christian saint on the same footing as a heathen god; examples of this are numerous, but it is sufficient for our purpose to state that St. Artemidos on the island of Keos is worshipped still as possessing the same attributes as Artemis, whose shrine on Keos in ancient days was widely celebrated, and a saint called Eleutherios is the modern Mrs. Gamp, instead of Eileithyia, which according to modern pronunciation differs but little in sound, and in like fashion St. Dionysius, contracted by us and the French into St. Denis, took the place of Dionysos. The contraction and identity of St. Dionysius and St. Denis is amply proved; Dean Milman says "the monks of St. Denys always declared their founder had travelled in Greece, and brought home irrefragable proofs that their St. Denys was the convert of St. Paul "-that is to say, Dionysius the Areopagite, an undoubted Greek. Also in old MSS. St. Denis near Paris is always called Dionysiopolis.
We will now visit Naxos, the home of the old wine-god Dionysos, an island where place names still bear testimony to the ancient worship thereon, and when on the island of Naxos we heard the following legend told of St. Dionysius, who is worshipped more especially on this island than elsewhere. St. Dionysius was on a journey from the monastery on Mount Olympos to his home in Naxos; as he sat down to rest
he saw a pretty plant which he desired to take, and to protect it from being withered by the rays of the sun he put it into the bone of a bird. He went on his journey, and later on halted again and was surprised on looking at his treasure to find that it had sprouted and got so firmly fixed in the bone that he could not remove it. Thereupon he put the plant, bone and all, into the bone of a lion; again he halted, and again the same phenomenon occurred, so he put them all into the leg-bone of an ass.
On reaching Naxos he found the plant so rooted in the three bones that he was unable to extricate it, and so planted them all in his garden. From this up came a vine, and with the fruit thereof St. Dionysius made the first wine. When he had drunk a little of it he sang like a bird, when he had drunk more he was as strong as a lion, and when he had drunk too much he became as foolish as
This legend is told in Naxos to-day of their saint. In other parts of Greece the same legend is also told, and the parallel to antiquity is even still more marked. How the plant grew while St. Dionysius was in the boat and spread its tendrils until they covered the masts, and how the sailors partook of its delicious and suddenly developed fruit is added to the above story.
With such forcible evidence as this of the identity of St. Dionysius with the wine god of antiquity, we can have no hesitation in saying that whoever the saint may have been, and whatever may be the story of his martyrdom, the instructors of the early Christians in the East chose to associate him with Dionysos the wine god, and the people have perpetuated the myth ever since.
St. Dionysius, or as we are more familiar with him in England as St. Denis, is the patron of several of our shrines, but the connection is most obvious in the old city church of St. Dionys Backchurch. Archæologists are at a loss to account for the affix Backchurch. Some say it has been given because the church stood back from the street; but it will be obvious to any one who takes the trouble to consult an old City map that the old edifice styled in old deeds as far back as the reign of Edward III. as Saint Dionys Bakchirche" by no means
stood back but occupied a conspicuous position at the corner of Lyme Street and Fenchurch Street and had a threestoried tower before it was destroyed by the fire. Is it not just possible that originally the church was called St. Dionys Bacchus, having seen, as above, the intimate connection in the Eastern Church between the wine-god and the saint? Whatever may be the origin of the name, St. Dionys Backchurch stands no longer, having been pulled down a few years ago for street improvements. The vestry, however, is still there and the strong box containing the old deeds, and furthermore two interesting little squirts which were in use as fire engines at the time of the great fire. St. Dionys, St. Denis, Dionysos, or whatever we may choose to call him, has removed, and with the ample resources of the old endowment, a church also dedicated to St. Dionys has been, within the last few years, erected in the flourishing suburb of Parson's Green.
While travelling in the East and amid the many islands of the Greek and Asiatic Seas, I have always been struck by the fact that the highest point in any district of the mainland and of every island has been crowned by a church dedicated to the Prophet Elias; the prophet who in time of drought prayed and brought rain for Israel is looked upon still by the Greek peasant as the great intercessor to whom he must apply when similar circumstances occur today; pilgrimages are of constant occurrence to these mountain shrines when rain is needed for the thirsty land; songs of prayer are sung by children decked with flowers; gifts are lavishly presented to the church; processions, headed by the priesthood, with the banners and relics of the neighborhood, may be seen winding their way, caterpillar-like, up the rugged ascents; and at the ensuing services the devout cover the picture of the prophet with kisses and implore his aid in obtaining for them the desired rain. On examining closely the localities of these shrines dedicated to the prophet, it will be found that in most cases these summits were crowned in ancient times by temples to the great sun-god Apollo, or Zeus the thunderer, and formed the centre of the Eastern worship of the sun, but to realize this