« AnteriorContinuar »
"He sendeth the springs into the valleys which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches." The earth is represented as pouring forth from her lap the abundance of food for man and beast. The habits of various animals are accurately noted. The revolu. tions of the heavenly bodies, bringing day and night, and the change of seasons are next reviewed and celebrated in strains rivalling their own, when “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Afterward the great and wide sea, in its depths, is disclosed, and exhibited as a world of enjoyment as infinitely extended as the endless diversities of its strange population of living things innumerable, “ both great and small.”
One passage, and but one more, must not be passed over, the picturesque reality of which will be perceived by all who have a heart to feel horror, or an eye to rejoice in beauty :-“Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.—The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.-The sun ariseth; they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.-Man goeth forth unto his work and his labour until the evening.-0 Lord ! how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all."
The remaining unquoted passages of this Psalm are worthy of the foregoing, especially the verses which describe animal life, death, and resuscitation, by the breathing, withdrawing, or regenerating influence of that Divine Spirit which at first “moved upon the waters.” Who, after reading the whole of this sublime strain, can forbear to exclaim, with the royal Psalmist, at the close :-“ Bless Thou the Lord, O my soul!" and then invoke all living to do the same _“Praise ye the Lord.”
Literature of the Hindoos. ALTHOUGH the modern Hindoos are generally distinguished by deplorable mental as well as bodily imbecility, they are the descendants of ancestors not less conspicuous both for intellectual and physical power. Learning is said to have flourished in India before it was cultivated in Egypt, and some have assumed that it was from beyond the Indus that the Nile itself was first visited with the orient beams of knowledge. The modern Hindoos, however, in their unutterable degradation, are only careful to preserve the monuments of their forefathers' glory and intelligence in the stupendous ruins, or, rather, in the imperishable skeletons of their temples, and in their sacred and scientific books. But the latter being wholly in the hands of the Brahmins, few of whom understand much of their contents, are impregnably sealed from the researches of the multitude.
The astronomical tables of the ancient Indians are yet the admiration of Europeans, considering the disadvantages under which they were framed; and if there remained no other discernible traces of learn ing, these would mark a high degree of civilization among the people that could calculate them. Dwelling, like their contemporaries the Chaldeans and Babylonians, in immense plains, where, over an un, broken circle of horizon below, a perfect hemisphere of sky was expanded above, they watched the motions of the stars, while they guarded their flocks by night, and learned to read with certainty, in the phases of the heavens, the signs of times and seasons useful to the husbandman and the mariner.
But, unsatisfied with these, they vainly endeavoured to find out what the heavens could not teach-the destinies of individuals and the revolutions of em: pires.
The sacred books of the Hindoos, which are yet preserved (so far as their authenticity can be deemed probable, and their institutes have been explored), display a corresponding elegance of style, simplicity of thought, and purity of doctrine, in all these respects differing essentially from the monstrous fables, the bloody precepts, and shocking abominations with which their more modern writings abound. The affinity between the architecture and hieroglyphics of India and Egypt indicates the common origin of both, and almost necessarily implies the senior claims of the former; for science, like empire, has uniformly travelled westward in its great cycle, whatever occasional retrogradation may have been caused by disturbing forces. Egypt, with all its wonders, can boast nothing so magnificent as the Caves of Elora, consisting of a series of temples, sixteen in number, a mile and a half in length, and each from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet in breadth, with heights proportioned, all sculptured out of the live rock by labour incalculable, and with skill only equalled by the grandeur of the edifices on which they have been expended. Edifices, however, they are not, in the proper sense of the word. The men of those days found in the heart of their country a mountain of granite equal to the site of a modern city. They excavated the solid mass, not building up, but bringing out, like the statue from the marble, the multitudinous design; shaping sanctuaries, with their roofs and walls, and decorating them with gigantic images and shrines, by removing the fragments as they were hewn away, till the whole was presented standing upon innumerable pillars, left in the places where they had been identified with the original block; the range of temples, from the flint pavement
“The fig-tree-not that kind for fruit renown'd,
Could the minds that conceived and the hands that wrought this prodigy of art have been those of men in their second childhood, -not the second childhood of individuals, but of a people fallen into dotage and decrepitude, like their descendants, under the double curse of tyranny and superstition? No; the ancient Indians were men of mighty bone and mighty intellect, not only according to the evidence of these unparalleled relics of their power, but according to the most authentic testimony of those who have de. scribed the expedition of Alexander the Great into this vast region. Whatever were his victories, he saw a boundary there which he was not permitted to pass; and when he left India behind him unsubdued, he had little reason to sigh for other worlds to conquer. Nor (which is principally to our present
purpose) was he less thwarted by the philosophers of India than baffled by its warriors and its climate. These exercised such influence over the people, that the tribes rose in mass to repel the invader, or perish on the field, or amid the blazing ruins of their strong-holds, rather than submit-and thenceforward live under the ban of excommunication from the society of men, which the priests had power decree, and all the plagues which it was believed the gods would inflict upon the betrayers of their country to a stranger.
In later ages, unfortunately, India was subdued, subdued again and again; and for two thousand years it has been the prey of foreigners. At length, however, in the order of Providence, it has become a province of the British empire; and, by whatever means acquired, it may be confidently asserted that our dominion there must be—I trust will be-maintained by beneficence. Resolutely avoiding all political allusions, I cannot hesitate to say that a better day has dawned on that land of darkness; yet, before the Hindoo can rise to the dignity of independent man, a spell which has paralyzed his spirit for thousands of years must be taken off. The chain of caste must be broken-that subtlest and strongest of chains, at once invisible and indissoluble ; each link being perfect and insulated, so as to enclose within its little magic circle a distinct class of the community, and prevent the individuals for ever from mingling with those of any other class; while all the links are so implicated together as to make all the classes one race of captives, dragged, as it were, in perpetual succession, at the chariot-wheels of their own Juggernaut, along the broad road of ignorance, debase. ment, and superstition. This chain must be broken by the gradual association of persons of various castes in civil, military, commercial, and religious bands, wherein all acting together, and on terms of equality, those fetters which both concatenate and