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their religion and philosophy-not doos we perceive it often sweetened the fantastic crust of superstition, but and refined by sentiment,-a spiritual the more spiritual dogmas which liebe- as well as a sensuous yearning, low; and, wasting but little time upon purer, as ardent, more pervading than what was false, set himself to elimi. the love-passion of contemporaneous nate the true, and place it once more nations. And the same spirituality of before the world. "In this way let nature which made the Hindoo thus, him paint the Chinese, stout, square- fitted him also for the subtlest and set, and supple,-ever labouring con- loftiest flights of speculation,-savourtentedly in their rice-fields, and de- ing little of the utilitarian, indeed, but lighting in social intercourse; but also, tending to gratify the soul in many with a free and martial spirit, of which of its highest and purest aspirations. the world is now incredulous, repel- Caste, unknown in China, was in Inling with slaughter the nomade hordes dia all-prevalent; and there, also, we of Central Asia which subsequently meet in its sternest form that spirit of overthrew the mighty empires of the devoted asceticism by which the mysWest. Let him depict the country tics of the East, and subordinately covered with district-schools, and the even in the Christian Church, bave people trained in social morals by a striven to exalt themselves above Government system of education, cen- the level of bumanity, by extinguishturies before the birth of Christ. Leting all earthly passion, and so drawhim set forth the practical good sense ing into nearer communion with the and kindliness of spirit which charac- Deity. terised the inhabitants of that vast Or pass to Egypt, and behold the empire, as well as their eminence in now desolate valley-land of the Nile the social and industrial arts of life ; reinvested with its old splendour and yet glance with brief but warning fertility. Let a thousand irrigating words at the materialistic tendencies, canals spread again over the surface, alike in creed and practice, by which re-clothing the land with verdure; these good qualities were in some de- wbile up from the sands spring miles gree counterbalanced. Or turn to of temples, pyramids, and endless the Hindoo, with his slim and grace- avenues of sphinxes, obelisks, and giful figure, symbolising the fine and gantic statues. And Thebes with its susceptible spirit within. See him * hundred gates," its libraries, and among the flowery woods, luxuriant stately palaces, -and Memphis with vegetation, and countless sparkling its immense population, whose bones waters of the Indian land, --so spirit- are still seen whitening the desert ual and alive to the impressions of the sands whereon the city once bloomed external world, that he feels bound in amidst verdure, — reappear with lively sympathy with every living crowds of artisans and professional thing around him, whether it be beast men, carrying the division of labour or bird, tree or flower,--and in the almost as far as it is done in modern faith of the most imaginative panthe- times; while all around a rural popuism that the world ever saw, regard- lation is tending herds or tilling the ing himself and all created forms as thrice-fertile soil; and, wearily and incarnations of the Deity, animated worn, innumerable bands of captives directly by the spirit of the great -Nubians from the south, Negroes Creator; and, a firm believer in the from the desert, Arabs from across transmigration of souls, regarding the Red Sea, and Syrians and Assyevery object around him with plain- rians from Euphrates to the foot of tive tenderness, as possibly the dwell- Mount Taurus--are toiling in digging ing of the soul of some lost friend or canals, in making bricks, or in quarrelative. See him under his master- rying, transporting, or raising to their sentiment of love. That passion, place, those huge blocks of granite almost nniversally in the ancient which fill with astonishment the enworld, was a mere thirst of the senses; gineers even of our own times. Turn and the few instances in which it from all this pomp and bustle and figures in the literature of Greece and busy hum of life, along tbat silent Rome, it is made to strike its victims mile-long avenue of double sphinxes ; like a frenzy. But among the Hin- and, passing beneath the stupendous
ornamented portals of Karnac or in power, and wholly men in passion. Luxor, or some other temple of the Keenly alive to pleasure, and hearing land, enter the vast halls and count- little of the deeper voices of the soul, less apartments devoted to sacerdotal their thoughts clung wholly to the seclusion, - where the white-robed beautiful world around them; and, priests of the Nile, bathing three wbile acknowledging the soul's imtimes a day to maintain mental inortality, they ever looked upon Elypurity and calm, engaged in the ab- sium, their world beyond the grave, stract sciences, or search deep into as a shadowy land where joy becomes the secrets of nature for that magical so diluted as bardly to be worth the power by which they fascinated and having. The greatest poets the world subjugated the minds of the people, ever saw, they embodied their conand which enabled them to contend ceptions, alike in literature, in archion almost equal terms with the di. tecture, and the plastic arts, in forms vinely-commissioned champion of the of such divine beanty, that after-ages Hebrews.
have abandoned in despair even the Or turn the eye northward, and see hope of rivalling them. The story of the Persian preparing to descend Greece is not easily told; it excelled from his mountains and conquer the in so many departments of human world. Verdant valleys amidst ste- effort-producing almost simultanerile hills and sandy plains are his home, ously an Alexander, a Socrates, a blazed over by a sun to whose bright Plato, a Demosthenes, an Aristotleorb he kneels in adoration as an em- not to speak of a Democritus, blem of the Deity. Hardy, handsome, Thales, an Anaxagoras, and others, chivalrous, luxurious, despotic, and in whose daring but vaguely-framed ambitious, - yet animated by a spirit systems of the universe are to be of justice, and by a religious belief so found not a few brilliant anticipations pure as at once to sympathise with of world-wide truth, which modern that of the Hebrews, and to win for science is now recovering, and placing the Persian monarch the title of the on the firm and only definite basis of “ Servant of God;" they are the first experiment. in history to exhibit a nation, few in Add to the story of these nations numbers, but strong in arms and wis that of the Roman-the great condom, lording it over an immense tract queror and legislator,—the story of a of country, and over subjugated city that came to throw its chains tribes-Syrians, Assyrians, Asiatic over the world, -and thence pass Greeks, and Egyptians—of divers ori- over the dying ashes of l’aganism gin and customs from themselves. into the new world of Christianity, The iron phalanx of Alexander at and to the congeries of kingdoms length caused this empire of satrapies which arose under its beneficent sway to crumble into the dust; but under in mediæval Europe, at first small, a new dynasty it revived again, so as and never presenting those great conto wage war successfully even with trasts so observable in the old em. the all-conquering legions of Rome. pires of Paganism, but each telling
Away, around the shores of the love- its lesson to those who study it, and ly Ægean—on the sunny slopes of some of them already influencing the Asia Minor, among the sparkling vine- fortunes of the human race to an exclad islets of the Cyclades, and on the tent never possible or dreamt of in rocky, picturesque, bay-indented pen- prior times. The “meteor-flag” of insula of Greece, the gay and mar- England is the great object which, in tial Hellenic race disported them these latter days, arrests the eye of selves. As a race, young, imagina- the philosophic observer,- bridging tive, superstitious, and enamoured of over the seas, peopling continents and the beautiful, they ascribed every phe- islands with civilised man,-and carrynomenon in nature to the action of a god ing the science, the religion, and the -peopled the woods, the hills, the wa- beneficent sway of Great Britain over ters, with graceful imaginary beings an empire upon which the sun never sympathising with and often visible to sets, and to climes "where Cæsar's man, and filling even the highest hea eagles never flew." ven with divinities who were gods but Paradoxical as it may seem,
further we recede from the era of those wholly dropt out of mind again, or old nations, the better able are we languished on as mere toys or curiobecoming to write their history and un- sities. And had those old cities been derstand their civilisation. Not only unbared at some earlier period, would are mankind becoming tolerant of they not most lamentably have shared truth in whatever attire it present itself, the fate of the monuments which reand thus learning to sympathise with, mained above ground—been wantonly and so comprehend, those old forms destroyed by a barbarous population, of civilisation, but the recent study of or been used as quarries, from whence the languages of India and China have the degenerate successors of the elder opened up to us the literature and life of race might indolently draw their those old countries. The discovery of building materials ? But the earth a clue to the hieroglyphics of Egypt, to took them into her own safe keeping, the rock-inscriptions of Persia, and to and covered them up until the world the arrow-headed chronicles of As- had grown older and wiser, and knew syria, constitutes a series of unex- how to prize such monuments of pected triumphs, which promises to memorable but long-forgotten times. rend the veil of oblivion from the Of all the great empires wbich bave face of those long-perished empires. enduringly impressed themselves upon Lastly, the earth herself has been giv- the world's memory, no
one has ing us back their skeletons. Two old perished leaving so few visible marks Roman cities, Herculaneum and Pom- of its existence as that which first peii, accidentally discovered, have been rose into greatness in the land of cleared of their superincumbent mass Assyria. It was this memorable reof lava and ashes, and given back to gion which gave birth to the first of the light precisely as they stood on the old " universal empires.” On the day when the eruption of Vesu- the plains of Shinar, on the banks of vius overwhelmed them eighteen the Lower Euphrates, a community hundred years ago. Into those long- of civilised men was assembled more buried streets we have descend- than four thousand years ago. There, ed, and seen the domestic civilisa. in course of time, arose Babylon, with tion of imperial Rome mirrored in its impregnable walls, behind which those hastily-abandoned boudoirs and the city might eat and drink and be dining-rooms, baths, temples, and merry, though the mightiest of anpublic buildings. In the wastes of cient hosts were encamped outside. Persia, Chardin stumbled upon the There were the fabled hanging-garruins of imperial Persepolis, whose dens, the wonder of the world, erected very site had for ages dropt out of by one of its monarchs to please his the world's memory. The thousand young Median bride, whose heart monuments of Egypt have been yearned for the hills and groves of her studied, their historic sculptures and native land. Towering above all was mural paintings magnificently copied, the vast temple of Belus, unequalled and a portrait-gallery published of for magnificence in the ancientworld, its ancient dynasties. Finally, Layard crowned with its gigantic golden statue and Botta have carried the thirst of of the sun-god, rising so high, and flashdiscovery to the banks of the Tigris ing so brightly in the upper air, that to and Euphrates, and bave exhumed the crowds below it seemed invested from the mounds of long-lost Nineveh with the splendours of the deity whom striking and instructive vestiges of it symbolised. But more than two the first of the so-called “universal" thousand years have elapsed since all empires.
this grandeur came to a sudden end ; The opportuneness of these reve- and so thoroughly bas the city moullations of the past cannot but strike dered into the dust, and so completely one as remarkable. Knowledge re- bas it buried itself in its own ruins, vealed too early is lost. Steam, the that during the recent excavations compass, gunpowder, the principle executed on its site, scarcely a deof the electric telegraph, and a hundred tached figure in stone, or a solitary other discoveries made of old might tablet, says Mr Layard, was dug out be mentioned, which, in consequence of the vast heaps of rubbish.
mankind not being ready for them, bylon is fallen, is fallen ! and all the
graven images of her gods He hath which were even then the remains of broken unto the ground."
an ancient city." To the north, near the head of the It must not be supposed, because great Mesopotamian valley, on the Nineveh and Babylon are the only banks of the Tigris, stood the sister or cities made much mention of in Asrival city of Nineveh-Babylon and it syrian history, that none others of forming, as it were, the foci of the importance existed in the country Assyrian realm, which spread out like around. On the contrary, again and an ellipse around them. Nineveh, again, in the course of his journeys, “that great city," against which Jonah does Mr Layard speak of mounds of of old uttered his prophetic warnings ruins, marking the site of wbat must —from whose gates Sennacherib, Sar- once have been “ large cities.” In gon, and Holofernes successively set truth, the valley-land of Mesopotamia, forth, with their spearmen, and horses, with its rich alluvial plains, intersectand chariots against Damascus and ed by the Tigris and Euphrates and Israel, and the coasts of Tyre and their numerous tributaries, presented Sidon,-and around whose walls the a vast surface, which at any moment combined armies of Persia and Baby- the industry of man might convert lonia encamped for three years in vain, into a garden. In remotest times, if fell at last by a doom as sudden and in imagination we can recur to the overwhelming as that which overtook period when first mankind began to Babylon-perishing so utterly, that settle on its plains, it must have prewhen Xenophon and the Ten Thou- sented a spectacle very much like that sand passed that way, even its name which now meets the eye-wide plains was forgotten, and he notices its of fertile soil springing into verdure mounds of ruins simply as having been wherever it is touched by water, but those of “ an ancient city," which he desert almost everywhere for a great calls Larissa.
portion of the year. The latent ferAs Xenophon left those ruins Layard tility of the region was forthwith defound them. Riding, in company veloped by the race who there took with a friend as daring and enthusi- up their abode. The waters of the astic as himself, down the right bank rivers were led over the flat plains in of the Tigris, in April 1840, he rested long canals, diffusing in all directions for the night at a small Arab village, their irrigating streams, and causing around which are still the vestiges of the teeming soil, under the rays of a an ancient town ; and here he got his glowing and never-failing sun, to profirst look of the buried city whose dis- duce food in abundance for both man covery was to immortalise his name. and beast. “ A system of navigable “ From the summit of an artificial canals, that may excite the admiraemiuence," he says, “I looked down tion of even the modern engineer, upon a broad plain, separated from connected together the Euphrates us by the river. A line of lofty and Tigris. With a skill showing no mounds bounded it on the east, and common knowledge of the art of surone of a pyramidal form rose high veying, and of the principles of hydrauabove the rest. Beyond it could be lics, the Babylonians took advantage faintly traced the waters of the Zab. of the different levels in the plains, Its position rendered its identifica- and of the periodical rises in the tion easy. This was the pyramid rivers, to complete the water-commuwhich Xenophon had described, and nication between all parts of the pronear which the Ten Thousand had vince, and to fertilise, by artificial encamped ; the ruins around it were irrigation, an otherwise barren and those which the Greek general saw
unproductive soil." twenty-two centuries before, and . This system of irrigation, it is true,
* LAYARD. Alexander the Great, after he had transferred his seat of empire to the East, so fully appreciated the importance of those great works that he ordered them to be cleansed and repaired, and superintended the work in person, steering his boat with his own hand through the channels. Similar operations undertaken now would again restore to Mesopotamia its old fertility, and fit Babylon, not only for regaining her place as the emporium of the Eastern world, but for becoming the great was not carried to perfection until a which differed but little from the late period in the history of the As- general mass of the population, seems syrian empire; but it must, at the to have greatly increased. It was same time, be recollected, that as far from Ur of the Chaldees, in the back as the light of history penetrates, vicinity of Nineveh, tbat Abraham, in it is always civilised man that is dis- obedience to the Divine voice, went cerned in the valley of the Euphrates. forth, journeying south-westwards, The vague whisperings of tradition, through the desert lying between the even, cannot speak of a time when Euphrates and Syria, and, reacbing savage tribes wandered over its plains. Palestine, became the father of the If we investigate who were the settled Hebrew nation. From his loins also inhabitants of the land when first the proceeded the Idumeans, who proved light of history breaks upon it—the their superiority to the rest of the people among whom the old Assyrian Arabian tribes by founding the kingempire arose—we will come to the dom of Edom, and excavating the conclusion that the great mass of the wondrous rock-city of Petra. population belonged to that purely Such, then, appears to have been Syrian race whose settlements have the old population of Assyria. In in all ages extended from the banks Genesis we are informed that Ashur of the Euphrates to the shores of the went forth out of the land of Shivar, Levant. But mised with this race, and founded new habitations in the very much in the neighbourhood of north,—"Nineveh and the city ReheBabylon, and more faintly as we pro- both, and Calah, and Resen, which is ceed northwards, were offshoots of the a great city;" but according to the Cushite race,-à people having its Chaldean historians, the builders principal seats in southern Arabia, of the cities of Assyria came down along the coasts of the Indian and from the mountains of Armenia. Red Seas, imperfectly represented by These statements, so far from being the Himyarite Arabs of the present inconsistent, tend to corroborate the day, and forming a connecting link conjecture which, from other consibetween the old races of Syria and derations, we had arrived at,-namely, Egypt. Into the population thus con- that the Chaldeans were not the first stituted descended the Chaldeans,-a comers into the plains around Nineveh, tribe from the highlands which border but found there a lowland population the Mesopotamian valley on the north- in an advanced state of society, and east, and who, though Syrians in the closely allied in blood and language main, probably approximated some- to themselves. Moses of Chorene what in character to the Persian race. expressly records that such was the This tribe obtained the ascendant case; but the real strength of the among the population at Nineveh and supposition we rest upon general in the upper portion of the Mesopota- grounds, which it is needless here to mian valley,-imparting to that popu- enter upon.
This Chaldean tribe, lation, apparently, a sterner character then, which ultimately became the than prevailed in the lower part of the predominant one in the valley of the valley and around Babylon. Fre. Upper Tigris, were not the actual quent wars occurred between these founders of the Assyrian cities; but half-rival half-sister cities; the gene under their ascendancy these cities ral result of which was, that the were strengthened, extended, and people of Nineveh held the Baby- embellished so much, as to become lonians in a more or less perfect state as it were the creations of their of dependence. In the course of time, hands. too, the Cushite element in the Baby- The architecture of a nation is ever lonian population (and which pro- dependent to a great extent upon the bably gave to it its turn for commerce building materials at its command. and maritime enterprise) became ex- The alluvial plains of Assyria, untinct; while the Chaldean element, broken by a single eminence, were
entrepot of commerce between the West and East, which will ere long, in consequence of the introduction of railways, again flow into its old overland route by Palmyra, through the deserts, from the Levant to the head of the Persian Gulf.