The king had now clarified the ancient laws of the realm to his satisfaction, and could proceed to abolish superstitious rites, remedy abuses, and seize such portions of the Church's possessions, especially pious and monastic foundations, as he deemed superfluous for the maintenance of religion.
These are P. megapodius, called El Turco by the natives, which is noticeable for its ungainly appearance and awkward gait; the P. albicollis, which inhabits barren hillsides and is called tapacollo from the manner of carrying its tail turned far forward over its back; the P. rubecula, of Chiloe, a small timid denizen of the gloomy forest, called the cheucau or chuca, whose two or three notes are believed by the superstitious natives to be auguries of impending success or disaster; and an allied species (Hylactes Tarnii, King) called the guid-guid or barking bird, whose cry is a close imitation of the yelp of a small dog.
But out of these primitive notions arose a real medical science: when the ailment could be located and its nature roughly determined, a more materialistic view was taken of it; and many herbs and drugs that were originally used for some superstitious reason, when once they had been found to be actually effective, easily lost their magical significance and were looked upon as natural specifics.
The perfecti only were admitted to its esoteric doctrines and to its superstitious practices.
Napier lived, too, not only in a wild country, which was in a lawless and unsettled state during most of his life, but also in a credulous and superstitious age.
Venality and the extortion of the tax-gatherer flourished anew after the departure of Gordon, while the feebleness of his successors inspired in the Baggara a contempt for the authority which prohibited them pursuing their most lucrative traffic. When Mahommed Ahmed (q.v.), a Dongolese, proclaimed himself the long-looked-for Mandi (guide) of Islam, he found most of his original followers among the grossly superstitious villagers of Kordofan, to whom he preached universal equality and a community of goods, while denouncing the Turks 2 as unworthy Moslems on whom God would execute judgment.
The plan of the work is good and, in spite of its fables and superstitious absurdities, contains important facts which would otherwise have been unknown.
The transition from this point of view to an almost superstitious adoration of Plato was natural; and Ficino, we know, joined in the hymns and celebrations with which the Florentine Academy honoured their great master on the day of his birth and death.
Hence also the universal reverence paid to serpents (raga) since those early days; though whether it simply arose from the superstitious dread inspired by the insidious reptile so fatal to man in India, or whether the verbal coincidence with the name of the once-powerful nonAryan tribe of Nagas had something to do with it must remain doubtful.
Popa, a detached peak in the Myingyan district, belongs to this system and rises to a height of nearly 5000 f t., but it is interesting mainly as an extinct volcano, a landmark and an object of superstitious folklore, throughout the whole of Central Burma.