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have been an eye witness of this extraordinary fact.“ Ejus libri,
says Gellius, non incelebres feruntur; quibus, omnium ferme quæ
mirifica in Ægypto visuntur audiunturque, historia comprehen“ ditur. Sed in his quæ audivisse et legisse sese dicit, fortasse a “ vitio ftudioque oftentationis fit loquacior, &c ?." compiler of the Gesta taken this story from Gellius, it is probable he would have told it with some of the same circumstances : especially as Gellius is a writer whom he frequently follows, and even quotes; and to whom, on this occasion, he might have been obliged for a few more strokes of the marvellous. But the two writers agree only in the general subject. Our compiler's narrative has much more simplicity than that of Gellius; and contains marks of eastern manners and life. Let me add, that the oriental fabulists are fond of illustrating and enforcing the duty of gratitude, by feigning instances of the gratitude of beasts towards men. And of this the present compilation, which is strongly tinctured with orientalism, affords several other proofs. *
CHAP. cv. Theodosius the blind emperor ordained, that the cause of every injured person should be heard, on ringing a bell placed in a public part of his palace. A serpent had a nest near the spot where the bell-rope fell. In the absence of the serpent, a toad took poffeffion of her nest. The serpent twisting herself round the rope, rang the bell for justice; and by the emperor's special command the toad was killed. A few days afterwards, as the king was reposing on his couch, the serpent entered the chamber, bearing a precious stone in her mouth. The serpent creeping up to the emperor's face, laid the precious stone on his eyes, and glided out of the apartment. Immediately the emperor was restored to his fight.
This circumstance of the Bell of Justice occurs in the real history of some eastern monarch, whose name I have forgot. 2 Noct, Attic. Lib. v. cap. xiv. See
was an eye witness, ibid. L. vii. cap. viii: another fabulous story, of which Appion It is of a boy beloved by a dolphin.
In the Arabian philosophy, ferpents, either from the brightness of their eyes, or because they inhabit the cavities of the earth, were considered as having a natural, or occult, connection with precious stones. In Alphonfus's CLERICALIS Discie PLINA, a snake is mentioned, whofe eyes were real jacinths. In Alexander's romantic history, he is said to have found ferpents in the vale of Jordian, with collars of huge emeralds growing on their necks“. The toad, under a vulgar indiscriminating idea, is ranked with the reptile race : and Shakespeare has a beautiful comparison on the traditionary notion, that the toad has a rich gem inclosed within its head. Milton gives his serpent eyes of carbuncle 6.
Chap. cvi. The three fellow-travellers, who have only one loaf of bread.
This apologue is in Alphonsus.
CHAP. cvii. There was an image in the city of Rome, which stretched forth its right hand, on the middle finger of which was written STRIKE HERE. For a long time none could understand the meaning of this mysterious inscription. At length a certain subtle Clerk, who came to see this famous image, observed, as the sun shone against it, the fhadow of the inscribed finger on the ground at some distance. He immediately took a spade, and began to dig exactly on that spot. He came at length to a flight of steps which descended far under ground, and led him to a stately palace. Here he entered a hall, where he saw a king and queen fitting at table, with their nobles and a multitude of people, all clothed in rich garments. But no person (pake a word. He looked towards one corner, where he saw a polished carbuncle, which illuminated the whole room'. In
• Vincent Beauvais, SPECUL. Hist. Lib. iv. c. 58. fol. 42. a.
• PARAD. L. ix. 500. . See supr. vol. ii
. p. 229. So in the romance, or LAY, of syR LAUNFAL. MSS. Cotton. CALIG, A. 2. fol. 35. a.
And whan he come to the forest on hyz,.
The pomells ? of cryftall.
2 Balls. Pinnacles,
the opposite corner he perceived the figure of a man standing, having a bended bow with an arrow in his hand, as prepared to Thoot. On his forehead was written, “ I am, who am. No.
thing can escape my stroke, not even yonder carbuncle which “ shines so bright.” The Clerk beheld all with amazement; and entering a chamber, saw the most beautiful ladies working at the loom in purple". But all was silence. He then entered a stable full of the most excellent horses and asses : he touched some of them, and they were instantly turned into stone. He next surveyed all the apartments of the palace, which abounded
Of bournedde golde, ryche and good,
Her fadyr was kyng of Fayre.
the tempul rode.
ryche, With perles and with perytotes all the
place sette, That glyftered as coles in the fyre, on the
golde ryche; The dores with dyamondes dryven were
thykke, And made also marveylously with margery?
• The original is, “ mulieres pulcberrimas “ in purpura et pallo operantes invenit.”
fol. L, a. col. 1. This may mean either the sense in the text, or that the ladies were cloathed in purpura et pallo, a phrase which I never saw before in barbarous latinity ; but which tallies with the old English expression purple and pall. This is sometimes written purple pall. As in SYR LAUNFAL, ut fupr. fol. 40. a.
The lady was clad yn purpure palle. Antiently Pallium, as did Purpura, fignified in general any rich cloth. Thus there were saddles, de pallio et ebore; a bed, de pallio ; a cope, de pallio, &c &c. See Dufresne, Lar. Gloss. V. PALLIUM. And PELLUM, its corruption. In old French, to cover a hall with tapestry was called paller. So in SYR LAUNFAL, ut fupr.
fol. 40. a.
Thyn halle agyrde, and hele (cover the
walles With clodes (clothes], and wyth ryche
Her bed was made forfothe
gold. fol. 57.
4. Moon, s Nought. 6 On the finger of Becket, when he was killed, was a jewel called Peretot, MONAST. ANGL. i. 6.
with all that his wishes could desire. He again visited the hall, and now began to reflect how he should return; “ but, says he,
my report of all these wonders will not be believed, unless I
carry something back with me.' He therefore took from the principal table a golden cup and a golden knife, and placed them in his bosom. When, the man who stood in the corner with the bow, immediately not at the carbuncle, which he shattered into a thousand pieces. At that moment the hall became dark as night. In this darkness not being able to find his way, he remained in the fubterraneous palace, and soon died a miserable death.
In the MORALISATION of this story, the steps by which the Clerk descends into the earth are supposed to be the Passions. The palace, so richly stored, is the world with all its vanities and temptations. The figure with the bow bent is Death, and the carbuncle is Human Life. He suffers for his avarice in coveting and seizing what was not his own; and no sooner has he taken the golden knife and cup, that is, enriched himself with the goods of this world, than he is delivered up to the gloom and horrors of the grave.
Spenser in the FAERIE QUEENE, seems to have distantly remembered this fable, where a fiend expecting fir Guyon will be tempted to snatch some of the treasures of the subterraneous HOUSE OF RICHESSE, which are displayed in his view, is prepared to fasten
More light than culver in the faucon's fifto.
• B. ii, C, yii, ft. 34,
vefter the second, who died in the year 1003. He was eminently learned in the mathematical sciences, and on that account was styled a magician. William of Malmesbury is, I believe, the first writer now extant by whom it is recorded : and he produces it partly to shew, that Gerbert was not always successful in those attempts which he so frequently practised to discover treasures hid in the earth, by the application of the ne.. cromantic arts. I will translate Malmesbury's narration of this fable, as it varies in some of the circumstances, and has some heightenings of the fiction. “ At Rome there was a brazen • statue, extending the forefinger of the right hand ; and on its “ forehead was written Strike bere. Being suspected to conceal
a treasure, it had received many bruises from the credulous « and ignorant, in their endeavours to open it. At length Gerbert “ unriddled the mystery. At noon-day observing the reflection of • the forefinger on the ground, he marked the spot. At night “ he came to the place, with a page carrying a lamp. There by “ a magical operation he opened a 'wide passage in the earth;
through which they both descended, and came to a vast
palace. The walls, the beams, and the whole structure, were “ of gold: they faw golden images of knights playing at chess, “ with a king and queen of gold at a banquet, with numerous “ attendants in gold, and cups of immense size and value. In
a recess was a carbuncle, whofe lustre illuminated the whole
palace : opposite to which stood a figure with a bended bow. “ As they attempted to touch some of the rich furniture, all “ the golden images seemed to rush upon
Gerbert was “ too wife to attempt this a second time: but the page was “ bold enough to snatch from the table a golden knife of ex
quisite workmanship. At that moment, all the golden images - rose
with a dreadful noise; the figure with the bow Thot at “ the carbuncle; and a total darkness ensued. The
then replaced the knife, otherwise, they both would have suffered
a cruel death.” Malmesbury afterwards mentions a brazen bridge, framed by the enchantments of Gerbert, beyond which