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wishing to describe to his friends at home the appearance of ice floating on the waters of the ocean, which they had never seen, compared it to the shoals of Jelly-fish which fringed their shores in a living girdle of moving, white, half-transparent matter.

In spite of the ridicule of Strabo and others, Pytheas must have been what, in these days, we should call a scientific traveller, and the little that we know of his labours makes us feel that, whatever the ancients may have thought of him, he has given us the report of a careful and correct observer. We are, moreover, justified in putting confidence in him, as we know that he was one of the first who determined the position of the north pole in the heavens; and although he must have had very imperfect instruments, he also fixed the latitude, or true geographical position of places so correctly, that with all our better means of observing, we have only been able in the present day to detect an error of forty-two seconds in the latitude which he gives for Massilia, the present Marseilles.

Baal's worship in the North.Of late years many learned writers of Scandinavia have made the history and travels of Pytheas a special object of their studies, and foremost amongst them stands Professor Nilsson of Stockholm, who has discovered many proofs of the presence of the Phænicians in northern Europe in very ancient times. In a work which, although it is very learned, is also most charming, he has told us that there was a time when the people of Scandinavia worshipped the god Baal of the Phoenicians, and let their young children, as well as their cattle, and all that they held precious, be passed through the fire of Moloch. They set up images of the sun, which they represented under different forms, as circles, wheels, pillars, and similar figures, and they used great metal kettles in their sacrifices, remains of which have been dug up in different parts of northern Europe, and are exactly like those described in 1 Kings c. vii., as being made by Hiram, the Syrian, for Solomon's Temple. If any other proof were wanting that the ancient Phoenicians visited Scandinavia, and found people living there, so many ages ago, such proof is given us in the fact that the superstitions of the inhabitants of those countries still show traces of the old Phænician worship of Baal. Remains of this faith may also be traced nearer our own homes; for, till very recent times, the country people in some parts of Ireland and Scotland, and even of England, had the custom of celebrating the return of midsummer-night on the 24th of June, by dancing together round a large fire lighted on some high hill, or running three times through the fire to secure the fulfilment of a wish. These midsummer-night dances, which were known in Britain as Beltanes, are nothing but the remains of an earlier form of Baal-worship, practised by the ancestors of the people, and followed long after their real meaning had been forgotten. In our word yule we have another vestige of the former worship of Baal, or the sun, amongst the races from whom we have derived our language, for yule once meant wheel, and the yuletide of the ancient Northmen was the winter solstice in December, when the young men, with loud cries, rolled a large wheel downhill to celebrate the death of the old and the birth of the new year; a wheel being, in their eyes, an emblem of the year, or the sun. Long after Christmas-day had taken the place of the old yule-tide, and men had become Christians, they still continued their December wheel-runnings without knowing why, but simply because their forefathers had done it before them. Here, then, we have a very strong proof that in ancient times, before Christianity became the religion of the North, the people had learned the practices of the faith of Baal ; for a superstition is nothing more than the shadow of a former belief that has passed

a away, which can no more have sprung up of itself than a shadow can be formed apart from the object which it represents.

According to Professor Nilsson, the worship of Baal extended over the whole of northern Europe at the time Pytheas was there, and the people who inhabited Scandinavia were of the same race as those men whom, in much later times, the Romans learnt to know under the name of Kimbri, Kelts, Vandals, Goths, &c.




Northmen swarm Southward.The little that the ancients have told us of what Pytheas had written of his travels, is all that was ever learnt from any traveller's report of northern Europe, until the time of our Alfred the Great. Then, exactly two thousand years ago,-for Alfred came to the throne in the year 871,—and twelve hundred years after the time of Pytheas, two travellers from Scandinavia, named Wulfstan and Ohthere, came to the court of the great English King, who loved learning and always welcomed learned men.

Alfred took great pleasure in talking to them of what they had seen, and from their account of their travels, he composed a short history, which, together with a chart of northern Europe, he placed at the beginning of the translation which he had made of the Latin history of Orosius. The description given by King Alfred in this work of Scandinavia and northern Germany is, therefore, of extreme value, as it is the only one, on which we can rely, that has reached us from those early times.

During the twelve hundred years that separated the age of Pytheas from that of King Alfred, nothing was to be heard of the lives and habits of the people of Scandinavia in their own homes; although, from time to time, tribes of half savage, yellow-haired, blue-eyed, tall, strong Northmen poured southward, and became known to the Romans as Kimbri, Teutons, Germans and Goths. At first, the fierce mode of attack used by these men, the loud and guttural shouts with which they urged on their horses in battle, and their great strength and unflinching courage brought terror and defeat upon the Roman soldiers, who could not break through the long walls of shields chained together, which these unknown foes raised against them; but, after a time, the Romans, by their superior skill and discipline, overcame them. In the year 101 B.C the Roman Consuls, Marius and Catulus, gave the Northmen battle and defeated them in the plains of northern Italy, near Verona, where a band of Kimbri, accompanied by their wives and children, were enjoying the charms of the sunny climate and the rich vegetation of that fruitful district. While the battle raged, the northern women remained in their camp, defended by the long line of their massive waggons, but, when they learned the defeat of their husbands, they rushed forth, and uttering loud cries of grief, slew themselves and their children, while the Romans carried away captive all the Northmen who had escaped death in the conflict.

After this great defeat at Verona, it was long before the Kimbri were heard of again so near Rome, but other northern tribes, scarcely less to be dreaded, kept up the memory of their valour, and disturbed the peace of the Roman frontiers. Yet in spite of their dread of these unwelcome strangers, the Romans took no pains to discover the precise part of the world from which they came; and Latin writers for a long time gave the name of “Scanzia,” Scandinavia, to the whole of. northern Europe, which, according to their notions, was either one great island, or a group of many islands, lying in some unknown sea beyond the Northern Pillars of Hêraklês, by which they meant to indicate the narrow channel between Sweden and Denmark known to us as the Sound.” Strangely enough, it was owing to a whim of the fashionable ladies of Rome, that more correct ideas of northern Europe first reached the South. By chance, some strings of amber beads had been brought to Rome, and soon these ornaments were so much admired that no grand lady in the city thought her dress complete unless she had a few rows of them, to wear round her neck or twist into the plaits of her hair. In those times it was the same in Rome as it is now in our great cities; as soon as anything was wanted for which rich people were willing to pay, there were always persons to be found who would brave toil and danger to procure it. Thus, then, when amber beads

. , became the fashion at Rome, Roman traders set forth in search of them, and, month after month, tracked their way along the great rivers, and through the vast forests which then covered Eastern Europe till they reached the shores of those northern seas where, as they had been told, the waves threw up the precious product, which the Roman ladies coveted, but of whose nature they knew nothing.1

By degrees, the accounts given by these traders, on their return to Rome, of the countries they had visited, made the Romans better acquainted with the true position and nature of the lands from which those savage invaders had come, whose attacks had more than once threatened the safety of the city. The Northmen themselves also helped to dispel the ignorance of the southerners, for, wherever they went, they carried with them poets, or reciters, called Skalds in their own tongue, who sang of the glorious deeds of their forefathers, and told wonderful tales of the manner in which they feasted and sported, fought and vanquished, in their far-distant homes among the snow-clad mountains and ice-bound waters of the North. As these men showed much readiness in learning other languages, there is no doubt that, in the course of time, the tales, or Sagas, which they could recite, became known to the Romans and other foreigners amongst whom they lived; and thus a more correct knowledge of Scandinavia was, by degrees, spread among the people of southern Europe.



German Origin of Northmen.When we go back to the oldest records of the Northmen, and hear what they have to say of themselves, and compare, and correct their accounts with what modern science and research have taught us, we learn that the Northmen were a German race. And we also find that, like all the nations who now people Europe, they

1 According to one ancient myth, or fable, amber was formed from the tears shed by the sisters of Phæthon when they heard of his death. Before it was known that amber is a resin, not unlike coal in its nature, the people in the Baltic lands, where it was found from very ancient times, called it meerschaum, sea-foam, from the idea that it was the hardened scum of the waves. The true meerschaum, used for pipes, is a naturally soft, soapy kind of earth or mineral, found near the Caspian, and in several parts of Russia and Turkey.

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