Page images
PDF
EPUB

go they not out? seist thou. But therto I answer, thou yt be soo that yt be called a cee, yt ys a stanke (standing water) stonding among hillis. And yt ys the greatest stanke of all the world, and yf they went over the cee, they wot not where to aryve, for they wot not to speke but her owne langage; and ye shall (knowe) that the Jues have no lond of her owne in all the worlde, but they that dwellen in the hillis, and yet they bere tribute to the quene of Ermony. And sometyme yt ys soo that some Jewes gon on the hill, but they mey not passe, for thes hillis be so heigh ; neverthelesse men seye of that cuntre ther bye, that in the tyme of Antecriste they shall comen out, and do moch yll herme to Cristen men. And therefore all the Jewes that dwellen in dyvers partise of the world lern to speke Ebrewe, for they trowe that dwell amonge thes hillis schall com out, and (if) they speke Ebrewe and not ellis. And in tyme of Antecriste shall thyse Jewes comen out and speke Ebrewe, and leden other Jewes into Cristendom for to destroy Cristenmen; for they wotte be her prophecies that they shall com out of Cristenmen, shall be in her subieccion, as they be now under Cristenmen. An yf ye will wit howe they shall com and fynd passage out as I have hard saye, I schall

At the comynge of Antecrist, a fox schall com and make his den in the sam place where that kyng Alisaunder ded make the gattes, and schall travaille so on the erth and perce yt thorowe till that he com among the Jewes ; and whan they see thys fox, they schall have great marwell of hym, for they seye never such maner of bestes, for other bestes they have amonge hem many, but non such; and they schall chese the fox, and pursue him till he be fled agen to the hole ther he cam out of; and than schall they grave after hym tyll the time they com to the gates that kyng Alisaunder dyde make of gret stonys will dight with symend (cement); and they schall brek thes gates, and so schall they fynd issue.” *

tell you.

The story of the fox is idle enough; but in the Pecorone of Sir Giovanni Fiorentino, quoted by the same authority, is a version of this story, in which a very romantic manouvre of Alexander is mentioned. In order to keep his captives in subjection, “he fixed a number of trumpets on the top of the mountains, so cunningly framed that they resounded in every breeze. In the course of time certain birds built their nests in the mouths of the trumpets, and stopped them up, so that the clangour gradually lessened. And when the trumpets were quite silent, the Jews ventured to climb over the mountains, and sallied forth.

It is curious to fancy the imprisoned nation listening year after year, and finding the sound of Alexander's dreadful trumpets grow less and less, till at length they are “silent.” What has happened? Is the king dead ? Have his army grown less and less, or feebler and feebler, so as to be unable to blow them ? Are they all dead ? Let us go and see. And forth they go, but cautiously — climbing the mountains with due care, and many listening delays. At length they arrive at the top, and see nobody — only those mighty scarecrows of trumpets, their throats stuffed up with the nests of birds ! +

In these traditions there is a confusion common in the East of Alexander of Macedon, called by the Orientals

* Quoted by Mr. Weber in the notes to his “ Metrical Romances," vol. iii. P. 323. It has long been supposed that the Jews had a national settlement somewhere about this quarter. See D'Herbelot, “ Bibliothèque Orientale,” art. Jahoud; and the late English travellers, particularly Elphinstone in his Account of Caubul.”

† Leigh Hunt tells this story more minutely in his fine poem entitled The Trumpets of Doolkarnein. – ED.

Dhoulkarnein, or Zulkarnein (that is to say, the Twohorned, or Lord of the East and West), with another Dhoulkarnein, who lived before the time of Abraham, and is styled Dhoulkarnein the Greater. Powerful as they think the former, the latter was still re so; and was, ides, a prophet. He was a Mussulman by anticipation; and lived sixteen hundred years. It is supposed, however, that the Greek Alexander is both Dhoulkarneins inclusive ; and that in consequence of the figure he made in the East, he threw that mightier shadow of his greatness upon the mists of antiquity.

The essay towards the history of Old Arabia, by Major Price, contains a summary of this Dhoulkarnein's adventures with Gog and Magog, taken out of an Eastern historian, and containing the best account hitherto given of this awful people. The following is the amount of it: Among the children of Japhet was one of the name of Mensheje, or Meshech, who was the father of two sons called Yajouje and Màjouje. From these descended a progeny so numerous, that, according to Abdullah, the son of Omar, if the inhabitants of the whole earth were divided into ten equa! parts, nine out of the ten would be found to consist of the Yàjouje-Màjouje. They were so long-lived, that no one died till he had seen a thousand descendants of his body; and as to their stature, the race might be divided into three classes, the Kelim-goush, or cloth-eared, only four cubits big ; the class a hundred and twenty cubits in height; and the class who were a hundred and twenty cubits both in height and breadth. Had there been any more, we suppose that they would have been measured by the square mile. They were of enormous strength; and, though their ordinary food was the wild mulberry, were eaters of

Agreeably to these bodily symptoms, they lived without a god, government, or good manners; and made horrible visitations in the countries about them, who lived in constant dread of their enormities.

men.

Dhoulkarnein, in the course of an expedition which he took to survey all the countries of the earth, arrived at a territory bordering on these people, and was met with great reverence by the king of it, who, after becoming a convert to the hero's faith, begged his assistance against his dreadful neighbors. The two-horned gave his consent, but it appears that even he had no expectation of being able to conquer them, for he did not attempt it. He contented himself with building a mighty wall, called by the Eastern historian sedde-Zulkarnein, or bulwark of Zulkarnein; the remains of which are supposed to exist in certain ruins still visible, near the city of Derbent, on the Caspian. This wall fills the imagination almost as much as the race whom it was built to keep out; and the details of its construction are worth repeating. The monarch commenced by causing an immense ditch to be excavated between the two mountains through which the Yājouje-Majouje were accustomed to pass. He then filled up the ditch with enormous masses of granite, by way of foundation ; and upon these (though we are not told how he contrived it) he heaped huge blocks of iron, copper, and other metals, in alternate layers like brick; the whole of which being put in a state of fusion by great fires, became, when cooled, one solid bulwark of metal, stretching from side to side, and on a level with the mountains. “On the top of all,” says our author,

[Hiatus valde deflendus ! — We had made a memorandum of this passage some time ago, and cannot on the sudden again meet with the book, not even in the British Museum.]

[ocr errors]

The length of the wall was one hundred and fifty parasangs, or five hundred and twenty-five miles ; its breadth fifty miles; and its height two thousand eight hundred cubits, or about the height of Ben Nevis.”

There is no doubt an important barrier of some kind existed in the defiles of Caucasus, on the Caspian ; there are considerable remains of one. According to some, Nouschirvan, King of Persia, a prince of the dynasty of the Sassanides, had the honor of completing what Alexander began.

Others have suspected, that by the account of its magnitude the wall of China must have been meant. But these questions, into which our hankering after the truth is continually leading us, are not necessary to that other truth of fable. The wall may or may not be a truth historical ; Gog and Magog are a fine towering piece of old history fabulous.

In D’Herbelot, * is an account of a Journey of Discovery made by order of a caliph of the house of the Abbasides, to inquire into this structure. With the exception of a story of a mermaid, which we have transferred to its proper place, Warton gives a better account in his “History of English Poetry.”+ We have taken the best circumstances from both, and proceed to lay the result before the reader.

About the year 808, the caliph Al Amin, having heard wonderful reports concerning this wall or barrier, sent his interpreter Salam, with an escort of fifty men, to view it. Salam took the route of Nouschirvan, or Northern Media, in which Filan-Schah reigned at that time. From Nous

* Art. “ Jagiouge et Magiouge,” tom. iii. p. 270.

† Vol. i. “Dissertation I.” (Quoted by Weber in the notes to his “Metrical Romances,” vol. iii. p. 325.)

« PreviousContinue »