The classical fiction, for example, of the satyrs, and other subordinate deities of wood and wild, whose power is rather delusive than formidable, and whose supernatural pranks intimate rather a wish to inflict terror than to do hurt, was received among the northern people, and perhaps transferred by them to the Celtic tribes. It is an idea which seems common to many nations. The existence of a satyr, in the silvan form, is even pretended to be proved by the evidence of Saint Anthony, to whom one is said to have appeared in the desert. The Scottish Gael have an idea of the same kind, respecting a goblin called Ourisk, whose form is like that of Pan, and his attendants something between a man and a goat, the nether extremities being in the latter form. A species of cavern, or rather hole, in the rock, affords to the wildest retreat in the romantic neighbourhood of Loch Katrine, a name taken from classical superstition. It is not the least curious circumstance, that from this silvan deity the modern nations of Europe have borrowed the degrading and unsuitable emblems of the goat's visage and form, the horns, hoofs, and tail, with which they have depicted the Author of Evil, when it pleased him to show himself on earth. So that the alteration of a single word would render Pope's well-known line more truly adapted to the fact, should we venture to read,
" And Pan to Satan lends his heathen horn."
We cannot attribute the transference of the attributes of the northern satyr, or Celtic ourisk, to the arch-fiend, to any particular resemblance between the character of these deities and that of Satan. On the contrary, the ourisk of the Celts was a creature by no means peculiarly malevolent, or formidably powerful; but rather a melancholy spirit, which dwelt in wildernesses far removed from men. If we are to identify him with the Brown Dwarf of the Border moors, the ourisk has a mortal term of life, and a hope of salvation, as indeed the same high claim was made by the satyr who appeared to St. Anthony. Moreover, the Highland ourisk was a species of lubber fiend, and capable of being overreached by those who understood philology. It is related of one of these goblins, which frequented a mill near the foot of Loch Lomond, that the miller, desiring to get rid of this meddling spirit, who injured the machinery by setting the water on the wheel when there was no grain to be grinded, contrived to have a meeting with the goblin by watching in his mill till night. The ourisk then entered, and demanded the miller's name, and was informed that he was called Myself; on which is founded a story almost exactly like that of Outis in the Odyssey, a tale which, though classic, is by no means an elegant or ingenious fiction, but which we are astonished to find in an obscure district, and in the Celtic tongue, seeming to argue some connexion or communication between these remote Highlands of Scotland and the readers of Homer in former days, which we cannot account for. After all, perhaps, some churchman more learned than his brethren, may have transferred the legend from Sicily to Duncrune, from the shores of the Mediterranean to those of Loch Lomond. I have heard it also told, that the celebrated freebooter, Rob Roy, once gained a victory by disguising a part of his men with goat-skins, so as to resemble the ourisk, or Highland satyr.
There was an individual satyr called, I think, Meming, belonging to the Scandinavian mythology, of a character different from the ourisk, though similar in shape, whom it was the boast of the highest champions to seek out in the solitudes which he inhabited. He was an armourer of extreme dexterity, and the weapons which he forged were of the highest value. But as club-law pervaded the ancient system of Scandinavia, Meming had the humour of refusing to work for any customer save such as compelled him to it with force of arms. He may be, perhaps, identified with the recusant smith who fled before Fingal from Ireland to the Orkneys, and being there overtaken, was compelled to forge the sword which Fingal afterwards wore in all his battles, and which was called the Son of the dark-brown Luno, from the name of the armourer who forged it.*
From this it will appear that there were originals enough in the mythology of the Goths, as well as Celts, to furnish the modern attributes ascribed to Satan in later times, when the object of painter or poet was to display him in his true form, and with all his terrors. Even the genius of Guido and of Tasso have been unable to surmount this prejudice, the more rooted, perhaps, that the wicked are described as goats in Scripture, and that the devil is called the old dragon. In Raffaei's famous painting, the Archangel Michael binding Satan, the dignity, power, and angelic character expressed by the seraph, form an extraordinary contrast to the poor conception of a being who ought not, even in that lowest degradation, to have seemed so unworthy an antagonist. Neither has Tasso been more happy, where he represents the divan of darkness, in the enchanted forest, as presided over by a monarch having a huge tail, hoofs, and all the usual accompaniments of popular diablerie. The genius of Milton alone could discard all these vulgar puerilities, and assign to the Author of Evil the terrible dignity of one who should seem not " less than archangel ruined." This species of degradation is yet grosser when we take into consideration the changes which popular opinions have wrought respecting the taste, habits, powers, modes of tempting, and habits of tormenting, which are such as might rather be ascribed to some stupid superannuated and doting ogre of a fairy tale, than to the powerful-minded demon, who fell through pride and rebellion, not through folly or incapacity.
* The -weapon is often mentioned in Mr. MacPherson's paraphrases; but in the Irish ballad, which gives a spirited account of the debate between the champion and the armourer, it is nowhere introduced.
Having, however, adopted our present ideas of the devil as they are expressed by his nearest acquaintances, the witches, from the accounts of satyrs, which seem to have been articles of faith both among the Celtic and Gothic tribes, we must next notice another fruitful fountain of demonological fancies. But as this source of the mythology of the middle ages must necessarily comprehend some account of the fairy folk, to whom much of it must be referred, it is necessary to make a pause before we enter upon the mystic and marvellous connexion supposed to exist between the impenitent kingdom of Satan and those merry dancers by moonlight.