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Rainbow barbaric fancy sees the ladders and bridges whereby the departed pass from earth to heaven. So we find in the lower and higher culture alike the beautiful conceptions of the chemin des âmes, the Red Man's road of the dead to their home in the sun; the ancient Roman path of, or to, the gods; the road of the birds, in Lithuanian myth, because the winged spirits flit thither to the free and happy land. In prosaic contrast to all this, it is curious to find among the people living in England the Milky Way described as Watling Street! That famous road, which ran from Tichborough through Canterbury and London to Chester, now gives its name to a narrow, bustling city street. But who the Waetlings were and why their name was transferred from Britain to the sky, we do not know, although the fact is plainly enough set down in old writers, foremost among whom is Chaucer. In his "House of Fame (II, 427) he says:


'Now,' quod he tho, cast up thyn ye;
See yonder, lo, the Galaxye,

The which men clepe the Milky Wey,
For hit is white: and somme, parfey,
Callen hit Watlyngë strete.'

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-Selected from EDWARD CLODD'S "The Birth and Growth of Myth," published in Knowledge.


I HAD a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth.

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went―and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:

And they did live by watchfires-and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings-the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos and their mountain-torch :
A fearful hope was all the World contained;
Forests were set on fire-but hour by hour
They fell and faded-and the crackling trunks
Extinguished with a crash-and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;

And others hurried to and fro, and fed

Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past World; and then again

With curses cast them down upon the dust,

And gnashed their teeth and howled: the wild birds


And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,

And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawled
And twined themselves among the multitude,

Hissing, but stingless-they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again :—a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no Love was left;
All earth was but one thought-and that was Death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang

Of famine fed upon all entrails-men

Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meager by the meager were devoured,
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept

The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,

And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress-he died.
The crowd was famished by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,

And they were enemies: they met beside

The dying embers of an altar-place

Where had been heaped a mass of holy things

For an unholy usage; they raked up,

And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath

Blew for a little life, and made a flame

Which was a mockery; then they lifted up

Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld

Each other's aspects-saw, and shrieked, and died— Even of their mutual hideousness they died,

Unknowing who he was upon whose brow

Famine had written Fiend. The World was void,

The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless-
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.

The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropped
They slept on the abyss without a surge--

The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The Moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them-She was the Universe.



I AM often asked, when I have shown how (so far as science can judge) all the orbs in space seem to tend towards death, whether there may not be some way in which this seeming tendency may be counterbalanced by some restorative forces. When one has to reply that science does not at present recognize any such forces, that the theories devised by Mattieu, Williams, Siemens, and others to that end are not only not supported by scientific evidence, but directly opposed to it, the idea. seems commonly entertained that science rejects the belief in any restriction of the energies which seem passing continually away from suns and planets. Yet, in reality, such a reply means nothing of the sort. On the contrary, it is as certain that science has shown nothing against the existence of any restorative forces, as it is

that science has as yet shown nothing in favor of such a process. Science simply knows nothing either one side or the other. And I think if men rightly understood the limitations of scientific research, they would see no reason to wonder that science should be thus unable to reply to a question so exceedingly difficult. Our knowledge has grown more and more, and is ever growing more and more, till it seems as though it would eventually extend over all time and all space; yet it is in reality, and ever must be, extremely limited compared with what actually is. In regard to the question of the seeming wasting away, slowly, yet surely, of the life of every sun and every planet, we are much in the position of creatures whose whole lives, lasting but a few days, perhaps, would be, if placed beside a running river. They should learn, if they had the power of reasoning, that the waters of the river were passing continually away in one direction; and they would be apt to infer that unless the store of water were infinite, the supply must at length be exhausted. If we imagine them combining together information derived from others of their kind, up stream and down stream within limited distances, and also storing up, for what would seem to them a long period of time, the information gathered by generation after generation, they would learn that the river was broader lower down and narrower higher up, and that it had remained (on the whole) without appreciable change. They might even, we may imagine, learn how the river was fed by smaller streams, how it flowed into a large river, that into yet larger rivers, and so (possibly they might learn to guess) into a sea of extent, to their minds, practically infinite. Still their science could give no answer to the question

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