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THE HALF-WAY WORLDS.
HAVING decided, very early in his earthly career, to acknowledge a supernatural world, Man promptly set to work to people it after his own image. One not providing scope for his quickening imagination, he added another to it, supplementing the heavenly by the infernal, good by evil if, indeed, as is more probable, he did not rather deduce good out of evil. But just as there are many stages between high noon and midnight, so to the world he saw and those he imagined he added yet others which should act as their connecting links. Between the divine and the human he placed the semi-divine, between the human and the infernal the half-human. He mated God with Man and both with Devil, and dowered them with a numerous family, God-Man, Man-Devil, God-Devil, and so on, until the possibilities of his earlier imagination were exhausted. Each has his own world and the stars cannot rival them in number; each world has its cities and its nations, differing in all things save one that all alike feel, act, think, after the manner of mankind. So is it, again, with the other universe of half-way worlds, filling the space between the human and the bestial centaur, satyr, were-wolf, or mermaid, all alike reflect the human imagination that has evolved them to nondescript bodies they unite the reflected mind of man.
Conforming to the general rule, the witch is but one dweller in a half-way world that is thickly populated and in itself forms one of an intricate star-group. Externally at least, its orbit nearly coincides with that of our human world, in that its inhabitants are for the most part of human origins acquiring those attributes which raise them above or degrade them below the commonalty subsequently to their birth. This not invariably nothing is invariable to the imagination. Thus the fairies, although not human beings, may yet be witches demons also, unless many grave and reverend authorities lie. Under certain conditions they may even become human beings, as mermaids may many a man has married a fairy wife and it is an open question whether they have altogether lost their hope of Heaven, as witches invariably have. As witches, they must be regarded as belonging to the White, or beneficent, type; for although, as Mercutio has told us, they may sometimes play unkind pranks upon the idle or undeserving, they have always a kindly eye for the virtuous, and frequently devote themselves altogether to good works, as in the case of Loblie-by-the-Fire, and others equally difficult to catalogue. For the more we investigate the various orbits of the half-way worlds, the more do we find them inextricably interwoven. The Western Fairy or Oriental Djinn may partake of half-ahundred different natures may pervade half the imaginative universe and as does the Fairy, so does the Witch. Hecate, a goddess, was yet no less notorious a witch than was Mother Shipton, a human being of no elevated rank. The werewolf, though usually of human parentage, might yet have been born a wolf and obtained the power of taking human shape from some subsequent external cause. The Beast in the fairy story, though at heart a youthful Prince of considerable attractions, once transmogrified might have remained a Beast for good and all but for his fortunate encounter with Beauty's father. Who shall say exactly in which world to place, how to class beyond possibility of confusion, Circe witch, goddess, and woman, and the men she turned to swine or the fairies and mermaids who have, usually for love, divested themselves of their extra-human attributes and become more or less permanently women or those human children who, stolen by the fairies, have become fairies for good and all or how distinguish between all of these and the ladies with romantic names and uncertain aspirates who deal out destinies in modern Bond Street.
Even if we agree to confine the witch to the narrowest limits, to regard her, that is to say, as primarily a human being and only incidentally possessed of superhuman powers and attributes, there still remain many difficulties in the way of exact classification. Her powers are varied, and by no means always common to every individual. Or, again, she has the power to turn herself corporeally into a wolf or a cat which brings her into line with the were-wolf, just as the cat or wolf may under certain circumstances transform themselves, permanently or otherwise, into a human witch. She may acquire the mind of a wolf without its body; on the other hand, many a beautiful princess has been transformed into a white doe by witchcraft. So with her male colleagues sorcerer, magician, wizard, warlock, male-witch, diviner, and the rest of the great family. We may reach firm ground by agreeing to recognise only such as are of human origin, though by so doing we rule out many of the most eminent the great Merlin himself among them. But even so, it is impossible to dogmatise as to where the one begins, the other ends. There have been many male-witches more particularly in Scotland as distinguished from wizards. Wizard and warlock again, if it be safe to regard them as distinct species, though differing from magician and sorcerer, are yet very difficult of disentanglement. The position is complicated by the fact that, just as a man may be clerk, singer, cricketer, forger, philanthropist, and stamp-collector at one and the same time, so might one professor of the Black Art take half a dozen shapes at the same time or spread over his career.
There is indeed but one pinnacle of solid rock jutting out from the great quagmire of shifting uncertainty witch, wizard, were-wolf, or whatsoever their sub-division one and all unite in one great certainty: that of inevitable damnation. Whatever their form, however divergent their powers, to that one conclusion they must come at last. And thus, and only thus, we may know them posthumously.
It is true that certain arbitrary lines may be drawn to localise the witch proper, even though the rules be chiefly made up of exceptions. Thus she is, for the most part, feminine. The Scots male-witch, and those elsewhere occurrent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, might as correctly be termed wizards or warlocks, for any absolute proof to the contrary. The witch, again, has seldom risen to such heights in the profession as have her male competitors. The magician belongs, as we have seen, to a later stage of human development than does the witch, but, once evolved, he soon left her far behind; it is true that he was able to avail himself of the store of knowledge by her so slowly and painfully acquired. With its aid he soon raised himself to the highest rank in the profession approaching it from the scientific standpoint, and leaving her to muddle along empirically and by rule of thumb. Nor was he content until he had made himself master of the Devil using Satan and all his imps for his own private ends while the less enterprising witch never rose to be more than the Devil's servant, or at best his humble partner in ill-doing.
The Magician, whatsoever his own private failings, has certainly deserved well of posterity. Just as the quack and the Bond Street sybil are representatives of the witch in the direct line, so, from the alchemist and the sorcerer are descended the great scientists of our own day an impious brood indeed, who deny that their own father was aught but an impostor and a charlatan. The proprietor of, let us say, "Dr. Parabole's Pellets," is own brother illegitimate though he be to the discoverer of the Rφntgen ray. The researches of the old-time sorcerer into the Forbidden, whatever their immediate profit, at least pointed out the direction for more profitable researches. Merlin, Cornelius Agrippa, or Albertus Magnus, had they been born in our day, would certainly have achieved the Fellowship of the Royal Society and with good reason. It is to the search after the philosopher's stone and the elixir vita that we owe the discovery of radium. It was only by calling in the aid of the Devil that mankind acquired the prescience of a God.
The witch proper, on the other hand, did not trouble herself with research work. Having attained that dominion over her fellows dear to the heart of woman, she was content to rest upon her laurels. Certain incantations or charms, learned by rote, the understanding of the effect and cure of certain poisons these were sufficient stock-in-trade to convince her neighbours, and perhaps herself. Doubtless Dr. Parabole, however aware in the beginning of the worthlessness of his own pills, comes after years of strenuous advertising to believe in them. He may stop short of taking them himself at least he will prescribe them to his dearest friend in absolute good faith. So with the witch, his grandmother. Many, no doubt, of the millions offered up as sacrifice to the All-Merciful, were guiltless even in intention; many more allowed themselves to be convinced of their own sinfulness by the suspicions of their neighbours or the strenuous arguments of their judge-persecutors; many were hysterical, epileptic, or insane. But the larger proportion, it is scarcely too much to say, only lacked the power while cherishing the intention witches they were in everything but witchcraft.
We thus may briefly state the difference between the witch and the magician as that the one professed powers in which she might herself believe or not believe, inherited or received by her, and by her passed on to her successors without any attempt to augment them. The magician, on the other hand, was actually a student of the mysteries he professed, and thus, if we leave aside his professional hocus-pocus devilry, cannot be considered as altogether an impostor. With the alchemist and the astrologer, more often than not combining the three characters in his one person, he stands at the head of the profession of which the witch male or female brings up the rear. Another distinction is drawn by sixteenth-century authorities between witches and conjurers on the one side, and sorcerers and enchanters on the other in that while the two first-mentioned have personal relations with the Devil, their colleagues deal only in medicines and charms, without, of necessity, calling up apparitions at all. It is to be noted in this connection that the sorcerer often leads Devil and devilkin by the nose, in more senses than one devils having extremely delicate noses, and being thus easily soothed and enticed by fumigations, a peculiarity of which every competent sorcerer avails himself. Thus, Saint Dunstan, and those other saints of whom it is recorded that they literally led the Devil by the nose, using red-hot pincers for the purpose, were but following the path pointed out for them by professors of the Art Magical.
Between the witch and the conjurer a wide gulf is fixed. The conjurer coerces the Devil, against his infernal will, by prayers and the invocation of God's Holy Name; the witch concludes with him a business agreement, bartering her body, soul, and obedience for certain more or less illusory promises. The conjurer is almost invariably beneficent, the witch usually malignant, though the White Witch exercises her powers only for good, if sometimes with a certain mischievousness, while the Grey Witch does good or evil as the fancy takes her, with a certain bias towards evil. The wizard, again, though often confused with the male-witch, is in reality a practitioner of great distinction, possessing supernatural powers of his own attaining, and, like the magician, constraining the Devil rather than serving him. He also is capable of useful public service, so much so indeed that Melton, in his "Astrologastra," published in 1620, includes what may pass as a Post Office Directory of the wizards of London. He enumerates six of importance, some by name, as Dr. Forman or "Young Master Olive in Turnbull Street," others by vaguer designations, as "the cunning man of the Bankside" or "the chirurgeon with the bag-pipe cheek." He includes one woman in the list, probably a White Witch.
The Diviners, or peerers into the future, form yet another sub-section of dabblers in the supernatural and one which numbers very many practitioners even in our own day. Naturally enough, seeing that the desire to influence the future is the obvious corollary to that of knowing it, the part of diviner was more often than not doubled with that of witch or sorcerer. Divination is an art of the most complicated, boasting almost as many branches as medicine itself, each with its select band of practitioners. Different nations, again, favoured different methods of divining thus the Hebrews placed most confidence in Urim and Thummim; the Greeks were famous for axinomancy, the machinery for which consisted of an axe poised upon a slate or otherwise handled. This method was as apt for present as for future needs, being especially potent in the discovery of criminals. Crime detection by divination has been and remains greatly favoured in the East. The Hindus, in particular, place greater reliance upon it than upon the more usual methods of our Occidental police, and many stories are told of the successes achieved by their practitioners. Nor is this surprising in cases where the diviner shows such shrewd knowledge of human nature as in that, oft-quoted, whereby all those under suspicion of a theft are ranged in a row and presented with mouthfuls of grain, with the assurance that the guilty man alone will be unable to swallow it a phenomenon which nearly always does occur if the thief be among those present and not infrequently when he is not! This and similar stories, though scarcely falling under the heading of divination proper, are so far pertinent to the subject that they suggest the explanation of many of its more remarkable successes. Tell a nervous man that he is destined to commit suicide upon a certain day, and, granted that he has any faith in your prophetic powers, the odds are that he will prove the correctness of your prophecy. We may compare with this the powerful influence of "tapu" upon the South Sea Island mind. Many natives have died as has been vouched for by hundreds of credit-worthy witnesses for no more tangible reason than fear at having incurred the curse of desecrating something placed under its protection. It may be added that the Islanders, observing that white men do not suffer the same fate, account for it by declaring that the White Man's Gods, being of a different persuasion from their own, protect their own votaries.
Divination proper takes almost innumerable forms. Without entering too closely upon a wide subject, a few examples may be profitably quoted. Among the best known are Belomancy, or divination by the flight of arrows, a form much favoured by the Arabs; Bibliomancy (of which the "Sortes Virgilianx" is the most familiar example); Oneiromancy (or divination by dreams, honoured by Archbishop Laud and Lord Bacon among others); Rhabdomancy (by rods or wands. The "dowser," or water-finder, whose exploits have aroused so much attention of recent years, is obviously akin to the Rhabdomancist). Crystallomancy, or crystal-gazing, was first popularised in this country by the notorious Dr. Dee, and still finds many votaries in Bond Street and elsewhere. Hydromancy, or divination by water, is another variety much favoured by the Bond Street sybil, a pool of ink sometimes taking the place of the water. Cheiromancy, or Palmistry, most popular of any, may possess some claim to respect in its least ambitious form as a means towards character reading. Divination by playing-cards, another popular method, is, needless to say, of later, mediaeval origin. The Roman augurs, who, as every schoolboy knows, deduced the future from the flight of birds, provide yet another example of this universal pastime, perhaps the least harmful sub-section of the Black Arts.
Among the most brilliant luminaries of the half-way worlds are those twin-stars inhabited by the Alchemist and the Astrologer. The pseudo-science of star-reading may be supposed to date from the first nightfall and may thus claim a pedigree even older, if only by a few months or years, than that of Magic proper. Alchemy, despite its Moorish name, has a scarcely less extended history. It owes its birth traditionally, at any rate to the same Egyptian Man-God who first introduced witchcraft and magic in their regularised forms to an expectant world. Its principles having been by him engraved in Punic characters upon an emerald, were discovered in his tomb by no less a person than Alexander the Great. It should perhaps be added that doubts have been cast upon this resurrection. However that may be, it was much practised by the later Greeks in Constantinople from the fifth century A.D. until the Moslem conquest of the city. From them the Arabs adopted it, gave it the name by which it has ever since been known, and became the most successful of its practitioners.
To attempt any close study of the great alchemists were foreign to my present purpose, and would entail more space than is at my disposal. At the same time, so close was their connection, in the eyes of the vulgar, so intimate their actual relationship with witchcraft, that it is impossible altogether to ignore them. What is more, they lend to the witch a reflected respectability such as she can by no means afford to forgo. They held, in fact, in their own day, much the same position as do the great inventors and scientists of to-day. Mr. Edison and Mr. Marconi, had they been born ten centuries since, would certainly have taken exalted rank as alchemists or magicians. As it is, in ten centuries a whole world of magical romance will have been very likely woven about their names, even if they have not been actually exalted to divinity or inextricably confused with Lucifer and Prometheus. While some of their predecessors may have actually claimed power over the supernatural either in self-deception or for self-aggrandisement the great majority undoubtedly had such claims thrust upon them, either by their contemporaries or by posterity, and would have themselves claimed nothing higher than to be considered students of the unknown. The Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir Vita may have served indeed as the ideal goal of their researches, much as they do under their modern form of the Secret of Life in our own time; but their actual discoveries, accidental and incidental though they may have been, were none the less valuable. After such a lapse of time it is as difficult to draw the line between the alchemist-scientist and the charlatan as it will be a century hence to distinguish the false from the true among the "inventors" and "scientists" of to-day, so absolutely do the mists of tradition obscure the face of history. Leaving out of the question such purely legendary figures as Merlin, we may class them under three headings, and briefly consider one example under each. In the first may be placed the more or less mythical figures of Gebir and Albertus Magnus, both of whom, so far as it is now possible to judge, owe their ambiguous reputations entirely to the superstitions of their posterity.
Such a personage as the great Arabian physician Gebir, otherwise Abou Moussah Djafar, surnamed Al Sofi, or the Wise, living in the eighth century, was certain to gain the reputation of possessing supernatural power, even had he not busied himself in the discovery of the Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir. Though he found neither, he yet in seeking them made other discoveries little less valuable, and it is scarcely too much to say, made their discovery possible in later centuries. Thus, in default of the means of making gold, he gave us such useful chemicals as nitric acid, nitrate of silver, and oxide of copper. Incidentally he wrote several hundred treatises on his two "subjects," an English translation of one, the "Summζ Perfectionis," having been published in 1686 by Richard Russell, himself an alchemist of respectable attainments.
Albertus Magnus, again, gave every excuse to the vulgar for regarding him as infernally inspired. That is to say, he was a scholar of great attainments in a day when scholars were chiefly remarkable for their dense ignorance, and fully deserved some less ambiguous sobriquet than that bestowed upon him by some writers of "Founder of the Schoolmen." A Dominican, he held the chair of Theology at Padua in 1222 while still a young man. Grown weary of a sedentary life, he resigned his professorship and taught in many of the chief European cities, and more particularly in Paris, where he lived for three years in company with his illustrious pupil, Thomas Aquinas. He was at one time appointed Bishop of Regensburg, but very soon resigned, finding his episcopal duties interfere with his studies. Of the twenty-five folios from his pen, one is devoted to alchemy, and he was a magician of the first class so, at least, succeeding generations averred, though he himself very likely had no suspicions thereof. Among other of his possessions was a brazen statue with the gift of speech, a gift exercised with such assiduity as to exhaust the patience even of the saintly Thomas Aquinas himself, so that he was constrained to shatter it to pieces.
Roger Bacon, inventor and owner of an even more famous brazen head, was no less illustrious a scholar, and as fully deserved his admiring nickname "The Admirable Doctor," even though he were not in actual fact the inventor of gunpowder and the telescope, as asserted by his admirers. A native of Somerset, and born, traditionally, the year before the signing of Magna Charta, he might have ranked among the greatest Englishmen had not his reputation as a magician given him the suggestion of being a myth altogether. Something of a heretic he was, although in orders, and his writings brought down upon him the suspicions of the General of the Franciscan Order, to which he belonged. Pope Clement IV. extended protection to him for a time, even to the extent of studying his works, and more particularly his "Magnum Opus," but later the Franciscan General condemned his writings, and he spent fourteen years in prison, being released only two years before his death. But his historical achievements were as nothing to his legendary possession, in partnership with Friar Bungay, of the Talking Head. Less garrulous than Albertus' statue, it emitted only three sentences: "Time is. Time was. Time is past." Its last dictum, having unfortunately for an audience a foolish servant, and being by him held up to ridicule, it fell to the ground and was smashed to pieces, thus depriving its inventor of his cherished scheme by its help to surround England with a brazen rampart no whit less efficacious against the assaults of the King's enemies than are our present-day ironclads.
Friar Bacon was not undeserving of the posthumous popularity he achieved in song and story, for he it was who made magic and alchemy really popular pursuits in this country. So numerous were his imitators that rather more than a century after his death in 1434 the alchemical manufacture of gold and silver was declared a felony.
Twenty-one years later Henry VI., being, as he usually was, in urgent need of ready money, saw reason to modify the Governmental attitude, and granted a number of patents to ecclesiastics as well as laymen for seeking after the Philosopher's Stone, with the declared purpose of paying the Royal debts out of the proceeds. In which design he was, it is to be feared, disappointed.
Dr. Dee, the friend and gossip of Queen Elizabeth, may be taken as marking the point at which the alchemist ceases to be an inhabitant of any half-way world and becomes altogether human. A Londoner by birth, he was born in 1527, became a B.A. of Cambridge University and Rector of Upton-upon-Severn. His ecclesiastical duties could not contain his energies, and so well versed did he become in arts magical that, upon a waxen effigy of Queen Elizabeth being found in Lincoln's Inn Fields and a waxen effigy had only one meaning in Elizabeth's time he was employed to counteract the evil spells contained in it, which he did with such conspicuous success that the Royal Person suffered no ill-effects whatever. Unfortunately for himself, Dr. Dee acquired in course of time a disciple, one Edward Kelly. Kelly proved an apt daunter of demons, but he was totally lacking in the innocent credulity so noticeable in the character of his reverend mentor. At his prompting Dr. Dee undertook a Continental tour, which resulted in disaster of the most overwhelming and the total loss of Dr. Dee's good name. It is true that he may be considered to have deserved his fate, for so absolute was his belief in his disciple that when that chevalier d'industrie received a message from a demoniacal familiar that it was essential for the success of their alchemical enterprises that they should exchange wives Mrs. Dee being as well-favoured as Mrs. Kelly was the reverse the doctor accepted the situation with implicit faith, and agreed to all that the spirits desired.
Among other seekers after the Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir Vita who may be briefly referred to were Alain de l'Isle, otherwise Alanus de Insulis, notable in that he actually discovered the elixir, if his contemporaries may be believed, and who so far lived up to his reputation as to defer his death, which occurred in 1298, until his 110th year; Raymond Lully, who, visiting England in or about 1312, was provided with a laboratory within the precincts of Westminster Abbey, where many years later a supply of gold-dust was found; Nicholas Flamel, who died in 1419, and who gained most of his occult knowledge from a volume written in Latin by the Patriarch Abraham; and, to come to later years, William Lilly, a famous English practitioner of the seventeenth century, and an adept in the use of the divining rod, with which he sought for hidden treasures in Westminster Abbey, possibly those left behind him by Raymond Lully.
Perhaps no symptom of civilisation is more disquieting than the increasing tendency to compress the half-way worlds built up by our forefathers with such lavish expenditure of imagination into the narrow limits of that in which we are doomed to spend our working days not too joyously. We have seen how the alchemist and the magician from semi-divine beings, vested with power over gods and men, have by degrees come to be confounded with the cheap-jack of a country fair. So it has been with many another denizen of the Unseeable. Consider, for example, the once formidable giant. Originally gods, or but little inferior to them, so that Olympus must exercise all its might to prevail against them; at one time a nation in themselves, located somewhere in Cornwall, with kings of their own, Corcoran, Blunderbore, and the rest, aloof from man except when, for their pastime or appetite, they raided his preserves, vulnerable, indeed, though only to a superhuman Jack; where are your giants now? Goliath, though defeated by David, was yet not dishonoured, in that he was warring not against a puny, sling-armed shepherd, but against the whole might of the Jewish Jehovah. There were giants on the earth in those days, the Scriptures tell us, and that in terms giving us to understand that a giant was to be regarded with respect, if not with admiration. Polyphemus, again, though outwitted by a mortal, was none the less a figure almost divine, god-like, in his passions and his agony. The whole ancient world teems with anecdotes, all proving the respectability of the old-time giant. And to-day? I saw a giant myself some few years back. He was in a show and he was known as Goliath. A poor, lean, knockkneed wavering creature, half-idiotic, too, with a sickly, apologetic smile, as though seeking to disarm the inevitable criticism his very existence must provoke. Yet he was not to blame, poor, anachronistic wretch. Rather it was the spirit of the age, that preferred to see him, set up for every fool to jeer at, at sixpence a time, in a showman's booth, rather than to watch him afar off, his terror magnified by distance, walking across a lonely heath in the twilight, bearing a princess or a captive knight along with him as his natural prey. The same spirit that has made the giant shrink to an absurdity can see only the charlatan beneath the flowing robes of the astrologer; and has argued the witch even out of existence.
So it is with the mermaid. They showed one at the same booth wherein the degenerate giant was mewed. A poor, shrunken, grotesque creature enough, yet even so it might have passed for a symbol, if no more, had they been content to leave it to our imagination. Instead they must explain, even while they pocketed our sixpences, that the whole thing was a dreary sham, concocted out of the fore-quarters of a monkey and the tail end of a codfish, the whole welded together by the ingenious fingers of some Japanese trickmonger. Yet there are those who would uphold such cruel candour, who would prefer to pay sixpence in order to see an ape-codfish rather than to remain in blissful ignorance, rather than imagine that every wave may have its lovely tenant, a sea-maiden of more than earthly tenderness and beauty. Civilisation prates to us of dugongs and of manatees, and other fish-beasts that, it says, rising upon the crest of a wave, sufficiently resemble the human form to be mistaken for it by credulous, susceptible mariners. But is not our faith in that tender story of the little mermaid who, for love of a man, sought the earth in human shape even though she knew that every step must cause her agony, every foot-mark be outlined with her blood is not it better for us to believe that fairy-tale than to cram our weary brains with all the cynical truths of all the dime-museums or schools of science between London and San Francisco?
Even those who smile at Neptune and his daughters cannot refuse the tribute of a shudder to the Man-Beast. For however it be with the mermaid, the were-wolf is no figment of the imagination. Not the fanciful alone are convinced that many human beings partake of the nature of certain beasts. You may pass them by the hundred in every city street men and women showing in their faces their kinship with the horse, the dog, cat, monkeys, lion, sparrow. And not in their faces alone for their features do but reflect the minds within them the man with the sharp, rat-like face nine times out of ten has all the selfish cunning of the rat. We have no need to seek for further explanation of the centaur myth to argue that some horseless nation, seeing horsemen for the first time, accepted the man and his mount as one and indivisible; there are plenty of men who have as much of the equine as of the human in their composition. So it is with the wolf-man the were-wolf. He exists, and to this day, despite all your civilising influences. Not among savages alone or chiefly. He roams the streets of our great cities, seeking his prey. Perhaps he lives in the next street to you a prosperous, respected citizen, with a shop in Cheapside, a wife and family, and the regard of all his neighbours. The wolf in him has never been aroused may never be. Only, let Fate or chance so will it, and well, who can tell us Jack the Ripper's antecedents? And where in all the annals of lycanthropy can you find a grimmer instance of the man-wolf than Jack the Ripper?
With the were-wolf we return to closer contact with witchcraft proper. It is true that the werewolf was not always bewitched. Sometimes the tendency was inborn the man or woman was transformed into the wolf at each recurrent full moon. In France and more particularly in the South, where lycanthropy has always had one of its strongholds the liability of certain individuals, especially if they be born illegitimate, to this inconvenience is still firmly credited by the popular mind. The were-wolf may be recognised for that matter, even when in his human form, usually by the shape of his broad, short-fingered hands and his hairy palm. It is even possible to effect a permanent cure should the opportunity occur, and that by the simple means of stabbing him three times in the forehead with a knife while in his lupine shape. Again, in Scandinavia and elsewhere certain men could transform themselves into wolves at will a superstition arising naturally enough out of traditions of the Berserkers and the fits of wolfish madness into which they threw themselves. Yet again, as Herodotus tells us, lycanthropy was sometimes a national observance. The Neuri, if the Scythians were to be believed, were in the habit of changing themselves into wolves once a year and remaining in that shape for several days. But more frequently the change was attributable to some evil spell cast by a witch. It is true that the wolf was only one of many animals into whose shape she might condemn a human soul to enter. Circe is, of course, a classical example; Saint Augustine, in his "De Civitate Dei," relates how an old lady of his acquaintance used to turn men into asses by means of enchantments an example which has been followed by younger ladies ever since, by the way while Apuleius' "Golden Ass" gives us an autobiographical testimony to the efficacy of certain drugs towards the same end.
Doubtless because the wolf was extirpated in this country at a comparatively early date English were-wolf legends are few and far between. They could indeed only become universally current in a country mainly pastoral and infested by wolves, as, for instance, in ancient Arcadia, where indeed the were-wolf came into his highest estate, or in many parts of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe to-day. In certain Balkan districts the were-wolf shares the attributes of the vampire, another allied superstition which is by no means without its foundations of fact. Most people must have, indeed, been acquainted at some time or other with the modern form of vampire, individuals who unconsciously feed upon the vitality of those with whom they come into contact. Many stories have been written, many legends founded upon this phenomenon, to the truth of which many people have testified from their own experience. At which point I leave the subject to those with more scientific knowledge than myself.
In case there should be any who desire to transform themselves into a wolf without the trouble and expense of resorting to a witch, I will close this chapter with a spell warranted to produce the desired effect without any further outlay than the price of a small copper knife. It is of Russian origin, and is quoted from Sacharow by Mr. Baring Gould. "He who desires to become an oborot (oborot = 'one transformed = werewolf) let him seek in the forest a hewn-down tree; let him stab it with a small copper knife and walk round the tree, repeating the following incantation:
On the sea, on the ocean, on the island, on Bujan,
On the empty pasture gleams the moon, on an ash-stock lying
In a greenwood, in a gloomy vale.
Towards the stock wandereth a shaggy wolf,
Horned cattle seeking for his sharp white fangs;
But the wolf enters not the forest,
But the wolf dives not into the shadowy vale.
Moon, moon, gold-horned moon
Check the flight of bullets, blunt the hunters' knives,
Break the shepherds' cudgels,
Cast wild fear upon all cattle,
On men, on all creeping things,
That they may not catch the grey wolf,
That they may not rend his warm skin!
My word is binding, more binding than sleep,
More binding than the promise of a hero!
"Then he springs thrice over the tree and runs into the forest, transformed into a wolf."