Imagens das páginas

which never slept, guarded the precincts from the intrusion of adventurous mortals. This monster is said to have had a hundred heads, and possibly had lives in proportion; but at last his extraordinary existence was cut short by Hercules, who carried some of the golden apples back with him into Greece: but Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, restored them to their native gardens, because she foresaw they could be preserved nowhere else on earth. Is not this conclusion of the legend finely allegorical of the distance existing between the world of imagination and the common life of man? As there are some who consider the widespread belief in “Isles of the Blessed” as the effect of vague traditional reminiscences of the lost Eden of our first parents, we may mention for their behoof that in Paris there is an antique medal (at least there was one last century: for aught we know, it may ere this have been melted down in the Revolutionary mint) representing Hercules and the dragon at the foot of the gold-fruited tree: and this medal, in the opinion of the Abbé Massieu, “but for the male sex of Hercules,” would pass for a memorial of the temptation of Eve by the serpent. The natives of India have a story of a great city named Baly having been submerged in the sea, whose gilded pinnacles were seen by their forefathers glittering above the waters, and whose streets are still visible in the clear depths of ocean. But as no one depones to having personally inspected this submarine abode (albeit the best of divers are on these coasts), we pass on to another which has been more fortunate in this respect, and whose story bears some resemblance to that of Jonah and Nineveh ; with this difference, that in the present case the prophet would have had no occasion “to be angry” at the ultimate fate of the city. Amid the burning wastes of sand which lie between Abyssinia and Aden there once existed, say Mohammedan writers, a great city and lovely gardens, called the Paradise of Irem. But the king and people of the place (the tribe of Ad) were very wicked ; so that the Prophet Houd was sent to threaten them with judgments unless they repented. But they did not; and accordingly all, except the prophet, were destroyed; or, according to another version, turned into apes, which are still to be seen chattering in the neighbourhood. The city, we are told, is still standing in the deserts of Aden; but it is only visible to such as are privileged by God to behold it. This favour, it seems, has been enjoyed by one favoured mortal, Colabah by name, who, being summoned by the Caliph Moâwiyah, related how that, when he was seeking a camel he had lost, he found himself on a sudden at the gates of the city, and, “entering it, saw not one inhabitant; at which, being terrified, he stayed no longer than to take with him some fine stones, which he showed to the caliph.” Leaving the turbaned Mohammedans of the east, we shall find the imaginative spirit and vague aspirations of the northern races creating a utopia even more poetical, we think, than those hitherto noticed, and certainly exercising a more powerful influence over those who believed in its existence. Passing over, as apocryphal, Macpherson's legend of the Flath-innis, or Noble Island, authentic records show us the belief existing among the Welsh mountaineers, then just emerging from paganism. Looking from their native mountains, they beheld the sun setting, amid golden glories, over the waters of the western sea; and it was far away upon those sunset waves that they placed their utopian realm. They called it Gwerdonnan Lian —the Green Isles of Ocean, or the Green Spots of the Floods; and they deemed it a fairyland of bliss, where dwelt the souls of good Druids, who, being pagans, were not permitted to enter the Christian heaven. Yet, though thus the abode of spirits, it was nevertheless a material paradise: they considered that its happy shores were accessible to mortals, and that he who succeeded in reaching it, imagined on his return that he had been absent only a few hours, when in truth whole centuries had passed away. At times it was visible from land. “If you take a turf,” says an old author, “from St David's Churchyard, and stand upon it on the sea-shore, you behold these islands. One man,” he adds, “once got sight of them by this means, and forthwith put to sea in pursuit; but they disappeared, and his search was vain. Nowise daunted, he returned, looked at them again from the enchanted turf, again set sail, and again was unsuccessful. The third time he took the turf on board with him, and stood upon it till he reached them.” Whether this fable originated in an optical delusion similar to the Fata Morgana, in the prevalent tradition of the lost Atlantis, or large island in former times existing in the Western Ocean,—or in vague rumours of the American continent, cannot be determined ; but it is undoubted that the fable was received as sober truth by the Welsh. It is on record that several expeditions were undertaken for the discovery of the happy islands; and the “three losses by disappearance of the island of Britain,” lamented by Welsh bards, appear to have all been connected with this seareh. The first of these was the expedition of Madoc, a Welsh prince, who sailed for the “far west,” and who is believed to have reached Mexico; the second was that of Prince Gafran, who avowedly went in search of the Gwerdonnan Lian ; the third was that of the far-famed Merlin and his bards, who likewise voyaged for the west. Considerable dubiety, it is true, attaches to the accounts of the last of these “disappearances,” as Merlin is said to have sailed in a ship of crystal. But let us be charitable. Would not a ship of iron have seemed more absurd to our Welsh ancestors than their “ship of crystal” seems to us? And when we make whole houses and palaces of glass, we may surely put ourselves for the nonce in a credulous spirit as we read of a crystal boat on such fairy seas. A veil hangs over the fate of these adventurers: whether they triumphed, or whether they sank in mid-ocean, we know not. One thing alone is certain, that even in the savannas of the New World they were as far from success as ever. Islands of the Blest, indeed, were not unheard of among the simple tribes; but they were known chiefly for the deceptive nature of their fascination. A belief of this kind still lingers among some of the American tribes ; and in recent times Bertram mentions, in his Travels through North and South Carolina, that he found it entertained by the Creek Indians. The river St Mary, he tells us, has its source in a vast marsh nearly three hundred miles in circuit, which in the wet season appears as a lake, containing some large islands or knolls of rich land. One of these the Creeks represent as “a most blissful spot of earth;” and they say it is inhabited by a peculiar race of Indians, whose women are incomparably beautiful. This terrestrial paradise, they add, “has been seen by some of their enterprising hunters when in pursuit of game; but in their endeavours to approach it, they were involved in perpetual labyrinths; and, like enchanted land, still as they imagined they had just gained it, it seemed to fly before them, alternately appearing and disappearing.” At length they resolved to abandon the delusive pursuit, and after many difficulties, they succeeded in retracing their steps. “When they reported their adventures to their countrymen, the young warriors were inflamed with an irresistible desire to invade and make a conquest of so charming a country; but all their attempts have hitherto proved abortive, never having been able again to find that enchanting spot.” Here, then, is the human spirit first creating an ideal paradise, and then pining for the work of its own fancy. Thus it is also with the most gifted sons of genius, upon whose spiritual eye or ear fall sounds and forms of more than earthly beauty, and who, even while enjoying the delights of human life, long for the realisation of day-dreams, nobler and more lovely far. Listen to the lay which the sweetest of female lyric poets puts into the mouth of the wild Indian of the prairies; and say, as he sings of the fascination of his Isle of Founts and its sparkling waters, if the picturesque strain be not emblematic of the enthusiastic votary of high art, wrapt up in the ideal beauty which his soul beholds:—

“But woe for him who sees them burst
With their bright spray-showers to the lake
Earth has no spring to quench the thirst
That semblance in his soul shall wake—
From the Blue Mountains to the main,
Our thousand floods shall roll in vain.

Een thus our hunters came of yore
Back from their long and weary quest;
Had they not seen the untrodden shore?
And could they 'midst our wilds find rest?
The lightning of their glance was fled;
They dwelt amongst us as the dead!

They lay beside our glittering rills,
With visions in their darkened eye :”

—the visions of the dreamy land that once had glowed before them like a new Eden, and the memory of which so filled their hearts that there was no room left for any other joy. Thus, in ordinary life, do the imagination and exquisite susceptibilities which provide Genius with her divinest joys become to her at times the source of anguish. Pleasure and Pain enter by the same portals: and in this way is the lot of Genius reduced to little above that of mankind at large.

Having thus traversed the four quarters of the globe, and obtained glimpses of utopias of various kinds, and as variously tenanted—some by hoary Druids, others by beautiful women; some by apes, and some by nobody—we now start for the isles of the Pacific Ocean, to view the happy land of the Tonga people. Bolotoo—such is the name of this singular place—is a large island, they say, somewhere to the north-west of the Tonga group; but a long way distant. They deem it the abode of their gods; and certainly, by their account, animal and vegetable life proceeds there on very strange principles. Its fruits, flowers, birds, and hogs—in the last of which it abounds—are all of rare beauty (the pigs, we presume, not excepted): and they are immortal, unless when plucked or eaten

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