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things, if not easily explained, yet certainly to be traced out. Incantations, charms, and talismans, which thicken on every page of early history, are dissolved before the torch of reason, and a clear conscience. The Sibylline Oracles of Rome had once great influence among the people, and many honest men have now a belief that these oracles foretold the coming of our Saviour; but the wise part of our theologians have long since given up this fancy, for it can hardly be called a belief. The pastoral from Virgil, which we have selected, contains the supposed prophecy. The following is as fair an account of it as we have seen. “The Sibylline Oracles having received information from the Jews, that a child was to be born, who should be the Saviour of the world, and to whom nations and empires should bow with submission, pretended to foretell that this event would occur in the year of Rome 714,
after the peace concluded between Augustus and An
tony. Virgil viewing this prophecy with the vivid imagination of a poet, and willing to flatter the ambition of flis patron, composed his celebrated Eclogue, entitled Pollio, in which he supposes the child, who was thus to unite mankind and restore the golden age, to be the infant with which Octavia, wife to Antony, and half-sister to Augustus, was then pregnant by her former husband Marcellus. In this production the consul Pollio, Octavia, and even the unborn infant, are flattered with his usual delicacy; and the rival Triumviri, though a short time before, in open hostility, have the honor of equally sharing the poet's applause. While Pollio, who seems to have been the most accomplished man of his age, and is celebrated as a poet, soldier, orator, and historian, was engaged in an expe
dition against the Parthini, whom he subdued, Virgil
on the eve of the birth of our Saviour, all the oracles of
the heathen world ceased. It is certain that the Delphic oracles grew into disrepute about this time; but the Eleusinian mysteries, and those of the Rona Dea, were kept up much longer. Milton adopted the belief of the early fathers of the church, and has expressed his poetical opinion, in an ode upon the subject of the
, silence of the oracles, which is full of deep interest
and exquisite beauties. There is a solemn reverence due to his opinions when they are given on great points of faith; for if ever there was a mind God had filled with light and inspiration without the gift of prophecy, it was that of John Milton. But there is no more reason to think that he was convinced of this as a fact, than that he believed all the incidents in his Paradise Lost.
“The oracles are dumb,
Apollo from his shrine Can no more divine, With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving. No nightly trance, or breathed spell, Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.
The lonely mountains o'er And the resounding shore, A voice of weeping heard and loud lament; From haunted spring and dale, Edged with poplar pale, The parting Genius is with sighing sent: With flower-inwoven tresses torn, The Nymphs, in twilight shade of tangled thickets, In Ourn.
In consecrated earth And on the holy hearth, The Lares and Lemures moan with midnight plaint; In urns and altars round, A drear and dying sound Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint; And the chill marble seems to sweat, While each peculiar power foregoes his wonted seat.
Peor and Baalim Forsake their temples dim, With that twice-battered god of Palestine; And mooned Ashtaroth, Heaven's queen and mother both, Now sits not girt with tapers holy shrine; The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn, In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz
And sullen Moloch, fled,
Nor is Osiris secn In Memphian grove or green, Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud: Nor can he be at rest Within his sacred chest, Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud In vain with timbrelled anthems dark The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.
He feels from Judah's land The dreaded Infant's hand, *, The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn; Nor all the gods beside,' . . . . Longer dare abide, . . - . . Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine: Our babe, to show his Godhead true,' '. Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew. }
So when the sun in bed,
And the yellow-skirted fayes
Fly after the night steeds, leaving their moon-loved Imaze.
But see, the Virgin-bless'd Hath laid her babe to rest; Time is our tedious song should here have ending: Heaven's youngest-teemed star Hath fix’d her polish'd car, Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending; And all about the courtly stable Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.
All superstitions are to be traced to the diseases of the body or the mind. The filtres and charms are made for a diseased body or mind. Sometimes they may be efficacious, by chance; sometimes nature, the best of nurses, overcomes all obstacles and heals the malady in spite of the nostrums prescribed. Among the ignorant, in all nations and ages, these panaceas are found. The greater the ignorance the more efficacious the charma. The charm called the Obi, or Obiah, which is now p acticed in Jamaica, and other slaveholding places, was brought from Africa, and is now known throughout the country bordering on the Senegal and on the Gambia, and probably is a very ancient superstition. Something resembling this charm has been practiced by the Indians all over this continent. I attended the process of a charm as practiced by the Winnebagoes for the cure of one of their delegation, when they were in Washington in 1829. The Indian was very sick and quite insensible. They began by taking out of a bag a great variety of articles, such as