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Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe by Sabine Baring-Gould

Part 5 out of 6

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Giraldus continues by telling us that the natives called the place
Patrick's purgatory, and that it was said that the saint had obtained
from God this public manifestation of the punishments and rewards of
the other world, in order to convince his incredulous hearers.

Numerous visitors to Lough Derg in the Middle Ages published the
narrative of what they had there seen and undergone, and rivalled each
other in the extravagance of their accounts. There was a monastery on
Lough Derg, and the monks had the key to the entrance to the cavern,
but no visitor was suffered to pass within without the consent of the
bishop of the diocese, and the payment of a heavy fee. Among all the
extravagance that was written by visitors about the purgatory, some
retained their common sense, and perceived that there was either fraud
or hallucination in the visions there supposed to be seen.

Froissart gives an account of a conversation he had with Sir William
Lisle on this subject: "On the Friday in the morning we rode out
together, and on the road I asked him if he had accompanied the King in
his expedition to Ireland. He said he had. I then asked him if there
was any foundation of truth in what was said of S. Patrick's Hole. He
replied that there was, and that he and another knight had been there.
They entered it at sunset, remained there the whole night, and came out
at sunrise the next morning. I requested him to tell me whether he saw
all the marvellous things that are said to be seen there. He made me
the following answer: 'When I and my companion had passed the entrance
of the cave, called the purgatory of S. Patrick, we descended three or
four steps (for you go down into it as into a cellar), but found our
heads so much affected by the heat that we seated ourselves on the
steps, which are of stone, and such a drowsiness came on that we slept
there the whole night.' I asked if, when asleep, they knew where they
were, and what visions they had. He replied that they had many and
strange dreams, and they seemed, as they imagined, to see more than
they would have done had they been in their beds. This they were both
assured of. 'When morning came and we were awake, the door of the cave
was opened, and we came out, but instantly lost all recollection of
everything we had seen, and looked on the whole as a phantasm.'"

It is apparent from this that the wild descriptions given by others
were merely an account of their dreams or hallucinations; in many cases
purely imaginary accounts, given for the sake of creating a sensation.
I do not suppose that the monks of Lough Derg devised any scenic
effects, but left the imagination of the dupes to riot of its own
accord unassisted. In the fifteenth century a monk of Eymstadt, in
Holland, undertook the pilgrimage to Lough Derg. He arrived at the
lake, and applied to the prior for admission, who referred him to the
bishop of the diocese. The monk then repaired to him, but as he was
"poor and moneyless," the servants refused to admit him into their
master's presence. Having, however, with difficulty obtained an
audience, he begged humbly to be suffered to visit S. Patrick's
purgatory. The Bishop of Clogher demanded a certain sum of money,
which, he said, was due to him from every pilgrim who came on this
errand. The monk represented his poverty, and after much urgent
solicitation, the bishop grudgingly gave him the necessary licence. He
then went to the prior, performed the usual ceremonies, and was shut up
in the cavern. There he remained all night, in constant expectation of
seeing something dreadful; but when the prior let him out next morning
he had to admit that he had seen no vision of any sort. Thoroughly
dissatisfied with his experiences, he went direct to Rome, and reported
what he thought of S. Patrick's purgatory to Pope Alexander VI. The
Pope was convinced that the whole thing was a fraud, and ordered the
destruction of the purgatory. It was the eve of the Reformation;
mistrust of miracles was rife, and the Pope was anxious to suppress one
that when investigated might prove a scandal.

The purgatory was accordingly suppressed, the cave closed, but not
destroyed, and no pilgrims admitted to it; this was in 1497. The
closing of the cave did not, however, interfere with the pilgrimage,
and the Archbishop of Armagh in 1503 urged on Pope Pius III. to
withdraw the prohibition. This was done, and profuse indulgences were
offered to such as revisited the cave or at all events took part in the
Lough Derg pilgrimage. On 12th September 1632, Sir James Balfour and
Sir William Stewart, carrying out the orders of the Government, seized
"for her Majesty's use and benefit the Island of the Purgatory," and
unroofed and otherwise destroyed the monastic buildings there. But
superstition is not to be killed by Acts of Parliament. By a statute of
the second year of Queen Anne all pilgrimages to S. Patrick's purgatory
were decreed to be "riotous and unlawful assemblies," and were made
punishable as such; and resort to the purgatory had become more
frequent owing to Clement X. having granted a Plenary Indulgence to
such as visited it. Since then these Indulgences have been repeatedly
renewed. At present the pilgrimages are again in full swing, and there
is a prior on the island, a hospice for the reception of the visitors,
and a chapel of S. Patrick and another of S. Mary. "Between the two
churches the space is taken up with the Campanile and Penitential beds.
There are five of these beds, and they are dedicated to SS. Dabeoc,
Columba, Catherine, Brendan, and Bridget. They are circular in form,
measuring, with the exception of S. Columba's, about ten feet in
diameter. S. Columba's is about twice the size of the others. They are
surrounded with walls, varying in height from one to two feet and each
of them is entered by a narrow gap or doorway." [Footnote: "Lough
Derg," by Rev. J. E. McKenna, Dublin, n.d.]

It would seem then that the old superstitious practices are being
reverted to as nearly as the spirit of the times will allow, and the
destruction of the cave itself will admit.

It is perhaps needless to add that there is no historical evidence for
the apostle of Ireland having ever been at Lough Derg. Derg is probably
a mistake for Deirg, and Lough Deirg would mean the Lake of the Cave.
Gough, in his additions to Camden, thus described the purgatory: "It
was about sixteen feet and a half long, by two feet one inch wide,
built of freestone, covered with broad flags and green turf laid over
them, and was so low and narrow that a tall man could hardly sit, much
less stand in it. In the side was a window just wide enough to admit a
faint ray of light; in the floor a cavity capable of containing a man
at his length, and under a large stone at the end of the pavement a
deep pit; the bottom of the cave was originally much below the surface
of the ground. It stood on the east side of the church, in the
churchyard, encompassed with a wall, and surrounded by circles or
cells, called the beds, scarcely three feet high, denominated from
several saints. The penitents who visited the island, after fasting on
bread and water for nine days and making processions round these holy
stations thrice a day barefoot, for the first seven days, and six times
on the eighth, washing their weary limbs each night in the lake, on the
ninth enter the cave. Here they observe a twenty-four hours fast,
tasting only a little water, and upon quitting it bathe in the lake,
and so conclude the ceremony.

"Leave being first obtained of the bishop, the prior represented to the
penitents all the horror and difficulty of the undertaking, suggesting
to them at the same time an easier penance. If they persevered in their
resolution, they were conducted to the door with a procession from the
convent, and after twenty-four hours confinement let out next morning
with the like ceremony." [Footnote: "St. Patrick's Purgatory," by
Thomas Wright, London, 1844. _Analecta Bollandiana,_ t. xxvii.
(1908). O'Connor, "St. Patrick's Purgatory," Dublin, 1895. MacRitchie,
"A Note on St. Patrick's Purgatory," in the Journal of the Roy. Soc. of
Ant. of Ireland, 1901.]

As may well be supposed, after the long preliminaries and the heavy
fees paid, the penitents could hardly, unless unusually strong-minded
like the Dutch monk, declare roundly that they had seen nothing. I do
not suppose, as already said, that there was any fraud deliberately
enacted, personages dressing up as devils and angels, but that the
visitor's own dreams, and his vanity or lively imagination were left to
propagate the story of the marvels to be seen and heard in Lough Derg.

But wonderful caves, entrances to a mysterious underworld, are common
in all countries. A story is told of Friar Conrad, the Confessor of S.
Elizabeth of Thuringia, a barbarous, brutal man, who was sent into
Germany by Gregory IX. to burn and butcher heretics. The Pope called
him his "dilectus filius." In 1231 he was engaged in controversy with a
heretical teacher, who, beaten in argument, according to Conrad's
account, offered to show him Christ and the Blessed Virgin, who with
their own mouths would ratify the doctrine taught by the heretic. To
this Conrad submitted, and was led into a cave in the mountains. After
a long descent they entered a hall brilliantly illumined, in which sat
a King on a golden throne and by him the Queen Mother. The heretic
prostrated himself in adoration, and bade Conrad do the same. But the
latter drew forth a consecrated host and adjured the vision, whereupon
all vanished.

The German stories of the mountain of Venus, in which the Tannhaeuser
remains, or of Frederick Barbarossa, in the Unterberg, or the Welsh
stories of King Arthur in the heart of the mountain, seen occasionally,
or the Danish fables of Holger Dansk in the vaults under the
Kronnenburg, all refer to the generally spread belief in an underworld
inhabited by spirits.

In the year 1529 died Lazarus Aigner of Bergheim, near Salzburg, a poor
man. At his death he handed over to his son a MS. account of a descent
he had made into the underworld in 1484, and this was at once published
and created a considerable sensation.

According to his account, in the year just mentioned, he was on the
Unterberg with his master, the parish priest, Elbenberger, and another,
when they visited a chapel on the rock, above the entrance to which
were cut the letters S.O.R.G.E.I.S.A.T.O.M., out of which they could
make nothing.

On returning home the priest observed that he wished that Lazarus would
revisit the place, and make sure that the inscription had been
accurately copied. Accordingly, next day, Aigner reascended the
mountain and found the chapel again. But he had started late, having
his ordinary work to do before he had leisure to go, and the evening
was darkening in. As the way led by precipices, he deemed it
inadvisable to retrace his steps that night, and so laid himself down
to sleep. Next morning, Thursday, he woke refreshed, but to his
amazement saw standing before him an aged barefooted friar, who asked
him whence he came and what had brought him there. To this Lazarus
Aigner answered truthfully. Then the hermit said to him, "I will
explain to you what is the signification of these letters, and will
show you something in vision."

Then the barefooted friar led him into a chasm, and unlocked an iron
door in the rock, by means of which Lazarus was admitted into the heart
of the mountain. There he saw a huge hall out of which went seven
passages that led to the cathedral of Salzburg, the church of
Reichenhall, Feldkirch in Tirol, Gemund, Seekirchen, S. Maximilien, S.
Michael, Hall, St. Zeno, Traunstein, S. Dionysius and S. Bartholmae on
the Konigsee. Here also Aigner saw divine worship conducted by dead
monks and canons, and with the attendance of countless dead of all
times in strange old-world costumes. He recognised many whom he had
known when alive. Then he was shown the library, and given the
interpretation of the mysterious letters, but as it was in Latin,
Aigner forgot it. After seven days and as many nights spent in the
underground world, he returned to daylight, and as the hermit parted
with him he solemnly bade him reserve the publication of what he had
seen and heard till the expiration of thirty-five years, when times of
distress and searchings of heart would come, and then the account of
his vision might be of profit. And exactly at the end of the thirty-
five years Lazarus Aigner died. There can be little doubt that, if the
whole was not a clumsy fabrication, it was the record of a dream he had
when sleeping, on the mountain outside the chapel of the Unterberg.

Roderic, the last of the Goths, has been laid hold of by legend and by
poetry. Southey wrote his poem on the theme, and Scott his "Vision of
Don Roderic," an odd blunder in the title, as _don_ was not used
prior to the ninth century. Roderic ascended the throne of the Goths in
Spain in 709. According to the legend he seduced the daughter of
Julian, Count of the Gothic possessions in Africa. She complained to
her father, and he in revenge invited the Moors, whom he had hitherto
valiantly opposed, to aid him in casting Roderic from his throne, the
issue of which was the defeat and death of Roderic, and the occupation
of nearly the whole peninsula by the Moors. At Toledo is a cave with a
tower at its entrance formerly dedicated to Hercules, and tradition
said that he who entered would learn the future fate of Spain. The cave
still exists. The entrance lies near San Ginos; it was opened in 1546
by Archbishop Siliceo, but has never since, according to Forbes, been
properly investigated. The story went that in spite of the entreaties
of the prelate and some of his great men, Roderic burst open the iron
door, and descended into the cave, where he found a bronze statue with
a battle-axe in its hands. With this it struck the floor repeatedly,
making the hall reverberate with the sound of the blows. Then Roderic
read on the wall the inscription, "Unfortunate king, thou hast entered
here in evil hour." On the right side of the wall were the words, "By
strange nations thou shalt be dispossessed and thy subjects departed."
On the shoulders of the statue were written the words, "I summon the
Arabs," and on its breast, "I do mine office." The king left the cave
sorrowful, and the same night an earthquake wrecked the tower and
buried the entrance to the cave.

Evidently Shakespeare had this story in his mind when he wrote the
scene of the descent of Macbeth into the cave of Hekate.

Although the oracles had ceased to speak in the pagan temples and
caves, yet the desire remained to question the spirits and to inquire
into the future, and for this purpose throughout the Middle Ages either
wizards were had recourse to that a look might be taken in their magic
mirrors, or else the churches were resorted to and the sacred text
received as the response of God to some question put by the inquirer.
When Chramm revolted against his father Clothair, he approached Dijon,
when, says Gregory of Tours, the priests of the cathedral having placed
three books on the altar, to wit the Prophets, the Acts of the
Apostles, and the Gospels, they prayed God to announce to them what
would befall Chramm, and by His power reveal whether he would be
successful and come to the throne, and they received the reply as each
opened the book.

Gregory also says that Meroveus, flying before the wrath of his father
Chilperic, placed three books on the tomb of S. Martin at Tours, the
Psalter, the Book of Kings, and the Gospels; he kept vigil all night,
and passed three days fasting. But when he opened the books at random,
the responses were so alarming that he despaired, and left the
sepulchre in tears. [Footnote: For many more instances see Lalanne
(L.), _Curiosites des Traditions_, Paris, 1847.]

The councils sought to put an end to this superstition. The sixteenth
canon of the Council of Vannes, held in 465, forbade clerks, under pain
of excommunication, to consult these _sortes sacrae_, as they were
called. This prohibition was extended to the laity by the Council of
Agde in 506, and by that of Orleans in 511. It was renewed repeatedly,
as, for instance, in the Council of Auxerre in 595, by a capitulary of
Charlemagne in 789, and by the Council of Selingstadt in 1022, but
always in vain. If inquirers might not seek for answers in the
churches, at the tombs of the Saints, they would seek them in the dens
of necromancers. In spite of this condemnation, consultation of the
divine oracles even formed a portion of the liturgy; and at the
consecration of a bishop, at the moment when the Book of the Gospels
was placed on his head, the volume was opened, and the first verse at
the head of the page was regarded as a prognostication of the character
of his episcopate. There are numerous accounts of such presages in the
chronicles. Guibert of Nogent relates, for instance, that when Landric,
elected Bishop of Noyon, was receiving episcopal unction, the text of
the Gospel foreshadowed evil--"A sword shall pierce through thine own
soul also." After having committed several crimes, he was assassinated.
He had, as his successor, the Dean of Orleans; the new bishop on being
presented for consecration, there was sought, in the Gospel, for a
prognostication concerning him, but the page proved a blank. It was as
though God had said, "With regard to this man I have nothing to say."
And in fact he died a few months later.

The same usage was practised in the Greek Church. At the consecration
of Athanasius, nominated to the patriarchate of Constantinople by
Constantine Porphyrogenetos, "Caracalla, Bishop of Nicomedia, having
brought forward the Gospel," says the Byzantine historian Pachymeros,
"the people were alert to learn the oracle of the opening of the
volume. The Bishop of Nicomedia having perceived that the leading words
were 'prepared for the devil and his angels,' groaned in his heart, and
covering the passage with his hand, turned the leaves and opened at
these words, 'and the birds of the air lodged in the branches of it,'
which seemed to have no connection with the ceremony. All that could be
was done to conceal the oracles, but it was found impossible to cover
up the fact. It was said that these passages condemned the
consecration, but they were not the effect of chance, because there is
no such thing as chance in the celebration of the divine mysteries."
When Clovis was about to attack the Visigoths and drive them out of
Aquitaine, he sent to inquire of the oracles of God at the tomb of S.
Martin. His envoys arrived bearing rich presents, and on entering the
church they heard the chanter recite the words of the psalm, "Thou hast
girded me with strength unto the battle: Thou shalt throw down mine
enemies under me. Thou hast made mine enemies also to turn their backs
upon me: and I shall destroy them that hate me" (Ps. xviii. 39, 40).
They returned with joy to the king, and the event justified the oracle.

I might fill pages with illustrations, but as these have no immediate
reference to cave oracles, I will quote no more. It is obvious that
recourse to churches and the tombs of the saints had taken the place of
inquiries at the temples of the gods, and the grottoes dedicated to
Fawns and Nymphs. So also it was by no means uncommon for recourse to
be had to churches in which to sleep so as to obtain an oracle as to
healing, as it had been customary for the same purpose to seek pagan
temples. This was called _Incubation_.

The dreams produced were often the result of inhaling a gas that
escaped in some of the caves, or through fissures in the floors of the
temples. At Hierapolis in Phrygia was a cavern of Cybele. At the close
of the fifth century, when the temple of the goddess had been
completely abandoned through the interdiction of paganism, the
philosopher Damascius, who had remained faithful to the old beliefs of
his country, descended, along with a companion, into the Charonion in
spite of the danger attending it, or was supposed to exist. He came
forth safe and sound, according to his own account, but hardly had he
reached his home before he dreamt that he had become Attys, the lover
of Cybele, and that he assisted at a festival held in his honour. There
were other such caves. In the visions seen by those sleeping in them,
the divinities of healing appeared and prescribed the remedies to be
taken by those who consulted them. Pilgrimages to these resorts--
temples and caves of AEsculapius, Isis, and Serapis, were common events.
Those who desired to consult Serapis slept in his temple at Canope.
When Alexander was sick of the malady whereof he died, his friends went
thither to learn if any cure were possible. "Those who go to inquire in
dream of the goddess Isis," says Diodorus Siculus, "recover their
health beyond expectation. Many have been healed of whom the physicians
despaired." The temples were hung with ex-votos. At Lebedes, in Lydia,
the sick went to pass the night in the temple of the Soteri, who
appeared to them in dreams. It was the same in a temple in Sardinia. So
also in one of Ino in Laconia. In the Cheronese, the goddess Hemithaea
worked the same miracles as did Isis. She appeared in dream to the
infirm and prescribed the manner in which they might be healed. In the
Charonion of Nyssa it was the priest who consulted the gods in dream.
In the temple of AEsculapius near Citheraea, a bed was always ready for
incubation. Christianity could not uproot so deeply founded
superstitious convictions and practices.

The Emperor Constantine consecrated to the archangel Michael two
churches near Byzantium, one was at Anaplous, on the Bosphorus, the
other on the opposite shore at Brochoi. This second church replaced a
temple that had, according to tradition, been founded by the Argonauts,
and was called the Sosthenion. According to John Malala, Constantine
slept in the temple and asked that he might be instructed in dream to
whom the church which was to replace it should be dedicated. Great
numbers from Byzantium and the country round had resort to these
churches to seek the guidance of the archangel in their difficulties
and a cure when sick. Sozomen, the ecclesiastical historian, relates an
instance of a cure effected in one of the churches of S. Michael.
Aquilinus, a celebrated lawyer, was ill with jaundice. "Being half
dead, he ordered his servants to carry him to the church, in hopes of
being cured there or dying there. When in it, God appeared to him in
the night and bade him drink a mixture of honey, wine and pepper. He
was cured, although the doctors thought the potion too hot for a malady
of the bile. I heard also that Probian, physician of the Court, was
also cured at the Michaelon by an extraordinary vision, of pains he
endured in his feet." "Not being able to record all the miracles in
this church, I have selected only these two out of many." [Footnote:
_Hist. Eccles._, ii. 3; see for many illustrations Maury (A.),
_La Magic_, Paris, 1860. Part II., chap. i.]

That which took place at the Michaelons on the Bosphorus occurred
elsewhere, in churches dedicated to SS. Cosmas and Damian. At AEgae in
Cilicia was a shrine of AEsculapius, and incubation was practised in his
temple. It afterwards became a church of Cosmas and Damian, and the
same practices continued after the rededication. The chain of
superstitious practices continued after the change in religion without
any alteration. In the church of S. Hilaire in France is to be seen the
saint's bed, "to which they carry insane persons, and after certain
prayers and religious rites, they lay them to sleep in the bed, and
they recover." [Footnote: _Jodocus Sincerus, Itin. Galliae,

In my "Book of South Wales" I have shown that the same usage continued
as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century in the church of
Christchurch near Caerleon, on the gravestone of one John Colmer, and
have reproduced a print of 1805, representing a man lying there to get

We have accordingly a series of customs beginning in caves dedicated to
heathen deities, transferred to their temples, then to churches under
the invocation of Christian saints and of angels.

One might well have supposed that with the advance of education, there
would have been an end to all cave oracles and grotto apparitions. But
not so--there is a special mystery in a cave that stimulates the
imagination, and the final phase of this tendency is the apparition at
Lourdes, and the consecration of the grotto. The vision at Le Salette
has not retained its hold on the superstitious, because it was on an
alp, but that of Lourdes being in a cave, roused religious enthusiasm
to the highest pitch. That the supposed apparition talked nonsense made
the whole the more delightfully mysterious.

"Yonder, beneath the ivy which drapes the rock, the grotto opens,"
writes Zola, "with its eternally flaming candles. From a distance it
looks rather squat and misshapen, a very narrow and humble aperture for
the breath of the Infinite which issued from it. The statue of the
Virgin has become a mere speck, which seems to move in the quiver of
the atmosphere heated by the little yellow flames. To see anything it
is necessary to raise oneself; for the silver altar, the harmonium, the
heaps of bouquets thrown there, the votive offerings streaking the
smoky walls, are scarcely distinguishable from behind the railing."

The floor of the grotto is scarcely raised above the level of the river
Gave, which has had to be thrust back to make room for a passage to the
mouth of the cavern. The whole story of the apparition of the Virgin
there rests on the unsupported assertion of an hysterical scrofulous
peasant girl. But who can say that the cult of sacred grottoes is a
thing of the past when tens of thousands of pilgrims visit Lourdes
annually, and believe in the story that confers sanctity on it!

[Illustration: KYNASTON'S CAVE. Interior. On the right is Kynaston's
chamber, on the left is the stable of his horse. The lettering and date
cut in the pier were made subsequent to his death.]

[Illustration: NESS CLIFF. Cave occupied by Humphrey Kynaston the
outlaw, with his horse. In the interior is the stable as well as
Kynaston's own cell.]



The name of the outlaw, Humphrey Kynaston, who, with his horse, lived
in the face of a precipice, is not likely speedily to be forgotten in
Shropshire; his exploits are still matter of tradition, and the scenes
of his adventures are yet pointed out.

Humphrey was the son of Sir Roger Kynaston, of Hordley, near Ellesmere.
The family derived from Wales and from the princes of Powys. Their arms
were argent, a lion rampant sable.

Sir Roger Kynaston had zealously embraced the side of the York faction.
King Henry VI. had attempted to make peace by holding a conference in
London, when the Lord Mayor at the head of five thousand armed citizens
kept peace between the rival parties. Henry proposed an agreement,
which was accepted, and then the King, with representatives of both
sides, went in solemn procession to S. Paul's. To the great joy of the
spectators, the Yorkist and Lancastrian leaders walked before him arm
in arm, Richard, Duke of York, leading by the hand the queen, the real
head of her husband's party.

But the pacification had been superficial. The Yorkists were determined
to win the crown from the feeble head of Henry. At their head was the
Earl of Warwick, and the King had hoped to get him out of the way by
making him Governor of Calais. But strife broke out again six months
after the apparent reconciliation at S. Paul's. The Earl of Salisbury
was the first to move; but he had no sooner put himself in march from
Yorkshire to join the Duke of York at Ludlow, than Lord Audley, with
7000 men, attempted to intercept him. They met at Blore Heath, in
Staffordshire. Audley was drawn into a snare, and slain by Sir Roger
Kynaston with his own hand; along with him fell 2000 of his followers.
Thenceforth the Kynastons assumed, not only the Audley arms and the
motto, "Blore Heath," but the rising sun of York as their crest.

Wild Humphrey was the son of Sir Roger Kynaston, by his wife the Lady
Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Gray, Earl of Tankerville, and Lord of
Powys. He was the second son, and not expecting to succeed to the
family estates, was given the constableship of the castle of Middle,
which had at one time belonged to the Lords le Strange, but which had
lapsed to the Crown.

He sadly neglected his duties, and allowed the castle to fall into
disrepair, almost into ruin. This was not altogether his own fault. The
castle was of importance as guarding the marches against the Welsh,
always ready, at the least provocation, to make raids into England. The
office of constable was honorary rather than remunerative, a poor
recompense for the services rendered by Sir Roger to the Yorkist cause.
Humphrey was expected to keep up the castle out of his own resources,
and he was without private means. It was true that with the accession
of the House of Tudor, danger from the Welsh was less imminent: but
Henry VII. was a parsimonious monarch, careful mainly to recover for
the exchequer the sums of which it had been depleted in the Wars of the

As Humphrey was short of money, he took to robbery. The Wars of the
Roses had produced anarchy in the land, and every man's hand was
against his fellow, if that fellow had something of which he might be

The story is told that one day Wild Humphrey rode to the manor-house of
the Lloyds of Aston, and requested a draught of wine. With ready
hospitality a silver beaker was brought forth swimming with the juice
of the grape. Humphrey, who was mounted, drained it to the last drop,
then, striking spurs into his horse, galloped away, carrying the silver
vessel with him. As has been said of Robin Hood, so it was told of the
Shropshire freebooter, that he robbed the rich and befriended the poor.
On one occasion he stopped the steward of a gentleman and plundered him
of the rents just received. The Lord of the Manor sent him a message
that he had been a forbearing landlord, but now he absolutely must put
the screw upon his tenants to make up for his loss. Kynaston at once
waylaid another gentleman's steward, and paid the first back to the
last penny with the proceeds of the second robbery.

His depredations at length became so intolerable that he was outlawed
in the eighth year of Henry VII. As this year began on the 22nd August
1490, and did not end till the 21st of August 1491, it is not quite
certain in which year of our reckoning he was placed under ban.

He was now obliged to fly from the dilapidated castle of Middle, and
seek himself out a place of refuge. This he found or made for himself
in the face of the cliff of Ness.

This is a hill of new red sandstone, near Bass Church, that forms an
abrupt scarp towards the south. The top commands a superb view of the
Shropshire plain, with the Breiden Hills rising out of them, and the
Long Mynd to the south. The western horizon is walled up by the Welsh
mountains. Formerly the head and slopes of Ness Cliff were open down,
but have been enclosed and planted of late years by Earl Brownlow, so
that it is not easy to realise what the appearance was when Wild
Humphrey took up his abode in the rock.

In the cliff, that is reached by a rapid ascent, and which rises above
the slope some 70 feet, he cut a flight of steps in the side of a
buttress that projects, till he reached the main face of the crag,
about half-way up. Then he scooped out a doorway, next excavated two
chambers, one to serve as a stable for his horse, the other for a
habitation for himself. In the latter he formed a hearth, and bored a
hole upwards in a slanting direction, till he reached daylight, and
this served as chimney. Beside his door he cut a circular orifice to
act as window. The doorway was closed by a stout door sustained in
place by a massive bar, the socket holes to receive which remain.

In the pier between the stable and his own apartment, he cut two
recesses, probably to receive a lamp. Between these a later hand has
engraved the initials H.K., and the date 1564. As Humphrey died in
1534, this was, of course, none of his doing.

At the foot of the cliff near the first step is a trough or manger cut
in the living rock, apparently to receive water, but as no water exudes
from the rock, it must have served for the oats or other corn given to
his horse. It is traditionally said that Wild Humphrey's horse pastured
in proximity to the Ness. When Humphrey saw danger, and when the shades
of evening fell, he whistled; whereupon the beast ran like a cat up the
narrow steps in the face of the rock, and entered its stable. Once
there, Kynaston was master of the situation, for only one man at a time
could mount the stair, and this was commanded by his window, through
which with a pike he could transfix or throw down an intruder.

Where now stands the National School at the foot of the hill was at
that time a meadow, to the grass of which his horse was partial.

The farmer to whom the meadow belonged naturally enough objected, and
collected a number of men who linked themselves together with ropes and
surrounded the field. The horse took no notice but continued browsing.
The ring gradually contracted on him. Kynaston saw the proceeding from
his eyrie, and uttered a shrill whistle. At once the gallant steed
pricked up his ears, snorted, ran, leaped clean over the head of a man,
and scrambled up the stair in the cliff, to his master's shelter. On
another occasion a thief, thinking it no harm to rob a felon, succeeded
in leaping on the horse's back. But the beast, feeling that some one
was astride of him other than Wild Humphrey, ran to the cliff, and the
rider, frightened at the prospect of being carried up the rock side and
into the power of the desperate outlaw, was but too thankful to throw
himself off and get away with a broken arm.

Humphrey had two wives, both Welsh girls, whom he carried off, but
married. Gough, in his history of Middle, says: "Humphrey Kynaston had
two wives, but both of soe mean birth that they could not claim to any
coat of arms." By the first he had a son, Edward, who died young. By
the second he had three sons, Edward, Robert, and Roger. If tradition
may be trusted he proved so brutal and so bad a husband that his second
wife left and returned to her kinsfolk in Wales. His son Edward was
heir to the last Lord Powys, and continued the succession. Humphrey's
elder brother died without lawful issue, and the honours and estates of
the family devolved on Edward, upon his father's death in 1534.

Now the laws relating to the marriage of Englishmen with Welsh women
were still in force. The English Parliament, in 1401, had passed a
series of the most oppressive and cruel ordinances ever enacted against
any people; prohibiting marriage between English and Welsh, and
disfranchising and disqualifying any Englishman from holding or
inheriting property, if he had married a Welsh woman, and closing all
schools and learned professions to the Welsh. These infamous laws had
been re-enforced by Parliament in 1413, and were not repealed when
Henry VII. came to the throne, as might have been anticipated. But
Henry granted the Welsh a charter, which rendered the administration
less rigorous. These tyrannous laws were not repealed till 1536. Now,
the fact that Humphrey's marriage with Welsh women stood against him in
no way justified his treatment of his wives.

Deserted by his second wife, Wild Humphrey was assisted by his mother,
who came to Ruyton, in the neighbourhood, and carried him food on
Sunday, a day of civil freedom.

On one occasion when he had been committing his usual depredations, on
the further side of the Severn, the Under Sheriff at the head of a
posse rode to arrest him, and for this purpose removed several planks
of Montford Bridge, by which he was expected to return, and then laid
in wait till he arrived. In due course Humphrey Kynaston rode to the
Severn Bridge and prepared to cross. Thereupon the _posse
comitatus_ rose and took possession of the bridge end believing that
they had him entrapped. But the outlaw spurred his horse, which leaped
the gap, and he escaped. A farmer, who had been looking on, so the
legend tells, called out, "Kynaston, I will give thee ten cows and a
bull for thy horse." "Get thee first the bull and cows that can do such
a feat," shouted the outlaw in reply, "and then we will effect the

The leap of Kynaston's horse was measured and marked out on Knockin
Heath, and cut in the turf, with the letters H.K. at each end.

The accession of a Welsh prince to the crown was in reality a fortunate
thing for the Kynastons, especially for Wild Humphrey; for ever since
the rising of Owen Glendower, an Englishman who had married a Welsh
woman was, as already said, legally disqualified from holding any
office of trust, and from acquiring or inheriting land in England.
Consequently Humphrey's issue by his Welsh wife might have been
debarred from representing the family but for the accession of Henry
VII. As it turned out, since his elder brother left no issue, the son
of Humphrey eventually inherited the family estates of the Kynastons.

Two and a half or three years after his outlawry, Humphrey was
pardoned, 30th May 1493. The pardon is still extant, and is in the
possession of Mr. Kynaston, of Hardwick Hall and Hordley, the present
representative of the family. The direct line from Wild Humphrey
expired in 1740.

It is somewhat noticeable that in all the successive generations there
was no further outbreak of the wild blood. The Kynastons descending
from the outlaw, who was the terror of the countryside, were orderly
country gentlemen, who did their duty and pursued harmless pleasures.
Perhaps Wild Humphrey was rather a product of his lawless times, of the
terrible disorders of the Wars of the Roses, and of the cruel law that
blasted him and his issue, on account of his Welsh marriages, than a
freebooter out of sporting propensities.

Tradition says that his continued misconduct and ill-treatment of his
wife kept her estranged from him. But on his deathbed he had one single
desire, and that was to see her and obtain her pardon. He stoutly
refused to be visited by any leech; and only reluctantly agreed to
allow a "wise woman," who lived at Welsh Felton, near the scene of his
old exploits at Ness Cliff, to visit him and prescribe herbs.

On her arrival, however, his humour had changed, and he impatiently
turned away, saying, "I'll have none of your medicines. I want naught
but my Elizabeth, my poor wronged wife."

"And she is here," answered the wise woman, throwing off her hood.

Humphrey turned and laid his head on her bosom, and without another
word, but with his eyes on her face, breathed his last.

Is the story true or _ben trovato_? Who can say! It reposes on

Ness Cliff, the rock, in the face of which Humphrey Kynaston lived four
hundred years ago, remains, with his cave, his flight of steps, up
which ran his faithful horse, his stable, and the feeding trough, and
the hearth on which burned Wild Humphrey's fire, very much as he left
it. Only one feature is changed. There, from his rock, his eye ranged
over the rolling woodland and open champagne country for miles so that
he could see and prepare against the enemy who ventured to approach his
stronghold; now it is buried in larch and Austrian pine plantations, so
that nothing is visible from the cave, save their green boughs. It
seems strange that for so many years he can have been suffered to
continue his depredations without an attempt being made to surround his
rock and keep him imprisoned therein till he was starved into
surrender. But the explanation is probably this. He had made friends
among the peasantry of the neighbourhood, whom he never molested, and
to whom he showed many kindnesses; and they rewarded him by giving him
timely warning of the approach of those bent on his capture, and thus
enabled him to mount his horse, gallop away, and conceal himself
elsewhere. Yet this only partly explains the mystery. If the cave were
deserted, why did not the sheriff and his _posse comitatus_
destroy the steps leading up into it, and thus render a retreat into it
impossible? The only conclusion at which one can arrive is that the
custodians of the law in the fifteenth century were half-hearted in the
discharge of their duty, that there was a secret admiration for the
wild outlaw in their hearts, and that they were reluctant to see the
scion of a brave and ancient house brought to the gallows.

Some men have become predatory animals, and as such seek out lairs as
would the beasts of prey.

The Chinaman possesses an instinctive reversion to old subterranean
life. Wherever he goes, wherever he succeeds in forming a "China-town,"
he begins to burrow and undermine the houses in which he and his
fellow-countrymen live, and a labyrinth of passages and chambers is
constructed, communicating with the several dwellings, so that a
criminal Chinaman can rarely be trapped in the native quarter by the
police. When San Francisco was burnt, the ground under the Chinese town
was found to be honeycombed with runs and lurking-holes to an
astounding extent.

When David had to escape from the pursuit of Saul, he fled first of all
to Gath, but being recognised there, he made his way to the cave of
Adullam. "And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in
debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto
him, and he became a captain over them; and there were with him about
four hundred men." [Footnote: 1 Sam. xxii. 1-2] In a word, he became
the head of a party of freebooters, who laid the neighbourhood under

The Palestine surveyors have identified the cave of Adullam with one
now called by the peasants Aid-el-Ma. It lies in a round hill about 500
feet high, pierced with a number of caverns; the hill itself being
isolated by several valleys and marked by ancient ruins, tombs, and
quarryings. "A cave which completes the identification exists in the
hill. It is not necessary to suppose that the one used by David was of
great size, for such spacious recesses are avoided by the peasantry
even now, from their dampness and tendency to cause fever. Their
darkness, moreover, needs many lights, and they are disliked from the
numbers of scorpions and bats frequenting them. The caves used as human
habitations, at least in summer, are generally about twenty or thirty
paces across, lighted by the sun, and comparatively dry. I have often
seen such places with their roofs blackened by smoke: families lodging
in one, goats, cattle, and sheep, stabled in another, and grain or
straw stored in a third. At Adullam are two such caves in the northern
slope of the hill, and another further south, while the opposite sides
of the tributary valley are lined with rows of caves, all smoke-
blackened, and mostly inhabited, or used as pens for flocks and herds.

"The cave on the south of the hill itself was tenanted by a single
family when the surveyors visited it, just as it might have been by
David and his immediate friends, while his followers housed themselves
in those near at hand." [Footnote: Geikie (C.), "The Holy Land and the
Bible," Lond. 1887, i. p. 108.]

The haunts of the bandits in the times of Herod must have been very
much like those in Dordogne. They were high up in the face of
precipices in Galilee, and he was able only to subdue these gangs of
freebooters by letting his soldiers down in baskets from the top of the
cliffs, with machines for forcing entrance. [Footnote: Josephus,
"Antiq.," xiv. 6.]

Stanley says [Footnote: "Sinai and Palestine," 1856, pp. 148-149.]:
"Like all limestone formations, the hills of Palestine abound in caves.
In these innumerable rents, and cavities, and holes, we see the shelter
of the people of the land in those terrible visitations, as when 'Lot
went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in a cave.' Or as when 'in the days of
Uzziah, King of Judah, they fled before the earthquake to the ravine of
the mountains;' to the rocky fissures, safer, even though themselves
rent by the convulsions, than the habitations of man. We see in them,
also, the hiding-places which served sometimes for the defence of
robbers and insurgents, sometimes for the refuge of those of whom 'the
world was not worthy;' the prototypes of the catacombs of the early
Christians, of the caverns of the Vaudois and the Covenanters. The cave
of the five kings at Makkedah; the 'caves, and dens, and strongholds,
and 'rocks,' and 'pits,' and 'holes' in which the Israelites took
shelter from the Midianites in the time of Gideon, from the Philistines
in the time of Saul; the cleft of the cliff Etam, into which Samson
went down to escape the vengeance of his enemies; the caves of David at
Adullam and at Maon, and of Saul at Engedi; the cave in which Obadiah
hid the prophets of the Lord; the caves of the robber hordes above the
plain of Gennesareth; the sepulchral caves of the Gadarene demoniacs;
the cave of Jotopata, where Josephus and his countrymen concealed
themselves in their last struggle, continue from first to last what has
been called the cave-life of the Israelite nation."

The vast grotto of Lombrive in Ariege has been already mentioned. It
became a den of a band of murderous brigands at the beginning of the
nineteenth century. A detachment of soldiers was sent to dislodge them
in 1802; to reach the great hall access is had by crawling through a
narrow passage, and here the robbers murdered as many as 146 of the
soldiers, taking them one after another as they emerged from the
passage, and cutting their throats. [Footnote: "Spelunca," Paris,
1905, t. vi. p. 169.] The passage now bears the name of that of _Du

The Surtshellir in Iceland has attracted a great deal of attention,
perhaps because it is so different from other caves, being formed in
the lava. Its origin is very easily explained. At a great eruption of
lava from a neighbouring crater, the crust hardened rapidly whilst the
viscid current below continued to flow, and this latter flowed on till
it also became rigid, and left a great gap between it and the original
crust. I visited it in 1860. It has several branches, and in it lie
pools perpetually frozen. There are gaps here and there in the roof
through which rays of light penetrate, and also snow that heaps itself
on the floor. In one side-chamber is a great accumulation of sheep-
bones. In the thirteenth century a band of twenty-four robbers took up
their abode in this cavern, and made excursions in all directions
around, robbing farmhouses, and driving away sheep. When this had gone
on for some time the bonders united and succeeded in surrounding the
gang, and killing eighteen of them. The six who escaped fled to the
snow mountains, and were never heard of again. Now the strange thing
is, how could the men live through a winter in this horrible cavern
with a floor of ice in many places, and with a temperature below
freezing even in summer? Fuel they could not procure, as there are but
black sandy moors around that grow nothing but dwarf willow, and that
is so scarce as to be inefficient for their purpose. They must have
supplied themselves with light and heat by the tallow of the sheep they
killed, run into a lamp. This is the only heating fuel used at present
by the Icelanders, apart from the animal heat they give out in the
closely sealed common room they occupy as sleeping quarters as well as
dining-room and workshop. It may be vastly pleasant in theory to live
at other people's expense, but it has its drawbacks, and in this
instance _le jeu ne valait pas la chandelle_.

In Pitscottie's "Chronicles of Scotland," and in Holinshed's "Scottish
Chronicle," at the end of the reign of James II. there is a story of a
brigand who is said to have lived in a den called Feruiden, or
Ferride's Den, in Angus, who was burnt along with his wife and family
for cannibalism, the youngest daughter alone was spared as she was but
a twelvemonth old. But when she grew up she was convicted of the same
crime, and was condemned to be burnt or buried alive.

I have given elsewhere a very full account of the cave--a den of
robbers beside which that to which Gil Blas was carried was a paradise
--La Crouzate on the Causse de Gramat in the Department of Lot. I will
therefore here mention it but superficially. At the entrance are
notches in the rock, showing that at one time it was closed by a door.
A rapid descent is suddenly brought to a standstill by an opening in
the floor of a veritable _oubliette_, and this opening is crossed
only by a bridge of poles, the hand helping to maintain the balance by
pressing against the wall of rock on the right hand. Then comes a
second hollow, but not so serious, and then a third that can only be
descended by a ladder. This opens into a hall in the midst of which
yawns a horrible chasm, across which lies a rough bridge of poles that
give access to some small chambers beyond, which had formerly been
tenanted by the brigands who had their lair in this cavern. Notches in
the walls of the well show that across it were laid poles that
sustained a pulley, by means of which a bucket could be let down to the
well 265 feet, for water. My cousin, Mr. George Young, actually found
remains of the crane employed for the purpose at the bottom of the
well. About the year 1864, M. Delpons, prefect of the Department of
Lot, observing a huge block of limestone lying in a field near La
Crouzate, had it raised, and discovered beneath it twelve skeletons
ranged in a circle, their feet inwards, and an iron chain linking them
together; probably the remains of the bandits who made of La Crouzate
their den, whence they issued to rob in the neighbourhood. According to
the local tradition, the peasants of the surrounding country paid a
poll-tax for every sheep and ox they possessed so as to raise a levee
which should sweep the Causse of these marauders, and it was due to
this effort that the band was captured and every member of it hung to
the branches of the walnut tree beneath which lies the broad stone.

At Gargas, near Montzejeau, in Hautes Pyrenees, is a prehistoric cavern
of considerable extent. In it have been found sealed up in stalagmite
the remains of primitive man. Now the significant fact exists that just
ten years before the outbreak of the French Revolution this cave was
inhabited by Blaise Ferrage, a stone-mason, who at the age of twenty-
two deliberately threw aside his trade and retired into the grotto,
whence he sallied forth to seize, murder, and eat children and young
girls. Men also he shot, strangled, or stabbed, and dragged to his
lair, there to devour their carcases.

For three years this monster terrorized the countryside. The number of
his victims was innumerable. As last he was caught and broken on the
wheel in December 1782. There is no evidence that the naked prehistoric
men who had inhabited the cave of Gargas were cannibals.

That the outlaw and he who has dropped out of the ranks of ordered
social life, and he who seeks to prey on civilised society should
naturally, instinctively, make the cave his home, is what we might
expect. He is reverting to the habits of early man whose hand was
against every man.

In the "Two Gentlemen of Verona," the outlaws are presented as living
in a cave. The robbers in "Gil Blas" had their lair also in one.

One of the finest and most pathetic of Icelandic Sagas is the history
of Grettir the Outlaw, who was born in 997, and killed by his enemies
in 1031. He spent nineteen years in outlawry in Iceland, and outlawry
there in that terrible climate, with no house to cover his head, would
seem an ordeal impossible for human endurance. Between the autumn of
1022 and the spring of 1024, that is to say during two winters, he
lived in a cave in the west of the island. A steep shale slide was
below a cliff, and above this a hollow in the rock. He built up the
mouth of the cave, and hung grey wadmal before the entrance, so that
none below could notice anything peculiar, or any one living there.
Whatever fuel he wanted, all he had to eat, everything he needed, had
to be carried up this slippery ascent by him. Down the shale slide he
went when short of provisions, and over the marshes to this or that
farm and demanded or carried off, sometimes a sheep, sometimes curds,
dried fish--in a word what he required.

In the summer of 1862 a very similar lair which Grettir inhabited a
little later in the east of Iceland was explored by a farmer living
near. This is his description of it: "The lair stands in the upper part
of a slip of stones beneath some sheer rocks. It is built up of stones,
straight as a line, four and three-quarter ells long and ten inches
wide, and is within the walls seven-eighths of an ell deep. Half of it
is roofed over with flat stones; small splinters of stone are wedged in
between these to fill up the joints, and these are so firmly fixed that
they could not be removed without tools. One stone in the south wall is
so large that it would require six men to move it. The north wall is
beginning to give way. On the outside the walls are overgrown with
black lichen and grey moss."

A chapman spending the winter in a farm hard by, named Gisli the Dandy,
heard that a price of nine marks of silver was placed on the head of
Grettir. "Let me but catch him," said he, "and I will dress his skin
for him."

The outlaw heard of this threat, and one day looking down from his rock
he saw a man with two attendants riding along the highway. His kirtle
was scarlet, and his helmet and shield flashed in the sun. It occurred
to Grettir that this must be the dandy, and he at once ran down the
slide of stones, clapped his hand on a bundle of clothes behind the
saddle, and said, "This I am going to take." Gisli, for it was he, got
off his horse, and called on his men to attack Grettir. But the latter
soon perceived that the chapman kept behind his servants, and never
risked himself where the blows fell; so he put the two thralls aside
and went direct upon the merchant, who turned and took to his heels.
Grettir pursued him, and Gisli, in his fear, threw aside his shield,
then away went his helmet, and lastly a heavy purse of silver attached
to his girdle. Presently the flying man came to a bed of old lava full
of cracks. He leaped the fissures and reached a river that flowed
beyond. There he halted, unable to make up his mind to risk a plunge
into it, and that allowed Grettir to run in on him and throw him down.

"Keep my saddle-bags and what I have thrown away," pleaded the fallen
man, "only spare my life." "There must be a little skin-dressing done
first," answered Grettir. Then he took a good handful of birch rods
from the wood, pulled Gisli's clothes up over his head, and laid the
twigs against his back in none of the gentlest fashion. Gisli danced
and skipped about, but Grettir had him by his garments twisted about
his head, and contrived to flog till the fellow threw himself down on
the ground screaming. Then Grettir let go, and went quietly back to his
lair, picking up as he went the purse and the belt, the shield, casque,
and whatsoever else Gisli had thrown away. Also he retained the
contents of his saddle-bags. [Footnote: "Grettir Saga," Copenh. 1859.
"Grettir the Outlaw," Lond. 1890.]

At Dunterton, on the Devon side of the Tamar, is a headland of rock and
wood projecting above the river, and in this is a cave. In or about
1780 there was a man, the terror of the neighbourhood, who lived in
this cave, but that he was there was unknown. He was wont to "burgle"
the houses of the gentry round, and his favourite method of proceeding
was to get on the roof and descend the chimneys, which in those days
were wide. In my hall chimney was, till I removed it, an apparatus
fitted with sharp spikes upward to impale the burglar should he attempt
to get into the house that way. In the house of a neighbouring squire a
funnel was made into which he might drop, and from which he could not
escape. He was finally discovered by Colonel Kelly, when drawing the
wood with his hounds; as the cave was held to be the den of the ogre,
it was looked upon with fear, and was also long the lair of smugglers.

Perhaps the latest cave-dwelling criminal was Carl Friedrich Masch, who
before his execution confessed to having committed twelve murders and
to having attempted several more. This man carried on this warfare
against society from 1856 to 1864, that is to say for eight years, in
Prussia. His presence in the district was always suspected rather than
ascertained, by the numerous cases of arson, burglary, and robbery, as
well as by murders and murderous attacks. One of his worst crimes was
the butchery of a whole family, a miller, his wife, three children,
aged respectively twelve, ten, and five, and a young servant-maid in
1861. In vain were large rewards offered for the capture of Masch; if
he had confederates they were not bribed to betray him, and the police
were powerless to trace him. Even soldiers were called out to search
the forests, but all in vain, and he was not captured till 1864 when he
was arrested when tipsy in the street of Frankfurt on the Oder, and
then it was not till some hours later that it was discovered he had but
just committed a fresh murder.

In March 1858 a miller named Ebel went into the Pyritz forest near
Soldin, along with his servant-man to fetch away firewood he had
purchased. After having laden his wagon he sent it home under the
conduct of his man, and remained behind among the trees. He looked
about among the bushes to find a suitable branch that he could cut to
serve as a walking-stick. Whilst thus engaged he came on some rising
ground overgrown with young birch, and on the slope of the hill not
more than 200 paces from the much-frequented highroad he noticed a spot
where the snow was beaten hard, as if it had been the lair of a wild
beast. To get a better sight of this, Ebel parted the bushes and came
closer. Then he was aware of a patch of dried leaves uncovered by snow.
Unable to account for this, he stirred the leaves with his recently cut
stick, and to his surprise saw them slide down into the earth as into a
funnel. More puzzled than ever he began to examine the locality, when
he noticed that the ground under his feet sounded hollow, and that
there was hard by a second and larger hole. As he stood staring at
this, suddenly a cudgel appeared followed by the white face of a man
with black hair and beard and dark piercing eyes, rising out of the
ground. For a moment Ebel stood paralysed with terror, and then, as the
man was heaving himself to the surface, he beat a hasty retreat.

When he reported what he had seen to the forester and some wood-
cutters, he was at first not believed, but he insisted that they should
accompany him to the spot. They did so, and this is what they found: a
board, covered with earth, but with a hole in the midst, through which
a couple of fingers could be thrust so as to bring it from below into
position, had been used to cover the entrance to an underground
habitation. Jumping into a pit, a passage was seen about five feet
high, in which a stove had been placed, and the hole the miller had
seen, into which the leaves had fallen, was the chimney. Further on was
a chamber seven feet long by seven feet broad, and five feet high, that
had clearly served as a dwelling for some considerable time. It was
full of clothing, linen, an axe, a hammer, a bunch of keys, and an
assortment of burglar's tools. The roof was supported by posts and
transverse beams, and from them hung legs of pork, bacon, and sausages.
There was also a cellar well stocked with wine and brandy, and even
champagne. A bed was fashioned of birch boughs and fir branches and
hay. The boughs protected from the damp of the soil. Great quantities
of bones of pigs, sheep, geese, and other poultry were found buried in
the sides of the passage and about on the surface.

The forester reported to the police what he had seen. A good many of
the articles found were reclaimed by peasants who had been robbed; but
the denizen of the cave-dwelling had vanished, and returned no more. At
the same time, attacks on persons and property ceased in that
neighbourhood, but began in the neighbourhood of Berlin. But in the
spring of 1859 they were renewed in the district of Soldin. The
military were ordered to manoeuvre, surround, and traverse the woods,
and search every moor. All was in vain, not a trace of the perpetrator
of these crimes could be found, and no sooner were the soldiers
withdrawn than a taverner and his young wife were discovered in their
little inn, with their heads beaten in, and their throats cut, and the
man's watch and his money taken. This was followed by the murder of a
peasant girl, on the highroad, as she was returning from saying
farewell to her lover who had to leave his village for military
service. Next came the slaughter of the miller and his family. Renewed
efforts to trace the murderer were made and were equally fruitless.

A toll-keeper was fired at in his bed and severely wounded. The would-
be assassin had drawn a cart into position, placed boards on it, raised
an erection on the boards to support himself so as to be able to take
aim at the sleeping man through the window. He could see where he was,
as a light burned in the room. He was prevented breaking into the house
and murdering the wife and child by the approach of passengers. A
farmer was shot at and also badly hurt when returning from market, and
only saved from being killed and robbed by his horse taking fright and
galloping out of reach.

A further hiding-place of Masch was discovered by accident, as was the
first, in May 1861, in the neighbourhood of Warsin. It was more roomy
than the first, constructed with more art, was also underground, and
contained innumerable objects that had been stolen; amongst others a
little library of books that Masch could read in the long winter
evenings to pass away the time.

When after eight years of this sort of life, he was finally arrested,
he was brought to confess his crimes. And one portion of his narrative
concerned his place of concealment in the winter of 1858-59, before he
had dug out his subterranean abode at Warsin, and after the discovery
of his den at Pyritz.

That was also spent underground, but not in a cave of his construction.
I will give the account in his own words.

"The winter came on and I had no money and no place of refuge against
the cold. It was only when a hard frost set in that I found an asylum
in the culvert constructed to carry off the water from the Bermling
lake. The canal consists of a stone-built tunnel, the entrance to which
is closed by closely-set iron stancheons. But accustomed as I was, like
a cat, to contract and wriggle through narrow spaces, I succeeded in
forcing my way in and I formed my lair on the solid ice. Before a fall
of snow I provided myself with food, wine, brandy, clothing, and
bedding, but I was constrained to spend many weeks in my hiding-place
lest I should betray it by my footprints in the snow. My abode there
was terribly irksome, for the culvert was not lofty enough to allow one
to stand upright in it, and I was constrained to wriggle about in it,
crawling or thrusting myself along with hands and feet. I had indeed
covered my legs with leather wound about them, but my limbs became
stiff. Sitting on the ice was almost as uncomfortable as lying on it.
An upright position when seated became unendurable with my legs
stretched out straight before me. Accordingly I hacked a hole through
the ice into the frozen mud, and thrust my legs down into it. But my
blood chilled in them, and my legs would have been frozen in, had I not
withdrawn them and stretched them out as before, well enveloped.
Moreover I could not sit with my back leaning against the ice-cold
stone walls, and the air in the tunnel was dense and foggy. As soon as
the ground was clear of snow I escaped from my horrible prison, and
enjoyed myself in the open, but for safety had to retreat to it again.
On one occasion I narrowly escaped discovery. The owner of the estate
hard by and his son were out one day with their hounds. These latter
rushed to the entrance of the culvert and began snuffing about at it.
Their masters observed this, and made the brutes enter the tunnel. I
crouched, my loaded gun in my hand, and peered betwixt the iron bars.
If one of the hounds had come near me, I would have shot it. Happily
the beasts did not venture far in, probably on account of the heavy
vapour they had lost the scent. They withdrew, and I remained in my
cellar-dwelling till the spring. When the ice melted and the mud became
soft, I had to quit my winter quarters. I had suffered so unspeakably
that I resolved without more ado to excavate for myself a new
habitation underground which in comparison with the culvert seemed a
paradise to me." [Footnote: _Der neue Pitaval_, Leipzig; neue
Serie, ii. 1867, pp. 104-105.]

Masch was executed on 18th July 1864.

A picturesque walk through the woods near Wiesbaden on the Taunus road
leads to the Leichtweishoehle, a cave under a mass of fallen rock, in
the Nerothal. The cave measures 100 feet in length, and at its entrance
and exit are now set up portraits of the former occupant of this
retreat and his mistress. Within, in a side chamber, is the bedroom of
the robber, and his bed, that was covered with dry moss. In the midst
of the cave is a round, massive stone table, and under its foot is a
pit excavated to receive his money and other valuables. The cave, now
accessible, is an object of many a pleasant excursion from Wiesbaden;
over a century ago it was in a dense and pathless forest, the
intricacies of which were unknown.

Henry Antony Leichtweiss was born in 1730 at Ohrn, and was the son of a
forester in the service of the Duke of Nassau. He was put apprentice to
a man who was at once a baker and a besom-maker, and he learned both
professions with readiness. Being a well-built, handsome youth, he
managed to get engaged as courier in a noble family, and in the
situation made many journeys and learned to know the world, and also to
lay by some money. In September 1757 he married the daughter of the
magistrate (Schultheiss) of Dotzheim, and he obtained appointment under
him as scrivener. By his wife he had seven children. On the death of
his father-in-law, and the appointment of a new magistrate, the aspect
of his affairs changed. He was detected in attempts to appropriate
trust-money to his own use, and was dismissed his office. He sank
deeper and deeper, and was arrested and imprisoned at last for theft.
On leaving Wiesbaden, where he had been confined, he returned to
Dotzheim, but there no one would have anything to say to him, and his
own wife refused to receive him into her house.

Leichtweiss now gave himself up to a vagabond life, and as he had of
old been associated with the chase, he turned to poaching as a
resource. The wide stretch of forests of the Taunus, well stocked with
game, and the proximity to such markets as Frankfort and Mainz, offered
him a prospect of doing a good business in this line. He managed to
induce a wench to associate herself with him, and he dug out a cave of
which the description has already been given, in which he made his
headquarters, and where he lived and carried on his depredations
unmolested for seven years. The spot was so secret and the confusion of
rocks there was so great, that he trusted never to be discovered. The
main danger lay in smoke betraying him when his fire was lighted, or of
his track bring followed in the snow during the winter. But, as already
said, for seven years he remained undiscovered, although the keepers of
the Duke were well aware that the game in the forests was being shot
down and disposed of in the town, and although villagers declared that
he had stayed and robbed them. These allegations were, however, never
proved. When he was at last captured, he was tried and sentenced to be
placed in the stocks at Wiesbaden in the market. Two days after he hung
himself in prison.

In the chapter on Souterrains I have spoken of the Adersbach and
Wickelsdorf rock labyrinths, without mentioning that they have served
as a haunt for robbers. I will now deal with them from this point of
view. Take a piece of veined marble, and suppose all the white veins of
felspar washed clear, leaving the block cleft in every direction from
top to bottom, and all the cleavages converging to one point and
through that one point only, on the Wickelsdorf side, is access to be
had to the labyrinth. But then conceive of the block thus fissured
towering three hundred feet or more sheer up, and having narrow rifts
as the passages by which the interior may be penetrated. In the
eleventh century sixty knights of the army of Boleslas III., when the
latter was driven back by the Emperor Henry II., took refuge in the
neighbourhood of Trauterau, and built there a castle, and subsisted on
robbery. The captain was a Pole named Nislaf. As they prospered and
multiplied, Nislaf divided his company, and placed one portion under
Hans Breslauer, who said to his men, "We have a treasure-house in these
rocks, only unhappily it is empty. We must pillage the merchants and
travellers, and fill it." Nislaf's party fell out with one another, and
one, named Alt, led off the discontented and built a fortress, the
remains of which may be traced at the highest point above the Adersbach
labyrinth. One day the crowing of a cock betrayed where Nislaf had his
abode, and troops were sent from Prague to clear the country. Most of
the bandits were captured and executed.

In the early part of the nineteenth century a notorious ruffian at the
head of a gang lurked in this neighbourhood. His name was Babinsky.

One evening, in the autumn of 1839, a carriage drew up at the outskirts
of the Dobrusch forest. A couple of ladies descended from it at the
door of a tavern, and asked the Jewish landlady if they could be
accommodated with supper and a bed. "We are afraid to proceed," said
one of the ladies, "for fear of Babinsky." "Babinsky," answered the
hostess, "has never shown his face here."

The ladies were shown into a plain apartment, but were made uneasy by
seeing a number of ferocious looking men in the passage and bar. "Who
are these?" asked the lady. "Only packmen," replied the landlady. After
supper the two ladies were shown into a large bedroom in which at one
side was an old-fashioned wardrobe. When left alone they examined this
article of furniture, and perceived an unpleasant odour issuing from
it. By some means or other they succeeded in forcing open the door,
when they perceived that at the bottom of the wardrobe was a trap-door.
This they raised, and to their dismay discovered a well or vault, out
of which the unpleasant odour issued. They now set fire to some
newspaper, and threw it down the hole, and to their unspeakable horror
saw by the flames a half-naked corpse. The ladies closed the trap and
considered. It was clear that they were in a murderous den, probably
controlled by Babinsky. The youngest lady, who had most presence of
mind and courage, descended the stairs, opened the guest-room, and said
to her coachman, "Hans, it is now half-past nine. This is the hour at
which Captain Feldegg, my brother-in-law, promised to start at the head
of a military escort to conduct us through the forest. We will leave as
soon as you can harness the horses to save him the trouble of coming on
so far as this."

Hans finished his glass of wine and rose. The men in the guest-room
looked at one another. Before half-an-hour had elapsed the carriage
rolled away, and next morning the police were communicated with. It
need hardly be said the ladies met with no escort.

A few days later a middle-aged, ragged fellow, with a grinding organ,
arrived at the inn, and called for a glass. In the guest-room were the
"packmen," and some equally wild-looking girls. The grinding organ was
put in requisition, and to its strains they danced till past midnight,
when Babinsky himself entered and the dancing ceased. The organ-grinder
had so ingratiated himself into the favour of the robbers, that they
resolved on retaining him as the musician of the band. He was conveyed
across country till they reached some such a rocky retreat as that of
Wickelsdorf or Adersbach, and there spent three weeks, only allowed to
accompany the band when they were going to have a frolic. On these
occasions they betook themselves to the resort agreed on, by twos and
threes. One day as some of them passed along a road, they saw a blind
beggar in the hedge, asking for alms. Some cast him coppers, and the
organ-grinder slipped into his hand a kreutzer, wrapped in a bit of

That night the tavern was surrounded by the military, and the whole
gang, along with Babinsky, was captured. This was on 15th October 1839.
The organ-grinder was the Prague detective Hoche.

The trial dragged on for several years; some of the robbers were
executed, some sentenced to ten, others to twenty years of
imprisonment. No evidence was produced that actually convicted Babinsky
of having committed, or been privy to the murders, and he was sentenced
to penal servitude for life.

I was rambling in Bohemia and tracing the Riesen Gebirge in 1886. On
reaching home I read what follows from the Vienna Correspondent of the
_Standard_. "At the little market town of Leitomischl in Bohemia,"
at the foot of the continuation of the Giant Mountains I had been
exploring, "an innkeeper and his wife and son have just been arrested
by the police on a charge of having, during the last twenty-five years,
murdered no fewer than eleven persons. The victims were all travellers
who had put up for a night at his house, and who had shown that they
were in possession of ready cash. For a considerable time the
suspicions of the police had been aroused by the sudden disappearance
of various visitors staying at this inn. Among the latest cases was a
cattle dealer who, after visiting the market, was returning home with
the proceeds of the sale of a herd of cattle, and a young baron who had
won a large sum in a public lottery. After putting up at the inn in
question, these men, like others before them, were never heard of
again. The very last case was that of the sudden disappearance of a
lady, who was undoubtedly murdered and robbed by the arrested persons."

I did in fact find the inns in Bohemia, in certain places infested, but
not with bandits and cut-throats.



A noteworthy distinction exists between the countless rock-tombs in
Palestine and those equally countless in Egypt. In the former there has
not been found a single inscription to record the name of the occupant,
whereas among the latter not one was unnamed.

The reason probably was that the Jew had no expectation of existing in
a state after death, and those of his family he put away in their holes
in the rocks had ceased to be to him anything more than a recollection.
All his hopes, his ambition, were limited to this life and to the
glorification of his nation. The highest blessing he could personally
reckon on was that his days might be long in the land which the Lord
his God would give him.

The horizon of the Egyptian, on the other hand, was full of
anticipation of a life of the spirit when parted from the body.
"Instead of the acres of inscriptions which cover the tombs of Egypt,"
says Dean Stanley, "not a single letter has been found in any ancient
sepulchre of Palestine."

When the Israelites escaped from the iron furnace of Egypt, they
carried with them so intense an abhorrence of all that savoured of
Misraim that they put away from them polytheism and repudiated
idolatry; they swept away as well the doctrine of life after death,
such as dominated the Egyptian mind, that they might focus all their
desires on this present life.

"Let me bury my dead out of my sight," expressed the feeling of the
Israelite before and after the Exodus.

The patriarchs had no conception of the resurrection of the body. The
idea was unknown to them. Their faith did not even embrace a belief in
the immortality of the soul. A passage in Job (xix. 25-27) has been
adduced to prove the contrary, but it does so only because it is a
mistranslation, and was manipulated by the translators according to
their own preconceptions. Even the word rendered Redeemer has no such
signification, it means "the Avenger of Blood." It was probably through
contact with other nations that had a wider hope, that slowly and
haltingly the conception of a prolonged existence after death made its
way among the Jews.

Christianity invested the body with a sacredness undreamt of under the
Old Covenant, and gave assurance, not of a continued existence after
death alone, but of a resuscitation of the body. "If in this life only
we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." "As in Adam
all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

The Jews entertained a strong aversion towards incineration, because
the latter was a pagan usage, and they gloried in their singularity. In
Rome they had their catacombs hewn out of the rock, and the Christians
followed their example.

A short time before the Christian era, Judea had been made tributary to
Rome by the victories of Pompey, and many thousands of Jews were
transferred to Rome, where a particular district was assigned to them
on the right bank of the Tiber. We know how tenaciously Jews clung to
their religion and to their traditional practices, and they sought to
lay their departed members in rocky sepulchres, such as those of their
distant country. And, in fact, outside the Porta Portese, the gate
nearest to their quarter of the town, a Jewish catacomb exists,
discovered in 1602, excavated in Monte Verde, that contains the tombs
of the Hebrews. From this all emblems exclusively Christian are absent.
There are representations of the Ark of the Covenant, of the seven-
branched candlestick. The lamps also were impressed with the same
symbols; and in a fragment of a Greek inscription is traced the word

The catacombs of the Christians resembled those of the Jews in every
other particular.

Three different kinds of stone compose the basis of the Roman Campagna;
the _tufa litoide_, as hard and durable as granite, used extensively for
building purposes; the _tufa granolare_, which is consistent enough to
retain the form given to it by excavators, but it is useless as building
material, and lastly the _Pozzuolana_, largely employed in the making
of Roman cement. Neither the _arenaria_ or sand quarries, nor those
for the building stone were ever employed for excavation to make catacombs,
whereas the _granular tufa_ has been so largely excavated for this purpose
that if the galleries were continued in one line, it has been reckoned
that they would stretch the entire length of the Italian peninsula.
They form a labyrinth of passages and cross-passages, and are moreover in
several stages called _piani_. But they do not extend far from the
Eternal City, not beyond the third milestone. The galleries have a breadth
of from two to four feet, and their height is governed by the nature of the
rock in which they are hewn. The walls on both sides are lined with graves
dug out of the rock, in a horizontal position, one above the other, like
bunks in a cabin. In each of these reposed one or more bodies. Here and
there the sequence is broken by a cross-passage that leads to a small
chamber, and in these chambers the sides, like those of the galleries, are
perforated with graves. All these graves were originally closed by slabs
of marble or tiles. This is about the only distinction between the graves
of the rich and those of the poor, of the slave from his master. Those
who desired to set some mark on the resting-place of a relative, to
distinguish it from those around, either had the name engraved upon the
slab, or rudely scratched with the sharp end of a trowel in the mortar by
which the slab was secured, or else a bit of ornamented glass or a ring or
coin was impressed in the mortar while it was still wet.

The martyrs in many cases were accorded a more elaborate grave. They
were laid in a sarcophagus in an _arcossolium_, and on the
covering slab the Holy Mysteries were celebrated on the anniversary of
their martyrdom. But sometimes a wealthy family had its own chamber,
_cubiculum_, reserved for its members.

The puticoli, of which mention has already been made as ash and refuse
pits, were of a totally different description. They were funnel-shaped
shafts sunk in the rocks, the narrow orifice being on the level of the
ground. Into this were precipitated the carcases of slaves and of the
poor. Indeed, they are still in use at Naples, when a cart with a
lantern may be followed till it reaches the place of interment, where a
hole gapes. The corpse that is enveloped in a shroud only, is shot down
into the hole, without its winding sheet, that is reserved for further

But to return to the catacombs. There are not only over thirteen in the
neighbourhood of Rome, but they are found also at Otricoli, Soriano,
Spoleto, Vindena, Chiusi, Lucca, Castellamare, Prata by Avellino,
Aquila, Puzzuoli, Baiae, Nola, Canesa, Tropea, Manfredonia, Venisa--this
last perhaps Jewish. There are five sets of them at Naples. Others in
Malta. In Spain at Ancona, Siviglia, and Elvira. In France is the
hypogee opening out of the early church of S. Victor at Marseilles. In
Germany is one at Treves. In Hungary at Fuenfkirchen. One in the Greek
island of Melos, at Alexandria also, and at Cyrene. One at Salamis in
Cyprus. The catacombs of Syracuse are like those of Rome, of vast
extent. They have lofty vaults very superior to the narrow gangways of
the cemeteries of Rome. A broad gallery runs athwart the whole
labyrinth, and from this branch out innumerable passages. One large
circular hall is lighted from above. Along the sides are niches that
served as sepulchres. Paintings as at Rome decorate the walls and
vaults, all of an early Christian character, representing men and women
in the attitude of prayer, the peacock, and the sacred monogram.

Numerous inscriptions from the tombs are collected in the museum of

The catacombs of Paris are not of ancient date as catacombs. They were
originally, like those of Syracuse, quarries for the construction of
the _calcaire grossier_ for building the city, down to the
seventeenth century. They extend under the communes of Vauregard,
Montrouge, and Gentilly on the left bank of the Seine, and it is said
that a tenth part of Paris is thus undermined. In 1774, and again in
1777, accidents occurred through the giving way of the crowns of the
caverns, bringing down with them the houses built above. In the
Boulevard Neuf a building near the Barriere d'Enfer suddenly sank into
a hole 80 feet deep, and this drew public attention to the danger.

Until the end of the reign of Louis XVI the principal burying-ground of
Paris had been the Cemetery of the Innocents. Originally situated
beyond the walls of the town, it had in due course been so surrounded
by the growing metropolis as to render it impossible to continue its
use as a cemetery, and in 1784 the practice of burying therein was
discontinued, the accumulated bones of Parisians were removed thence
with great precaution, on account of the insalubrity of the operation,
and they were deposited in the old quarries, and the catacombs were
solemnly consecrated for their reception by the Archbishop of Paris on
7th April 1787. A public market-place was then established on the site
of the former cemetery.

To protect the town from settling down into this necropolis, vast sums
were expended in substructures, so as to remove all danger of future

Gradually many other cemeteries that had been encroached upon, or
surrounded, were required to yield up their dead, so that it was
estimated that the catacomb contained the remains of three million
persons. The bodies of some victims of the Revolution were placed here
as well.

For many years the bones remained as they were thrown down on their
removal, in heaps, but after 1812 they were gradually arranged in a
fantastic manner, and turned into an exhibition for the curious. Sixty-
three staircases lead from the different parts of the town into the
catacombs, and are used by workmen and agents appointed to take care of
the necropolis. Twice in the year tours of inspection are made by the
surveyors, but visitors are no longer allowed access to the catacomb.
There have occurred cases of men having been lost in the intricate

The crypts in which were laid the bodies of saints gave occasion to
kings, princes, and great men employing like mausoleums.

The poor and mean might lie in the earth, but men of consequence must
have vaults in which the members of their families might be laid. What
hideous profanation of sepulchres would have been spared had the kings
of France been laid in the earth! They elected to repose in the crypt
of the splendid minster of S. Denis. When the Revolution broke out, the
Convention resolved that the tombs should be destroyed in accordance
with the motion of Barrere, 31st July 1793, "La main puissante de la
Republique doit effacer impitoyablement ces epitaphes superbes, et
demolir ces mausolees qui rappeleraient des rois l'effrayant souvenir;"
and "of the coffins of our old tyrants let us make bullets to hurl at
our enemies." The decree for the destruction was sacrilegiously
executed; the coffins were opened--Henri II. and his queen in their
robes, Henri IV. in a perfect state of preservation, Louis XIV. still
recognisable. The body of Turenne, with the fatal bullet visible in it,
was preserved as a peep-show. The rest were thrown into "fosses
communes" dug in the neighbourhood. By a singular coincidence, the work
of desecration was begun on 12th October 1793, the anniversary of the
day on which, one hundred years before, Louis XIV. had caused the
demolition of the tombs of the German Emperors at Spires. Not only so,
but the agent employed by the Convention was Hentz, a namesake of the
superintendent of the work of destruction carried out at Spires.

And thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges--Louis XI.
escaped. He had been buried in a crypt at Clery, and had been
forgotten. In 1889 the abbe Saget, cure of Clery, opened the vault and
found the body intact. Louis XI. had this sepulchre made for himself
during his lifetime. Now the visitor can take in his hand the head, and
muse over it on the treachery, cunning, and cruelty that once lodged in
that little brain-pan. Scott may have been incorrect in his history in
"Quentin Durward," but he was accurate in his characterisation of the

The instinct of immortality is implanted in the human breast. The
reverential care with which primeval man treated his dead, showed a
confusion of ideas between soul and body. His senses told him, and told
men in the historic period, that the body dissolved to dust, yet as a
temple of the spirit it was treated with respect. The soul to the
Egyptians was in some manner always related to the body. The "ka" must
have something to which to return, if not to the mummy, then to its

The dead in the first ages were given the caves in which they had
lived, but they began to press out the living, to monopolise all caves,
and afterwards artificial dwellings were reared to receive them, stone
structures, dolmens, that were heaped over with earth, to make them
resemble their former subterranean habitations. Sometimes these
structural caves consist of a series of chambers connected by a
passage, the so-called _allees couvertes_ of France, but of which
we have fine examples in Scotland and Ireland.

Where huge slabs of granite, limestone, or sandstone were not
available, the living scooped out underground cemeteries, closely
resembling their own underground dwellings.

In the Petit Morin are many of these that have been explored and
described by the Baron de Baye. I have already spoken of the habitable
caves there found. But there were sepulchral chambers excavated in the
chalk as well. These differ from the others in that the entrances are
blocked by a large slab, and in some instances have sculptured figures
in them of the goddess of Death, or of a stone hammer.

The Norsemen buried their sea-kings in the ships in which they had
sailed on their piratical expeditions. King Ring, when he slew Harold
Hilditoen, buried him in his chariot and with his horses. In Gaulish
tombs such chariots have been found. The Scandinavians seem to have had
but a confused idea of what death was; the dead were but in a condition
of suspended animation. Hervoer went to the isle of Samsey where, under
a huge cairn, lay her father Angantyr and his eleven brothers who had
fallen in single combat. Angantyr had been buried along with his sword

When she reached the grave mound she sang:--

"Wake thou up, Angantyr!
Wakens thee Hervoer
Thy only daughter.
Give from the grave mound
Freely thy good sword.

"Wake thou up Hervard!
Wake thou, Hjorvard!
Hrani, Angantyr!
Shake off your slumbers
Under the tree-roots."

From his grave Angantyr replies:--

"Hervoer, my daughter,
Wherefore disturb me?
Full of temerity
Madly thou seekest
Dead men to waken."

But she persists. She will have the sword. Whereupon the cairn gapes,
and she sees fire therein, and from out of the mound and flame the
sword is hurled forth and falls at her feet. [Footnote: "Hervarar
Saga," Copenh. 1785.]

Grettir the Strong broke into the tomb of Karr the Old, an ancient
Viking, to obtain his sword, and had to wrestle with the dead man
before he could wrench it from him. [Footnote: "Grettir Saga," Copenh.
1859, chap. xviii.] I will quote another case of cairn-breaking that
exhibits the same conception of suspended life in the grave, and that
in Christian times. I shall slightly condense the story. "Gest started
breaking into the mound in the day. At evening, with the help of the
priest, he had got down to make a hole in the vault, but next morning
it was all closed up again." To obviate this the priest watched all
night by the cairn furnished with holy water. Next morning when Gest
returned, the mound was as he had left it, and the two continued their
operations. Gest was let down into the cavity, and the priest and other
men held the rope. It was fifty fathoms down to the floor. Gest had a
candle in his hand, and he now lighted it and looked about him. He saw
a big ship with five hundred men in it, and they were all preparing to
start up, but as the light of the (consecrated) candle fell on them
none stirred, but they stared blankly and snorted. Gest smote at them
to cut off their heads, but it was as though his sword passed through
water. He cleared the dragon-ship of all its valuables and sent them up
by the rope. Then he searched for Raknar (the Seaking whose tomb it
was). He found a descent still further underground, and there he
discovered Raknar seated on a throne. He was frightful to look upon,
and the vault was both cold and stinking. A cauldron was under his feet
full of treasure, and he had a torque about his neck, very resplendent,
and a gold ring on his arm. He was in breastplate and helmet, and had a
sword in his hand. Gest went up to Raknar and saluted him courteously
in a song, and Raknar bowed in acknowledgment. Gest said to him: "I
cannot commend your appearance at present though I can praise your
achievements. I have come a long way in quest of you, and I am not
going away unrewarded for my trouble. Give me some of what you have,
and I will sing your renown far and wide." Raknar bowed his head to
him, and allowed him to remove his helmet and breastplate. But when
Gest attempted to deprive him of his sword, Raknar sprang up and
attacked Gest. He found him neither old nor stiff. And now the
consecrated candle went out. Raknar became so strong that Gest could
hardly bear up against him; and all the men in the ship now rose up.
Then Gest invoked his father Bard who appeared, but availed naught,
then he called upon Him who had created heaven and earth, and vowed to
accept the faith which King Olaf was preaching. Thereupon Olaf appeared
in a blaze of light, and Raknar collapsed, with all his men. His power
was gone from him. Whereupon Gest cut off his head and laid it at his
thigh. At the apparition of King Olaf all the dead men who had stood up
reseated themselves on their benches. After that Gest removed all the
treasures out of the tomb. [Footnote: "Bartetha Saga," Copenh. 1860,
chap. xx.] The cairn of the outlaw Gunnar was seen open occasionally.
"Sharphedin and Hogni were out of doors one evening by Gunnar's cairn
on the south side. The moon and stars were shining clear and bright,
but every now and then the clouds drove over them. Then all at once
they thought they saw the cairn standing open, and lo! Gunnar had
turned himself in the grave-mound and was looking at the moon. They
thought they saw four lights burning within, and none of them threw a
shadow. They saw Gunnar, that he was merry, and wore a right joyful
face. He sang a song, and that so loud it might have been heard though
they had been further off." The song of the dead man is given, and then
it is added: "After that the cairn was shut up again." [Footnote: "Nials
Saga," chap. lxxix., trans, by Dasent, Edin. 1861, chap. lxxvii.]

Helgi Hundingsbane was visited in his grave-mound by his wife Sigrun,
who spent a night there with him. He informed her that all her tears
fell on and moistened him. "Here Helgi have I prepared for thee in thy
mound a peaceful bed. On thy breast, chieftain, I will repose as I was
wont in thy lifetime." To which the dead Helgi replies: "Nothing is to
be regarded as unexpected, since thou, living, a king's daughter,
sleepest in a grave-mound, in the arms of a corpse." Next morning
Sigrun departs. [Footnote: "Helgi Kv. Hundingsbana," ii. 45-47.]

Saxo Grammaticus tells us a grimly tale. Asmund and Asvid, brothers in
arms, had vowed not to be separated in death. It fell out that Asvid
died, and was buried along with his horse and dog in a cairn. And
Asmund, because of his oath of friendship, had courage to be buried
with him, food being put in for him to eat. Now just at this time, Eric
(King of Sweden) happened to pass nigh the barrow of Asvid, and the
Swedes thinking it might contain treasure, broke into it with mattocks,
and saw disclosed a cave deeper than they had anticipated. To explore
this, a youth, chosen by lot, was let down in a basket. But Asmund,
when he saw the boy descend, cast him out, and got into it himself.
Then he gave the signal to draw up. Those above drew in the basket,
thinking by the weight that it contained much treasure. But when they
saw the unknown figure of a man emerge, scared by his strange
appearance, and thinking that the dead had come to life again, they
flung down the rope and fled. For Asmund looked ghastly, covered with
the corruption of the charnel-house. He tried to recall them, and
assured them that they were needlessly alarmed. And when Eric saw him,
he marvelled at the aspect of his bloody face, the blood flowing freely
and spurting out. Then Asmund told his story. He had been buried with
his friend Asvid, but Asvid came to life again every night, and being
ravenously hungry, fell on and devoured his horse. That eaten, he had
treated his dog in the same manner, and having consumed that he turned
on his friend, and with his sharp nails tore his cheek and ripped off
one of his ears. Asmund, who had no ambition to be eaten, made a
desperate resistance, and finally succeeded in driving a stake through
the body of the vampire. Out of delicacy due to old friendship, Asmund
did not have recourse to the usual means of quelling the posthumous
vivacity and vitality of a corpse, which was to cut off the head and
make the dead man sit on it. [Footnote: "Saxo Gramm.," V., chap, clxii-

The notion of suspended animation after death by no means expired with
paganism. When Severus, Bishop of Ravenna, was about to die, he went in
full pontificals to the tomb of his wife and daughter, had the stone
removed, and bade the dead ones make room for him between them, and
they obeyed. When S. Meven died, and his faithful friend Austell
followed him shortly after, the dead body moved on one side in the
sarcophagus to accommodate his companion. When an irreverent man struck
the coffin of S. Cadoc with a staff, the incensed Saint "roared like a
bull." In the Life of S. Germanus of Auxerre is a curious episode. A
pagan named Mamertinus being overtaken by night and a storm, took
refuge in a solitary building in which was a sarcophagus. He put his
knapsack under his head on the upper slab of the tomb, and lying down
there went to sleep. At midnight he was roused by a young man at the
door of the cell, who called out, "Corcodemus, Corcodemus, levite of
Christ, arise!" whereupon a voice answered from the tomb, "What do you
want?" The youth replied, "Bishop Perigrinus and Bishop Amator want you
at the church, where they are holding vigil." "I can't go," replied the
dead man, "I have a visitor here and I must show him hospitality."
After an interval the young man returned with two others and again
summoned Corcodemus, who now got out of his grave and said to one of
those who was at the door, "I will go with you, but you must abide here
and protect my visitor, for there is a bitch with her young, to the
number of seven, ready to tear him to pieces."

So late as 1680 a book appeared, _De Miraculis Mortuorum_, by L.
C. F. Garmann, published at Leipzig, opposing opinions not merely of
the ignorant but of the learned as to a kind of prolongation of
physical life in the dead--their issuing from the graves to suck the
blood of the living, their continuing their wonted avocations
underground, as a shoemaker being heard cobbling in his coffin, of
infants shedding their milk teeth and growing second teeth, of gnawing
their grave clothes, and many other horrible superstitions--showing how
persistent the belief was that the dead did continue to live in their
sepulchres. [Footnote: The confusion between the ghost and the corpse
is exemplified in "Hamlet."

Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws
To cast thee up again."

Act I. sc. 5.]

The idea that by symbolic burial a man became regenerate, that he put
off the old condition and entered into another that was new, by passing
through the earth or a hole in the rocks, was very general, and it has
continued to the present day in the modified form of enabling a
sufferer by this means to leave behind his infirmities and pass into a
condition of robust health, or of one charged with a crime clearing
himself by this ordeal.

The passing of a child through the earth was forbidden by the Canons of
Edgar (A.D. 969). [Footnote: Thorpe, "Ancient Laws and Institutes,"
Lond. 1840.] Women who had crying children dug a hole in the earth and
thrust the child through, drawing it out at a further hole. Men were
forbidden also to pass cattle through a hollow tree or _per terram
foratam transire_. In France weak children were passed through a
hollow stone of S. Tesse. In the crypt of Ripon Minster is a hole in
the rock through which young women crept to establish their innocence
when charged with incontinence. In Iceland a long turf was cut attached
to the soil at both ends, and such as would pass out of a condition of
hostility into one of brotherhood crawled through the gap. At Ilefeld,
in the Harz, is a holed stone called the Nadeloehr. Any one coming to
settle in the Harz for the first time is required to creep twice
through the perforation. In a good many places in Germany a similar
process is gone through to cure lumbago. Indra, the god of Thunder
among the Hindoos, drew a sick man thrice through a hole, and thereby
gave him health and new birth. The many Helfensteins that are found in
Germany were in like manner stones of Help, by traversing which the old
man was put off and the new man put on. [Footnote: Sepp,
_Altbayerischer Sagenschatz_, Munich, 1876, p. 87 _et seq_.]
Creeping through a holed stone, or under one suspended over another, is
still practised in Ireland as a cure for disorders. From passing under
the earth the custom passed to going through a split tree, the tree
representing the coffin. An interesting account of this usage will be
found in White's "Selborne."

And now let us turn to something else.

A religion of the worship of ancestors formed the ground-work of many
religions that in process of time have totally changed their character.
It lies at the root of the creeds and practices of most peoples in east
and west. It was in Greece before its religion passed into the stage of
the deification of natural forces. The Assyrians and Chaldeans clung to
it in Western Asia. The Egyptians in the valley of the Nile, the
Etruscans in Italy. At the other extremity of the world, the Chinese
and Anamites perform its rites to this day from Saghalien to Cambodia.

But in Western Asia and in Europe the primitive religion became
modified little by little. On the borders of the Tigris and the
Euphrates, as well as on the banks of the Nile, appeared the beginnings
of a different eschatology and a vague expectation of a resurrection of
the dead. The Hellenes and Romans, under the influence of philosophy,
acquired another conception of immortality, and their institutions,
issuing from collectivism, broke up into individualism.

In the extreme East, on the other hand, the ancient beliefs and
institutions remained stationary, and Buddhism was unable materially to
disturb them. It introduced its doctrine of Metampsichosis, its
Nirvana, and its hell; but these notions did not modify, they got mixed
up with the old conceptions in a jumble of heterogeneous and
contradictory beliefs. To the present day the family remains the unit
in the State; it is under the patriarchal despotism of the head of the
line, the priest of the domestic hearth, the proprietor for the time
being of the family estate. Every household has its particular gods and
protectors--the ancestors thus sublimated, and the master of the
family, the prospective god. The condition beyond the grave in no way
depends on conduct during life, it is determined by the descendants. If
the defunct be honoured, enriched with sacrifices, he becomes a
beneficent protector and is happy; neglected and abandoned, he avenges
his unfortunate condition on his forgetful posterity. To transmit the
family cult and the patrimonial field to an heir is the first duty of
man. We inherit unconsciously, not the physical character of our
ancestors only, but also their ideas and prejudices. Our practices are
often dictated by custom of very ancient date, not at all by reason or
by conviction. Expense and trouble are incurred to convey a corpse from
one end of Europe to England, that it may repose in the family vault.
We decorate our graves with flowers as though the dead appreciated
them; they are but the representatives of the ancient sacrifice to the
dead. We drink to the memory of the deceased as though pouring out
libations to them. Our tombstones are direct descendants of the menhir
and the obelisk, our altar-tombs of the dolmen, our family vault of the
primeval cave ossuary.

But in one point we have diverged very far from the path of old
beliefs. We have lost touch with the invisible world; we put our dead
out of sight and remember them no more, as though no part of the
community to which we belong, nor links in a chain of which every link
is living.

It was one of the sayings of Swedenborg, that the Aryan West had
something to learn from the Turanian East. It is so--the reverend
thought of the dead as still forming a part of the organism of the
family. With the revolt at the Reformation at the trade made out of the
feelings of the bereaved, the coining of their tears into cash to line
the pockets of the priests, came an unwarranted oblivion of the dead, a
dissociation from them. The thought that the departed had still a claim
on our sympathy and on our prayers was banished as smacking of the
discarded abuse. Prayer for the dying was legitimate and obligatory at
ten minutes to three, but prohibited at five minutes to three when the
breath had passed away. We have gone too far in this direction. We live
in an immaterial as well as in a material world. We are planted at the
overlap of two spheres, that which is spiritual and that which is
physical, and we gravitate so sensibly and so rapidly to the latter as
to lose touch with the former, and finally to disbelieve in the
existence of such a sphere.

The earth can radiate its heat, and receive and be steeped in the
falling dew only when the sky is not overcast; but our heavens are so
thick with clouds that our spirits can exhale no warmth into the
Infinite, nor drink in any balm descending from the Unseen. It is only
by detachment from the routine of vulgar life that we can enter into
any relation with the spiritual world. Political interests, social
obligations, financial concerns, choke the spiracles of our inner
being, and we lose all concern about what is supersensible, and hold no
communication with it. There are stars and planets overhead, Orion with
his spangled belt, Cassiopeia in her glittering chair, and Pleiades in
their web of silver, but we cannot see them because of the fog that
envelops us.

According to an Indian legend, the first men were bred like maggots in
the heart of the earth, but laying hold of some depending fibres drew
themselves up into the light of day. We reverse the order, and from the
bright spiritual sphere crawl underground by the thousand tendrils of
daily life.

The early Methodists and the Quakers broke away from the low material
conception of life common in their day, and asserted the reality of the
spiritual world, and the duty of living for it, as also the certainty
of holding intercommunion with the spirits. The 'Other worldliness' of
the mediaeval monastic mysticism had produced a revolt against a
conception of life that was false, its passive hostility to
civilisation, the hollowness of its ideal existence, its exaggerated
asceticism, its disparagement of the family life, and the result was
the swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction. The recoil came
with the Methodists. But we cannot live wholly in the world of spirit,
any more than we ought to live wholly in the world of matter, for our
nature is double, and no portion of it should be atrophied. Extreme
mysticism is as falsifying of our nature as is extreme worldliness. The
stupidity and charlatanism of modern spiritualism is the rebellion of
men and women against the materialism of present conception of life.
Where natural expression of a need is checked, it breaks out in a
disordered form, just as arrested perspiration and circulation of the
blood produce fever. If all recognition of supersensible existence be
denied, the assertion that it does, has its place, and makes its
demands on us, will call forth, if not a wholesome, then a diseased

We are intended to rise at times and breathe the atmosphere above us,
and then to descend again to the lower region. It is only the dab and
the common plaice that are content to lie ever on the bottom, and they
are but one-sided fish. They see with one eye only, the other has been
absorbed and become dead. Every creature has in it a promise of
something better than what it is. The slow-worm has rudimentary legs,
but they are never developed; the oyster has rudimentary eyes, but they
come to nothing. The larva has in it the promise of wings, and it grows
into a butterfly or dies a grub. The soul of man has its wings so
battered by its cage and is so enamoured of its groundsel and bit of
sugar, that even if the door be left open it will not look forth,
certainly not break away. Yet there is a world beyond the bars, and a
world peopled by happy spirits, and if it cannot at once join them, it
can call to them and unite with them in rapturous song. The old
turnspit was bred in the kitchen, and its daily task was to run in the
revolving drum that helped to roast the meat. Its legs became deformed
like those of the dachshund. It cared not to romp in the green meadows,
to run with the hounds, it waddled about the kitchen floor looking out
for the bones and scraps of fat cast to it, as payment for its toil.
And that is what we are becoming through unremitting neglect of our
spiritual avocation.

More than fifty years ago I was walking at night through lanes near
Dartmoor, and caught up a trudging postman who daily, nightly, measured
long distances. I soon found that he was a man who had his spiritual
eye open.

"Do you not feel lonely in these long walks in the dark?" I inquired.

"I am never alone," he replied, "the spirits are always with me."

"Your thoughts," I suggested.

"My thoughts are indeed within me, humming in my head. I must go forth
to meet the spirits. Look here," he went on, "the soul of man is like a
fly in a cobweb. It can't spread its wings till it breaks loose, and
then it very often carries away some of the threads with it."

Mr. Jacks gives us, in his "Human Studies," one of a shepherd on the
Wolds, the counterpart of my postman. There be more of these men than
is generally supposed. But he who would deal with this subject would be
constrained to say with the knight in the "Canterbury Pilgrims"--

"I have, God wot, a large field to ere
And wayke ben the oxen in the plough."

I have broken away from my caves, and have rambled--I know not whither.

Vive, vale: si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum.
--HORACE, Epist. i. 6.


Owing to the great kindness of Mr. Wm. Stevenson, author of "Bygone
Nottinghamshire," I am able to give some additional matter that must be
of interest, with which he has supplied me.

(p. 32.) "Your account reminds me of a rock excavation of great extent
with turns and windings on the old time 'Way to the Gallows,' in
Nottingham, where a number of cave-dwellings existed down to a century
ago. The last tenant was a sandman who stabled his ass in the cave
behind. He passed the greater part of his life in selling sand about
the town, carrying it in a sack across the back of his ass. Time wore
him out, and he had to enter the workhouse. His cave was then explored,
and it was found of enormous extent, in two storeys. It is supposed to
have been mainly wrought day after day and year after year by this
sandman. It is still to be seen, but dangerous to explore. One party of
investigators a few years ago carried a string with them as a clue by
means of which to find their way out again. There is a story of it
becoming a lurking place of robbers after the sandman's day. A number
of the excavations under the town are held to have been made or
extended by the tenants above, obtaining their supply of sand from
below. Formerly floors were sanded."

(p. 35.) Puticoli. Slave pits have been found in South Africa. "When
the old town hall and town prison at Nottingham was demolished a few
years ago, and the site was excavated for the advance of the Great
Central Railway, seven or more pits were found, one with a rusty chain
in it. They were about four feet in diameter at the top, and seven feet
at the bottom, with dished floors. They varied from about twelve to
eighteen feet in depth. We had no knowledge of anything of the kind in
local history. Two others were found a distance away that could have
had no connection with the prison site."

Formerly at Monte Carlo the bodies of suicides were thrust into the
holes that riddle the limestone rock and gave it the name of Les
Spelunges. But the conditions became insanitary, and Italian workmen
were employed to get them out, and carry them away to sea and there
sink them.

(p. 50.) "Formerly it was the way in which wells were ascended and
descended in Nottingham, by means of notches cut in the side for the
insertion of toes and fingers. I have had to do with the exploration of
the base of Edward IV.'s Tower at Nottingham Castle, destroyed with
gunpowder during the Civil War. In one corner of the basement we found
a well filled with rubbish. This the workmen cleared out for over fifty
feet, and all the way down were notches in the wall, and the men went
up and down like monkeys, using no other means for ascending and

(p. 83.) Ventholes for smoke were common in Nottingham, Sneinton, and

(p. 82.) SOUTERRAINS. Mr. Stevenson writes relative to the pits before
the entrance doors of refuges: "Some years ago I had a part in
exploring the Norman Keep of Scarborough Castle, erected early in the
reign of Henry II.; we worked under the entrance staircase, and found a
pit arched over at a later period and covered with a stone landing, but
originally it must have been a pit or well in front of the only
entrance door. It was partly cleared out of fallen masonry and rubbish,
but not properly explored. Overhead was a shoot for stones or molten
lead. It would appear that the pit system was abandoned about the close
of the Middle Ages."

(p. 98.) "It is fairly well determined in the 'History of Nottingham'
that the Roman Catholics in Elizabeth's and James I.'s reign met
secretly in the caves in the rock of the town. They were also refuges
of the Dissenters in the days of Charles II."

(p. 153.) NOTTINGHAM. "There have been several falls of the rock, both
at Nottingham itself and at Sneinton. Mortimer's Hole, under the
Castle, is only one of four that are known to exist, three of which can
be traversed, one wholly and two in part; one of these latter is by
many regarded as the true historical passage. It started at the meadow
level, and was partially closed by a wall; the rock wasted with time,
and the thin wall gave way, bringing down a vast amount of rock above,
and leaving the cavern in this part an open alley. The cave was then
converted into malt offices, which yet remain in the higher and perfect
part. The rock-caverns in the park, the old cell of S. Mary-le-rocke,
formed possibly the parent of Lenton priory, just as those at Liguge
were the parent of the abbey on the further side of the river. The rock
monastery, the 'Papists' Holes' has long ago lost most of its front by
falls of rock and the destruction wrought by the Roundheads. A huge
artificial pillar has of recent years been erected to prevent further
falls. A fall in 1829 brought down from 1000 to 1400 tons, a mass some
seven or eight feet thick. On 10th May in the same year, evidently due
to an earth tremor, a like great fall occurred at the rock habitations
at Sneinton. The inhabitants escaped as by a miracle. A dog barked
furiously in the night, and the inhabitants of the cave dwellings
rushed forth, fancying that robbers were at work there. In 1830 a
portion of the town cliff fell, as did also some of that in the park.

"The county or sheriff prison for Notts and Derby was, as far as can be
traced back by records, half-way up the over ninety feet cliff of the
town of Nottingham, and was entered from the King's hall at the top.
Light holes were made in the face of the rock to the south. In these
vaults, now closed, men and women were confined like wild beasts, on
straw. The prior and monks were enclosed here in the time of Henry
VIII., and were marched thence to the gallows. The inhabitants of the
lower part of the town under the prison complained of the ordure
exuding from the prison and trickling down the rock. There are records
of marvellous escapes of prisoners, both male and female, down the face
of the rock, till comparatively recently. As may well be supposed,
gaol-fever raged in these horrible dens. One vault is still shown under
the castle. Leland and Camden both speak of an underground dungeon in
which tradition (this time falsely) says that King David of Scotland
was confined, and on the walls of which with a nail he carved a
crucifix. These travellers do not say that they actually saw it; but
Thomas Bailey, in publishing his 'Annals of Notts,' employed a local
artist to depict the scene. After the erection in the seventeenth
century of the Italian castle, the vault was converted into a wine-
cellar. Leland says that there had been three chapels in the castle,
but he does not say where.

"In the town of Nottingham are two rock-hewn stairs. The most important
is called the 'Long Stairs,' they begin, cut out of the perpendicular
face of the rock, at its highest point, landing opposite the old mother
church. The steps are now faced with harder material than the local
sandstone. On the side there are houses, and indeed houses on the tops
of houses, a tenant at a lower level, another at a higher, each
obtaining entry from the stairs. The 'Short Stairs' are not wrought in
the face of the cliff, and have houses on both sides. These are clearly
in a prehistoric quarter of the town, where was once a hill-fort."

(p. 159.) FORD CASTLES. The ancient ford at Retford, Notts, was more
north than the present, and beside it is a red cliff largely cut into
with joist-holes, &c., for floors and roofs, and give indications of
former habitations.

Radford, a name borrowed by the priory, _alias_ Worksop, is a hill
of red sandstone that dominated the ford. On the hill is an

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