Page images
PDF
EPUB

multiplied and grew,' until there were communities in various districts in the North, and many witnesses for the truth, manifesting the power of a simple and practical Christianity, and holding up amidst thick moral darkness the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For a good many years these Friends were the life and soul of Nonconformity in Scotland, and the pioneers of that religious freedom which she afterwards legally secured.

The consolidation of the political interests of the two nations diverted attention from religious matters during the last part of the seventeenth century, and a period of religious apathy appears to have superinduced on the previous restless, and oftentimes convulsive, condition of the public mind, and it was not until towards the close of that era that the vital character of Christianity again began to manifest itself, and the antagonism of truth and error appeared in open conflict. Two elements of good and evil mainly contributed to this result—the one, a sermon preached by the Bishop of Bangor from the text, ' My kingdom is not of this world;' and the other, the passing of the Act of 1712, providing that on presentation of a licensed preacher within the bounds of any presbytery in Scotland, presbyters were bound and astricted' to take him on trial, and unless error or immorality were openly proved against him, to induct him to the charge.

The Bangorian controversy threw some light on the spiritual character of Christ's kingdom ; and Scotland had a fair share of the good which it induced, but it was not until a publication appeared from the pen of Mr. Graham, of Newcastle, showing, with much force and clearness, the absurdity and mischievous tendency of a connexion between Church and State *—that the bondage of the civil connexion was, to any great extent, realized. Many who had quietly separated from the National Church, for various reasons, now openly avowed their convictions, and patronage having been especially felt to be a galling yoke, a few ministers, in connexion with the Church of Scotland, were compelled to leave their livings under solemn protest.

A most interesting and instructive feature in the progress of truth was a discussion which arose in the presbytery of Auchterarder, in Perthshire, on points of doctrine-Pelagianism having found its way into the Church of Scotland, and been openly taught by Professor Simson, who held the divinity chair in the University of Glasgow. The General Assembly, after trial of the case, found it proved that the professor held, that heathens have an obscure objective discovery of redemption through Christ—that the light of nature, including tradition, is sufficient to teach man the way of salvation-that the souls of children are as pure and holy as the soul of Adam was in his original condition, being inferior to him only as to those qualifications and habits which he received in a state of maturity—that no proper covenant of works was made with Adam, as the representative of his posterity —that our own happiness ought to be our chief end in the service of God—that there is no immediate prescience of God attending and in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Newly-National Churches allied to Despotism.

VOL. II.

A A

6

fluencing the acts of his reasonable creatures—and that there will be no suffering in hell, after the last judgment.'* They refused, however, to inflict any ecclesiastical penalties on the professor ; but the presbytery of Auchterarder pronounced it heresy, and inserted in their Minutes their opinion that it is not sound and orthodox to teach that we forsake sin in order to our coming to Christ, and instating us in covenant with God.' A young man presented to a charge within the bounds of the presbytery, avowed Pelagian opinions, when Ralph Erskine opposed his settlement, on the ground of this error; but the General Assembly homologated it, and treated the presbytery with indignant severity. Then followed a warm controvesy, and a publication under the title of “The Marrow of Modern Divinity,' which eventuated in the secession of Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, and the establishment of the first Dissenting Presbyterian organization in Scotland.

These Dissenters, however, were right in practice long before they were right in principle; and although their followers afterwards separated again and again into so many different sections, that it would require a volume to give the history of each, it was not until the close of the last century that Dissent, on the broad ground that the civil magistrate has no right or title to legislate within the precincts of the Church, again began to manifest its character, and demand for itself a fair hearing.

The Buried Palaces of Jiurveh.

*Far away—a thousand miles from the highways of modern commerce, and the tracks of ordinary travel-lay a city buried in the sandy earth of a half-desert Turkish province, with no certain trace of its place of sepulchre. Vague tradition said it was hidden somcwhere near the river Tigris ; but for above two thousand years its known existence in the world was a mere name—a word. That name suggested the idea of an ancient capital of fabulous splendour and magnitude, a congregation of palaces and other dwellings, encompassed by walls and ramparts, vast, but scarcely real.

• More than two thousand years had it thus lain in its unknown grave, when a French savant and a wandering English scholar, urged by a noble inspiration, sought the seat of the once powerful empire, and, searching till they found the dead city, threw off its shroud of sand and ruin, and revealed once more, to an astonished and anxious world, the temples, the palaces, and the idols; the representations of war and the triumphs of peaceful art of the ancient Assyrians. The

[ocr errors]

* Historical Account of the Secession, by Brown Haddington,

Nineveh of Scripture, the Nineveh of the oldest historians; the Nineveh twin sister of Babylon-glorying in a civilization of pomp and power, , all traces of which were believed to be gone; the Nineveh in which the captive tribes of Israel had laboured and wept, was, after a sleep of twenty centuries, again brought to light. The proofs of ancient splendour were again beheld by living eyes, and, by the skill of the draughtsman, and the pen of antiquarian travellers, made known to the world.'

Such are the opening passages of a work of singular value and interest,* upon which we propose to draw for the materials of the present paper. Cheap, handsomely got up, most complete and painstaking in its arrangements, and abundantly illustrated with engravings of the objects described, it is one of the best specimens of popular antiquarian literature, which has for some time issued from the press; and one which, while it will be acceptable to intelligent readers generally, will be especially valued by thoughtful students of the sacred writings.

The merit of pioneering the way for the series of discoveries recorded in this volume, belongs to Charles Julius Rich, the East India Company's resident at Bagdad, who carefully surveyed, about the year 1818, the presumed sites of Babylon and Nineveh. The immediate results were but slight, and more than twenty years elapsed ere the investigation was resumed. In 1842, M. Botta was appointed French Consul at Mósul, in the immediate neighbourhood. Having previously resided in the East, and possessing energy of character and a love of scientific pursuits strong enough to carry him through every difficulty, he speedily availed himself of the facilities afforded by his position for attempting to solve the great geographical problem. Selecting the mound of Kouyunjik for his first operations, three months of fruitless labour followed; but in the interim a dyer of Khorsabad, who built his ovens of the bricks on which his village was built, brought to Botta a couple of large bricks bearing inscriptions, and offered to procure as many more as he might desire. Acting on this hint, Botta despatched workmen to the spot; and, in a few days, himself fcasted his eyes on the remains of a chamber, the facade of which was covered with bas-reliefs, and had the still higher gratification of finding that he had struck

upon the ruins of a very considerable edifice. In May, 1843, full descriptions of all that the excavations had revealed, accompanied by drawings, reached Paris ; whereupon 3,000 francs were immediately placed at Botta's disposal by the Minister of the Interior, for the further prosecution of the work.

And now a new class of difficulties had to be cncountered. The proverbial insalubrity of Khorsabad seriously affected the workmen, and nearly killed their enterprising chief. Added to this, was the cupidity, superstition, and stolid ignorance of the inhabitants, who could not be induced to believe that such persevering researches were for treasures in marble and stone alone, some conceiving that their

a

* “Nineveh and its Palaces. The Discoveries of Botta and Layard applied to the Elucidation of Holy Writ.” By Joseph Bonomi, F.R.S.L. Illustrated London Library, 227, Strand.

country formerly belonged to the Europeans, who were now searching for evidence whereon to ground a claim for restitution! Mohamed Pasha, Governor of the Province of Mósul, after subjecting the party to annoyances which would have sickened any one not bent on the achievement of his object, at length prohibited further search, on the Turkish governor-like pretext, that a small house built by Botta was erected as a fortress to command the country! The interference of the French ambassador at Constantinople, and the death of the Pasha, presently removed this formidable obstacle; and in May 1844, having received a fresh grant of money, and been joined by an artist despatched by the French government to take drawings of the sculptures before they had lost their freshness by exposure to the atmo. sphere, Botta recommenced his labours, having, after some amusing diplomatic manœuvres, succeeded in purchasing the village for the purpose of clearing the houses from the top of the mound. By a fortunate coincidence—fortunate at least for one of the parties—a band of Nestorian Christians were at this time driven by persecution from their mountain homes in Kurdistan to Mósul and the neighbouring villages, and Botta, charged with distributing among them the relief expended by his government, was at once furnished with a supply of robust and willing labourers. Nearly three hundred men were now engaged with all the ardour of Californian diggers, their more scientific director following with delight the movements of the pickaxe, and measuring, and transcribing all that it revealed. M. Flaudin, the artist, returned to Paris at the end of the year, when Botta and his coadjutors received the first reward of their labours in the publication of the result in a series of magnificent folio volumes prepared at the national cost. There now remained the formidable achievement of transporting the sculptures to France, a work in which Botta's patience, energy, and ingenuity, were yet more severely taxed. At length, after the lapse of eight months, and the loss of one life—the only casualty of the kind occurring throughout the excavations—the whole were floated down the Tigris on rafts supported by inflated skins, and at the end of 1846 was landed the first collection of Assyrian antiquities that had ever reached Europe—a collection which now presents one of the greatest of the many attractions of the Louvre.

To the labours of our own countryman, Dr. Layard, as being already widely known, we may refer with greater brevity. He commenced his career of travel in 1839, in the North of Europe, visiting the states of Germany, and acquiring their language; presently making his way to Constantinople, and then, Alexander like, turning to another continent, and betaking himself to the East, where, learning the languages of Turkey and Arabia, he was soon able to adapt himself to the life of an Arab of the Desert. An excursion in the neighbourhood of Nineveh and the Tigris served to whet an appetite for antiquarian research, which no hardship or danger could subdue, and an interview with Botta, then engaged in excavating the mound of Kouyunjik, strengthened his determination to realize his own cherished views. Layard, however, could draw upon no public fund, and but for the

generous

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

munificence of Sir Stratford Canning*-to whom we are also indebted for the marbles from Halicarnassus-the French museum would in all probability have received what has so greatly enriched the sculptural department of our own.

The English, like the French excavator, had to face the most wearying difficulties, not the least of which were occasioned by the rapacity and duplicity of the local authorities, who, just when the first of the long sought-for bas-reliefs was suddenly disclosed, peremptorily stopped the works. Fortunately, a change of Pashas resulted in the removal of the embargo, when, attracted by a ravine occasioned by the winter rains, Layard happily opened a trench in its centre, and in two days was rewarded by the discovery of several additional bas-reliefs, and of a gigantic human head, much to the terror of the Arabs, who hurried to communicate the intelligence that Nimroud himself had been found. The excitement produced by this discovery set the whole of Mósul in commotion; and the result was a message from the governor, to the effect that the remains should be treated with respect, and be by no means further disturbed. Again, however, a timely change of Pashas relieved Layard from his embarrassments, and all official opposition being overcome, new trenches were opened in the great mound of Kouyunjik, and soon kings, priests, griffins, eunuchs, and the symbolic tree, were among the figures which excited feelings of amazement in the Arabs, and of rapturous delight in their employer.'

Seasonable, though inadequate, aid was now afforded by a government grant, but no artist having been sent out, as in Botta's case, Layard had • to superintend the excavations, to draw all the bas-reliefs, to copy, compare, and take casts of the inscriptions, to direct the moving and packing of the sculptures, to be continually present at the works, and frequently to remove the earth with his own hands from the face of the slabs. The excavations among the ruins at Nimroud now proceeded on a large scale. Chamber after chamber of the palace was explored, and the chiselled records of battles, sieges, triumphs, banquetings, and sacrifices, were daily discovered.' As in Botta's case, the removal of gigantic bulls, lions, and other large sculptures, drew largely on Layard's invention and patience; but by the end of June, 1847, the whole had been transferred from their sandy burialplace to the surface of the deep, the working party had been disbanded, and Layard had taken a farewell glance at the scene of his trials and triumphs.

After devoting several chapters to Ninevite history, biblical and classical, and to a topographical description of the entire district, Mr. Bonomi takes the reader from chamber to chamber of the palaces at Khorsabad and Nimroud, and, like a modern cicerone at Holyrood or Hampton Court, but, we need hardly say, with a degree of intelligence greatly surpassing that usually possessed by such functionaries, describes the various scenes pictured in stone upon the walls, vivifying the mute record by his references and deductions, and ingeniously

* Recently elevated to the peerage by the title of Lord Redcliffe,

a

a

« PreviousContinue »