Page images
PDF
EPUB

speculating as to cause and purpose, where either imperfect materials or partial knowledge render it impossible to pronounce a certain judgment. Singularly enough, the task of elucidating the architecture and construction of the Assyrian palaces has been greatly facilitated by the circumstance that many of those portions of the ruins of Khorsabad, such as windows, columns, and grand flights of stairs, which have been destroyed, are preserved in those of Persepolis ; while, on the other hand, the sculptured and painted walls and chambers wanting there, are to be found at Khorsabad and other ruins; and thus it has been possible to give an almost complete outline of every part of the structures.

It is needless to insist on the importance of the information, direct and inferential, afforded by these remains. In the walls of these chambers, so long lost not merely to the sight but to the knowledge of mankind, we have a highly illustrated historical volume, in which is minutely and effectively, though often most grotesquely, displayed all the leading pursuits and characteristics of an extinct nation, while the incidental details, no less than the prominent features, strikingly and impressively illustrate Scripture statements. Here are to be seen, as is believed, the mighty hunter,' Nimrod himself, strangling a young lion by pressing it against his chest—the “eunuch in the palace of the king of Babylon'—the king's cup-bearer, to whom was appointed a daily provision of the king's meat and of the wine which he drank'the governors, treasurers, and rulers of provinces, such as rounded Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold— the most mighty men'in the army, such as obeyed the behests of the same monarch in casting Shadrach and his heroic companions into the burning fiery furnace.' The sumptuous convivialities of the Assyrian court are delineated in “the banqueting hall,' in which the king was wont to entertain the nobles and princes of the provinces,'* in celebration of his conquests, when the harp and the viol were in their feasts ;' and here, too, is probably the very recess in which stood the wine-vase, of a size to contain ‘ royal wine in abundance according to the state of the king,' while his guests are in the act of drinking his health, or of pledging each other in uplifted cups. The culinary department and the stable also find a place in the series, while in a slab representing the return of the king from the chase we have a perfect tableau de genre de haut ton, resembling in so many points the present customs of the East,' as remarkably to illustrate the tenacity with which Oriental nations cling to the manners and customs of their fathers. As might be expected, in the case of so martial a people, warlike exploits occupy the largest portion of this illustrative gallery. All the incidents of the successful campaign are registered with a circumstantiality indicative of the national vanity. Horsemen • lifting up both the bright sword and the glittering

6

sur

[ocr errors]

а

Esther i, 3, 7. † The seats used are narrow and without backs, indicating that the custom of inclining at meals had not then been introduced. The prophet Eli, it will be recollected, is described as having fallen · from off the scat backward by the side of the gate,' so that his neck brake and he died.'

[ocr errors]

spear,' and horses 'swifter than the leopards, and more fierce than the evening wolves '-bowmen, shield-bearers, and slingers, for whom were prepared • shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones '-chariots and battering rams, the assault, the charge, the retreat and pursuit, the burning fort and the sacked city-bearded warriors ‘furiously driving their chariot in pursuit of the remnant of the inhabitants, who are flying over a rocky plain, strewn with headless bodies '—the soldier deliberately plunging his sword into the breast of an adversary, whom he has driven down on his knees '—the king stopping his chariot to command a register to be made of the number of the heads of the slain piled up in a heap before him,'* and, hovering over dead and dying, the ravenous birds of every sort,'t-these horrid accompaniments of a horrid system are described with surprising vigour and effect. Then follow the treaty of peace, the triumphal march, the manacled prisoners supplicating for mercy, the captive child and the mother that bare it cast out into another country,'I and the train of tribute-bearers enriching the imperial treasury with the spoils of enslaved provinces or conquered kingdoms.

The Hall of Judgment' and the Chamber of Judgment,' furnish scenes presenting in an equally unfavourable light the character of the people and the age. In the bassi-relievi here are to be seen prisoners, some of them supposed to be Jews, probably Samaritans, having rings in their lips, to which is attached a cord held by the king, embodying literally the metaphor in Isaiah's prophetic message sent in reply to the prayer of Hezekiah— Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou comest.'S One prisoner, in addition to having his hands manacled, has on his ankles strong rings fastened by a heavy bar, the condition in which the Assyrian king took Manasseh to Babylon,|| and, perhaps, resembling that of Zedekiah when bound, at a later period, with fetters of brass. I

In another group is a man naked, with limbs outstretched, and wrists and ankles fastened to pegs in the table or floor, while the chief of the slayers' is, with a curved knife, ' beginning to remove the skin from the back of the arm of the prisoner, whose head is turned towards the king imploring pardon, the very words of which petition may possibly be contained in the cuneatic inscription above. In another scene may be recognised the fate of Zedekiah, the king thrusting the point of his spear into the eyes of the supplicating prisoner, while he holds in his left hand a cord attached to rings in the lips of two other captives.

• The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.' Yes! Nineveh, that exceeding great city, was spiritually dark; the remains of its material magnificence giving proof of the 2 Kings x. 8. + Ezek, xxxix. 4.

Jer, xxii. 26. Isaiah xxxvii. 28, 29.

|| 2 Chron. xxxii, 11 ; xxxvi. 6. 9 2 Kings. xxv. 7. Jer, xxxix. 7.

[ocr errors]

a

superstitions and religious ignorance of its people. The representations of divinities, two-winged and four-winged, symbolic bulls and emblematic figures and inscriptions, occur with frequency in particular portions of these palaces. The sacred or royal precincts were trebly

• guarded by divinities, inscriptions, and hidden gods, from the approach of any subtle spirit, or more palpable enemy, that might have escaped the vigilance of the king's body-guard. In the floor of the inner court, Botta found secret cavities containing small images of baked clay of horrid hybrid forms; these being, it is suggested, the · Teraphim,' or images, such as Rachel took from her father and put in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them,'* the signification of the original word according with the terrifying aspect of these figures. In the divining chamber' were found the figures of two magi, with a gazelle in one hand and the other uplifted in prayer, and it is inferred that in this chamber they were wont to be consulted by the king, the blood of the victims being poured into the cavity in a slab in the floor. These magi, it is inferred from their form and feat

are one of the four orders of Chaldeans mentioned by Daniel, to whom the Assyrian kings resorted, on occasions the most trivial or important, for the interpretation of dreams or the solution of political problems. They are distinguished by a peculiar species of dress, and it is noted as a remarkable fact that they retain more of the vermillion and of the black pigment in the hair and eyebrows than any other figures on the walls of Khorsabad and Nimroud, a circumstance which, we think, is not to be attributed to chance, for the prophet Ezekiel, in speaking of the figures of men sculptured on the walls of the Assyrian palaces, makes particular mention of the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermillion.’t A still more striking reference is made in another passage, which we quote—“The large group forming the centre of the stone shows us the king, twice repeated, for uniformity's sake, performing some religious rite before the symbolic tree, in the presence of the chief divinity, which we consider to typify Baal. The king holds the sceptre in his left hand, his right being upraised and his forefinger pointed, as in conversation with the winged divinity above. Elijah apostrophizes the priests of Baal ironically; telling them to call louder on the divinity ; for, he says, “he is a God, either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or, peradventure, he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” We may judge now, with these authentic documents of the worshippers of Baal before us, how cuttingly sarcastic was this address of the prophet. Here, he is truly talking; elsewhere, he is pursuing, as we have seen ; or on a journey; or, peradventure, sleeping; this is the climax of sarcasm, because sleep, as the priests of Baal well knew, is necessary to the restoration of the faculties of the mortal, and incompatible with divinity. “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.".

The arrogant and boastful character of some of the inscriptions on these palatial walls agree, we are told, in a singular manner, with the gasconading of the messengers sent to Hezekiah, described in 2 Kings Gen. xxxi. 19, 30, 34.

† Ezek. xxii. 14.

[ocr errors]

LORD FRANCIS JEFFREY.

was the

6

xviii. and xix., “Who are they among all the gods of the countries that have delivered their country out of my hand ?.” Swift and terrible

response, for it came to pass that night, that the Angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred four score and five thousand, and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses !' And more complete and terrible still was the vengeance stored up against the city of this proud and tyrannizing people, the results exactly verifying the predictions of the prophet, • With an overruning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies. The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. Nineveh is of old like a pool of water.'* The condition of the ruins, says Bonomi • is highly corroborative of the sudden destruction that came upon Nineveh by fire and sword.' Then shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off.' It is evident from the ruins, that both Khorsabad and Nimroud were sacked and then set on fire.

She is empty, and void, and waste.' Neither Botta nor Layard found any of that store of silver, and gold, and pleasant furniture,' which the palaces contained ; scarcely anything, even of bronze, escaped the spoiler; but he unconsciously left what is more valuable, for to the falling in of the roofs of the buildings, by his setting fire to the columns and beams that supported them, and his subsequent destruction of the walls, we are indebted for the extraordinary preservation of the sculptures. In them we possess an authentic and contemporary commentation on the prophecies; in them we read, in unmistakable characters, an evidence of that rapacity and cruelty, of which the Assyrian nation is accused. “For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. Woe to him that buildeth a tower with blood, and stablisheth a city with iniquity." 't

6

Lord Francis Jeffrey.

In pre-limning the functions of the CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR, prominence was given to the illustration of literary characters and productions-of the Man or the Book of the season. This feature of our design has not been so completely fulfilled as we could wish. The unresting hand of Death, lifting ever and anon some waning human light from the obscure elevation of a cottage window to the world-wide conspicuousness of a star—the vigilant industry of author-craft, exhuming its precious materials from the alluvial past, or from the virgin veins that are to be found even in the best-frequented fields of the present-furnish abundant and interesting themes for the journalist. But it is often his sad fate—at least, it is our own-to see such topics pass across the disc of the public mind, and vanish, ere he can overtake them, into the limbo of things 'stale, flat, and unprofitable. We are determined not to be thus eluded for the future; and we seize upon the illustrious name above-written, after most of our weekly and monthly brethren have dismissed it, in the conviction that the Life and Letters of Lord Jeffrey* contain more of interest and beauty than a hundred reviews can exhaust.

+ Hab. ii, 11, 12.

* Nahum i, 8 ; ii, 6, 8.

The outer life of Francis Jeffrey is soon told. He was born on the 23rd of October, 1773. His parents then occupied a flat of No. 7, Charles-street, George-square, Edinburgh. His father was a deputy clerk of the Supreme Court_his mother, a farmer's daughter. Francis was the third of five children. He went first to a school in the abyss of Bailie Fyfe's close.' At the age of eight, he was promoted to the famous High School of Edinburgh, where he learned Latin under Mr. Fraser, who, 'from three successive classes, of four years each, had the singular good fortune to turn out Walter Scott, Francis Jeffrey, and Henry Brougham.' Dr. Adam .added some Greek to the Latin,' and, what was far better, delighting in the detection and encouragement of every appearance of youthful talent and goodness,' taught Jeffrey, as he had taught Scott, the value of the knowledge hitherto considered only as a burdensome task.' In the winter of 1786-7, he was one day

standing on the High-street, staring at a man whose appearance struck him; a person standing at a shop door tapped him on the shoulder, and said, Aye, laddie! ye may well look at that man !That's Robert Burns!"?' It was Jeffrey's first and last look at the poet-an incident worth recording in the barest record of a life. At fourteen years of age, Jeffrey went to Glasgow College, remaining two sessions, and attending only the Greek, Logic, and Moral Philosophy classes. Leaving Glasgow in May, 1789, he remained at home, attending a course of law lectures, till September, 1791, when he went to Oxford, and was entered at Queen's College. He returned to Edinburgh in June, 1792, to definitively prepare for the profession of a Scottish advocate. He married, in November, 1801, a portionless daughter of his second cousin, the Rev. Dr. Wilson, Professor of Church History at St. Andrew's. In March of the following year, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the post of reporter' to the Court of Sessions. The same summer, he projected, in company with Sydney Smith, Horner, and Brougham, the · Edinburgh Review,' the first number of which appeared in November, 1802. With the second number he assumed the editorship. In May 1804, he lost one of his two sisters, and in August of the following year, his childless wife. In August, 1806, he made that visit to London of which the miserable recontre with Moore was an episode. In the summer of 1813 he crossed the Atlantic, in order to marry Miss Wilkes, a grand niece of the famous tribune, with whom he had become acquainted while she

Life of Lord Jeffrey, with a Selection from his Correspondence. By Lord Cockburn, one of the Judges of the Court of Session in Scotland. In 2 vols. Edinburgh: A. and C. Black. 1852.

« PreviousContinue »