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and we cannot linger. Onward we press with speed but circumspection, for the slip of a foot might here be attended with awkward consequences. The ice-axe works busily, and our course is marked by a line of steps leading over places otherwise impassable. And now we leave the pure white ice, with its deep azure caverns, and our nailed shoes grate on the gravel which proclaims the vicinity of the terminal moraine ; then the ice is hidden altogether under huge rocks and boulders, which fall away in a sharp slope of considerable extent ; and there below us, through a verdant valley, shut in by wild, barren hills, flows the infant Aar, emerging, turbid and foaming, from the thousand mouths of the mighty glacier.
Once off the ice, and seated on the soft heather, we take our last meal—the guides, in the most economical manner, finishing the contents of all the bottles, in a praiseworthy regard for economy.
A couple of miles now only intervened between us and the Hospice of the Grimsel, and we went through a short toilette before making our triumphal entry, for there was sure to be much society, and The Wand had sadly ravaged the "convenances" of our apparel.
Thus ended the journey, or at least as much of it as I shall inflict upon my readers ; for were I to bring them to the door-steps of the Hospice, the temptation to detail how we became the heroes of our little day, the cynosure of all eyes, an object of admiration to the ladies and of frantic jealousy to the men, would be too great, and I should be guilty of a littleness of which I feel convinced my readers do not think me capable.
ASSOCIATIONS WITH ORNITHOLOGY.-No. I.
Birds, charming and interesting creatures, have been called “winged flowers,” and “flowers of the air ;" but they are more lovely and loveable than even flowers, for they fill the landscapes with animation as well as beauty. Naturalists have delighted to observe their habits and instincts, and poets have celebrated them in song. Nor have they been overlooked by the historian and the mythologist, in whose pages we find various associations of birds with remarkable persons and events, some of which we will glean for the amusement of the reader.
Birds renowned for courage and sagacity have been made subjects for heraldry, and figure upon national banners, and have thus become more prominent, and therefore more popularly known, than others of the feathered tribes; it is, therefore, from among the less recognized classes that we shall select our notices.
The plumage of the tall, but not ungraceful, Ostrich, has been held in esteem from very early ages. The great goddess of the Egyptians, Isis, wore a crown of equal sized ostrich feathers as a symbol of equity. Aristophanes, in his fanciful play, “The Birds,” calls Cybele (supposed to be the same as Isis) “the Ostrich Queen.” Ostrich feathers, worn on helmets, are mentioned by Theophrastus four centuries before Christ, and by Pliny five centuries later. A single one on the head-dress anciently denoted a priest. In modern times the original badge of the Prince of Wales was a single ostrich feather. John of Gaunt bore as his cognizance an ostrich feather speckled with black, to distinguish it from that of the Prince of Wales. King Henry VI. bore as his device six ostrich feathers, in saltire. On the seal of Arthur, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Henry VIII., and first husband of the ill-fated Katharine of Arragon, his arms are represented with an ostrich feather on each side of the shield, each feather borne up by a supporter beneath. The beauty and elegance of the plumage did not give the poor ostrich immunity among the semi-savage Romans, who trained the unfortunate birds of this species to fight in the arena with gladiators for the amusement of a brutal populace—a fearful odds against the feathered biped.
Ostrich eggs are hung up in Coptic churches as emblematic of Divinity ; in ancient Egypt an egg was the symbol of the Creator.
The white, graceful Swan, was one of the birds dedicated to Venus. In the "Æneid,” Virgil represents the fair goddess as encouraging Æneas in his expedition to Italy, by causing twelve swans to appear to him as a propitious omen.
In Egypt swans were emblems of music and musicians. From an ancient superstition (now difficult to trace or elucidate) that swans were melodious, and in particular, sang delightfully just before death, this bird was made a symbol of Apollo; and Orpheus, the renowned musician, was fabled to have been transformed into a swan, when he was slain by the furious Bacchantes. The wild swan of the north is said to have a musical note, and this attribute has been erroneously applied to all swans in common.
Several persons have been mentioned in the Classic Mythology as metamorphosed into swans. One, Cygnus, the son of Sthenelus, King of Phrygia, was thus changed by the gods, who pitied his inconsolable grief for the death of his relative, Phaeton, the too ambitious charioteer, who strove to guide the fiery horses of the sun. Another, Cycnus, son of the nymph Kyrie, experienced the transmutation from a less worthy cause. Being disappointed of obtaining the gift of a splendid bull, which he asked from his friend Phylius, he threw himself into the sea, and was changed into a swan. But the most celebrated of these metamorphoses is that recorded by Ovid. Cycnus, son of Neptune, was invulnerable by weapons. He fought before Troy with Achilles, who, finding his martial arms of no avail, at length seized his antagonist and strangled him. On being stripped of his armour, he was transformed into a swan, and placed among the constellations. But all these metamorphosed persons bore the name of cycnus, a swan, and the fables are but plays upon the word.
The frequent inn-sign of a swan with a golden collar and chain, is the cognizance of the noble English house of De Bohun, and was used as a device by Henry IV., whose first wife was Mary De Bohun, daughter of the Earl of Hereford.
Another hotel sign, the swan with two necks, is a corruption of “the swan with two nicks.” The swans on the Thames belong to the civic companies of London, who make an annual excursion on the first Monday in August, to place their respective marks on the cygnets hatched since the preceding anniversary; these marks are one or more nicks on the bill ; that of the vintners' company is two nicks.
The cognizance of the once ducal house of Cleves (no longer reigning), which gave a queen to England, a briefly wedded wife to Henry VIII., is a swan ducally collared and chained, the origin of which is detailed in a sufficiently romantic manner by the old Rhenish chroniclers. They relate that, in a very remote era, when Cleves was only a countship, one of the counts, named Dietrich, and his wife Beatrix, daughter and sole heiress of Count Walter Von Teusterband, died young, leaving an only child, Beatrix, their heiress and successor. The maiden was of a dreamy, romantic disposition, and much addicted to solitude, passing her time in musings among the beautiful scenery of the Rhine-land, in which her castle was situated. Several of the neighbouring nobles strove to take advantage of her isolation to despoil her of her territories, others strove to obtain them more legitimately, by what the Scotch call “matrimonial conquest ;” but her heart inclined to none of her suitors, and she lived on in her accustomed solitary and meditative existence.
One day as she stood on the platform just over the gateway, gazing upon the Rhine, she suddenly perceived a bark of uncommon appearance approaching her castle. The vessel was so profusely gilded as to seem made entirely of gold; its figure-head was å swan with a ducal collar, armed with a sword and emblazoned shield, and having a silver huntinghorn slung round its neck; its wings were outspread, as though it were drawing the bark along the water. No one was visible on board save an armed knight of tall stature and noble mien ; the plumes on his helmet were yellow, white, green, and red, and his crest was a white swan. He wore golden spurs, and a large silver hunting-horn, and
displayed on his finger a diamond ring of extraordinary size and lustre.
The wondrous bark anchored at the strand near the castle ; the knight landed, went to the gate, and requested an interview with the countess. Beatrix, with whose enthusiastic mind the adventure was in perfect unison, admitted the stranger, who announced himself as “The Knight of the Swan," and offered his services to the young heiress, to defend her against the attempts of those who sought to dispossess her of her inheritance. On her asking his name, race, and country, he told her that he came from one of a group of beautiful isles, which rejoiced in a perpetual summer, and each of which was under the guardianship of a tutelary spirit or genius. He called the isle, of which he was a native, “Graila,"* but declared that he was not permitted by its guardian to reveal its locality. He said that he had dreamed of a lovely northern land, watered by a magnificent river, and that on its banks he had seen a charming maiden, whose fair face made a lasting impression upon him ; that on awaking, he felt convinced the dream had been caused by the agency of the tutelary spirit of his race ; that he found moored beside his dwelling the gorgeous fairy-like bark, into which he entered, and, unmooring it, suffered it to float at will. It brought him on from sea to river, till at length he recognized in the Rhine-land the landscape and the fair maiden that had appeared in his dream, and he found himself able to speak the language of the country by intuition. He added that he dared not reveal his name and race, which he was bound by the most solemn vows never to divulge, but he might be called by the appellation of Helius.† The imaginative Beatrix was, of course, enchanted with the tale, and the knight soon found encouragement to declare himself her lover, and to press her to accept him as her champion and husband. The lonely and romantic lady was easily won by the fine person and the wondrous story of the stranger, and she consented to marry him.
Beatrix and Helius became the parents of three sons-Dietrich, Gottfried, and Conrad; to the first the father gave his shield and sword, to the second his silver hunting-horn, to the third his golden spurs and diamond ring. One-and-twenty years passed away; but as Beatrix saw her sons attaining to manhood, she became uneasy at the idea that in the tournaments and meetings of the German nobles, tenacious to a proverb on the subject of pedigree, the youths would be unable to give any account of their paternal lineage, and would thus be exposed to many taunts and sarcasms. She fell into a profound melancholy, which daily increased to such a degree, that at length her existence was endangered, and she herself and her three sons pathetically and earnestly implored Helius to save her life by revealing his secret. He told them that if he yielded to their entreaties he should be compelled, to his own great sorrow, to separate from them for ever. They considered his assertions as exaggerated, and continued their importunities till they prevailed, and discovered the secret, which, however, both history and tradition have refused to divulge to posterity. No sooner was the dis
* It would seem as if he meant the Isles of Greece, Graia,
| Helios, the sun in Greek.
closure made, than the fairy vessel in which Helius had originally arrived suddenly reappeared on the river, near the castle, and the knight was hurried on board by some invisible but irresistible force; the sails spread to the breeze, and the bark was soon lost to sight. Long did Beatris watch from her highest tower to hail her husband's return. He was never afterwards seen or heard of, and the countess, worn out by grief and anxiety, expired, leaving her territories to her eldest son, Dietrich.
The plain, unvarnished truth of the legend is, that some clever adventurer took advantage of the peculiar situation of Beatrix, her isolation, and her overstrained ideas, to woo her in such guise as was most likely to influence a mind like hers, and thus to obtain rank, wealth and power. The only difficulty in the solution of the enigma is, why did he abandon the position he had so fortunately achieved? We surmise that the mystery which he was at length reluctantly obliged, or induced to reveal, masked something of meanness, or of guilt, or some other blot, which a high born German lady and her nobly bred sons could not brook, and the self-convicted impostor was either banished from their presence, or found it necessary to escape from their disgust. It is historically true that an unknown knight, who called himself Elias de Grail
, presented himself in a mysterious manner at the abode of Beatrix, heiress of Teusterband, and wedded her, though refusing to divulge his true name, lineage, or country ; that he became the father of three sons by her, and after the lapse of twenty-one years departed as mysteriously as he had come, and that the eldest son, Dietrich, succeeded to his mother's territories as Count. The era of this Elias de Grail was previous to the middle of the eighth century, for his son, Dietrich, * is mentioned among the favourite knights of Charles Martel, who reigned in France, and his grandson, Ludolph, bore arms under Charlemagne, when he warred with the Saxons, and dying childless, was succeeded by his brother, Baldwin, whose three sons founded the countships of Cleves, Mark, and Berg, and the counts of Cleves adopted the swan, ducally collared, as their heraldic bearing. The arms of Teusterband wereargent, a bull's head gules, horned sable, with a buckle argent in its muzzle.
The swan figures also in Irish story. The three children of Lir were metamorphosed by their stepmother into swans, thus to remain till the ringing of the first bell that should summon to Christian worship in Ireland, on hearing of which they should recover the human form. This legend is, doubtless, an allegory. Lir was the Neptune of the heathen Irish; his three children, in the likeness of aquatic birds, symbolized votaries especially dedicated to the worship of the sea-god, but delivered from the debasing effects of paganism by conversion to Christianity.
A tradition of the Boyne relates that the poet MacCoisit (who lived in the eleventh century), walking one day beside the river, saw a number of swans disporting themselves on the banks, and wishing to secure one
Called by the French, Thierry: † Erard MacCoisi, a celebrated poet and historian, was secretary and chronicler to Maolseachlain (called also Melaghlin, and Malachy), King of Meath. MacCoisi died at Clonmacnoise in 1023, after a devout life.