« PoprzedniaDalej »
nised, though obscured and disfigured by the miserable defection and depravity of the human race. The German kirche, and the Scotch kirk, seem analogous to a Saxon word of similar import, and all apparently of Celtic origin, kir-roch signifying a circle. Thus we may trace the circular, roofless Pantheon of Rome, and the Abiri and Choir Gaur of Britain, to the “altar and twelve pillars” which Moses erected near Sinai, and the Stonehenge which Joshua constructed on the plains of Gilgal, after the passage of the Jordan. One of the most interesting circumstances connected with the worship of the Druids was their veneration for the mistletoe. We shall again advert to this circumstance, and merely add a few remarks on this parasitic plant, as it may serve to illustrate what we shall have to advance in the sequel.
Of this extraordinary parasite, viscum album, mistletoe, or as it was formerly called, misseldine, Dr. Borlase, speaking of the Druids, says, that they deified it, and were not to approach it but in the most devout and reverential manner.
Toward the end of the year they went in solemn procession to gather it from the oak, (where, however, it is seldom found,) to present it to Jupiter, with an invitation to all the world to assist at the ceremony. The Druids had it in the most sacred veneration, called it the universal remedy, and held their sacrifices and religious feasts under the oak whereon it grew, leading two white bulls, never yoked; when the priest, clothed in white, ascending, cut it with a golden hook, while a white garment was spread beneath to receive it; of this they made a potion considered an antidote to poisons, &c.' This plant, being of a bright yellow, Virgil compares to the celebrated golden bough of the sibyl. He places the mistletoe on an evergreen. It is most frequently met with on the apple; and in orchards becomes, when frequent, in all probability a serious evil.
It is also found on the hawthorn, pear, mountain-ash, and rarely on the oak. It has been found, too, on the ash, hazel, and maple. This singular plant is supposed to be the passport of Æneas. While the true mistletoe, l'oranthus europeus, flourishes on the
oaks on the mountains of Arcadia, our mistletoe, viscum album, in classic Greece, takes up its abode in the silver fir. All our parasites, except this, are without leaves, and in their fullest vigour in summer. But, when the denuded apple-tree has not a leaf, symbol of life, and stands exposed, a naked trunk, the nursling of the storm, the mistletoe flourishes and flowers.
That the scite of ancient Babylon, on the banks of the Euphrates, is that determined by Major Rennell, M. M. Rich, Keppel, Mignan, Buckingham, Sir Robert Ker Porter, and other eminent travellers, there can be no doubt. The only difference of opinion seems to be in reference to the Temple of Belus, and the ancient Tower of Babel. Captain Mignan, considers the “El Mujellibah," or the overturned, as the Temple of Belus; and in this belief he is supported by the late Major Rennell. The sides of this vast ruin face the four cardinal points: the following are Captain Mignan's measurements: north side, two hundred and seventyfour yards; south, two hundred and fifty-six yards; east, two hundred and twenty-six yards; and west, two hundred and forty yards. This pile seems to have been constructed of kiln-burnt, and sun-burnt bricks, rising irregularly to the altitude of one hundred and thirty-nine feet at the S. W., and sloping toward the N. E., where the altitude of the ruin is one hundred and ten feet. Our author describes the top as strewed over with broken and unbroken bricks, which are thirteen inches square by three inches thick; many of these exhibited the arrow-headed character. Pottery, bitumen, vitrified bricks, shells, and glass, he describes as equally abundant.* The Honourable George Keppel says, in reference to the Mujelibè: “We stepped on pieces of alabaster, and on vitreous substances. Vast numbers of entire kiln-burnt bricks, which were all fourteen inches square and three inches thick, were inscribed with these unknown arrow-headed characters, appearing to have been recently stamped rather than
* Travels in Chaldea, London, 8vo. 1829, p. 165.
having undergone the action of four thousand years. The great buildings of Babylon appear to have been built with sun-burnt bricks, and coated with bricks burnt in the furnace."* We cannot, however, help thinking, that, notwithstanding there may be some difficulty in determining the question at issue, we must look to the Birs Nimroud, rather than to the Mujelibè, as the ruins of the Temple of Belus and Tower of Babel. The interesting researches of that estimable individual, the late Claudius James Rich, Esq., the E. I. Co.'s Resident, at the Court of the Pacha of Bagdad, seem to carry conviction with them. His first “ Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon” appeared in the Mines d'Orient. Mr. Buckingham, subsequently determined the question more fully, by causing an excavation to be made, by which a more accurate idea of the structure was obtained. Mr. Buckingham observes, (vol. II. p. 380,) “ The Tower of Belus was a pyramid, composed of eight separate stages, successively rising above and retiring within each other. To all these features the Birs perfectly correspond.” “The form of its ascent is pyramidal ; and four of the eight stages of which its whole height was composed, are to be distinctly traced on the N. and E. sides, projecting through the general rubbish of its face.” These investigations seem fully to corroborate Mr. Rich's view of it, which is more completely substantiated in his “ Second Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon.” In Mr. Rich's excavations, at the Mujelibè, there was found “a wooden coffin, containing a skeleton in a state of high preservation. Under the head of the coffin was a round pebble ; attached to the coffin on the outside a brass bird, and inside an ornament of the same material, which had apparently been suspended to some part of the skeleton. These, could any doubt remain, place the antiquity of the skeleton beyond all dispute.”+
* Personal Narrative, London, 8vo. Second Edition, 2 vols., 1827, vol. I, p. 179. † Memoir, &c. London, 8vo. Second Edition. 1816, p. 33.
Among the rubbish the skeleton of a child was also found. These facts seem to militate against our accepting the Mujelibè as the Temple of Belus. From Herodotus we learn that the Temple of Belus was the same as the Tower of Babel. According to Strabo, the Sepulchre of Belus was a pyramid of one stadium in height. The Tower of Babel, assuming five hundred feet for a stadium, would have a circumference of two thousand feet; that is, five hundred feet square. The total circumference of the Birs Nimroud, is found to be two thousand two hundred and eighty-six feet; and that of the Mujelibè, two thousand one hundred and eleven feet. It is evident, from so near a correspondence, the question must be determined by other data than the measurement of the base of these mounds. We have, (in Plate III. fig. 25,) represented the appearance of the Birs Nimroud, as given by Mr. Rich, in his very interesting Memoir in the Mines d'Orient, though the artist has, inadvertently, given the summit a finished appearance
which it does not possess. It is a massive ruin, cleft from the top. Mr. Rich thus describes its first appearance:
“ It burst at once upon our sight in the midst of rolling masses of thick black clouds, partially obscured by that kind of haze, whose indistinctness is one great cause of sublimity; while a few strong catches of stormy light, thrown upon the desert in the back ground, served to give some idea of the immense extent and dreary solitude of the waste in which this venerable ruin stands.”* Mr. Rich's reasons appear, to us, altogether conclusive in the decision of this question, notwithstanding the distinguished authority of Major Rennell. Mr. Rich describes this wonderful ruin as consisting of a mound of an oblong figure, the total circumference of which is seven hundred and sixty-two yards. On the eastern side, it is cloven by a deep furrow, and is not more than fifty or sixty feet high. On the western side,” says Mr. Rich, “it rises in a conical figure to the elevation of one hundred and ninety-eight feet;
* Memuir, 1816, p. 35.
and on the summit is a solid pile of brick, thirty-seven feet high by twenty-eight broad, diminishing in thickness to the top, which is broken and irregular, and rent by a large fissure extending through a third of its height. It is perforated by small square holes disposed in rhomboids. The fire-burnt bricks, of which it is built, have inscriptions on them ; and so admirable is the cement, which appears to be lime mortar, that, though the layers are close together, it is difficult to discern what substance is between them : it is nearly impossible to extract one of the bricks whole. The other parts of the summit of this hill are occupied by immense fragments of brick-work, of no determinate figure, tumbled together and converted into solid vitrified masses, as if they had undergone the action of the fiercest fire, or been blown up with gunpowder, the layers of brick being perfectly discernible; a curious fact, and one for which I am utterly incapable of accounting." * To the same remarkable phenomena, Mr Buckingham bears testimony: “ The appearance of these masses,” (Birs Nimroud,) says this traveller, "and the fissure in the partition of the wall which still remains erect, furnish reasons to believe, that fire was used as an agent of destruction in this edifice,-not a fire-temple, as supposed; as, in that case, the vitrified appearance would have been seen as well in the standing part of the wall as in that which is fallen, and in both only in the interior surface of the enclosure which the fire might be supposed to have occupied; and what natural fire could be made to bear on such a fabric?”+ which for strength, seems like one solid block. There does not seem any other method of accounting for the present condition of these remarkable ruins, but that they were destroyed by fire from heaven. It will, perhaps, be remembered by our readers, that soon after the erection of Nelson's Monument on the banks of the Clyde, that pyramid was struck by light
* Memoir, 1816, p. 36. † Travels in Mesopotamnia, &c. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1827, vol. II. p. 373.