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1832.] West Door of Newton Chapel, Somerset-Isis & Osiris.
Mr. URBAN, Sarum, Jan. 25. I SEND you a drawing (Pl. II.) of the West Door of Newton Chapel, near North Petherton, Somerset.
The figures refer to the parable of the Ten Virgins in the 25th chapter of St. Matthew, and the workmanship exhibits a mixture of Gothic with the style of the 16th century, which date appears on a, richly carved cornice running round the interior of the Chapel.
The chancel screen is handsome, and consists of figures supporting a cornice in the same taste as the upper of the west door; but of this I had not time to make a correct drawing.
The Chapel is on the property of Sir Thomas Acland, and was built by an ancestor of the present Baronet, for the benefit of his tenantry. It is well worthy the notice of the antiquary and the artist; and I hope some of your Correspondents will favour me with a more particular account of it than I was able to obtain. E.W.
•Broomfield Hull, Bridgewater. ON a late visit to my respected neighbour, the Rev. John Poole, Rector of Enmore (known for his "Village School Improved," and other works for the education of the poor), my attention was drawn to a pair of images (Pl. II. fig. 1, 2) on whose signification it appeared the ingenuity of several friends had been vainly exercised. They had been in his family about a century, but with their history he is unacquainted. They are of fine alabaster, much yellowed by age; about twenty inches high with their pedestals; and have sustained partial injury.
After some examination, I have lit tle doubt they are representations of Isis and Osiris. But their character is, I believe, unique, and their costume and insignia singular. The sculpture is not Egyptian, as is evident from the ornamental scrolls and festoons of the pedestals, and the general style of the figures. Isis is habited as a Syrian huntress, in a short tunic, not very unlike a boddice and kirtle, which is bound round her waist with a double row of pearls. She is also decorated with a necklace GENT. MAG. May, 1832.
of the same material. In her right hand she holds a bow, while her quiver full of arrows is suspended on her left side. An ample scarf floats over her shoulders. In her left hand she holds the head of her husband Osiris, who has been recently murdered by his brother Typhon, and which she has just discovered on the Phoenician coast, whither the mangled pieces of his corpse have been floated by the current from the Nile, into which they were cast by the assassin. She contemplates. this sad spectacle with an aspect of sorrowful bereavement. Her right leg is brought forward over a crocodile, which is much mutilated, having lost both head and tail, but which is the symbol of Typhon, regarded by the Egyptians as the genius of evil, and here introduced to signify the destroyer. Osiris himself is sculptured as a King in a long stole, over which is a tunic, and a sort of ermined hood, very similar to those worn by old feudal dukes. He has something like a coronet on his head, which is well covered with hair, while, as an Egyptian, he is beardless. In his right hand he holds a temple porch, with its pediment and twisted columns; indicating him as the institutor of divine worship among his subjects; in the same way as royal and prelatical founders of churches were in the middle age. In his left he bears his sceptre, the top of which is broken off; as is part of a scarf to which it was attached. His robe is covered with stars, and bordered and fringed at the hem. He also wears a girdle of pearls. At his feet is Apis, his symbol, garlanded with pearls between the horns, which are curved inwardly, so as almost to form a circle, in obvious allusion to the solar orb, and corresponding with the mythological signification of Isis as the Moon, identified with the Bona Dea of the East, and the huntress Diana of Greece, and particularly of Crete.
The figures may be regarded as astronomical in their design. That Osiris as well as Adonis and Thammuz personified the Sun, is a supposition warranted by ritual similarity of worship. Nor can I refrain from quoting in this connexion_Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, 1. 4: Concerning Adonis, whom sometimes ancient authors call Osiris, there are two things
remarkable; apavioμos, the death or loss of Adonis, and eupnous, the finding of him again. As there was great lamentation at his loss, especially among the women; so was there great joy at his finding. By the death or loss of Adonis, we are to understand the departure of the Sun; by his finding again, we are to understand his return."
"Nunquamque satis quæsitus Osiris, Semper enim perdunt, semper et inveniunt." LUCAN.
And again : "When the Biblienses solemnized the death or loss of Adonis, at that time the Alexandrini wrote a letter this letter was inclosed in an ark of bulrushes; therein they signified that Adonis whom they lamented was found again. This ark, after the performance of certain rites and ceremonies, being committed to the sea forthwith, it was carried by the stream to Byblus: upon the receipt whereof, the lamentation of the women was turned into joy." This is taken from Procopius in Isaiam, ad C. 18.
Selden de Diis Syriis, after mentioning the same circumstance, adds; "Vas illud seu Ollam Caput papyraceum vocat Lucianus libro de Deâ Syria : βυβλινην κεφαλην eamque diebus septem ex Ægypto Byblum, ait, mari ac vento divinitus præparatis, transvehi solitam.' Now Byblus was on the Phoenician coast just above Berytus, and the wafting of this vessel of Papyrus by the current from Alexandria, very much corresponds with the legend of Plutarch, that Typhon shut up his brother in a coffer, and threw him into the Nile; that Isis found it on the Phoenician coast, and ordered it to be conveyed to Memphis; that it was intercepted by Typhon, and cut in pieces, which she afterwards recovered, &c.
J. W. MIDDELTON,
Mr. URBAN, Bridge-st. Blackfriars. SIR John Sinclair, in his work on Longevity, mentions his having spoke to a person who had spoken to a person who had known a person (Henry
Jenkins), who had been at the battle of Flodden Field, 1513. As Sir John is now alive, we may have the account of a battle fought three hundred and twenty years ago at fourth hand, by oral communication.
I cannot equal this; but, shortly
before the death of Richard Clark, the late estimable Chamberlain of London, who died in his 92d year, about a year ago, I was conversing with him on the length of his reminiscences.* Among other things he was asked what was the most remote historical event he could recollect, in order that in times hereafter we might transmit it by word of mouth, perhaps to inquirers unborn.
The old gentleman paused for a while. He said he well recollected George II. and his Court; but, added he, "that's not much." "But," he continued, "I remember in the days of my youth, we had about the house a man who was present at the first whipping of Titus Oates, and who was fond of describing it; that's a long time ago now."
So indeed it is. Titus was whipped in the year 1685; I therefore have spoken to a gentleman who knew au eye-witness of an event that occurred nearly a century and a half ago, or forty-seven years before the establishment of the Gentleman's Magazine.
Mr. URBAN, Burslem, April 14. MY attention has been lately directed to some parts of the immortal work of Pliny, that Encyclopædia of Roman knowledge (if I may so term it), and amongst others, to the second chapter of his 37th book, in which, speaking of the triumph of Pompey on account of his Asiatic expedition, he says that Murrhine vessels (Murrhina) were then first brought into Rome, and that Pompey consecrated six cups of these his oriental spoils to the Capitoline Jupiter. He adds, that vessels of this kind soon passed into use, and had become common appendages to the table and the closet: he speaks, however, of their great value, and of a pitcher which held only three quarts (sextarii), having been sold for eighty sertertia (or about 6201.) Our author then gives some rather whimsical anecdotes about these Murrhine vases, from pure regard to one of them, bit a -tells us of a consular worthy, who, piece out of its rim; that Nero deprived his numerous children of their
A memoir of Mr. Clark, with anecdotes of some of his early reminiscences, will be found in our last volume, part i. pp. 184, 652.
Murrhine cans for the sake of adorning his favourite garden, and (as if to outrage fortune) ostentatiously dashed in pieces an urn which had contained the ashes of Alexander the Great. Passing over these and other incidental remarks, from which the very costly quality of these articles is manifest, the historian proceeds to say, that the East supplied Rome with Murrhine utensils; that they were brought from the kingdom of Parthia; that it was believed the aqueous properties of the substance were consolidated by igneous agency underground; that the articles seldom exceeded in size the valuable pitcher he had mentioned; that their brilliancy was not remarkable, and they might be said rather to be neat than brilliant: he speaks too of their shades of colouring, which were purple, red, and white, and of their coloured borders, and mentions roughness (sales) and low nodules on the surface (verruca), as not uncommon. Elsewhere (viz. in the Introduction to his 33d chapter) Pliny speaks of Murrhine and crystalline substances being dug from the same parts of the world; the brittleness of which constituted their chief value, it being the boast and pride of wealth and luxury, to possess what might in a moment be annihilated.
These passages from this ancient author have greatly excited my curiosity concerning the substance he calls Murrhine: he evidently speaks of it as a natural production, classing it with rock crystal, though of inferior brilliancy, and describes it as imported into Italy from eastern countries at a remote distance, where it was supposed to be hardened in the earth by natural heat. What designation the naturalists of the present day may think proper to apply to the Murrhine of Pliny, I am at a loss to conjecture; and avowing my want of geological skill, am led (perhaps from lack of this sort of knowledge) to entertain the hypothesis, which I shall endeavour to establish on this seemingly doubtful subject. My opinion then is, that the Murrhine of Pliny is no other than Chinese porcelain ; and on referring to Dr. Johnson's etymological notice of the word, it seems to have been a common opinion amongst Europeans that porcelain was a natural substance matured under
ground. I do not find that Pliny any where describes utensils plainly distinguishable as of the latter kind, and I cannot believe that the Romans, in the zenith of their conquests, could have been unacquainted with these eastern productions, it being well ascertained that the antiquity of them goes far beyond the commencement of the Roman empire.
That Pliny should have been led into the error of considering them to be natural substances, formed by art, will not be thought surprising, if we reflect that besides their great resemblance to curious works of the chisel, the merchants by whom they were imported had a vast interest in spreading and keeping up such a delusion, by which they at the same time maintained the excessive dearness of the commodity; nor will this conjecture appear less forcible, when I add that Lord Bacon, our own Magnus Apollo, only two centuries ago entertained the same opinion respecting the substance of porcelain. I quote from his "Case of Impeachment of Waste" (vol. iv. p. 214, edit. 1819):
"So if we had in England beds of porcelane, such as they have in China, which porcelane is a kind of plaster buried in the earth, and by length of time congealed and glazed into that fine substance, this were as an artificial mine, and no doubt part of the inheritance."
Perhaps Lord Bacon may have taken his idea from Pliny, and in that case he considered the nature of the Murrhine vases of the latter unquestionable his adoption of the fact of their being no other than porcelain, may well warrant my present assumption. Did my Lord Bacon, however, uninfluenced by Pliny, entertain the same notion of the substance of porcelain which Pliny advances in his description of Murrhine? Then the two articles are either the same, or they present similar appearances to the philosophic eye, and we must either identify them together, or try to identify them apart. The excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii (buried by the same convulsion in which Pliny perished) must have brought Murrhine utensils to light; they were at that time common luxuries, and I shall be much gratified to learn that some of the china closets of those interesting cities have solved this curious problem. If only what we now call porcelain
shall have been found, this is certainly the Murrhine of Pliny; nor let it be a matter of wonder that a Roman, any less than an English philosopher, should commit the strange mistake of classing this amongst natural substances; for the figuline productions of Italy were as different in the time of Pliny, as was the coarse earthenware of England in the time of Lord Bacon from Chinese porcelain, and that difference was such as to entitle the respective articles to distinct classifications. All the ancient specimens of Italian as well as English pottery confirm this assertion, and well may our own and the Roman sage, who knew nothing of the beautiful combination of Kaoin with Petunt-se, or any thing resembling it, be excused for having classed it among the rare productions of nature.
IF the following account of the Titular Bishops of Down and Connor since the Reformation, which I have compiled with some pains, is of any use to you, it is much at your service; I am inclined to believe that it will be an acceptable document to the Irish historian; and I trust it will therefore readily obtain a place in your pages. The history of Ireland is as imperfectly known, as it is important to England that it should be thoroughly understood. For the statesman, and the philosopher, in proposing remedies to cure the ills of Ireland, without a knowledge of the past, are like young surgeons called upon to act without previous study in a case where the utmost skill is required. S.M.S.
1541. Eugene Magennis; he was present at the Parliament held in 1559, when the power of the Pope was abrogated, and. doubtless resigned the see soon after.-Ware.
1564. Miler Magragh, alias Mac Gragh, a Franciscan friar, a native of the county Fermanagh, was appointed by the Pope, but conforming to the Protestant faith in 1570, he was made Bishop of Clogher, and afterwards translated to Cashel and Emly, where he died in 1622, in the 100th year of his age.-Ware, MS.
1611. Cornelius O'Duane, alias Dovane, a Franciscan friar. On the 1st of February, he and Friar Patrick
Logher, a northern priest, were executed in Dublin, by order of the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester. They stood charged with assisting and abetting Tyrone in his rebellion. He was author of a work entitled "Index Martyrialis."-Ware. Analecta Sacra.
1612. Connor O'Duan, alias Cnohor O'Duana. In July this year he was taken prisoner, and confined in the castle of Dublin, for exercising the functions of a Roman Catholic Prelate. He remained in confinement several years, but escaping, he was again taken, and in February 1616, hanged, drawn, and quartered, with Dr. Bryan Carrighan, his chaplain, and two other priests.-Theatre of Catholic and Protestant Religion.
1628. In November, the titular Bishop of those sees (name unknown) died a prisoner in the castle of Dublin; he stood accused by one Patrick O'Mulvany, a priest, of conspiring to promote an invasion of Ireland.-Robert Ware's Hunting of the Romish Fox.
1641. Emar Mac Mahon. He is stated by Carte to have been the chief cause of all the murders committed in the north of Ireland. In November 1642, he was one of the six representatives for Ulster, at the General Assembly of Confederate Roman Catholics held at Kilkenny, and one of the Supreme Council of that body. About the beginning of 1646, he was translated to the see of Clogher, of which he had for some time been Vicar-General.-Carte. Borlaise's Irish Rebellion. Cox's History of Ireland.
1647. In this year we find Arthur Maginnis Bishop, and one of the General Assembly of Confederate Roman Catholics associated at Kilkenny, and one of their Supreme Council. He fell at the battle of Scarfollis, near Letterkenny, fought June 21, 1650. In this action the Roman Catholic troops were commanded by the abovementioned Mac Mahon, Bishop of Clogher.—Burk's Hib. Dom. Borlaise's Irish Rebellion.