« AnteriorContinuar »
The Druids, or Priests of the Ancient Britons, are said to have retained the belief of one supreme God, all-wise, all mighty, and all merciful, from whom all things which have life proceed; though they feigned that there were other gods beside Him in whom we live and move and have our being; Teutates, whom they called the father, and Taranis the thunderer, and Hesus the god of battles, and Andraste the goddess of victory: Hu the mighty, by whom it is believed that Noah, the second parent of the human race, was intended; Ceridwen, a goddess in whose rites the preservation of mankind in the ark was figured; and Beal or Belinus,—for the Phenicians had introduced the worship of their Baal.
By favour of these false gods, the Druids pretended to foretell future events, and as their servants and Vol. I.
favourites they demanded gifts and offerings from the deluded multitude. The better to secure this revenue, they made the people, at the beginning of winter, extinguish all their fires on one day, and kindle them again from the sacred fire of the Druids, which would make the house fortunate for the ensuing year; and if any man came who had not paid his yearly dues, they refused to give him a spark, neither durst any of his neighbours relieve him: nor might he himself procure fire by any other means, so that he and his family were deprived of it till he had discharged the uttermost of his debt. They erected also great stones, so cunningly fitted one upon another, that if the upper one were touched in a certain place, though only with a finger, it would rock; whereas no strength of man might avail to move it if applied to any other part:
hither they led those who were accused of any crime, and, under pretence that the gods would, by this form of trial, show the guilt or innocence of the party, directed him where to touch and make the proof: and thus, at their discretion, they either absolved the accused, or made them appear guilty.
The misletoe, the seed whereof is eaten and voided by the birds, and thus conveyed from one tree to another, they affected to hold in veneration. When it was discovered growing upon an oak, upon which tree it is rarely to be found, the Druids went thither with great solemnity, and all things were made ready for sacrifice and for feasting. Two white bulls were fastened by their horns to the tree; the officiating priest ascended, and cut the mistletoe with a golden knife; others stood below to receive it in a white woollen cloth, and it was carefully preserved, that water wherein it had been steeped might be administered to men, as an antidote against poison, and to cattle, for the sake of making them fruitful. The sacrifice was then performed. The best and most beautiful of the flocks and herds were selected for this purpose. The victim was divided into three parts: one was consumed as a burnt offering; he who made the offering feasted upon another, with his friends; and the third was the portion of the Druids. In this wise did they delude the people. But they had worse rites than these and were guilty of greater abominations. They were notorious, above the priests of every other idolatry, for the practice of pretended magic. They made the people pass through fire, in honour of Beal; and they offered up the life of man in sacrifice, saying that when the victim was smitten with a sword, they could discover events which were to come, by the manner in which he fell, and the flowing of his blood, and the quivering of his body in the act of death. When a chief was afflicted with sickness, they sacrificed a human victim, because, they said, the continuance of his life might be purchased, if another life were offered up as its price; and in like manner, men were offered up when any calamity befel the people, and when they were about to engage in war. Naked women, stained with the dark blue dye of woad, assisted at these bloody rites. On greater occasions, a huge figure, in the rude likeness of man, was made of wicker-work, and filled with men: as many as were condemned to death for their offences were put into it; but if these did not suffice to fill the image, the innocent were thrust in, and they surrounded it with straw and wood, and set fire to it, and consumed it, with all whom it contained.
Their domestic institutions were not less pernicious than their idolatry. A wife was common to all the kinsmen of her husband, a custom which prevented all connubial love, and destroyed the natural affection between child and father; for every man had as many wives as he had kinsmen, and no man knew his child, nor did any child know its father. These were the abominations of our British fathers after the light of the Patriarchs was lost among them, and before they received the light of the gospel.
[Abridged from Soutbjst.]
HOW TO FACE AN ENEMY.
Thomas P , at the age of eighteen, was, by the
death of his master, left alone in the world to gain a livelihood as a shoemaker. He shouldered his kit, and went from house to house, making up the farmer's leather, or mending the children's shoes. At length a good old man, pleased with Tom's industry and steady habits, offered him a small building as a shop. Here Tom applied himself to work, with persevering industry and untiring ardour. Early in the morning he was
whistling over his work, and his hammer was often heard till the "noon of night." He thus obtained a good reputation, and some of this world's goods. He soon married a virtuous female, one whose kind disposition added new joys to his existence, and whose busy neatness rendered pleasant and comfortable their little tenement. Time passed smoothly on, they were blessed with the smiling pledges of their affection, and in a few years Tom was the possessor of a neat little cottage and a piece of land. This they improved; and it soon became the abode of plenty and joy.
But Tom began to relax in his conduct, and would occasionally walk down to an ale-house in the neighbourhood. This soon became a habit, and the habit imperceptibly grew upon him, until, to the grief of all who knew him, he became a constant lounger about the ale-house and skittle-ground, and going on from bad to worse, became an habitual drunkard. The inevitable consequences soon followed. He got into debt, and his creditors soon took possession of all he had. His poor wife used all the arts of persuasion to reclaim him; and she could not think of using him harshly j she loved him even in his degradation, for he had always been kind to her. Many an earnest petition did she prefer to Heaven for his reformation, and often did she endeavour to work upon his paternal feelings. Over and over again he promised to reform, and at last was as good as his word, for he was induced to stay from the ale-house for three days together.
His anxious wife began to cherish hope of returning happiness. But a sudden cloud one day for a moment damped her joy. "Betsey," said he, as he arose from his work, "give me that bottle." These words pierced her very heart, and seemed to sound the knell of all her cherished hopes; but she could not disobey him. He went out with his bottle, had it filled at the alehouse, and on returning home, placed it in the window immediately before him. "Now," said he, "I can face my enemy." With a resolution fixed upon overcoming his pernicious habits, he went earnestly to work, always having the bottle before him, but never again touched it. Again he began to thrive, and in a few years he was once more the owner of his former delightful residence.
His children grew up, and are now respectable members of society. Old age came upon Tom, and he always kept the bottle in the window, where he had first put it; and often, when his head was silvered over with age, he would refer to his bottle, and thank God that he had been able to overcome the vice of drunkenness. He never permitted it to be removed from that window while he lived; and there it remained until after he had been consigned to his narrow home.
ON THE CUSTOM OF PLANTING YEW TREES IN CHURCHYARDS.
[From Faulkner's Histories of Fulham and Kensington.]
The original design of planting these trees in churchyards, has given rise to much antiquarian discussion. They are said to have been originally planted either to protect the church from storms, or to furnish the parishioners with bows. The statute of 35 Edw. I, which settles the property of trees in churchyards, recites, that they were often planted to defend the church from high winds, and the clergy were requested to cut them down for the repairs of the chancel of the church whenever required. Several ancient laws were enacted for the encouragement of archery, which regulate many particulars relative to bows, but it does not appear that any statute directed the cultivation of the Tew. Although the scarcity of bow staves is a frequent subject of complaint in our ancient laws, yet, instead of ordering the yew tree to be cultivated at home, foreign merchants were obliged, under heavy penalties, to import the material from abroad.
In the 12th of Edw. IV. it was enacted, that every merchant stranger should bring four bow staves for every ton of merchandise, imported from Venice or other places, from whence they had heretofore been procured. In the reign of Elizabeth, the complaint of the dearness and scarcity of bow staves was renewed, and the statute 6 Edw. IV was put in force.
From the above particulars it clearly appears, that we depended upon foreign wood for our bows, which would not have occurred if our churchyards could have furnished a sufficient quantity for the public service.
The truth is, that though our archers were the glory of the nation, and the terror of its enemies, yet the English yew was of inferior quality, and our brave countrymen were obliged to have recourse to foreign materials. This accounts for the silence of our ancient legislators with respect to the culture of the English yew, which appears never to have been an object of national concern.
Sir Thomas Brown, in his "Urn-burial," thinks it may admit of conjecture whether the planting of yews in churchyards, had not its origin from ancient funeral rites, or as an emblem of the resurrection, from its perpetual verdure.
The yew tree has been considered as an emblem of mourning from the earliest times. The Greeks adopted the idea from the Egyptians, the Romans from the Greeks, and the Britons from the Romans. From long habits of association, the yew acquired a sacred character, and therefore was considered as the best and most appropriate ornament of consecrated ground. The custom of placing them singly is equally ancient. Statius, in his Tkebaid, calls it the solitary yew. And it was at one time, as common in the churchyards of Italy, as it is now in North and South Wales. In many villages of those two provinces, the yew tree and the church are coeval with each other.
LINES ON THE BIBLE,
BY SIR WALTER SCOTT.
Within this awful volume lies
THE MAMMOTH OF THE NORTH.
When Captain Beechey returned to England after his voyage to the Pacific Ocean, he brought home a large quantity.of the petrified or stone remains of elephants and other animals, which were found imbedded in the cliffs of frozen mud within Behring's Strait and in various parts of the Northern Seas. The most perfect specimens of these remarkable fossils as they are called, are preserved in the British Museum, and will amply repay the inspection of any one who takes an interest in such subjects.
That these remains formed parts of animals once living on this earth, would be just as reasonable to question, as it would be, on entering a butcher's shambles, to doubt whether the hide and hair and bones of an ox just killed, once belonged to a real animal. But on examining these bones, various dif- I
ficulties present themselves, requiring much patience and extensive knowledge satisfactorily to remove. There is one circumstance connected with them which has especially engaged the thoughts of the learned: the animals of which many of these bones were the remains, are never found in our days alive in those cold regions of the North, but are natives of the South or Tropical parts of the globe; and many, as in the case of the fossil elephant, belonged to a species not at present met with in any part of the known world. The Professor of Geology at Oxford, Dr. Buckland, was requested to examine the collection brought home by Captain Beechy, and to prepare a description of them. This he did, and the result is a most interesting work, published as an appendix to the Captain's celebrated narrative of his voyage.
Professor Buckland compares the accounts brought home by these voyagers (especially that of Mr. Collie, surgeon to the expedition) with the description of similar discoveries by other writers, and with the result of his own researches and observations. He thus endeavours to throw "some light upon the curious and perplexing question, as to what was the climate of this portion of the world at the time when it was inhabited by animals now so foreign to it as the elephant and rhinoceros; and as to the manner in which not only their teeth and tusks, and other portions of their skeletons, but, in some remarkable instances, the entire carcasses of these beasts, with their flesh and skin still perfect, became entombed in ice, or in frozen mud and gravel, over such extensive and distant regions of the north." It is stated by the celebrated naturalist, Pallas, that throughout the whole of northern Asia, from the river Don to the extreme point nearest America, there is scarcely any great river in whose banks they do not find the bones of elephants and other large animals, which cannot now endure the climate of that district; and that all the fossil ivory collected for sale throughout Siberia, is found in the lofty, steep, and sandy banks of the rivers of that country; and that the bones of large and small animals lie in some places piled together in great heaps; but in general they are scattered separately, as if they had been agitated by waters, and buried in mud and gravel.
The term " Mammoth" has been applied indiscriminately to all the largest species of fossil animals. It is a word from the Tartar language, and means simply "Animal of the Earth." It is now used only to signify the fossil elephant. Of all the remains that have ever been discovered, the most remarkable is the entire carcass of a Mammoth, not petrified, but merely frozen, with its flesh, skin, and hair, fresh and well preserved. How many thousand years it might have been so kept from corruption in its icy coffin, it is impossible to say. In the year 1803 it fell from a frozen cliff in Siberia, near the mouth of the river Lena. Nearly five years elapsed between the period when the carcass was first observed by a Tungusian in the thawing cliff, in 1799, and the moment when it became entirely loosened and fell down upon the strand between the shore and the base of the cliff. Here it lay two more years, till the greater part of the flesh was devoured by wolves and bears. The skeleton was then collected by Mr. Adams, and sent to Petersburgh. Some idea may be formed of the size of this enormous animal, from the fact that the head, without the tusks, weighed four hundred and fourteen pounds; the tusks together weighed three hundred and sixty pounds. Great part of the skin of the body was preserved, and was covered with reddish wool and black hairs; about thirty-six pounds weight of hair was collected from the sand, into which it had been trampled by the bears.
Dr. Buckland is said to be at present engaged on a most important work upon the evidence borne by the science of geology to the truth of revealed religion. For his fuller and more matured opinion on these animal remains of the northern world, we look forward with expectations of great pleasure and profit. The christian has never any thing to fear from the discovery of truth; he should encourage its cultivation ou all subjects. Half-knowledge, partial and nasty views upon difficult subjects, may often be made to perplex and distress the believer; the full truth wfll always bring him satisfaction and comfort.
Skeleton of the Mammoth.
Cuvier, whose opinions upon these subjects have been the most generally followed, concludes "that those animals, the bones and carcases of which are found imbedded in the ice of the northern seas, once lived in that region in a climate totally different from its present intense cold; that some great change some time or other took place in the temperature, which destroyed the existing animals, or prevented them from continuing their species. This change must have been sudden; for if the cold had come on slowly and by degrees, the softer parts, by which the bones are found still covered, must have had time to decay, as we find in hotter climates. It would have been utterly impossible for an entire carcass like the vast monster discovered by Mr. Adams, to have preserved its hair and its flesh without corruption, had it not immediately been encased in the ice which preserved it to our times."
What was the nature and character of this sudden change—what means the Omnipotent and Eternal One employed to effect it—science probably never will be able to discover j but, like all other subjects above the range of man's mind to reach, a knowledge of it, we may rest assured, is not necessary either for our present or our future good.—J. E. T.
THE CONVOLVULUS, OR BINDWEED. The plants of this beautiful race are sufficiently numerous to fill a volume with their description. Martyn described no less than 110 kinds, in 1807, since which time several species have been added, as the Hortus Kewensis then contained only 33 species, which are now increased to 49. Europe claims only fourteen species, three of which are natives of the British Islands, the remainder coming from the Indies and America.
The species most familiar to our gardens, arc the Trailing, Convolvulus Minor, or Tricolor, and the Convolvulus Major, Purpureus. Both of these were known in our gardens as long back as the time of Charles I: Parkinson tells us, in 1629, that he received the seeds of the Convolvulus Minor "out of Spain and Portugal, from Guillaume Boel." He speaks
of this flower with delight, and tells us, "it is of a most excellent fair skie-coloured blew, so pleasant to behold, that often it amazeth the spectator." It is now ascertained to be a native of Barbary, from whence it travelled first to Spain, and has since been scattered over the whole of Europe. It is now so common in Spain, Portugal, and Sicily, as to be considered one of their native weeds. It is called Tricolor, from the three colours of its beautiful leaves, which are yellow at the base, with rays of white that divide the yellow from the fine ultramarine blue of the edge: as the leaves expand to the sun, they form a most gracefullyshaped cup or chalice, like the end of a French-horn, and, in the reversed state, resemble the elegant roofs of the Chinese pagodas. The convolvulus opens and closes its flower with folds similar to those of a parasol; they are never expanded at night, or in wet weather, in order that the inner parts may be guarded from damp air; on this account it is named by the French Belle-de-Jour, (Day Beauty.) This is not a climbing plant, but carries its branches in such a direction that a few seeds are enough to form a clump of sufficient size to give effect in the garden, from the month of June to the end of August; and as, during this season, the chief colours of flowers are reds and yellows, the fine blue of this is particularly desirable to form a contrast.
The seeds are generally sown in the spring, but it is desirable to sow some in the autumn also, as they will flower a month earlier than those sown in the other season, which prolongs the enjoyment of their flowers. The seed should not be covered with more than about half an inch of earth, and from three to five seeds are sufficient for each clump.
This elegant climbing plant is a native Bindweed of America, from whence the seeds were first received in Italy, and from thence by us prior to 1629, as thev are recorded amongst the flowers which embellished our gardens in that age. This is a delicate species, and requires the aid of a hotbed to bring the young plants forward, which may be planted out in warm situations about the end of May. It is usually employed to cover the trellis-work of arbours, porticoes, and verandas, for which it is well adapted, on account of its climbing and binding nature, whilst its graceful-shaped corollas display the most beautiful shades of violet, reddish purple, and lilac, which are sometimes delicately shaded, and at others striped, so as to form a star; others are of a pure white, or slightly tinged with purple.
These plants will frequently climb to the height of ten or twelve feet; and when planted so as to receive the support of young trees, they have a more agreeable effect than when upheld by a stake. In Jamaica this species of Convolvulus climbs the highest trees, suspending its china-looking cups from the branches in a most delightful manner, sometimes dangling in the air, and at others forming graceful festoons.
It is from this twining nature of the plant that the name of Convolvulus has been bestowed on it; and perhaps we have not a native weed that displays a more beautiful flower than the Great Bindweed, which entwines itself amongst the shrubs of our hedgerows until it reaches the top, where it expands its flowers in a dress that challenges the spotless snow for purity, and would demand more general admiration were it less common.
However we may admire this species of Bindweed in hedgerows, we must be cautious to keep it out of shrubberies, in which, if it once enter, it cannot be easily destroyed, as the smallest piece of its rambling roots is sufficient to spread over a garden, where it frequently entwines its roots amongst those of roses or other shrubs, so as to make it exceedingly difficult to prevent its overpowering the plants which support it, and next to impossible to destroy it altogether. We are told that swine are excessively fond of this root, and we have frequently observed them grubbing for and devouring it with great eagerness; but as these animals are bad gardeners, we cannot avail ourselves of their assistance in the rooting out of the Convolvulus Sepium, without incurring a greater evil.
The Small Bindweed.—(Convolvulus Arvensis.)
root, of a white milky substance, which penetrates in a serpentine direction so deeply into the earth, and is so firm in its hold, as to render it next to impossible to destroy it: for every atom of it left in the ground, at whatever depth, will reach the surface as a perfect plant. In trenching of lands we have frequently seen it at the depth of three feet, being the pest of the garden and arable lands where it abounds. Miller says it is generally a sign of gravel lying under the surface; and he adds that, from the depth it penetrates into the ground, it is by some country people named Devil's-guts. It also bears the name of Cornbind, Withbind, Bindweed, Barebind, and Hedge-bells.
Jalap is obtained from the Convolvulus Jalapa of South America, which takes its name from Xalapa, a province lying between Mexico and La Vera Cruz.
This race of plants also affords the inhabitants of tropical climates a valuable species of food, as it is the Convolvulus Batatas which produces the tuberous roots called Batatas, or Spanish potatoes.—Phillips's Flora Historica.
THE TRUMPETER BIRD.
This plant, although more humble in its growth, is more formidable to the husbandman than the Great Bindweed, which principally confines itself to the hedgerow, whereas the Arvensis, or field Bindweed, travels over the whole field, entwining itself around the stalks of corn for support, or upholding itself by the blades of grass, or whatever comes in its way, not even refusing to embrace the nettle for the sake of a prop to display its beauties on, which are but little inferior, in point of colouring, to the beautiful cups of the Convolvulus Major, whilst it possesses an agreeable fragrance which the other cannot boast of.
Nature has endowed this native flower of our fields with the means of protecting its seed parts from the night air by the folds in the cup, which open with the rising sun, and close as the day decreases, or at the approach of rain. The nectary of this little flower also displays the wise provision which Nature has made to secure this sweet juice, so essential to the formation of the seed. The stigma is supported on arches over the bottom of the cup, leaving only such small openings between the piers that form the arches as to bid defiance to the plunder of the bee or insects of any considerable size: yet it seems to support an animal peculiar to this plant, for we seldom look into the blossom of this field Convolvulus without seeing several minute insects busily employed in this cavern of sweets. This species of Bindweed has a perennial
This bird is a native of South America. Its length is about twenty-two inches, and its legs are five inches high, and completely covered with small scales, which reach two inches above the knee. Its general plumage is black, and the feathers of the head and neck are very short and downy; those of the fore part of the neck, and upper part of the breast, of a very glossy gilded green, with a reflection of blue in some lights. The feathers between the shoulders are rustcoloured, changing into a pale ash colour as they pass downwards. They are loose and silky. Those of the shoulders are long, and hang over the tail, which is very short, and consists of twelve blackish feathers. The legs are greenish, and the bill is yellowish green, having the nostrils open.
The most characteristic and remarkable property of these birds consists in the wonderful noise which they often make, either of their own accord, or when urged by their keepers. To induce them to this, it is sometimes necessary to entice the bird with a bit of bread to come near, and then making the same kind of sound, which the keepers can well imitate, the bird will frequently be disposed to repeat it. This strange noise, which somewhat resembles the moan of pigeons, is at times preceded by a savage cry, interrupted by a sound approaching that of sherch,