In the fork where a cross-road called the Via Ardeatina branches off from the Appian Way, is a little homely church with the strange name of "Domine quo Vadis." It is associated with one of the most beautiful legends of the early Christian Church touchingly told by St. Ambrose. The Apostle Peter, fleeing from the persecution under Nero that arose after the burning of Rome, came to this spot; and there he saw a vision of the Saviour bearing His cross with His face steadfastly set to go to the city. Filled with wonder and awe, the Apostle exclaimed, "Domine quo Vadis," Lord, whither goest thou? To which the Saviour replied, turning upon Peter the old look of mournful pity when he denied Him in the High Priest's palace at Jerusalem, "Venio Roman iterum crucifigi," I go to Rome to be crucified a second time—and then disappeared. Peter regarding this vision as an indication of his Lord's mind, that he ought not to separate himself from the fortunes of his fellow-Christians, immediately turned back to the city, and met with unflinching courage the martyr's death on the yellow sands of Montorio; being crucified with his head downwards, for he said he was not worthy to die in the same way as his Master. This legend has been made the subject of artistic treatment by Michael Angelo, whose famous statue of our Lord as He appeared in the incident to St. Peter is in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and was for many years a favourite object of worship, until superseded by the predominant worship of Mary. A cast of this statue stands on the floor in front of the altar in the church of Domine quo Vadis. It represents our Lord in the character of a pilgrim, with a long cross in His hand, and an eager onward look in His face and attitude. It is very simple and impressive, and tells the story very effectually. Besides this plaster statue of the Saviour, a circular stone is placed about the centre of the building, surrounded by a low wooden railing, containing the prints of two feet side by side, impressed upon its surface, as if a person had stopped short on a journey. These are said to be the miraculous prints of the Saviour's feet on the pavement of the road when He appeared to Peter; but like the copy of Michael Angelo's statue, this slab is a facsimile, the original stone being preserved among the relics of the neighbouring basilica of St. Sebastian. Unwilling as one is to disturb a legend so beautiful, and with so touching a moral, there can be no doubt that it was an after-thought to account for the footprints; for the material on which they are impressed being white marble, proves conclusively that the slab could never have formed part of the pavement of the Appian Way, which it is well known was composed of an unusually hard lava, found in a quarry near the tomb of Cæcilia Metella; and the distinct marks of the chisel which the impressions bear—for I examined the original footprints very carefully some years ago—indicate a very earthly origin indeed. The traditional relic in all probability belonged to the early subterranean cemetery—leading by a door out of the left aisle of the church of St. Sebastian, to which the name of Catacomb was originally applied.

Slabs with footprints carved upon them are by no means rare in Rome. In the Kircherian Museum, in the room devoted to early Christian antiquities, there is a square slab of white marble with two pairs of footprints elegantly incised upon it, pointed in opposite directions, as if produced by a person going and returning, or by two persons crossing each other. There is no record from what catacomb this sepulchral slab was taken. We have descriptions of other relics of the same kind from the Roman Catacombs,—such as a marble slab bearing upon it the mark of the sole of a foot, with the words "In Deo" incised upon it at the one end, and at the other an inscription in Greek meaning "Januaria in God"; and a slab with a pair of footprints carved on it covered with sandals, well executed, which was placed by a devoted husband over the loculus or tomb of his wife. Impressions of feet shod with shoes or sandals are much rarer than those of bare feet; and a pair of feet is a more customary representation than a single foot, which, when carved, is usually in profile. In a dark, half-subterranean chapel, green with damp, belonging to the church of St. Christina in the town of Bolsena, on the great Volscian Mere of Macaulay, there is a stone let into the front of the altar, and protected by an iron grating, on which is rudely impressed a pair of misshapen feet very like those in the church of St. Sebastian at Rome. In the lower church at Assisi there is a duplicate of these footprints. The legend connected with them says that they were produced by the feet of a Christian lady named Christina, living in the neighbourhood in pagan times, who was thrown into the adjoining lake by her persecutors, with a large flat stone attached to her body. Instead of sinking her, the stone formed a raft which floated her in a standing attitude safely to the opposite shore, where she landed—leaving the prints of her feet upon the stone as an incontestable proof of the reality of the miracle. The altar with which the slab is engrafted—with a stone baldacchino over it—I may mention, was the scene of the famous miracle of Bolsena, when a Bohemian priest, officiating here in 1263, was cured of his sceptical doubts regarding the reality of transubstantiation by the sudden appearance of drops of blood on the Host which he had just consecrated—an incident which formed the subject of Raphael's well-known picture in the Vatican, and in connection with which Pope Urban IV. instituted the festival of Corpus Christi. On the Lucanian coast, near the little fishing town of Agrapoli, not far from Pæstum, there is shown on the limestone rock the print of a foot which is said by the inhabitants to have been made by the Apostle Paul, who lingered here on his way to Rome. In the famous church of Radegonde at Poitiers, dedicated to the queen of Clothaire I.—who afterwards took the veil, and was distinguished for her piety—there is shown on a white marble slab a well-defined footmark, which is called "Le pas de Dieu," and is said to indicate the spot where the Saviour appeared to the tutelary saint of the place. Near the altar of the church of St. Genaro de Poveri in Naples, Mary's foot is shown suspended in a glazed frame. In the middle of the footprint there is an oval figure with the old initials of mother, water, matter. The footprint of Mary is very common in churches in Italy and Spain, where it is highly venerated.

The significance of these footmarks has been the subject of much controversy. Some have regarded them as symbols of possession—the word "possession" being supposed to be etymologically derived from the Latin words pedis positio, and meaning literally the position of the foot. The adage of the ancient jurists was, "Quicquid pes tuus calcaverit tuum erit." The symbol of a foot was carved on the marble slab that closed the loculus or tomb, to indicate that it was the purchased property of the person who reposed in it. This view, however, has not been generally received with favour by the most competent authorities. A more plausible theory is that which regards the sepulchral footmarks in the Catacombs as votive offerings of gratitude, ordered by Christians to be made in commemoration of the completion of their earthly pilgrimage. It was a common pagan custom for persons who had recovered from disease or injury, to hang up as thankofferings in the shrines of the gods who were supposed to have healed them, images or representations, moulded in metal, clay, or wood, of the part that had been affected. In Italy, votive tablets were dedicated to Iris and Hygiea on which footmarks were engraved; and Hygiea received on one occasion tributes of this kind which recorded the gratitude of some Roman soldiers who escaped the amputation which was inflicted upon their comrades by Hannibal. This custom survived in the early Christian Church, and is still kept up, as any one who visits a modern shrine of pilgrimage in Roman Catholic countries can testify. Among such votive offerings, models and carved and painted representations of feet in stone, or wood, or metal, are frequently suspended before the image of the Madonna, in gratitude for recovery from some disease of the feet. We may suppose that as the ancient Romans, when they returned safely from some long and dangerous or difficult journey undertaken for business or health, dedicated in gratitude a representation of their feet to their favourite god—so the early Christians, who in their original condition were pagans, and still cherished many of their old customs, ordered these peculiar footmarks to be made upon their graves, in token of thankfulness that for them the pilgrimage of life was over, and the endless rest begun. There can be little doubt that the slab with the so-called footprints of St. Christina on it at Bolsena, already alluded to, was a pagan ex-votive offering; for the altar on which it is engrafted occupies the site of one anciently dedicated to Apollo, and the legend of St. Christina gradually crystallised around it. And the footprint in the church of Radegonde at Poitiers was more likely pagan than Christian, for Poitiers had a Roman origin, and numerous Roman remains have been found in the town and neighbourhood.

A long and curious list might be made of the miraculous impressions said to have been left by our Saviour's feet on the places where He stood. In the centre of the platform at Jerusalem on which the Temple of Solomon stood, covered by the dome of the Sakrah Mosque, a portion of the rough natural limestone rock rises several feet above the marble pavement, and is the principal object of veneration in the place. It has an excavated chamber in one corner, with an aperture through the rocky roof, which has given to the rock the name of "lapis pertusus," or perforated stone. On this rock there are natural or artificial marks, which the successors of the Caliph Omar believed to be the prints of the angel Gabriel's fingers, and the mark of Mohammed's foot, and that of his camel, which performed the whole journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in four bounds. The stone, it is said, originally fell from heaven, and was used as a seat by the venerable prophets of Jerusalem. So long as they enjoyed the gift of prophecy, the stone remained steady under them; but when the gift was withdrawn, and the persecuted seers were compelled to flee for safety to other lands, the stone rose to accompany them: whereupon the angel Gabriel interposed, and prevented the departure of the prophetical chair, leaving on it indelibly the marks of his fingers. It was then supernaturally nailed to its rocky bed by seven brass nails. When any great crisis in the world's fortunes happens, the head of one of these nails disappears; and when they are all gone, the day of judgment will come. There are now only three left, and therefore the Mohammedans believe that the end of all things is not far off. When the Crusaders took possession of the sacred city, they altered the Mohammedan legend, and attributed the mysterious footprint to our Lord when He went out of the Temple to escape the fury of the Jews. There can be no doubt that the marks on the rock are prehistoric, and belong to the primitive worship of Mount Moriah, long before the august associations of Biblical history gathered around it. To this spot the Jews used to come in the fourth century and wail over the rock, and anoint it with oil, as if carrying out some dim tradition of former primitive libations.

In the Octagon Chapel of the Church of the Ascension on the top of the Mount of Olives, so well known for the magnificent view which it commands of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, is shown the native rock which forms the summit of the hill from which our Lord ascended into heaven. On this rock, it is said by tradition, He left the mark of His footsteps. Arculf, who visited Palestine about the year 700, says: "On the ground in the midst of the church are to be seen the last prints in the dust of our Lord's feet, and the roof appears above where He ascended; and although the earth is daily carried away by believers, yet still it remains as before, and retains the same impression of the feet." Jerome mentions that in his time the same custom was observed, followed by the same singular result. Later writers, however, asserted that the impressions were made, not in the ground, or in the dust, but on the solid rock; and that originally there were two, one of them having been stolen long ago by the Mohammedans, who broke off the fragment of stone on which it was stamped. Sir John Mandeville describes the appearance of the surviving footmark as it looked in his day, 1322: "From that mount our Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven on Ascension Day, and yet there appears the impress of His left foot in the stone." What is now seen in the place is a simple rude cavity in the natural rock, which bears but the slightest resemblance to the human foot. It may have been artificially sculptured, or it may be only one of those curious hollows into which limestone rocks are frequently weathered. In either case it naturally lent itself to the sacred legend that has gathered around it.

In the Kaaba, the most ancient and remarkable building of the great Mosque at Mecca, is preserved a miraculous stone with the print of Abraham's feet impressed upon it. It is said, by Mohammedan tradition, to be the identical stone which served the patriarch as a scaffold when he helped Ishmael to rebuild the Kaaba, which had been originally constructed by Seth, and was afterwards destroyed by the Deluge. While Abraham stood upon this stone, it rose and sank with him as he built the walls of the sacred edifice. The relic is said to be a fragment of the same gray Mecca stone of which the whole building is constructed,—in this respect differing from the famous black stone brought to Abraham and Ishmael by the angel Gabriel, and built into the north-east corner of the exterior wall of the Kaaba, which is said by scientific men to be either a meteorite or fragment of volcanic basalt. It is popularly supposed to have been originally a jacinth of dazzling whiteness, but to have been made black as ink by the touch of sinful man, and that it can only recover its original purity and brilliancy at the day of judgment. The millions of kisses and touches impressed by the faithful have worn the surface considerably; but in addition to this, traces of cup-shaped hollows have been observed on it. There can be no doubt that both these relics associated with Abraham are of high antiquity, and may have belonged to the prehistoric worship which marked Mecca as a sacred site, long before the followers of the Prophet had set up their shrine there. In the sacred Mosque of Hebron, built over the cave of Machpelah, is pointed out a footprint of the ordinary size on a slab of stone, variously called that of Adam or of Mohammed. It is said to have been brought from Mecca some six hundred years ago, and is enclosed in a recess at the back of the shrine of Abraham, where it is placed on a sort of shelf about three feet above the floor. On the margin of the tank, in the court of the ruined mosque at Baalbec, there are shown four giant footmarks, which are supposed to have been impressed by some patriarch or prophet, but are more likely to have been connected with the ancient religion of Canaan, which lingered here to the latest days of Roman paganism. In the great Druse shrine of Neby Schaib near Hattin there is a square block of limestone in the centre of which is a piece of alabaster containing the imprint of a human foot of natural size, with the toes very clearly defined. The Druses reverently kiss this impression, asserting that the rock exudes moisture, and that it is never dry. There is a split in the rock across the centre of the footprint, which they account for by saying that when the prophet stepped here he split the rock with his tread. In Damascus there was at one time a sacred building called the Mosque of the Holy Foot, in which there was a stone having upon it the print of the feet of Moses. Ibn Batuta saw this curious relic early in the fourteenth century; but both the mosque and the stone have since disappeared. On the eastern side of the Jordan a Bedouin tribe, called the Adwân, worship the print left on a stone by the roadside by a prophetess while mounting her camel, in order to proceed on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Kadriyeh dervishes of Egypt adore a gigantic shoe, as an emblem of the sacred foot of the founder of their sect; and near Madura, a large leather shoe is offered in worship to a deity that, like Diana, presides over the chase.

To the student of comparative religion the Phrabat, or Sacred Foot of Buddha, opens up a most interesting field of investigation. In the East, impressions of the feet of this wonderful person are as common as those of Christ and the Virgin Mary in the West. Buddhists are continually increasing the number by copies of the originals; and native painters of Siam who are ambitious of distinction often present these sacred objects to the king, adorned with the highest skill of their art, as the most acceptable gift they can offer. The sacred footprint enters into the very essence of the Buddhist religion; it claims from the Indo-Chinese nations a degree of veneration scarcely yielding to that which they pay to Buddha himself. It is very ancient, and was framed to embody in one grand symbol a complete system of theology and theogony, which has been gradually forgotten or perverted by succeeding ages to the purposes of a ridiculous superstition. It is elaborately carved and painted with numerous symbols, each of which has a profound significance. The liturgy of the Siamese connected with it consists of fifty measured lines of eight syllables each, and contains the names of a hundred and eight distinct symbolical objects,—such as the lion, the elephant, the sun and moon in their cars drawn by oxen, the horse, the serpents, the spiral building, the tree, the six spheres, the five lakes, and the altar—all of which are represented on the foot. This list of symbolical allusions is recited by the priests, and forms an essential part of the ritual of worship. The Siamese priests say that any mortal about to arrive at the threshold of Nivána has his feet emblazoned spontaneously with all the symbols to be seen on the Phrabat.

The Siamese acknowledge only five genuine Phrabats made by the actual feet of Buddha. They are called the Five Impressions of the Divine Foot. The first is on a rock on the coast of the peninsula of Malacca, where, beside the mark of Buddha's foot, there is also one of a dog's foot, which is much venerated by the natives. The second Phrabat is on the Golden Mountain, the hill with the holy footstep of Buddha, in Siam, which Buddha visited on one occasion. The impression is that of the right foot, and is covered with a maradop, a pyramidal canopy supported by gilded pilasters. The hollow of the footstep is generally filled with water, which the devotee sprinkles over his body to wash away the stain of his sin. The third Phrabat is on a hill on the banks of the Jumna, in the midst of an extensive and deep forest, which spreads over broken ranges of hills. The Phrabat is on a raised terrace, like that on which most of the Buddhist temples are built. The pyramidal structure which shelters it is of hewn stone ninety feet high, and is like the baldacchino of a Roman Catholic church. There are four impressions on different terraces, each rising above the other, corresponding to the four descents of the deity. The fourth Phrabat is also on the banks of the Jumna. But the fifth and most celebrated of all is the print of the sacred foot on the top of the Amala Sri Pada, or Adam's Peak, in Ceylon. On the highest point of this hill there is a pagoda-like building, supported on slender pillars, and open on every side to the winds. Underneath this canopy, in the centre of a huge mass of gneiss and hornblende, forming the living rock, there is the rude outline of a gigantic foot about five feet long, and of proportionate breadth.

Sir Emerson Tennent, who has given a full and interesting account of this last Phrabat in his work on Ceylon, supposes that it was originally a natural hollow in the rock, afterwards artificially enlarged and shaped into its present appearance; but whatever may have been its origin at first, its present shape is undoubtedly of great, perhaps prehistoric, antiquity. In the sacred books of the Buddhists it is referred to, upwards of three hundred years before Christ, as the impression left of Buddha's foot when he visited the earth after the Deluge, with gifts and blessings for his worshippers; and in the first century of the Christian era it is recorded that a king of Cashmere went on a pilgrimage to Ceylon for the express purpose of adoring this Sri-pada, or Sacred Footprint. The Gnostics of the first Christian centuries attributed it to Ieu, the first man; and in one of the oldest manuscripts in existence, now in the British Museum—the Coptic version of the "Faithful Wisdom," said to have been written by the great Gnostic philosopher Valentinus in the fourth century—there is mention made of this venerable relic, the Saviour being said to inform the Virgin Mary that He has appointed the Spirit Kalapataraoth as guardian over it. From the Gnostics the Mohammedans received the tradition; for they believe that when Adam was expelled from Paradise he lived many years on this mountain alone, before he was reunited to Eve on Mount Arafath, which overhangs Mecca. The early Portuguese settlers in the island attributed the sacred footprint to St. Thomas, who is said by tradition to have preached the Gospel, after the ascension of Christ, in Persia and India, and to have suffered martyrdom at Malabar, where he founded the Christian Church, which still goes by the name of the Christians of St. Thomas; and they believed that all the trees on the mountain, and for half a league round about its base, bent their crowns in the direction of this sacred object—a mark of respect which they affirmed could only be offered to the footstep of an apostle. The Brahmins have appropriated the sacred mark as the footprint of their goddess Siva. At the present day the Buddhists are the guardians of the shrine; but the worshippers of other creeds are not prevented from paying their homage at it, and they meet in peace and goodwill around the object of their common adoration. By this circumstance the Christian visitor is reminded of the sacred footprint, already alluded to, on the rock of the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, which is part of a mosque, and has five altars for the Greek, Latin, Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic Churches, all of whom climb the hill on Ascension Day to celebrate the festival; the Mohammedans, too, coming in and offering their prayers at the same shrine. The worship paid on the mountain of the sacred foot in Ceylon consists of offerings of the crimson flowers of the rhododendron, which grow freely among the crags around, accompanied by various genuflections and shoutings, and concluding with the striking of an ancient bell, and a draught from the sacred well which springs up a little below the summit. These ceremonies point to a very primitive mode of worship; and it is probable that, as Adam's Peak was venerated from a remote antiquity by the aborigines of Ceylon, being connected by them with the worship of the sun, the sacred footprint may belong to this prehistoric cult. Models of the footprint are shown in various temples in Ceylon.

Besides these five great Phrabats, there are others of inferior celebrity in the East. In the P'hra Pathom of the Siamese, Buddha is said to have left impressions of his feet at Lauca and Chakravan. At Ava there is a Phrabat near Prome which is supposed to be a type of the creation. Another is seen in the same country on a large rock lying amidst the hills a day's journey west of Meinbu. Dr. Leyden says that it is in the country of the Lan that all the celebrated founders of the religion of Buddha are reported to have left their most remarkable vestiges. The traces of the sacred foot are sparingly scattered over Pegu, Ava, and Arracan. But among the Lan they are concentrated; and thither devotees repair to worship at the sacred steps of Pra Kukuson, Pra Konnakan, Pra Puttakatsop, and Pra Samutacadam.

The footsteps of Vishnu are also frequent in India. Sir William Jones tells us that in the Puranas mention is made of a white mountain on which King Sravana sat meditating on the divine foot of Vishnu at the station Trevirana. When the Hindoos entered into possession of Gayá—one of the four most sacred places of Buddhism—they found the popular feeling in favour of the sacred footprint there so strong that they were obliged to incorporate the relic into their own religious system, and to attribute it to Vishnu. Thousands of Hindoo pilgrims from all parts of India now visit the shrine every year. Indeed to the worshippers of Vishnu the Temple of Vishnupad at Gayá is one of the most holy in all India; and as we are informed in the great work of Dr. Mitra, the later religious books earnestly enjoin that no one should fail, at least once in his lifetime, to visit the spot. They commend the wish for numerous offspring on the ground that, out of the many, one son might visit Gayá, and by performing the rites prescribed in connection with the holy footstep, rescue his father from eternal destruction. The stone is a large hemispherical block of granite, with an uneven top, bearing the carvings of two human feet. The frequent washings which it daily undergoes have worn out the peculiar sectorial marks which the feet contain, and even the outlines of the feet themselves are but dimly perceptible. English architects are now engaged in preserving the ruins of the splendid temple associated with this footprint, where the ministry of India's great teacher—the "Light of Asia"—began. In the Indian Museum at Calcutta there is a large slab of white marble bearing the figure of a human foot surrounded by two dragons. It was brought from a temple in Burmah, where it used to be worshipped as a representation of Buddha's foot. It is seven inches long and three inches broad, and is divided into a hundred and eight compartments, each of which contains a different mystical mark.

At Gangautri, on the banks of the Ganges, is a wooden temple containing a footprint of Ganga on a black stone. In a strange subterranean temple, inside the great fort at Allahabad, there are two footprints of Vishnu, along with footprints of Rama, and of his wife Sita. In India the "kaddam rassul," or supposed impression of Mohammed's foot in clay, which is kept moist, and enclosed in a sort of cage, is not unfrequently placed at the head of the gravestones of the followers of Islam. On the summit of a mountain one hundred and thirty-six miles south of Bhagalpur is one of the principal places of Jain worship in India. On the table-land are twenty small Jain temples on different craggy heights, which resemble an extinguisher in shape. In each of them is to be found the Vasu Padukas—a sacred foot similar to that which is seen in the Jain temple at Champanagar. The sect of the Jain in South Bihar has two places of pilgrimage. One is a tank choked with weeds and lotus-flowers, which has a small island in the centre containing a temple, with two stones in the interior, on one of which is an inscription and the impression of the two feet of Gautama—the most common object of worship of the Jains in this district. The other is the place in the same part of the country where the body of Mahavira, one of the twenty-four lawgivers, was burnt about six centuries before Christ. It resembles the other temple, and is situated in an island in a tank. The island is terraced round, and in the cavity of the beehive-like top there is the representation of Mahavira's feet, to which crowds of pilgrims are continually flocking. In the centre of the Jain temple at Puri, where this remarkable man died, there are also three representations of his feet, and one impression of the feet of each of his eleven disciples.

But the subject of footprints carries us farther back than the ages of the great historic founders of religion. In almost every part of the earth footprints have been found, cut in the solid rock or impressed upon boulders and other stones. These artificial tracks, like the strange human footprint which Robinson Crusoe discovered on the beach of his lonely island, excite the imagination by their mystery, and open up a vista into a hitherto unexplored world of infinite suggestion. They seem the natural successors of those tracks of birds and reptiles on sandstone and other slabs which form one of the most interesting features in every geological museum; the material on which they are impressed having allowed the substantial forms of the creatures themselves to disappear, while it has carefully preserved the more shadowy and incidental memorials of their life. The naturalist can tell us from the ephemeral impressions on the soft primeval mud, not only what was the true nature of the obscure creatures that produced them untold ages ago, but also the direction in which they were moving along the shore, and the state of the tide and the weather, and the appearance of the country at the time. But regarding those literal human "footprints on the sands of time," which have been left behind by our prehistoric ancestors, we can make no such accurate scientific inductions. They have given rise to much speculation, being considered by many persons to be real impressions of human feet, dating from a time when the material on which they were stamped was still in a state of softness. Superstition has invested them with a sacred veneration, and legends of a wild and mystical character have gathered around them. The slightest acquaintance with the results of geological research has sufficed to dispel this delusion, and to show that these mysterious marks could not have been produced by human beings while the rocks were in a state of fusion; and consequently no intelligent observer now holds this theory of their origin. But superstition dies hard; and there are persons who, though confronted with the clearest evidences of science, still refuse to abandon their old obscurantist ideas. They prefer a supernatural theory that allows free scope to their fancy and religious instinct, to one that offers a more prosaic explanation. There is a charm in the mystery connected with these dim imaginings which they would not wish dispelled by the clear daylight of scientific knowledge. In our own country, footmarks on rocks and stones are by no means of unfrequent occurrence. Some of them, indeed, although associated with myths and fairy tales, have doubtless been produced by natural causes, being the mere chance effects of weathering, without any meaning except to a geologist. But there are others that have been unmistakably produced by artificial means, and have a human history and significance.

In Scotland Tanist stones—so called from the Gaelic word tanaiste, a chief, or the next heir to an estate—have been frequently found. These stones were used in connection with the coronation of a king or the inauguration of a chief. The custom dates from the remotest antiquity. We see traces of it in the Bible,—as when it is mentioned that "Abimelech was made king by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem"; and "Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En-rogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants"; and that when Joash was anointed king by Jehoiada, "the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was"; and again, King Josiah "stood by a pillar" to make a covenant, "and all the people stood to the covenant." The stone connected with the ceremony was regarded as the most sacred attestation of the engagement entered into between the newly-elected king or chief and his people. It was placed in some conspicuous position, upon the top of a "moot-hill," or the open-air place of assembly. Upon it was usually carved an impression of a human foot; and into this impression, during the ceremony of inauguration, the king or chief placed his own right foot, in token that he was installed by right into the possessions of his predecessors, and that he would walk in their footsteps. It may be said literally, that in this way the king or chief came to an understanding with his people; and perhaps the common saying of "stepping into a dead man's shoes" may have originated from this primitive custom.

The most famous of the Tanist stones is the Coronation-stone in Westminster Abbey—the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny—on which the ancient kings of Scotland sat or stood when crowned, and which forms a singular link of connection between the primitive rites that entered into the election of a king by the people, and the gorgeous ceremonies by which the hereditary sovereigns of England are installed into their high office. There is no footmark, however, on this stone. It may be mentioned that before the arrival of the Scottish stone there had been for ages a similar stone at Westminster Hall, which gave the name to and was the original place of sitting for the Court of King's Bench. It was no doubt a relic of the primitive Folkmoot of Westminster, which has developed into the Parliament of England. In the neighbourhood of Upsala is the Mora stone, celebrated in Swedish history as the spot where the kings were publicly elected and received the homage of their subjects.

A more characteristic specimen of a Tanist stone may be seen on the top of Dun Add, a rocky isolated hill about two hundred feet high, in Argyleshire, not far from Ardrishaig. On a smooth flat piece of rock which protrudes above the surface there is carved the mark of a right foot, covered with the old cuaran or thick stocking, eleven inches long and four inches and a half broad at the widest part, the heel being an inch less. It is sunk about half an inch in the rock, and is very little weather-worn—the reason being, perhaps, that it has been protected for ages by the turf that has grown over it, and has only recently been exposed. Quite close to it is a smooth polished basin, eleven inches in diameter and eight deep, also scooped out of the rock. With these two curious sculptures is associated a local myth. Ossian, who lived for a time in the neighbourhood, was one day hunting on the mountain above Loch Fyne. A stag which his dogs had brought to bay charged him, and he fled precipitately. Coming to the hill above Kilmichael, he strode in one step across the valley to the top of Rudal Hill, from whence he took a gigantic leap to the summit of Dun Add. But when he alighted he was somewhat exhausted by his great effort, and fell on his knee, and stretched out his hands to prevent him from falling backwards. He thereupon left on the rocky top of Dun Add the enduring impression of his feet and knee which we see at the present day. This myth is of comparatively recent date, and is interesting as showing that all recollection of the original use of the footmark and basin had died away for many ages in the district. There can be no doubt that the footmark indicates the spot to have been at one time the scene of the inauguration of the kings or chiefs of the region; and the basin was in all probability one of those primitive mortars which were in use for grinding corn long before the invention of the quern. Dun Add is one of the oldest sites in Scotland. It has the hoary ruins of a nameless fort, and a well which is traditionally said to ebb and flow with the tide. It was here that the Dalriadic Scots first settled; and Captain Thomas, who is an authority on this subject, supposes that the remarkable relic on Dun Add was made for the inauguration of Fergus More Mac Erca, the first king of Dalriada, who died in Scotland at the beginning of the sixth century, and to have been the exact measure of his foot.

King in his Munimenta Antiqua mentions that in the island of Islay there was on a mound or hill where the high court of judicature sat, a large stone fixed, about seven feet square, in which there was a cavity or deep impression made to receive the feet of Macdonald, who was crowned King of the Isles standing on this stone, and swore that he would continue his vassals in the possession of their lands, and do impartial justice to all his subjects. His father's sword was then put into his hand, and the Bishop of Argyle and seven priests anointed him king in presence of all the heads of the tribes in the Isles and mainland, and at the same time an orator rehearsed a catalogue of his ancestors. In the year 1831, when a mound locally known as the "Fairy Knowe," in the parish of Carmylie, Forfarshire, was levelled in the course of some agricultural improvements in the place, there was found, besides stone cists and a bronze ring, a rude boulder almost two tons in weight, on the under side of which was sculptured the mark of a human foot. The mound or tumulus was in all likelihood a moot-hill, where justice was dispensed and the chieftains of the district were elected. In the same county, in the wild recesses of Glenesk, near Lord Dalhousie's shooting-lodge of Milldam, there is a rough granite boulder, on the upper surface of which a small human foot is scooped out with considerable accuracy, showing traces even of the toes. It is known in the glen as the "Fairy's Footmark." There can be no doubt that this stone was once used in connection with the ceremonial of inaugurating a chief.

A similar stone, carved with a representation of two feet, on which the primitive chiefs stood when publicly invested with the insignia of office, is still, or was lately, in existence in Ladykirk, at Burwick, South Ronaldshay, Orkney. A local tradition, that originated long after the Pictish chiefs passed away, and a new Norse race, ignorant of the customs of their predecessors, came in, says that the stone in question was used by St. Magnus as a boat to ferry him over the Pentland Firth; while an earlier tradition looked upon it as a miraculous whale which opportunely appeared at the prayer of the saint when about to be overwhelmed by a storm, and carried him on its back safely to the shore, where it was converted into a stone, as a perpetual memorial of the marvellous occurrence. In North Yell, Shetland, there is a rude stone lying on the hillside, on which is sculptured with considerable skill the mark of a human foot. It is known in the district as the "Giant's Step"; another of the same kind, it is said, being over in Unst. It is undoubtedly the stone on which, in Celtic times, the native kings of this part were crowned. About a mile from Keill, near Campbeltown, a very old site, closely connected with the early ecclesiastical history of Scotland, may be seen on a rock what is locally called the "Footprint of St. Columba," which he made when he landed on this shore on one occasion from Iona. It is very rude and much effaced; but it carries the imagination much farther back than the days of St. Columba,—when a pagan chief or king was inaugurated here to rule over the district.

In England and Wales there are several interesting examples of footprints on boulders and rocks. A remarkable Tanist stone—which, however, has no carving upon it, I believe—stands, among a number of other and smaller boulders, on the top of a hill near the village of Long Compton, in Cumberland. It is called "The King"; and the popular rhyme of the country people—

"If Long Compton thou canst see,
Then king of England thou shalt be"—

points to the fact that the stone must have been once used as a coronation-stone. Not far from the top of a hill near Barmouth in Wales, in the middle of a rough path, may be seen a flat stone, in which there is a footmark about the natural size, locally known as "Llan Maria," or Mary's step, because the Virgin Mary once, it is supposed, put her foot on this rock, and then walked down the hill to a lower height covered with roots of oak-trees. This impression on the stone is associated with several stone circles and cromlechs—one of which bears upon it the reputed marks of Arthur's fingers, and is called Arthur's Quoit—and with a spring of water and a grove, as the path leading to the hill is still known by a Welsh name which means Grove Lane; and these associations undoubtedly indicate that the spot was once a moot-hill or prehistoric sanctuary, where religious and inauguration rites were performed. At Smithhill's Hall, near Bolton-le-Moors, there is still to be seen an object of curiosity to a large number of visitors—the print of a man's foot in the flagstone. It is said to have been produced by George Marsh, who suffered martyrdom during the persecutions of Queen Mary in 1555. When on one occasion the truth of his words was called in question by his enemies, he stamped his foot upon the stone on which he stood, which ever after bore the ineffaceable impression as a miraculous testimony to his veracity. This story must have been an after-thought, to account for what we may suppose to have been a prehistoric Tanist stone.

In Ireland footmarks are very numerous, and are attributed by the peasantry to different saints. Mr. and Mrs. S.C. Hall, in their account of Ireland, refer to several curious examples which are regarded by the people with superstitious reverence, and are the occasions of religious pilgrimage. Near the chapel of Glenfinlough, in King's County, there is a ridge with a boulder on it called the Fairy's Stone or the Horseman's Stone, which presents on its flat surface, besides cup-like hollows, crosses, and other markings, rudely-carved representations of the human foot. On a stone near Parsonstown, called Fin's Seat, there are similar impressions—also associated with crosses and cup-shaped hollows which are traditionally said to be the marks of Fin Mac Coul's thumb and fingers. On an exposed and smooth surface of rock on the northern slope of the Clare Hills, in the townland of Dromandoora, there is the engraved impression of a foot clothed with a sandal; and near it is sculptured on the rock a figure resembling the caduceus of Mercury, while there are two cromlechs in the immediate vicinity. The inauguration-stone of the Macmahons still exists on the hill of Lech—formerly called Mullach Leaght, or "hill of the stone"—three miles south of Meaghan; but the impression of the foot was unfortunately effaced by the owner of the farm about the year 1809. In the garden of Belmont on the Greencastle road, about a mile from Londonderry, there is the famous stone of St. Columba, held in great veneration as the inauguration-stone of the ancient kings of Aileach, and which St. Patrick is said to have consecrated with his blessing. On this remarkable stone, which is about seven feet square, composed of a hard gneiss, and quite undressed by the chisel, are sculptured two feet, right and left, about ten inches long each. Boullaye le Gouze mentions that in 1644 the print of St. Fin Bar's foot might be seen on a stone in the cemetery of the Cathedral of Cork; it has long since disappeared.

In the Killarney region is the promontory of Coleman's Eye—so called after a legendary person who leapt across the stream, and left his footprints impressed in the solid rock on the other side. These impressions are considered Druidic, and are pointed out as such to the curious stranger by the guides. Near an old church situated on the southern slope of Knockpatrick, in the parish of Graney in Leinster, there is a large flat granite rock with the impression of two feet clearly defined on its surface. Local tradition assigns these footprints to St. Patrick, who addressed the people on this spot, and left behind these enduring signs of his presence. Allusion is made to them in St. Fiaca's Hymn to St. Patrick—"He pressed his foot on the stone; its traces remain, it wears not." Footprints in connection with St. Patrick are to be found in many localities in Ireland, as, for instance, on the seashore south of Skerries, County Dublin, where the apostle landed; and at Skerries, County Antrim, there are marks which are believed to be the footprints of the angel who appeared to St. Patrick. In Ossory two localities are noted as possessing St. Patrick's footprints.

So common are the curious sculptures under consideration in Norway and Sweden, that they are known by the distinct name of Fotsulor, or Footsoles. They are marks of either naked feet, or of feet shod with primitive sandals. On a rock at Brygdæa in Westerbotten, in Norway, there are no less than thirty footmarks carved on a rock at an equal distance from each other. In other parts of Norway these footprints are mixed up with rude outlines of ships, wheels, and other hällristningar, or rock-sculptures. Holmberg has figured many of them in his interesting work entitled Scandinaviens Hällristningar. At Lökeberg Bohnslau, Sweden, there is a group of ten pairs of footmarks, associated with cup-shaped hollows and ship-carvings; and at Backa, in the same district, several pairs of feet, or rather shoe-marks, are engraved upon a rock. In Denmark not a few examples of artificial foot-tracks have been observed and described by Dr. Petersen. One was found on a slab belonging to the covering of a gallery in the inside of a tomb in the island of Seeland, and another on one of the blocks of stone surrounding a tumulus in the island of Laaland. In both cases the soles of the feet are represented as being covered; and in all probability they belong to the late stone or earlier bronze age. With these sepulchral marks are associated curious Danish legends, which refer them to real impressions of human feet. The islands of Denmark were supposed to have been made by enchanters, who wished for greater facilities for going to and fro, and dropped them in the sea as stations or stepping-stones on their way; and hence, in a region where the popular imagination poetises the commonest material objects, and is saturated with stories of elves and giants, with magic swords, and treasures guarded by dragons, it was not difficult to conclude that these mysterious foot-sculptures were made by the tread of supernatural beings. Near the station of Sens, in France, there is a curious dolmen, on one of whose upright stones or props are carved two human feet. And farther north, in Brittany, upon a block of stone in the barrow or tumulus of Petit Mont at Arzon, may be seen carved an outline of the soles of two human feet, right and left, with the impressions of the toes very distinctly cut, like the marks left by a person walking on the soft sandy shore of the sea. They are surrounded by a number of waving circular and serpentine lines exceedingly curious. On Calais pier may be seen a footprint where Louis XVIII. landed in 1814; and on the rocks of Magdesprung, a village in the Hartz Mountains, a couple of hundred feet apart, are two immense footprints, which tradition ascribes to a leap made by a huge giantess from the clouds for the purpose of rescuing one of her maidens from the violence of an ancient baron.

In not a few places in our own country and on the Continent, rough misshapen marks on rocks and stones, bearing a fanciful resemblance to the outline of the human foot, have been supposed by popular superstition to have been made by Satan. Every classical student is familiar with the account which Herodotus gives of the print of Hercules shown by the Scythians in his day upon a rock near the river Tyras, the modern Dnieper. It was said to resemble the footstep of a man, only that it was two cubits long. He will also recall the description given by the same gossipy writer of the Temple of Perseus in the Thebaic district of Egypt, in which a sandal worn by the god, two cubits in length, occasionally made its appearance as a token of the visit of Perseus to the earth, and a sign of prosperity to the land. Pythagoras measured similar footprints at Olympia, and calculated "ex pede Herculem"! Still more famous was the mark on the volcanic rock on the shore of Lake Regillus—the scene of the memorable battle in which the Romans, under the dictator Posthumius, defeated the powerful confederation of the Latin tribes under the Tarquins. According to tradition, the Roman forces were assisted by Castor and Pollux, who helped them to achieve their signal victory. The mark was supposed to have been left by the horse of one of the great twins "who fought so well for Rome," as Macaulay says in his spirited ballad. On the way to the famous convent of Monte Casino, very near the door, there is a cross in the middle of the road. In front of it a grating covers the mark of a knee, which is said to have been left in the rock by St. Benedict, when he knelt there to ask a blessing from heaven before laying the foundation-stone of his convent. As the site of the monastery was previously occupied by a temple of Apollo, and a grove sacred to Venus, where the inhabitants of the surrounding locality worshipped as late as the sixth century,—to which circumstance Dante alludes,—it is probable that the sacred mark on the rock may have belonged to the old pagan idolatry, and have been a cup-marked stone connected with sacrificial libations.

On many rocks of the United States of America may be seen human footprints, either isolated or connected with other designs belonging to the pictorial system of the Aborigines, and commemorating incidents which they thought worthy of being preserved. In the collection of the Smithsonian Museum are three large stone slabs having impressions of the human foot. On two slabs of sandstone, carefully cut from rocks on the banks of the Missouri, may be seen respectively two impressions of feet, carved apparently with moccasins, such as are worn at the present day by the Sioux and other Indians. The other specimen is a flat boulder of white quartz, obtained in Gasconade County, Missouri, which bears on one of its sides the mark of a naked foot, each toe being distinctly scooped out and indicated. The footmark is surrounded by a number of cup-shaped depressions. In many parts of Dacotah, where the route is difficult to find, rocks occur with human footprints carved upon them which were probably meant to serve as geographical landmarks—as they invariably indicate the best route to some Indian encampment or to the shallow parts of some deep river. Among other places these footprints have been met with on the Blue Mountains between Georgia and North Carolina, and also on the Kenawha River. Some stir was made two years ago by the reported discovery of the prints of human feet in a stone quarry on the coast of Lake Managua in Nicaragua. The footprints are remarkably sharp and distinct; one seems that of a little child. The stone in which they are impressed is a spongy volcanic tuff, and the layer superimposed upon them in the quarry was of similar material. These prehistoric footprints were doubtless accidentally impressed upon the volcanic stone, and would seem to throw back the age of man on the earth to a most remote antiquity. In Equatorial Africa footprints have also been found, and are associated with the folklore of the country. Stanley, in his Dark Continent, tells us that in the legendary history of Uganda, Kimera, the third in descent from Ham, was so large and heavy that he made marks in the rocks wherever he trod. The impression of one of his feet is shown at Uganda on a rock near the capital, Ulagolla. It was made by one of his feet slipping while he was in the act of hurling his spear at an elephant. In the South Sea Islands department of the British Museum is an impression of a gigantic footstep five feet in length.

The connection of prehistoric footprints with sacred sites and places of sepulture would indicate that they had a religious significance—an idea still further strengthened by the fact of their being frequently associated with holy wells and groves, and with cup-shaped marks on cromlechs or sacrificial altars, which are supposed to have been used for the purpose of receiving libations; while their universal distribution points to a hoary antiquity, when a primitive natural cultus spread over the whole earth, traces of which are found in every land, behind the more elaborate and systematic faith which afterwards took its place. They are probably among the oldest stone-carvings that have been left to us, and were executed by rude races with rude implements either in the later stone or early bronze age. Their subsequent dedication to holy persons in Christian times was in all likelihood only a survival of their original sacred use long ages after the memory of the particular rites and ceremonies connected with them passed away. A considerable proportion of the sacred marks are said to be impressions of the female foot, attributed to the Virgin Mary; and in this circumstance we may perhaps trace a connection with the worship of the receptive element in nature, which was also a distinctive feature of primitive religion.

It is strange how traces of this primitive worship of footprints survive, not merely in the mythical stories and superstitious practices connected with the objects themselves, but also in curious rites and customs that at first sight might seem to have had no connection with them. The throwing of the shoe after a newly-married couple is said to refer to the primitive mode of marriage by capture; but there is equal plausibility in referring it to the prehistoric worship of the footprint as a symbol of the powers of nature. To the same original source we may perhaps attribute the custom connected with the Levirate law in the Bible, when the woman took off the shoe of the kinsman who refused to marry her, whose name should be afterwards called in Israel "the house of him that hath his shoe loosed."

In regard to the general subject, it may be said that we can discern in the primitive adoration of footprints a somewhat advanced stage in the religious thoughts of man. He has got beyond total unconsciousness of God, and beyond totemism or the mere worship of natural objects—trees, streams, stones, animals, etc. He has reached the conception of a deity who is of a different nature from the objects around him, and whose place of abode is elsewhere. He worships the impression of the foot for the sake of the being who left it; and the impression helps him to realise the presence and to form a picture of his deity. That deity is not a part of nature, because he can make nature plastic to his tread, and leave his footmark on the hard rock as if it were soft mud. He thinks of him as the author and controller of nature, and for the first time rises to the conception of a supernatural being.