« AnteriorContinuar »
body of a man blended with that of a serpent. Diodorus says, that this was a circumstance deemed by the Athenians inexplicable, yet he labours to explain it, by representing Cecrops as half a man and balf a brute.'—vol. i. 484.
Montfaucon inclines to think that the serpent was a symbol of the sun, to which the Egyptians gave a place in their sacred tables. Nor did they content themselves,' says he, with placing the serpent with their gods, but often represented the gods themselves with the body and tail of a serpent.'
The universality of the religious honours shown to this animal among the ancients, and the continuation of it, in dispersed fragments, among the moderns, particularly in Western Africa, Abyssinia, and Egypt, is worthy of remark, and has not escaped the observation of M. de Pauw, wlio says, “The information of the ancients concerning the interior of Africa, was certainly more extensive than ours; but, on the other hand, the coasts are much better known to us, and all the nations there, without exception, revere serpents. The inhabitants of the kingdom of Judhae worship one species, which seems to have no noxious qualities, and it is even said to destroy some black-coloured adders, of a smaller size, said to be venomous; but other negroes have converted real vipers into fetiches, although their bite almost invariably occasions death. In general, the adoration paid to serpents is founded on the fear naturally entertained by mankind for those reptiles ; such as are dangerous, it is supposed, should be conciliated ; and the others seem to merit a peculiar distinction, as if a genius, friendly to humanity, bad taken care to disarm them; and tbis class has principally been used for prognostication. The omens were considered favourable when the Isiac serpents tasted the offering, and dragged themselves slowly round the altar. But it must be observed, that some of those reptiles attach themselves, like dogs, to their masters, and learn different tricks, which are never afterwards forgotten: thus we may, with some certainty, suppose that the serpents of Isis were taught to obey the voice or gesture of the ministers.
The worship rendered to serpents was not confined to particular towns of Thebais and Delta; for Elias assures us, that they were kept in all the temples of Egypt.* This seems the more probable, because it was one of the most ancient, or perhaps the first, superstition of the inhabitants of Africa, where the largest adders were carefully collected for the temples of Serapis : some of those brought by the Ethiopians to Alexandria, were twenty-five or twenty-six feet in length, but they are found of more than twice that size in Senegal. Sect. 7.
In short, the symbolical worship of the serpent was, in the first ages, so very extensive, that it was introduced into all the mysteries,
* De Nat. Animal. lib. 10, cap. 31.
wherever celebrated, being transported from Egypt into Greece. • It is remarkable,' adds Mr. Bryant, that wherever the Ammonians founded any places of worship, there was generally some story of a serpent; and similar legends existed both at Colchis, at Thebes, and at Delphi, whose oracles were so revered among the Greeks.
Full of the indescribable sensations, which recollections like these were calculated to inspire, at such a moment, and on such a scene of reflection as the present, we were about to quit the ruins of the venerable piles, when, towards the eastern extremity, among a number of immense blocks, fallen probably from the roof and walls of the temple itself, but now so worn at their edges, as to resemble uphewn rocks, we observed a square mass of polished white stone, terminating in a pyramidical point, like the Alexandrian obelisk, and lying now partly covered by other blocks, and partly buried in the earth, and wild grass grown up around it.
Led by curiosity to examine it more closely, we found it hollowed out in front, and very richly sculptured, though injured in some places by the fall. Its size might be taken at about ten feet square for the extreme, and I know not how to describe its form more simply, than by comparing it to the case of a table-clock, ending upwards pyramidically. The space hollowed out in it partakes of the figure of the mass itself, being nearly square, and leaving a solid thickness of about a foot of stone, to form the back and sides of this curious monolithic cabinet. Its interior was filled with miniature hieroglyphics, of superior execution, and its front was adorned with figures of the same kind, the whole surmounted by two winged globes, cut in full relief, on horizontal compartments, extending along the whole of its breadth, after the manner of a frieze and cornice. Indeed, it was altogether so finished a production, and so much more pains had been evidently bestowed upon it, than upon the sculptured decorations of the temples themselves, that I felt persuaded it must have been designed for some superior purpose, more particularly as it could not possibly have formed any part of the building itself, the polished perfection of all its sides proving it to have been originally detached from the edifice. It was, perhaps, one of those monolithic temples, in which the sacred animals were known to be usually enclosed, and from which their oracles were often delivered; and, independent of its form, the superior style of its execution was of itself a sufficient proof of its having been honoured with some extraordinarily sacred charges.
In the mountains, about two or three miles distant, are immense excavations, and numerous tombs, which seem to prove that the Temple of Anatæopolis was not destitute of worshippers, proportioned to its original splendour. As the calm continued after sunset, I took my frugal supper beneath its venerable and ruined portico, remaining there until the rising of the midnight moon. In the salutary communion which man sometimes feels disposed to
hold with himself, solitude and silence are not without their beneficial influence. The decay of empire-the degradation of art, the instability even of rational religions and established creeds, outlived by the very temples they reared, and the tombs they hallowed were all calculated to teach humility and charity, to elevate the mind, and to purify the heart. Yet, favourable as silence and solitude may be to meditation, I would have given my all for the society of a feeling friend, whose congeniality of sentiment would have stamped a value on the reflections which the scene suggested, and whose sympathy would have cheered the gloom that every thing around me created.
Childe Harold's Last PilgriMAGE.
(The following beautiful poem is from a volume just published by the Rev. Lisle Bowles :
it is inscribed to Thomas Moore, Esq.
“ So ends Childe Harold his last pilgrimage!
Upon the shores of Greece he stood, and cried
Sparta! thy rocks then heard another cry.
“ I will not ask sad Pity to deplore
His wayward errors, who thus early died :
And pray thy spirit may such quiet have,
“ So Harold ends, in Greece, his pilgrimage !
There fitly ending,-in that land renown’d,
Sinking to rest, while his young brows are bound
Harold, I follow, to thy place of birth,
“ Slow moves the plumed hearse, the mourning train,
I mark the sad procession with a sigh,
Her son, releas’d from mortal labour's load,
“ Bursting Death's silence-could that mother speak
(Speak when the earth was heaped upon his head)In thrilling, but with hollow accent weak, She thus might give the welcome of the dead ;• Here rest, my son, with me ;-that dream is fled ; The motley mask and the great stir is o'er ; Welcome to me, and to this silent bed,
Where deep forgetfulness succeeds the roar Of life, and fretting passions waste the heart no more.
“ .Here rest, in the oblivious grave repose,
After the toil of earth’s tumultuous way:
Saviour, Almighty Judge, look down on me,
* The beautiful pastoral vale of Tempe in Arcadia, celebrated by all the poets of Greece.
+ She died in Scotland. I have presumed she might have been buried at Newstead, as that he was born there.
FURTHER EXAMINATIONS OF MR. RICKARDS' LAST Work on
Ryotwar Settlement. In our previous notices of the third part of Mr. Rickards's work on India, we have laid before our readers a short account of the system of Mohammedan finance which prevailed before our acquisition of territorial revenues, and of the modifications wbich it has undergone under our administration, in the provinces subject to the Bengal Presidency. It appears that, notwithstanding an earnest desire on the part of the Directors to respect the rights, and conform to the usages of the people ; notwithstanding the strenuous exertions of the great and good Cornwallis, to supply the exigencies of the Company's treasury, with as little inconvenience as possible to their subjects, that the Zemindarry system, introduced under his auspices, has failed in all the objects contemplated in its establishment; that in those districts of which the capabilities had been accurately ascertained, the people have been reduced to beggary; in others, Natives have attained prodigious wealth and consequence, by the cultivation of lands, represented, in carelessness or ignorance, to be wastes ; that multitudes still complain of the disregard of vested claims, and the invasion of inalienable rights; and that Government is disabled from introducing a consistent system of reform, by having inconsiderately pledged itself to the performance of the present arrangement. This last, indeed, is an obstruction in the way of improvement which the Directors will find it difficult to remove. The existence of an upstart aristocracy, not enjoying the confidence of their rulers, alienated by religious prejudice, and the tradition of ancient injustice, from the cause and the principles of our government, and despising the mean exterior of mere official authority, were of itself sufficient to excite uneasiness and alarm, The ostentatious pomp, the luxury and munificence of a Native gentleman, not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Cutchery, too proud and powerful to bow to the European collector or judge, is well calculated to revive recollections of better times in the minds of the impoverished peasantry. For this reason alone it would be desirable that the sense of subjection to a foreign rule should be more frequently impressed upon him, and that his estates should be made contributory to the necessities of the government, and the relief of his less fortunate neighbours. But to their assessment, the good faith of the permanent settlement is opposed ; and, while the free lands, and those originally marked as waste, support a less miserable tenantry, and exhibit more regularity of husbandry, we are compelled to exact our revenue from the poorest and most wretched of the people. So long as thirty years ago, the superiority of the free lands over those subject to assessment, was marked and