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the setting sun, or westward over the sea to the island of souls, the home of his fathers. Thus these rudest savages have developed two thoughts which we meet with again and again far onward in the course of culture—the thought of an island of the dead, and the thought that the world of departed souls is in the West, whither the Sun descends at evening to his daily death. Among the North American Indians, when once upon a time an Algonquin hunter left his body behind and visited the land of souls in the sunny south, he saw before him beautiful trees and plants, but found he could walk right through them. Then he paddled in the canoe of white shining stone across the lake where wicked souls perish in the storm, till he reached the beautiful and happy island where there is no cold, no war, no bloodshed, but the creatures run happily about, nourished by the air they breathe.” Tongan legend says that, long ago, a canoe returning from Fiji was driven by stress of weather to Bolotu, the island of gods and souls lying in the ocean north-west of Tonga. That island is larger than all theirs together, full of all finest fruits and loveliest flowers, that fill the air with fragrance, and come anew the moment they are plucked ; birds of beauteous plumage are there, and hogs in plenty, all immortal save when killed for the gods to eat, and then new living ones appear immediately to fill their places. But when the hungry crew of the canoe landed, they tried in vain to pluck the shadowy bread-fruit, they walked through unresisting trees and houses, even as the souls of chiefs who met them walked unchecked through their solid bodies. Counselled to hasten home from this land of no earthly food, the men sailed to Tonga, but the deadly air of Bolotu had infected them, and they soon all died. 3
1 Stanbridge in ‘Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. i. p. 299; G. F. Moore, Vocab. W. Austr.'p. 83 ; Bonwick, "Tasmanians,' p. 181.
2 Schoolcraft, “Indian Tribes,' part i. p. 321 ; see part iii. p. 229.
8 Mariner, «Tonga Is.' vol. ii. p. 107. See also Burton, W. and W. fr. W. Africa,' p. 154 (Gold Coast).
These Islands of the Blest, assigned as the abode of blessed spirits of the dead, came indeed to be identified with the Elysian Fields. Thus Pindar sings of steadfast souls, who through three lives on either side have endured free from injustice; then they pass by the road of Zeus to the tower of Kronos, where the ocean breezes blow round the islands of the happy, blazing with golden flowers of land and water. Thus, also, in the famous hymn of Kallistratos in honour of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, who slew the tyrant Hipparchos :
« Φίλταθ’ Αρμόδι, ού τι πω τέθνηκας
Νήσοις δ' εν μακάρων σε φασιν είναι,
This group of legends has especial interest to us Englishmen, who ourselves dwell, it seems, on such an island of the
1 Hesiod. Opera et Dies, 165. Pindar, Olymp. ii. antistr. 4. Callistrat. Hymu. in Ilgen, Scolia Græca, 10. Strabo, iii. 2, 13; Plin. iv. 36.
dead. It is not that we or our country are of a more ghostly nature than others, but the idea is geographical, we are dwellers in the region of the setting sun, the land of death. The elaborate account by Procopius, the historian of the Gothic War, dates from the 6th century. The island of Brittia, according to him, lies opposite the mouths of the Rhine, some 200 stadia off, between Britannia and Thule, and on it dwell three populous nations, the Angles, Frisians, and Britons. (By Brittia, it appears, he means our Great Britain, his Britannia being the coast-land from modern Brittany to Holland, and his Thule being Scandinavia.) In the course of his history it seems to him needful to record a story, mythic and dreamlike as he thinks, yet which numberless men vouch for as having been themselves witnesses by eye and ear to its facts. This story is that the souls of the departed are conveyed across the sea to the island of Brittia. Along the mainland coast are many villages, inhabited by fishermen and tillers of the soil and traders to this island in their vessels. They are subject to the Franks, but pay no tribute, having from of old had to do by turns the burdensome service of transporting the souls. Those on duty for each night stay at home till they hear a knocking at the doors, and a voice of one unseen calling them to their work. Then without delay rising from their beds, compelled by some unknown power they go down to the beach, and there they see boats, not their own but others, lying ready but empty of men. Going on board and taking the oars, they find that by the burden of the multitude of souls embarked, the vessel lies low in the water, gunwale under within a finger's breadth. In an hour they are at the opposite shore, though in their own boats they would hardly make the voyage in a night and day. When they reach the island, the vessel.becomes empty, till it is so light that only the keel touches the waves. They see no man on the voyage, no man at the landing. but a voice is heard that proclaims the name and rank and parentage of each newly arrived passenger, or if women, those of their husbands. Traces of this remarkable legend seem to have survived, thirteen centuries later, in that endmost district of the Britannia of Procopius which still keeps the name of Bretagne. Near Raz, where the narrow promontory stretches westward into the ocean, is the ‘ Bay of Souls' (boé ann anavo); in the commune of Plouguel the corpse is taken to the churchyard, not by the shorter road by land, but in a boat by the “Passage de l'Enfer,” across a little arm of the sea ; and Breton folklore holds fast to the legend of the Curé de Braspar, whose dog leads over to Great Britain the souls of the departed, when the wheels of the soul-car are heard creaking in the air. These are but mutilated fragments, but they seem to piece together with another Keltic myth, told by Macpherson in the last century, the voyage of the boat of heroes to Flath-Innis, Noble Island, the green island home of the departed, which lies calm amid the storms far in the Western Ocean. With full reason, also, Mr. Wright traces to the situation of Ireland in the extreme West its especial association with legends of descents to the land of shades. Claudian placed at the extremity of Gaul the entrance where Ulysses found a way to Hades
“Est locus extremum qua pandit Gallia litus,
Oceani prætentus aquis, ubi fertur Ulysses,” etc. No wonder that this spot should have been since identified with St. Patrick's Purgatory, and that some ingenious etymologist should have found in the name of “ Ulster” a corruption of “Ulyssisterra,” and a commemoration of the hero's visit.
Thirdly, the belief in-t subterranean Hades peopled bythe ghosts of the dead is quite common among the lower races. The earth is flat, say the Italmen of Kamchatka,
1 Procop. De Bello Goth. iv. 20 ; Plut. Fragm. Comm. in Hesiod. 2; Grimm, ‘D. M.' p. 793; Hersart de Villemarqué, vol. i. p. 136 ; Souvestre,
Derniers Bretons,' p. 37 ; Jas. Macpherson, Introd. to Hist. of Great Britain and Ireland,' 21. ed. London, 1772, p. 180 ; Wright, 'St. Patrick's Purgatory,' Pr. 64, 129.
for if it were round, people would fall off; it is the wrong side of another heaven, which covers another earth below, whither the dead will go down to their new life, and so, as Steller says, their mundane system is like a tub with three bottoms. In North America, the Tacullis held that the soul goes after death into the bowels of the earth, whence it can come back in human shape to visit friends. In South America, Brazilian souls travel down to the world below in the West, and Patagonian souls will depart to enjoy eternal drunkenness in the caves of their ancestral deities. The New Zealander who says “The sun has returned to Hades” (kua hoki mai te Ra ki te Rua), simply means that it has set. When a Samoan islander dies, the host of spirits that surround the house, waiting to convey his soul away, set out with him crossing the land and swimming the sea, to the entrance of the spirit-world. This is at the westernmost point of the westernmost island, Savaii, and there one may see the two circular holes or basins where souls descend, chiefs by the bigger and plebeians by the smaller, into the regions of the underworld. There below is a heaven, earth, and sea, and. people with real bodies, planting, fishing, cooking, as in the present life; but at night their bodies become like a confused collection of fiery sparks, and in this state during the hours of darkness they come up to revisit their former abodes, retiring at dawn to the bush or to the lower regions. For the state of thought on this subject among rude African tribes, it is enough to cite the Zulus, who at death will descend to live in Hades among their ancestors, the “ Abapansi,” the “people underground.”5 From among rude Asiatic tribes, let us take example from the Karens,
i Steller, ‘Karntschatka,' p. 269. 2 Harmon, 'Journal,' p. 299 ; see Lewis and Clarke, p. 139 (Mandans).
3 J. G. Müller, ‘Amer. Urrelig.' pp. 140, 287 ; see Humboldt aud Bonpland, Voy.' vol. iii. p. 132 ; Falkner, ‘Patagonia,' p. 114.
4 Taylor, ‘New Zealand,' p. 232 ; Turner, ‘Polynesia,' p. 235.
6 Callaway, “Zulu Tales,' vol. i. p 317, etc.; Arbousset and Daumas, p. 474. See also Burton, “Dahome,' vol. ii. p. 157.