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than plunder, it is impossible to deny the merit and utility of such institutions, at a time when religious enthusiasm was precipitating individuals into continual danger of that captivity, from which there could be no other hope of rescue, than what the charity of other individuals could afford. Abuse of such an order as this, is only another instance of the absurdity of blaming parts of an ancient system, without a comprehensive view of the whole ; and of trying particular institutions, by principles adapted to a totally different state of society, from that in which they originated. We should not dismiss the Trinitarians, without reminding our countrymen, that the order owed its first establishment to two Englishmen, and that even at this day there exists a very large fund, left by some munificent spirit, for the same purpose, to the management of one of the London Companies, although the perusers of some late accounts of sufferers by shipwreck and captivity, on the shores of the Sahara, will suspect that this bounty at present finds a less humane mode of appropriation.
“Monachus Trinitarius. "Monachus Trinitarius, imberbis; Capite raso capillitio hemisphærico; Pedibus subcalceatis; Ano semitecto; Tunica pannea, alba, loro nigro, ad marginem scapularis prominulo, ligata ; Cucullo laxo, albo, cum scuto pectorali brevi rotundato, dorsali vero longiori cuspidato. Scapulari stricto, tunica breviore, signato. Manicis æqualibus replicatis. Pallio fusco, femora versus demisso, cum cucullo fusco, cucullum album tunicæ absorbente. Scapulari & pallii latere sinistro cruce rubra & cærulea signatis ; Indusio & prætexta lanea.
“Habitus monachi Trinitarii gravis; incessus properans; facies exotica. Clamat media nocte voce dissona, ingrata; domi ichtyophagus; extra septa monasterii, quamprimum aquam, sicco quamvis pede, transiit, polyphagus, intestinis animalium semper vescitur, & inde Gallis mange trippes audit. Carnem humanam appetit, nundinatione hominum occupatus. Europæos spoliat, prædamque piratis Africæ & Asiæ advehit, servos emturus. Ex oriente redux senectam, seu barbam, induit.
“Peregrinantium & nundinatorum more propria uxore caretnisi fors in Hispaniæ æstuante climate-& aliena utitur. Maritus, cujus domum monachus Trinitarius subit, cornigeri cervi meminerit, qui patres speciei, Joannem de Matha & felicem a Valois, semper comitatur, omnesque imminentis periculi admonet. Patres hi, cervi hortatu, asseclas suos, utpote a reliquis monachis victu & moribus jam dissentientes, separarunt & in propriam speciem coegerunt, sæculo
“ Absoluta migratione hybernat in urbibus."
Art, VI. Sethos, Histoire ou Vie, tirée des monumens anecdotes
de L'Ancienne Egypte. Traduit d'un manuscrit Grec. 3 tomes, 12mo. Paris, 1731. The Life of Sethos, taken from Private Memoirs of the Ancient
Egyptians. Translated from a Greek manuscript into French; and now faithfully done into English from the Paris edition. 2 vol. 8vo. 1732.
This Egyptian romance was written by the Abbé Terasson, in avowed imitation of Telemachus and The Travels of Cyrus. Gibbon justly characterized its author as a scholar and a philosopher, and the work itself as having more variety and originality than the former of these celebrated productions. A book so praised must be worth looking into, although no other point of comparison may be equally advantageous to it. The author's design was not merely to tell a tale and inculcate a moral, but to illustrate and recommend his favourite theory, that the mythological fables and sacred rites of Greece were all derived from Egyptian customs, and especially from the institutions and practices of the Egyptian priesthood. We have endeavoured to shew how he pursues this object, in the brief epitome of the narrative which we now offer to our readers.
Although that miserable country, Egypt, may have for ages appeared as if given up to the dominion of devils, it was originally under the government of the gods. Seven of these reigned in succession, viz., “Vulcan, the Sun, Agathodemon, Osiris, Isis, and Typhon. By Vulcan, to whom they assign no beginning, their philosophers meant that elementary fire which is diffused every where. This same fire, reunited into one globe, is the Sun, the son of Vulcan. Agathodemon, defined by his very name, was their good genius or principle. Saturn, or Time, was the father of Osiris and Isis, brother and sister, husband and wife, the two sexes of nature. Typhon, their third brother, was always regarded by them as their evil principle. Horus was the son of Osiris and Isis, reason or human wisdom, and he began the reign of the demi-gods.” Of these there were -nine, of whom the last began the reign of men. “He was, indeed, looked upon but as a man in his life-time; but, after having ruled all Egypt alone by the name of Menes, he was, after his death, in consideration of his happy reign, numbered with the gods, by the name of Jupiter. He had four sonsThot or Mercury, Æsculapius, Athotes, and Curudes; of which the two first were, as well as himself, advanced to the skies. Menes, to render the succession to his states equal, divided Egypt into four kingdoms. Mercury reigned in Thebes, Æsculapius at Memphis, Athotes at This, and Curudes at Tanis. This was the rise of the four great dynasties of Egypt, which were collateral or cotemporary for sixteen hundred years, to the time of the famous Sesostris, King of Thebes and conqueror of Asia.” In spite of the supremacy which Sesostris naturally acquired over the other kings; the attempt of his descendant, Rameses, to incorporate all Egypt into one monarchy, and of the invasions of the shepherd kings, these states remained distinct and independent for three hundred years longer, when, about fifty years before the Trojan war, Sethos was born heir to the crown of Memphis, in very good time to be a hero at least, if not a demi-god. His mother, Nephte, was very wise and energetic, and his father, Osoroth, rather indolent and foolish; although it must be allowed that he shewed some discretion in the choice of such a queen, and in confiding the reins of government to her hands, Business and anxiety soon caused the death of her majesty, to which melancholy event we are in some measure reconciled by the description which it serves to introduce of a royal Egyptian funeral. After the process of embalming, which is performed with such exquisite skill as to give the corpse all the ease, bloom, and freshness of life and health, a magnificent procession is formed, to conduct it to the labyrinths at the lake Mæris, the common receptacle of the sovereigns of Egypt. The deceased Queen, placed on a splendid car, decked with the insignia of her rank, profusely ornamented with flowers, preceded by joyous music, and surrounded with slaves in their festival habits, forms a striking contrast with the lugubrious appearance of the assembled thousands, amidst whose noisy lamentations she seems to sleep and smile. " This custom of the Egyptians was to signify, that, though the death of virtuous persons was a matter of sorrow to the surviving, it was to them the entrance into peace, a happiness and a triumph.” On the borders of the lake the procession is stopped ; for the rites of sepulture were not allowed indiscriminately even to monarchs, but depended on the favourable award of an incorruptible tribunal, composed of sixteen priests of the labyrinth, assisted by two judges, selected out of each of the ancient nomes. “The high priest who conducted the deceased having there made an harangue, the president of the tribunal gave leave to all the assistants to lay such charges against the deceased as they could prove. They then proceeded to judgment, by which the corpse was either sentenced to be delivered to their ferryman, whom they called Charon, or to be deprived of sepulture. This sentence passed by scrutiny, that is, by certain tickets, which the judges threw into that terrible urn, the very idea of which was powerful enough to keep the ancient kings within the bounds of justice.” Nephte is honourably acquitted by this august tribunal ; and the chief officer of the second order of priests having touched her with the wand, of which the Grecian poets made Mercury's caduceus, she is received into the bark of Charon (not the classical shade of that name, but a real substantial Egyptian), who, being duly paid his fare, ferries her over to the labyrinth, of which the upper part was dedicated to the Sun, and the lower to the infernal deities, where she is finally deposited, and, in the conviction of her blessedness, the unfeigned lamentations for her death give place to demonstrations of extravagant joy. All is frolic and jollity. “All such as excelled in exercises of strength or ingenuity resorted thither in companies, and diverted the spectators with amusing sports on the land and upon the canal. Troops of satyrs and nymphs, an idea of whom the worship of the god Pan had cultivated in Egypt long before it passed into Greece, were seen sallying out of the thickets or rushing into the waters. The nights were more dazzling than the days, occasioned by the illuminations in the cities, which at a distance, and in the fields, made a more glorious appearance than in the cities themselves. Noris it possible for painting to represent or words to express their lustre; especially on the banks of the lake Mæris, that sea of sweet water, the work of men's hands, which, according to our best authors, was one hundred and fifty leagues in circumference, and where those illuminations were doubly represented by their reflections on the water. An infinite number of galleys, richly adorned, and illuminated like palaces, cruised from port to port, at the will of those who possessed them, sure always of meeting with some agreeable amusement, whichever way they directed their course. The prodigious concourse of people, the perpetual sound of musical instruments, and the frequent shouts of joy, left no room for complaint in this affluence of all manner of diversions, except it were for want of silence and sleep."
The young Sethos now enters on a course of public instruction, and we have a description of the “ Theatre of the Arts and Sciences” at Memphis, founded on the very largest notions of the learning of the Egyptian priests. The Abbé leads us from the botanic garden to the library, through so many galleries, chymical, anatomical, mathematical, musical, &c., that, although an author's conscience is not soon touched on that score, he becomes rather alarmed at his own lengthiness, and charitably postpones a part to the end of the volume, as “une preuve et un exemple des égards que l'on a eus pour les lecteurs qui n'aiment pas de détails un peu longs.” Mr. Lediard, however, by whom the work was, immediately on its publication, “ faithfully done into English," and of whose doing we have availed ourselves in our extracts, unmercifully restores this supplementary matter to its original position. While the priests are
indoctrinating Sethos, Daluca, an artful woman, who had, even during the life of his late queen, gained some ascendancy over the pliable Osoroth, prevails on him to marry her, and intrust her with the administration of his affairs; a power which she abuses, in order to exclude Sethos from the succession, and secure it for one of her own sons. Her arts are counteracted by Amedes, a trusty counsellor of the former queen's, and the monitor of his child; although his rapidly growing wisdom soon renders that office a mere sinecure. "Under his auspices, Sethos makes his first essay in heroism very successfully, upon a monstrous serpent. Although only sixteen, his extraordinary courage and prudence qualify him, in the opinion of his instructor, for the severe trials of the initiation, about which, therefore, as direct persuasion was strictly forbidden, he manages to excite his curiosity, and then guides him to the spot where it may be gratified. The secrets of this freemasonry of antiquity were well kept, and conjecture surrounded them with appalling circumstances.
“ Some were of opinion they were to descend alive into hell, and not to return without the most frightful labours. Others imagined that all the initiates submitted to a real death; and, though they saw them afterwards risen again, they feared the agonies. They also knew that some, who were esteemed men of singular valour, never returned at all." Still, “ as the initiates were in extraordinary repute among the people for the great virtues they had given proofs of, and especially for the incorruptible justice which was their characteristic; as they were respected by the kings themselves, who looked upon them not only as men intrepid in battle, but as the most experienced ministers they could be served with, and often as mediators between them and the priests, whose influence they were sometimes afraid of; and as nothing could be more agreeable to a private person than to enjoy almost all the privileges of the priesthood, without being tied down to their subjections and disciplines, there were always some who had resolution enough to expose themselves to any dangers for the sake of the initiation."
We shall now shew how our author has filled up the outline, which is furnished by the hints of the ancients, of the ceremonies on this occasion. At night, Sethos is conducted by Amedes into the interior of the pyramid of Cheops (which by subterranean passages communicated with the great temple of Isis at Memphis), till they arrive at a well, which, after descending for some time by concealed steps in its side, they quit for a long passage hollowed in the rock, and terminated by a gateway, where the guide must leave the noviciate to pursue his course alone, which required some courage after reading the following inscription over it :