صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

preceding evening had been acted, and found myself among the last of the sorrowful procession. Looking into the court and hall, I found that the sacrifices had been entirely removed, the tables were bare, not a morsel of any kind remained, and it seemed as if the gods had been satisfied with their repast. The silver ingots, too, and the numerous gaudily-painted dresses, which had been presented as an offering, were smouldering in a corner of the court, having been consumed by holy fire.

As the funeral procession proceeded slowly down, inside the covered pathway adjoining the temple, the large bell tolled in slow and measured tones, rockets were fired now and then, and numerous Priests joined in as we went along. Having reached the last temple of the range, the body was deposited on two stools in front of one of the huge images; and, China-like, before proceeding further, all went home to breakfast. This important business finished, the assembly met again in the temple, and performed a short service, while the Coolies were busily employed in adjusting the ropes by which they carried the coffin. All being ready, two men went outside the temple and fired three rockets, and then the procession started. First went two boys, carrying two flags, on bamboo-poles; then came two men beating brass gongs; and then came the chief mourner, dressed in white, and carrying, on a small table, two candles, which were burning, some incense, and the monumental tablet. After the chief mourner came the coffin, followed by the young Priests of the house to which the deceased belonged, also clad in white; then the servants and undertaker; and, last of all, a long train of Priests,

I stood on one side of the lake, in front of the temple, in order to get a good view of the procession as it winded round the other. It was a beautiful October morning: the sun was now peeping over the eastern mountains, behind the monastery, and shedding a flood of light on water, shrubs, and trees; while every leaf sparkled with drops of dew. In such a scene, this long and striking procession had a most imposing effect. The boys with their flags; the chief mourner moving slowly along, with his candles burning

in the clear daylight; the long line of Priests, with their shaven heads and flowing garments; the lake in front; and the hills, covered with trees and brushwood, behind; were at once presented to my view. As we passed a bridge, a little way from the temple, a man belonging to the family of the deceased, and who carried a basket containing cash, (a Chinese coin,) presented a number of the followers with a small sum, which they received with apparent reluctance. Most of the Priests followed the bier but a short distance from the temple; but the chief mourner, the intimate friends, and servants, with a band of music, followed the body to its last resting-place. The spot selected was a retired and beautiful one, on the lower side of a richlywooded hill. Here, without further ceremonies than the firing of some rockets, we left the coffin, on the surface of the ground, to be covered with thatch or brickwork at a future opportunity.

R. F.

HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY. The Chaldean or Babylonian philosophers, though of one tribe, were divided into four classes, each class having its separate functions. They were exempted from the public burdens, and, like the philosophers of India, were chiefly supported by the rich. They were the Priests of religion; they instructed the people in its principles, interpreted its laws, and conducted its ceremonies. They were acquainted with geometry and mechanics. Their astronomy was for the most part very accurate. So early as the time of Jacob the heavens were divided, and the twelve signs of the zodiac marked out. A regular course of astronomical observations was carried on in the temple of Belus. It was known that the motions of the planets were irregular, that eclipses were occasioned by their true causes, and that the moon shines by borrowed light. The comets they thought to be planets moving in eccentrio orbits. It certainly does not appear that they were able to calculate eclipses; yet, when it is borne in mind that they were destitute of astroDomical instruments of any real value, their attainments in Vol. XVIII, Second Series.


astronomy must be held to have been very considerable. They were highly celebrated for their skill in astrology and magic, and were in high repute in the days of Daniel.

The Chaldeans universally ascribe the origin of their philosophy to Zoroaster; but that celebrated name is confessedly involved in much obscurity. It appears to have been assumed by several who, wishing to arrive at an unmerited celebrity, published under its authority a number of volumes to the world. Still it is highly probable that there were two eminent persons of that name; the one a Chaldean, and the other a Persian. It may be added, in connexion with this notice of the Chaldeans, that the later researches of Dr. Layard amongst the ruins of Nineveh, show that the early people of those parts must have made very considerable advancement in art.

For any knowledge we possess of the Persian philosophy we were indebted to the Greeks and Arabians; and, within the last two centuries, to the translations from the ancient Persian, or Zend, and its dialects, and laborious researches of Hyde, Du Perron, and Kleuker. The Persian Magi, or followers of Zoroaster the Second, were divided into different sects or classes, distinguished from each other rather by the different modes which they adopted for conducting the offices of religion, than by a difference of religious tenets or opinions. It was their peculiar province to worship the gods by prayers and sacrifices; their religious acts alone possessing validity and force. They had a principal share in the government; nor could the Kings of Persia ascend the throne until first initiated into their mysteries. They wore white robes, and subsisted chiefly upon vegetables.

Among the sages of the first of those four great periods into which the history of philosophy is divided, those of Egypt hold a conspicuous place. They rank next to the Chaldeans or Babylonians in point of antiquity; for, although the Egyptians claimed the honour of being the more ancient nation, and contended that the Chaldeans were only an Egyptian colony, yet there is reason to believe that the kingdom of Babylon, of which Chaldea was a part, flourished before the Egyptian monarchy. Still, as before observed, the science of Egypt holds a conspicuous place in the records of those early times. This is evident from those splendid remains of their genius which are still in existence, as well as from the concurrent testimonies of many learned authors, Moses, the lawgiver of Israel, was greatly indebted to the eminent men of that period, and was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians;" while much of the knowledge of Orpheus, Thales, Pythagoras, and Plato, who visited Egypt in search of knowledge, was derived from the same source. The peculiar tenets of the philosophers of Egypt are certainly involved in great obscurity; but for this it is not difficult to account. The secret manner in which these doctrines were taught, with the characters in which they were usually written, is in itself a sufficient explanation. But independently of these facts, it is also to be remembered, that the frequent revolutions to which that unhappy country was subjected, swept away many of the monuments of learning which it contained, while others perished when the Alexandrian library was given to the flames.

The Egyptians refer the origin of all their literature to Thout, called by the Greeks, Hermes, and by the Latins, Mercury. He was probably some man of superior genius who, before the age of Moses, had invented useful arts, and taught the first rudiments of science, and who caused his instructions to be engraved, in emblematical figures, upon tables of stone, for the purpose of enlightening the people. It appears, however, that during one of those frequent convulsions to which Egypt was subject, his followers were dispersed, and his writings temporarily lost. They were afterwards discovered, and deciphered by Hermes Trismegistus, who was in consequence regarded as the restorer of Egyptian literature. He was allowed to be a philosopher of great merit. To him Plato ascribes the honour of having invented the Egyptian characters by which the hieroglyphics of Thout were explained. He was reputed as the inventor of arithmetic and astrology, and is said to have written an incredible number of volumes on universal principles,-the nature and order of celestial beings, medicine, theology, geography, and other subjects; and to which Sanchoniathon,

the celebrated Phænician historian, was greatly indebted. He arranged the ceremonies of religion, founded colleges for the Priests, and, being first well assured of their fidelity, admitted them to an acquaintance with the tenets which he held.

Of the literary and scientific attainments of the Celts, Scythians, and early Germans, but little is known. The Scythians appear to have believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, and in the immortality of the soul. Amongst the Celts the Druids held the principal place, and, at the time that Julius Cæsar invaded Gaul and Britain, were in great repute. They were divided into three classes, and concealed their doctrines with the greatest care. They presided in religious matters, directed the public and private sacrifices, and instructed the young. Their views, concerning the soul, much resembled those of the eastern nations. They observed the worship of the gods, and cultivated great abstinence. They practised magic, and could foretell eclipses. The reputation of the Druids continued as long as the Celtic nations maintained their authority.

The philosophy of the early Germans closely resembled that of the Celts. Their Priests, like the Druids, divided into three classes. They worshipped the stars and departed heroes, and, like the Druids, performed their worship in the open air. They also peopled the earth with imaginary beings, as presiding over different localities. Hence arose the notion of fairies; and as many Germans migrated into our own country, they brought with them their superstitious notions on this subject, which have descended even to modern times.





With the exception of the ant and the honey-bee, of the insect-tribes have excited more attention than the order Lepidoptera, or butterflies and moths. Their almost universal distribution, gorgeous colouring, and the singular

« السابقةمتابعة »