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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 that 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.” 4 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.)
chirvan he passed into the territory of the Alani, and thence into the district of the lord of the marches, who dwelt in the city of Derbent, and whose title was Lord of the Golden Throne. For the extraordinary fish which he caught in company with their ruler, see the article upon “ Sirens and Mermaids."
The Lord of the Golden Throne furnished our travellers with guides to conduct them farther north, into which quarter, having marched twenty-six days, they arrived at a land which emitted a fearful odor. They beheld, as they went, many cities destroyed by the Yàjouje-Màjouje, and in six days arrived at that part of the mountains of Caucasus, in which was the stronghold, enclosing those captives of Dhoulkarnein. They saw the tops of the fortress long before they reached it. On coming up, it was found to consist partly of iron and partly of a huge mountain, in an opening in which stood the gate, of enormous magnitude. This gate was supported by vast buttresses, and had an iron bulwark, with turrets of the same metal, reaching to the top of the mountain itself, which was too high to be seen: The valves, lintels, threshold, lock and key, were all of proportionate magnitude. The governor of certain places in the neighborhood comes to this castle once every week, with an escort of ten men all mounted on horseback, and striking it three times with a great hammer, lays his ear to the door and listens. A murmuring noise comes from within, which is the noise of the Vàjouje-Màjouje. Salam was told, that they often appeared on the battlements of the bulwark.
Do you not fancy, reader, that you take a journey to that awful place, and that after waiting there a long time you behold some of them looking over — huge, blackheaded giants, looking down upon you with a shadow, and making you hold your breath ?
AERONAUTICS, REAL AND FABULOUS.
HE balloon, by the help of fashionable encour
agement and the intrepid frequency of the ascents of Messrs. and Mesdames Green and Graham, appears to be again hovering on the
borders of a little improvement. There is a talk of its being made use of for the purpose of surveying land. The only practical account it was ever turned to, was of this sort — a survey of the field of battle at Fleurus ; where the French prevented a surprise by means of it. Ascents have been made, indeed, for scientific experiments, but not with any particular result.
Should you like, dear reader, to go up in a balloon ?
If these latter wish to have a friend to stand by them in their hesitation, I, for one, must own myself of the same mind. It would take much to make me undergo so practical a lift to the imagination. I can imagine it, “methinks,” well enough as I am, — on terra firma.
“Suave Vauxhall Gardens, turbantibus æthera throatis,
E terra magnum alterius spectare balloonem.”
To see in his balloon another rise."
I cannot withhold my admiration from those who go up; otherwise, perhaps, to spite them for my sense of the advantage they have over me, I would ; nor can I say how immense my own valor might become, and how independent of the necessity for some prodigious cause or principle, if, instead of these sedentary turnings of paragraphs, I could grow young again, and go through a course of horseback, felicity, and the Fives’ Court. But meantime, as a king of Naples once, climbing up a tree, told the courtiers who assisted him that he “found he had an antipathy to the buffalo ;” so I find my antipathy is to height. I could shudder now, this moment, to recollect, that when I was a youth I once walked to the edge of Shakespeare's Cliff (higher then than at present), and looked over; though even then I was fain to stretch myself along the ground, while the friend who was with me nobly kept his legs. I should have more respect for this infirmity, if I could persuade myself that it was unavoidable by the imaginative ; but Rousseau was famous for his love of these altitudes; nor is the reverse courage to be attributed to a destitution of thought for others : for the late admirable writer and most kind human being, Charles Lamb, one of the most considerate of kinsmen, and highly imaginative also in his way, could run (as he once actually did) along the top of a high parapet wall in the Temple, so much to the terror of Hazlitt, that the latter cried out, in a sort of rage and cruel transport of sympathy, “ Lamb, if you don't come down, I shall push you over.” On the other hand, that I may not be supposed to be indulging myself in the lowest of all egotisms, that of parading a weakness, or the want of some common quality, I beg leave to say, that I trust I could do any sort of duty, if required of me, as well as most men, even to the walking on the edge of a precipice; though I should beg leave to be permitted to do it with a pale face. I should want that sort of courage, which removes peril by feeling none; and which, when it does not arise from having no thought at all (though the last instance forms a perplexing exception), seems to originate in some exquisite, healthy balancing of the faculties, bodily and mental ; - a thing admirable, and which I envy to the last degree. I sometimes fancy I have it, when I have been taking vigorous exercise ; but the emotion of a single morning's work over my writing-table puts it to flight. I attribute the change in myself (with regard to the power of enduring height), to a long illness I had, during which, happening to read of a similar infirmity, the impression it made upon me, when I again looked down from a high place, was tremendous ; and I have never since been able to avoid thinking of it, on the like occasions. When I was in Italy, I tried to get rid of it by pedestrian experiments on mountainous places, upon Alps and Apennines ; but it would not do. I only mortified myself to no purpose. (I find I am getting egotistical, after all; and must beg the reader to excuse me. I would gladly hear as much about himself, or from any man.)
Hail then, gallant Greens and Grahams! and gallant Captain Currie ! and thou, Marquis of Clanricarde, worthy of thine ancestry! It is not easy to know how far mind and matter are duly mixed up in any given aeronaut; but the gallant Marquis, issuing from his house of legislation, where he has speech as well as a voice, taketh me mightily; and though captains are bound by office to be both gàllant and gallànt, it is not every one of them that would have the poetical enthusiasm to exclaim, when up in the clouds, “Oh, Mrs. Graham ! let us never return to earth !” We, envious fixtures to the ground, may smile at the exclamation ; but the critic who thought he was bantering it the other day in the newspapers, felt himself in his candor obliged to give up the laugh, and allow that the occasion justified the outbreak. I confess, I think the