ePub 版

Al Sakra, or the stone of unction. There is a strange belief connected with the well or hollow beneath this long venerated rock, for there the souls of the departed are believed to rest between death and resurrection, and there it was thought the living might hold converse with the dead. But although in Eastern tradition, both Christian and Mussulman, supernatural attributes are connected with this object, it is difficult to identify it with the pillar set up by the patriarch; and in truth the European tradition of the Stone of Destiny ascends to an elder source, and avers that it-the real stone of prophecy-had left Judæa long before the destruction of Jerusalem. At all events, authentic Jewish history does not, so far as we know, connect with the sacred rock in honour of which the dome was built, a prophecy or belief resembling that which is connected with the coronation-stone.

But an Irish tradition derived by us through Scotland, and which first makes its appearance in the old traditions of Ireland, avers that the rock or pillar of Jacob, to the possession of which by a certain tribe destiny amexed the sceptre of the kingdom in which it should rest, was brought from Judæa to Spain by a chieftain or patriarch, who founded a kingdom there, and was taken from that country to Ireland by the king or chief of the Scoti-a very ancient people, who were undoubtedly in possession of the island at the time of the introduction of Christianity, and to whom some historians attribute a Phænician origin. According to the legend, this conqueror-a very mythical personage, by-the-by-was contemporary with Romulus and Remus, and came to Ireland with the Stone of Destiny to found his kingdom, about the time of the foundation of Rome, or, seven hundred and fifty years before Christ. A thousand years before, according to Biblical chronology, the King of king's promised to Jacob the land on which he set up the stone of Bethel, and dominion to his posterity through all the world.

Now a fatal stone, regarded as a kind of national palladium, is mentioned in Irish manuscripts of the sixth century of our era, by the name of the LIA FAIL, or Stone of Destiny ; and that a stone which stood upon

the Hill of Tara, and was used at the inauguration of the Irish kings, and was known as the Labheireg, or Stone of Destiny, existed in A.D. 560, appears from the fact that the stone and the hill itself fell in that year under the anathema of the Christian clergy; the stone (according to Sir John Ware, in his “ Antiquities of Ireland”), having been honoured as a kind of national palladium before the conversion of the natives, and having become a focus of heathen superstitions. A


prophetical verse referring to this stone exists in the old Irish language, in a manuscript of the sixth century, and is to the effect that the LIA Fail shall accompany the sceptre of the kingdom. This prophetical verse is referred by Borlase, in his “ Antiquities of Cornwall,” to a Druidical origin. Be that as it may, the legends of the early Irish historians relating to this stone are of the most romantic kind, and connect it with shadowy kings of the ancient royal race of Ireland.

The old Irish prophecy connected with that stone, and the prophecy connected in Scottish belief with the FATALE MARMOR of Scone and Westminster, to which Scottish medieval writers transfer the regal attributes of the LIA FAIL, have not the same form in the two countries ;


but it cannot be doubted that the Scottish tradition was derived from Ireland, and the prophecy itself looks of Oriental origin. The Persians had their Artizoe, or “Fatal Stone," which, from the notice of it given by Pliny, seems to have been a kind of ordeal stone, for it was used to point out the most deserving candidate for the throne. Then, too, there is the sacred Black Stone, which is considered by the Seids to be their palladium ;* and (it is curious ethnologically, as well as observable in illustration of this point, that) a tribe of Indians of South America reverenced a sacred and Fatal Stone—described as a large mass of very rich grey silver ore--which they guarded and removed as they were driven from place to place by the Spaniards, and which was the first thing that the subjugated natives stipulated to retain.

It does not appear at what time the race of Scoti who migrated from Ireland to the hills of Argyll first possessed the Fatal Stone that was preserved at Scone until King Edward I. removed it to Westminster. The patriotic romances of some mediæval Scottish writers—ingeniously avoiding altogether the Irish tradition of the Stone of Destiny-pretend that King Fergus, three hundred and thirty years before Christ, brought with him into Scotland the stone seat of royalty on which the kings had been inaugurated in Ireland, and on which his successors were wont to be crowned; and they add, more credibly, that the same stone was afterwards placed by King Kenneth in the Abbey of Scone about the year of our Lord, 850. Scone was, from very early times in Scottish history, the place of convention—the Scottish Hill of Tara—and upon its Folk-mote eminence the kings were accustomed to be crowned until the time of Kenneth; after which epoch the kings of Scotland, down to the time of Robert Bruce, received the crown sitting upon that stone, in the old monastery of Scone, which was a foundation of unknown antiquity by followers of the rule of St. Columba, who were called Culdees, and derived their institution from Iona. I

There can be no doubt that this ancient marble seat was thus used for the inauguration of the Scottish kings under the idea that it was the LIA Fail, or Stone of Destiny, of their Irish progenitors, which had been brought originally from the East. But the existence of the LIA FAIL upon the Hill of Tara may be traced, as we have said, from, at all events, the sixth century downward ; and there this stone-which is described by Mr. Petrie as an upright pillar nine feet high-at present stands near its original locality--the talisman of the kingdom in the old traditions of the country. The Fatale Marmor of Scone is found to have been only a substitute. When the Irish colonists of Scotland, to give stability to their new kingdom, begged the Lia Fail as a loan from the mother

* It is mentioned in 1851, by the distinguished officer who was then Lieut.Colonel Williams, the British Commissioner for the settlement of the Turkish boundary question, in a letter from Hamadan, Persia, for which see Literary Gazette, 12th of April, 1851. The stone has a long story attached to it.

† These facts are stated by Mr. Empson, in his account of some South American figures in gold, obtained from the sacred lake of Guataveta, in Colombia.Archæol. Æliana, vol. ii. p. 253.

I Scone was founded or re-formed anew by Alexander I., who about A.D. 1115 brought thither canons regular of St. Augustine from the house of St. Oswald of Nostell, near Pontefract.


country, she, with more than Hibernian prudence, retained the original, and sent over a substitute, or at most a portion--a loan which the colonists accepted in faith, and, with Scottish care, prized too highly ever to return ; and they seem to have transferred to it the prophecy that prince of Scotia's race should govern wheresoever it should be found. Buchanan, the Scottish historian, identifies it with the stone which had travelled to Scotland, through Ireland, from Spain, and speaks of it as “the rude marble stone to which popular belief attributed the fate of the kingdom.”

And here our readers may like to see the lithological description which has been given of this mysterious object. It is a sandy granular stone, a sort of débris of sienite, chiefly quartz, with felspar, light and reddish-coloured, and also light and dark mica, with some dark green mineral, probably hornblende, intermixed; some fragments of a reddishgrey clay-slate are likewise visible in this strange conglomerate, and there is also a dark brownish-red coloured flinty pebble of great hardness. The stone is of an oblong form, but irregular, measuring twenty-six inches in length, nearly seventeen in breadth, and ten inches and a half in thickness. It is curious that the substances composing it accord (as remarked by Mr. Brayley) in the grains with the sienite of Pliny, which forms the so-called Pompey's Pillar at Alexandria. The Latin rhyme in which the old prophecy was perpetuated

Ni fallat fatum Scoti quocunque locatum

Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidemis said to have been engraved by order of Kenneth, but there is no trace of an inscription upon the stone. If the distich was engraved at that early time in the history of the coronation-stone, it was probably on a metal plate, of which there is some trace upon the stone, or on the wooden chair in which that king is recorded to have had the stone enclosed.

The story of its removal to Westminster, in A.D. 1296, by King Edward I., is too well known to need repetition. “ The people of Scotland,” says Rapin, “had all along placed in that stone a kind of fatality. They fancied that only whilst it remained in their country the state would be unshaken ; and for this reason Edward carried it away to create in the Scots a belief that the time of the dissolution of their monarchy was come, and to lessen their hopes of recovering their liberty.” As an evidence of his absolute conquest, Edward therefore removed the regalia of the Scottish kings, and gave orders that the famous stone which was regarded as the national palladium should be conveyed to Westminster Abbey, where, accordingly, it was solemnly offered by the kneeling conqueror to the holiest of his name; and there, enclosed in the chair of King Edward and used at all coronations, it has ever since remained, notwithstanding that in the year 1328 it was an article of the treaty,

of by the great council at Northampton that it should be restored to the Scots. By writ of privy seal in that year, Edward III. directed the abbot and monks of Westminster to deliver it to the sheriffs of London for the

purpose of being restored to Scotland, but the Scots were unable to obtain the performance of this stipulation. They made another at


peace authorised tempt to bring back their talisman, by stipulating, in the year 1363, that the English should deliver it up to them, and that the King of England should come to be crowned upon it at Scone; but in this stipulation, also, the Scots were disappointed.

Whatever may have become of the original chair in which Kenneth is said to have had the stone enclosed, and which does not appear to have been brought into England at all, it is certain, say the historians of Westminster Abbey, that the present coronation-chair was made for the reception of this highly-prized relic of ancient customs and sovereign power. In A.D. 1300, as appears by an entry in the Wardrobe Accounts

, Master Walter the Painter was employed in certain work “ on the new chair in which is the stone from Scotland,” and he bought gold and divers colours for the painting of the same.

The chair was once entirely covered with gilding and ornamental work, and the design is of Edward's time. Down to the period when Camden wrote his history, the lines

Si quid habent veri vel Chronica, cana fidesve,

Clauditur hac Cathedra nobilis ecce Lapis;
Ad caput eximius Jacob quondam Patriarcha

Quem posuit, cernens numina mira poli.
Quem tulit ex Scotis spolians quasi Victor honoris

Edwardus primus, Mars velat Armipotens
Scotorum Domitor, noster validissimus Hector,

Anglorum Decus, et Gloria Militiæwere to be seen on a tablet that hung by this royal stone in the chapel of the Confessor at Westminster; and that tablet, as the historians of the abbey remark, is the most ancient document known in which the stone is called “the Stone of Jacob.” Whether that venerable relic is at this moment in the dome of the rock at Jerusalem, upon the hill at Tara, or in Westminster Abbey, we do not undertake to decide ; but if for nearly seven centuries the posterity of King Malcolm Canmore and St. Margaret, the great-niece of Edward the Confessor and representative of the Saxon line, continued to reign over Scotland, the Scots have long recognised in the sovereign of Great Britain a representative of their ancient line of kings, and under the gentle sway of Queen Victoria may be well content with their share in the government of the United Kingdom, and with our possession of the Fatal Stone.

W. S. G.










IF that venerable Bengal tiger, stretched fast asleep in a glorious easychair before a blazing fire, could have had the least idea of the three cabs rattling along, as described in the last chapter, his dreams would have been far less delightful than they were. That they were pleasant enough in his present blissful ignorance, might be inferred from the rich calm which pervaded his ample and glowing countenance. The rain poured, the wind blew, and the cold pierced without. Delicious consciousness ! for the warmth and luxury within were rendered greater blessings by the contrast. The hungry beggar whined through the streets. Exhilarating sound—for below stairs a dinner of sumptuous viands was waiting to be served. The mighty world of poor and needy were shivering and shaking, lamenting and sickening at heart. Oh? unutterable source of gratification to be able to mutter complacently, " Ah, poor wretchespoor wretches-sorry for them !" and looking round, the while, a handsomely-furnished room, to stir a lordly fire into a blaze, which should go roaring up the chimney in defiance of the troubles which had full mastery over those without doors on this most inclement night.

A knock-a loud, aggravating knock—awakening prematurely from sleep the dreaded monarch of the mansion! The old East Indian merchant roused himself with a most startling and portentous growl, the which had the incomer, Mr. Christian, heard, he would, probably, fairly have turned tail and fled. But as it did not reach him, he presently stood quaking before his ancient and hot-tempered friend.

Stood quaking. For how to narrate that which he had come to tell to bring it out by degrees-to soothe the recipient of the dose during its administration,

-were matters which he had, indeed, pondered with the utmost earnestness as he had been borne along in the cab, but with no other result than the becoming more bewildered and cast down.

The consequence was, that he had scarce said two words to the awfully irritable old gentleman, the glare of whose great yellow and green eyes by no means encouraged him, before he was arrested by the more straightforward than courteous exhortation, “ to tell the truth at once, and have out whatever confounded disaster there might have happened, without delay.

Thus enjoined, poor Mr. Christian blurted out, in an instant, the fact that he feared Miss Thorneley, while stopping at his house, had become engaged to Mr. Henry Marsden ; and that

But it was some time before he could get any further, for such an awful roar of anger followed this announcement that the butler, in the kitchen, who had just uncorked a prime bottle of old port as ia solace on this memorable evening, let it fall in mortal terror.

« 上一頁繼續 »