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the occasional inconveniences of such a life, not the least of them being a strong tendency on the part of all nomads to profess a kind of communist philosophy, supposed in Europe to be the result of modern wisdom; but which appears to have been known, from the earliest times, in the East. Friends and strangers are not always exempted from the rules of this philosophy, and, as reciprocity is as little understood in the Asiatic as in the European system, their property is ade no less free with an that of Job was, by Arabs and Chaldees, some four thousand years ago.
Still this mode of life has not always a bad effect on human nature; on the contrary, it frqeuently acts favourably. One cannot but admire the poor half-naked Arab, who, intrusted with a letter or a message, from his Sheikh to the haughty Pasha of Baghdad, walks proudly up to the great man's sofa, and seats himself, unbidden, upon it as an equal. He fulfils his errand as if he were half ashamed of it. If it be too late to return to his tent that night, or if business still keep him from the desert, he stretches himself under a tree outside the city gate, that he may not be degraded by sleeping under a roof or within walls. He believes that the town corrupts the wanderer; and he remembers that, until the Sheikh of the desert visited the citizens, and was feasted in the palaces of their governors, oppression and vices most odious to the Arab were unknown in his tribe." Vol. II. pp. 56, 57.
Mr. Layard's account of his visit to the unfortunate Nestorian or Chaldæan Christians amid the picturesque sublimity of their mountain homes, is full of deep and touching interest, from the simplicity and purity of their faith and manners, and the horrible atrocities to which they were exposed from the savage fanaticism of the Kurds. Our author makes no attempt, like Dr. Grant, to identify the Nestorian Christians with the lost ten tribes, but pays a respectful tribute to his devoted labours and laments his untimely death. Passing over Mr. Layard's descriptions of the magnificent Alpine scenery which marks the romantic course of the river Zab, we give the following specimen of his reception at the Christian villages.
“I had been expected at Zaweetha; and before we entered the first gardens of the village, a party of girls, bearing baskets of fruit, advanced to meet me. Their hair, neatly platted and adorned with flowers, fell down their backs. On their heads they wore coloured handkerchiefs loosely tied, or an embroidered cap. Many were pretty, and the prettiest was Aslani, a liberated slave who had been for some time under the protection of Mrs. Rassam; she led the party, and welcomed me to Zaweetha. My hand having been kissed by all, they simultaneously threw themselves upon my companion, and saluted him vehemently on both cheeks; such a mode of salutation, in the case of a person of my rank and distinction, not being, unfortunately, considered either respectful or decorous. The girls were followed by the Rais and the principal inhabitants, and I was led by them into the village.”—Vol. I. pp. 182, 183.
Mr. Layard was attended in this expedition by a Turkish Cawass, whose costume, prejudices and awkwardness in mountain travelling gave rise to some amusing scenes, in strong relief to much sad and tragic history.
“ Ibrahim Agha, embarrassed by bis capacious boots, which, made after the fashion of the Turks, could have contained the extremities of a whole family, was more beset with difficulties than all the party. When he attempted to ride a mule, unused to a pack-saddle, he invariably slid over the tail of the animal, and lay sprawling on the ground, to the great amusement of Yakoub Rais, with whom his adventures were a never-failing source of anecdote in the village assemblies. If he walked, either his boots became wedged into the crevices of the rocks, or filled with gravel, to his no small discomfort. At length, in attempting to cross a bed of loose stones, he lost all presence of mind, and remained fixed in the middle, fearful to advance or retreat. The rubbish yielded to his grasp, and he looked down into a black abyss, towards which he found himself gradually sinking with the avalanche he had put in motion. There was certainly enough to frighten any Turk, and Ibrahim Agha clung to the face of the declivity—the picture of despair. What's the Kurd doing?' cried a Tiyari, with whom all Mussulmans were Kurds, and who was waiting to pass on. • Is there anything here to turn a man's face pale? This is dashta, dashta' (a plain, a plain). Ibrahim Agha, who guessed from the words Kurd and dashta, the meaning of which he had learnt, the purport of the Christian's address, almost forgot his danger in his rage and indignation.
Gehannem with your dashta ! cried he, still clinging to the moving stones, "and dishonour upon your wife and mother! Oh! that I could only get one way or the other to show this Infidel what it is to laugh at the beard of an Osmanli, and to call him a Kurd in the bargain!'. With the assistance of the mountaineers he was at length rescued from his perilous position, but not restored to good-humour.”—Vol. I. pp. 216, 217.
Mr. Layard had previously described the primitive cleanliness of the Christian women, whose daily habit it is to bathe, divested of every garment, in modest indifference to the presence of the men, by whom they are equally unnoticed.
“ As we were engaged in conversation, Ibrahim Agha, who had not yet recovered his composure, entered the room, labouring under symptoms of great indignation. The cause of his anger were some women who had commenced their ablutions, in the manner I have already described, near the spot where he had been sitting. When I told them to go to a greater distance,' said he, they replied, that if I did not wish to see them, I might turn my head the other way. If these infidels have no modesty,' continued he, 'let them at least know that we Mussulmans have. These unbelievers eat more dirt than all the Arabs, and are verily little better than the beasts of the field.' Having calmed the wrath of the Cawass, I reasoned with the priest on the impropriety of this habit; but he did not appear at all sensible of it, only observing that the custom was general in the mountains.”—Vol. I.
218. Mr. Layard appends to his account of his visit a concise history of the Chaldæan Christians and their missions, expressing his surprise that they have not attracted greater attention and sympathy among the Protestants of Europe. Descended from the ancient Chaldæans, receiving their Christianity perhaps from those who had imbibed it from the fountain-head, distinguished by their learning and influence during the power of the Caliphs, they were at length almost wholly destroyed by “ the merciless Tamerlane," and the few remaining have subsequently suffered greatly both from the persecutions of Turkish governors and the unprincipled machinations of Popish emissaries.
Though Nestorius is held in respect by them as one of the fathers of their church, they have always disavowed the name of Nestorians, which was fastened upon them by their enemies as a stigma of heresy. Their confession of faith differs but little from the Nicene Creed, and the peculiar doctrine which brought upon them the enmity of the Church of Rome was, “ the divisibility of the two persons, as well as of the two natures of Christ,” involving the refusal of the title of “Mother of God” to the Virgin, “ although they do not admit, to their full extent, the tenets on account of which they are accused of heresy by the Church of Rome. The distinctions they make upon this point, however, are so subtle and so refined, that it is difficult for one who VOL. V.
discourses with them to understand that which most probably they scarcely comprehend themselves.” This last remark might be applied to many others besides the Chaldæans, and is certainly no proof that they are not orthodox. They deny the doctrine of purgatory, and are averse not only to the worship, but to the exhibition, of images. Their feast and fast days extend from sunset to sunset. They strictly observe the sabbath. Their Patriarch, who is almost always chosen from the same family, never tastes meat. His mother, likewise, is required to have exercised a similar abstinence for some months before his birth. Their language, still called Chaldee, is a Shemitic dialect allied to the Hebrew, the Arabic and the Syriac. Most of their church books are in Syriac, which, like the Latin in the West, became the sacred language in the greater part of the East. Upon the whole Mr. Layard remarks, that “there are no sects in the East, and few in the West, who can boast of such purity in their faith, or of such simplicity in their forms of worship;' and expresses a hope, in which we are sure all his readers will cordially join, that the establishment of the authority of the Sultan in the mountains, and the removal of several of the most fanatical and bloodthirsty of the Kurdish chiefs, may protect them from further outrage, and enable them to restore fresh prosperity to their mountain districts. He refers to the deep interest felt in them by the American Independent Church, and to the successful labours of its liberal missionaries among them, and claims the sympathies of all in favour of these “ Protestants of Asia.”
Mr. Layard next relates his visit to the Yezidis, or Worshipers of the Devil, from whom he received an invitation to their great periodical feast, which he eagerly accepted. He experienced a most distinguished reception by their handsome young chief, the birth of whose first child was curiously coincident with the occasion of the visit, and Mr. Layard was requested to give it its name. The Yezidis, like the Chaldæan Christians, have suffered dreadfully from the merciless fanaticism of the Kurds, and are even more abhorred than either Christians or Jews by zealous Mohammedans, inasmuch as they recognize no inspired books.
“No treaty nor oath, when they are concerned, is binding. They have the choice between conversion and the sword, and it is unlawful even to take tribute from them. The Yezidis, not being looked upon as Masters of a Book,' have been exposed for centuries to the persecution of the Mohammedans. The harems of the south of Turkey have been recruited from them. Yearly expeditions have been made by the governors of provinces into their districts; and, whilst the men and women were slaughtered without mercy, the children of both sexes were carried off, and exposed for sale in the principal towns.
“It may be hoped that the humane and tolerant policy of the Sultan, which has already conferred such great and lasting benefits upon multitudes of his subjects, will be extended to this unfortunate sect.”— Vol. I. pp. 276, 277.
The ruthless fanaticism of the Mohammedans would put to a severe test the principle of non-resistance advocated by some of the members of our Peace Societies. The Yezidis did resist, and, forming themselves into bands, became the terror of the country as far as Mussulmans were concerned. They have, however, been completely crushed; but their devotion to their religion is as remarkable as that of the Jews. The pilgrimage to the tomb of their great saint, Sheikh Adi, situated in a beautiful valley, was eminently striking and picturesque. The scrupulous neatness and purity of the habits of the people, especially in connection with their ceremonies, present a pleasing contrast with Mohammedan manners. “ All, before entering the sacred valley, washed themselves and their clothes in the stream issuing from it. They came thus purified to the feast. I never before saw so much assembled cleanliness in the East.” An amusing incident is related of the offence unwittingly given by Mr. Layard to their religious prejudices. They scrupulously refrain from the use of any word similar to Sheitan (Satan), much more from the word itself, which “is usually applied in the East to a clever, cunning or daring fellow.” While dances were being performed, some boys climbed upon the branches of a tree above the heads of Mr. Layard and the Bey, one of whom had forced himself to the end of a weak bough, which threatened to break.
“As I looked up, I saw the impending danger, and made an effort, by an appeal to the Chief, to avert it. If that young Sheit-'I exclaimed, about to use an epithet generally given in the East to such adventurous youths; I checked myself immediately; but it was already too late; half the dreaded word had escaped. The effect was instantaneous; a look of horror seized those who were near enough to overhear me; it was quickly communicated to those beyond. The pleasant smile, which usually played upon the fine features of the young Bey, gave way to a serious and angry expression. I lamented that I had thus unwillingly wounded the feelings of my hosts, and was at a loss to know how I could make atonement for my indiscretion-doubting whether an apology to the Evil principle or to the chief was expected. I endeavoured, however, to make them understand, without venturing upon any observations which might have brought me into greater difficulties, that I regretted what had passed; but it was some time ere the group resumed their com posure, and indulged in their previous merriment."-Vol. I. pp. 286, 287.
An unexpected trace of the ancient religion of Assyria here occurred to Mr. Layard, in observing a drove of white oxen dedicated to the sanctuary of Sheikh Shems, or the Sun. The effect of the ceremonies -the sacred lamps, the eagerness of all to touch the flame, the thousands of lighted torches-was thus heightened :
“As I was gazing on this extraordinary scene, the hum of human voices was suddenly hushed, and a strain, solemn and melancholy, arose from the valley. It resembled some majestic chant, which years before I had listened to in the cathedral of a distant land. Music so pathetic and so sweet I had never before heard in the East. The voices of men and women were blended in harmony with the soft notes of many flutes. At measured intervals the song was broken by the loud clash of cymbals and tambourines; and those who were without the precincts of the tomb then joined in the melody.”— Vol. I. p. 291.
“The chant gradually gave way to a lively melody, which, increasing in measure, was finally lost in a confusion of sounds. The tambourines were beaten with extraordinary energy; the flutes poured forth a rapid flood of notes; the voices were raised to their highest pitch; the men outside joined in the cry; whilst the women made the rocks resound with the shrill táhlehl. The musicians, giving way to the excitement, threw their instruments into the air, and strained their limbs into every contortion, until they fell exhausted to the ground. I never heard a more frightful yell than that which rose in the valley. It was midnight. The time and place were well suited to the occasion; and I gazed with wonder upon the extraordinary scene around me. Thus were probably celebrated ages ago the mysterious rites of the Corybantes, when they met in some consecrated grove. I did not marvel that such wild ceremonies had given rise to those stories of unhallowed rites, and obscene mysteries, which have rendered the name of Yezidi an abomination in the East. Notwithstanding the uncontrollable excitement which appeared to prevail amongst all present, there were no indecent gestures or unseemly ceremonies. When the musicians and singers were exhausted, the noise suddenly died away; the various groups resumed their previous cheerfulness, and again wandered through the valley, or seated themselves under the trees.
“So far from Sheikh Adi being the scene of the orgies attributed to the Yezidis, the whole valley is held sacred; and no acts, such as the Jewish law has declared to be impure, are permitted within the sacred precincts. No other than the high-priest and the chiefs of the sect are buried near the tomb. Many pilgrims take off their shoes on approaching it, and go barefooted as long as they remain in its vicinity.”—Vol. I. pp. 292, 293.
“During the three days I remained at Sheikh Adi, I wandered over the valley and surrounding mountains; visiting the various groups of pilgrims, talking with them of their dwelling places, and listening to their tales of oppression and bloodshed. From all I received the same simple courtesy and kindness; nor had I any cause to change the good opinion I had already formed of the Yezidis. There were no Mohammedans present, nor any Christians, except those who were with me, and a poor woman who had lived long with the sect, and was a privileged guest at their festivals. Unrestrained by the presence of strangers, the women forgot their usual timidity, and roved unveiled over the mountains. As I sat beneath the trees, laughing girls gathered round me, examined my dress, or asked me of things to them strange and new. Some, more bold than the rest, would bring me the strings of beads and engraved stones hanging round their necks, and permit me to examine the Assyrian relics thus collected together, whilst others, more fearful, though not ignorant of the impression which their charms would create, stood at a distance, and weaved wild flowers into their hair."-Vol. I. pp. 294, 295.
The Yezidis recognize one Supreme Being, but without offering up any direct prayer or sacrifice to Him, and appear to shun with awe every topic connected with His existence or attributes.
“When they speak of the Devil, they do so with reverence, as Melek Taous, King Peacock, or Melek el kout, the mighty angel.” They believe him to be now suffering punishment for disobedience, but still all-powerful, and to be restored hereafter to his former high estate, and therefore to be conciliated; for he has now the means of doing evil to mankind, and will hereafter have the means of rewarding them. They hold the Old Testament in great reverence,
and do not reject the New Testament or the Koran, selecting passages from them for their tombs and holy places. They practise circumcision and baptism, revere the sun, and have more in common with the Sabæans than any other sect. Mr. Layard frequently observed them kiss the object on which the beams of the rising sun first fell. “For fire, as symbolic, they have nearly the same reverence; they never spit into it, but frequently pass their hands through the flame, kiss them, and rub them over their right eyebrow, or sometimes over the whole face.” Mr. Layard contradicts the assertion of some travellers that they will not blow out a candle; nor is it an insult to spit in their presence. The colour blue is an abomination to them, as to the Sabæans. Their Kubleh, or the place to which they look during their ceremonies, is that part of the heavens where the sun rises, and towards it they turn the faces of their dead. They have four orders of priesthood, and, what is unexampled elsewhere in the East, these offices are hereditary and descend to females. Their language is a Kurdish dialect, but their chants and hymns are in Arabic. It is considered unlawful