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hurting your feelings, I would have them all bastinadoed till they were dead; they would richly deserve it, for having dared to accuse you." "It was in this manner," continues the justly indignant Frank, "that he spoke, while he himself was the author of the lie, and his menaces alone were the obstacle which prevented the inhabitants from exposing it."
At the expiration of a little time, however, Mohammed Pasha perceived that the shameful tricks he was carrying on did him more harm than good. His position was no longer sure, and as he desired a reconciliation, Botta was in full hope of obtaining permission to continue his operations, when the Pasha's death, which took place in the interval, afforded him the wished-for opportunity. But by this time he knew the intentions of the French government, and was expecting that the draftsman he had asked for was on his way to M6sul. He had found how quickly the sculptures lost their freshness when once exposed to the air, and thought it better to await this gentleman's arrival, as he could then copy the bas-reliefs as they were dug out. Besides this, he had no doubt that the French ambassador would obtain such orders as would effectually prevent all future annoyance, and he therefore did not think it advisable to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Pasha's demise, but preferred commencing when he had obtained the means of continuing the work without fear of interruption, and with every chance of turning it to account. During the interval of delay he finished the copies of the inscriptions already discovered, and conveyed inlo the court-yard of his'house at Khorsabad all the bas-reliefs which he judged worthy of being sent to France.
Up to the period of his researches being interrupted, he had brought to light a large number of monuments. He had opened a door, and at the feet of one of the winged bulls which ornamented it, had found a bronze lion, the only one remaining of all which must formerly have been placed at the entrances. 'While the workmen were digging to lay the foundations of his house, they had discovered the head of one of the bulls of another door; and this single fact would have convinced him, had he not been before satisfied, that the whole space was full of ancient remains. Lastly, the accounts received from the inhabitants of the town allowed no room for doubting that there
18 JfIHEVEH ABB IT8 DI8C0VERERS.
were also ruins buried at the place where, at a later period, he found the small monument of basaltic stones. He possessed, therefore, the most unmistakeable signs of the existence of archaeological treasures throughout the whole extent of the mound, and his conviction on this head was so great, that he invariably expressed it in his letters to his friend Mohl.
The Paris Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres had followed the progress of Botta's discoveries with the liveliest interest. The certainty there was of arriving at still greater results than those already obtained had induced them to second the demand he had made for an artist who was better qualified than himself to preserve, by an exact copy, those sculptures which it would be impossible to send to France. This demand had been granted, and by decisions of the 5th and 12th of October, 1843, precisely at the period that the Pasha of Mosul was stopping his researches, the Ministers of the Interior and of Public Instruction had adopted measures for furnishing him with means of terminating his undertaking in a manner worthy of the French government. A fresh sum of money was placed at his disposal for the continuation of the works, and, on the suggestion of the Academy, Monsieur E. Flandin, a young artist, who, conjointly with Monsieur Coste, had formerly been employed on a similar mission, was selected to proceed to Khorsabad to copy the sculptures already found, and which might yet be discovered. At the same time, the Ministers decided that all the sculptures which were in a state to admit of their removal should be conveyed to France, and that a publication, dedicated especially to the purpose, should make the world acquainted with Botta's discoveries.
We must now return to Khorsabad. Botta still had to obtain the consent of the Porte; and those who are ignorant of the resources which Ottoman diplomacy derives from misrepresentation, would hardly imagine all the difficulties that the French Embassy had to overcome in order to prevail upon the Divan no longer to feign a pretence of a belief in those phantom fortifications, said to have been erected by the Consul of France at Mosul. Some, more real obstacles, however, founded upon certain peculiarities of the Mohammedan law, were added to this ridiculous pretext. The village of Khorsabad was built over the monument it was desirable to lay bare. To do this, it was necessary that the inhabitants should remove to some
other spot, and pull down their old houses. But the law permits no encroachment upon lands suitable for cultivation, and, consequently, the space destined for the new village could not be taken from the grounds of this description around the mound.
The perseverance of the French Ambassador, Baron de Bourqueney, finally triumphed over the reluctance of the Porte.
Fig. 6.—VILLAGE OP EHOESABAD.
By virtue of a special agreement, the inhabitants of Khorsabad were authorised to sell their houses and to locate themselves temporarily at the foot of the mound. Botta's house, which had been the cause of so many disputes, he was allowed to retain until the conclusion of the works. The researches were permitted, on condition that the ground should be restored to the state in which Botta found it, in order that the village might be rebuilt on its former site, and a commissioner was sent to Khorsabad from the Porte to prevent any fresh difficulties. These arrangements, however, owing to the unwillingness of the Divan to ratify them, had taken up much time, and it was not before the 4th of May, 1844, that Monsiour Flandin could reach Mosul, bringing with him the firmans which had been asked for seven or eight months previously.
Nothing now prevented the resumption of the excavations. Botta had at his disposal funds sufficient for clearing the whole building; the artist Flundin had arrived to copy the bas-reliefs, besides affording other active and cordial co-operation. The necessary measures for immediately commencing the works were taken, and they were pushed on briskly. In the first
20 NINEVEH AND ITS DISCOVERERS.
place it was necessary to clear the ground of the houses upon it—an easy task, as there was little difficulty in satisfying the humble proprietors, who themselves desired the removal of the village, and were but too happy to effect it at the expense of the stranger antiquary; but Botta had likewise to indemnify the proprietors, or rather the tenants of the ground on which the new village was to be built, and their expectations were so exorbitant that they would have swallowed up a great part of the sum placed at his disposal, if the new Pasha, by accidentally reminding him of one of the peculiarities of the Mohammedan law, had not himself supplied the means of obliging them to moderate their demands.
It had been said that the village and the surrounding grounds were the property of a mosque, and consequently could not be sold without infringing the law, which does not allow the sale of any property which has become tcakf: this was not the oase. The houses belonged to the peasants who lived in them, but the ground on which the village was built, as well as the ground in the neighbourhood, was owned by several individuals, each of whom had a greater or less share of the profits. These persons, however, were not the real proprietors, for in Mohammedan countries there is no real property, but a simple right of possession paid for every year by a ground-rent. All the soil intended for cultivation, with the exception of the gardens and orchards, belongs to an abstract being, the Imaum, who represents the Mohammedan community, and is himself represented by the sovereign. The latter being, as it were, nothing more than a guardian, can never concede more than a temporary grant of land, in return for an annual rent or service. Sometimes, it is true, these grants were transmitted by means of inheritance or sales; but this was an abuse, a real infringement of the law. In this manner the Viceroy of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, was able to recover, without difficulty, from the usurpers of the public domain, the possession which long abuse had perpetuated in their families; and during Botta's residence at Mosul this example was followed, without any more ado, by the Turkish government. In 1845 the Porte revoked all the old grants of land in this province, and commanded that for the future they should be annual, and sold by public auction.
Such was the state of matters at Khorsabad. The seven
individuals who owned the ground between them—the principal of whom was Yahia Pasha, a former governor of Mosul —had no right of real property, but merely a right of possession perpetuated by abuse in their families: this furnished a weapon against their cupidity. When Botta was treating before the Pasha for the purchase of the houses, the accredited agent of these persons had the imprudence to claim an indemnity for the land they stood on. The Pasha replied that they had no right to any, because the Sultan alone was lord of the soil, and disposed of it as he chose. This was a hint for the plundered antiquary, who henceforward easily prevailed upon the proprietors to accept with gratitude a reasonable indemnity, which he could, had he chosen, have had the right to refuse. They themselves, however, felt so clearly how little their demand was really founded on right, that they refused to give him a receipt, and begged him to be silent on the matter, for fear their conduct should reach the Pasha's ears.
To return to Botta's narration. The misfortunes of others now placed at his disposal the number of workmen necessary for the speedy clearance of the rest of the monuments. A few months previously, the fanaticism of the Kurds had terminated by triumphing over the resistance which the courage of the Nestorians had for ages made against them. Intrenched in the lofty mountains where the Zab takes its rise, these Christians, who were the remains of one of the most ancient sects that separated from the Catholic church, had been, up to that time, enabled to escape from the Mohammedan yoke; but in 1843 their own internal divisions weakened them so much as to incapacitate them from contending longer against the continually increasing power of their enemies. After a courageous but useless resistance, some Nestorian tribes were destroyed by the Kurds: and in order to escape a general massacre, a great number of these Christians, following the example of their patriarch, Mar-shimoun, took refuge either at Mosul, or in some of the villages of the neighbourhood, where they could at least be certain of safety in exchange for their independence. Previous to this event, Botta had been charged with distributing among these unhappy Christians the direct assistance of the French government, — not the first relief afforded by that power to the victims of fanaticism in the