« AnteriorContinua »
his happy childhood was accustomed! I they know well that men live there, but think my heart was never more sharply they know not what men. And they say wrung than once at Prome, in the porch that the darkness befell by miracle of of a grim old temple of Guadma ;-a kit- God; for an accursed emperor of Persia, ten was playing with a feather there. that was named Saures, pursued all Chris
In his enumeration of the chief points tian men for to destroy them, and to comof attraction in the more striking books pel them to make sacrifice to his idols ; of voyages and travels, Leigh Hunt, with and rode with a great host, all that ever his happy appreciation of whatever is he could, for to confound the Christian most quaint in description, most sympa- And then in that country dwelled thetic in impression, has helped us to an many good Christian men, the which left arrangement, which, with a convenient their goods, and would have fled into modification of our own, we shall follow Greece; and when they were in a plain congenially. We shall seek for remote- called Megon, anon this cursed emperor ness and obscurity of place, -marvellous- met with them, with his host, for to have ness of hearsay,- surprising, but conceiv- slain them and hewn them in pieces. able truth,— barbaric magnificence,—the And anon the Christian men did kneel grotesque and the fantastic,-strangeness to the ground, and make their prayers to of custom,-personal danger, courage, and God to succor them. Then a great thick suffering, — and their barbaric consola- cloud came and covered the emperor tions. In the pursuit of these, our path and all his host; and so they remain in should wind, had we time to take the long- that manner, that no more may they get est, among deserts and lands of darkness, out on any side ; and so shall they ever- phænixes and griffins and sphinxes, more abide in darkness, till the day of - human monsters, and more monstrous doom, by the miracle of God. And then gods,—the courts of Akbhar and Aureng- the Christian men went whither they liked zebe,-palaces of the Mogul and the Ka- best, at their own pleasure, without hinthayan Khan, — pigmies, monkey-gods, drance of any creature, and their enemies mummies, Fakeers, dancing-girls, tattoo- were inclosed and confounded in darked warriors, Thugs, cannibals, Fetishes, ness without a blow. And that was a human sacrifices, and the Evil Eye,— Chi- great miracle that God made for them; nese politeness, Bedouin honor, Bechu- wherefore methinks that Christian men ana simplicity, - the plague, the amok, should be more devout to serve our Lord the bearding of lions, the graves of hero- God than any other men of any other travellers, flowers in the desert, and the belief.” universal tenderness of women.
Thus doth the simple, willing faith of And as our wild way leads us onward, the childlike traveller of 1350 draw from it shall open up visions, new and won- his strange old story a moral which may drous, or beautiful as new, to those who serve to light the way for you and me try it for the first time.
See now, at
when we wend through the soul's land the outset, stepping into the footprints of darkness. of old Sir John Mandeville, what do we behold ?—“ In that kingdom of Abcay
“ Through the shadow of the globe we sweep
into the younger day; is a great marvel ; for a province of the
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of country, that hath in circuit three days'
Cathay."journeys, that men call Hanyson, is all covered with darkness, without any bright- So sings Tennyson; and what's a cycle ness or light,-so that no man may see nor of Cathay? Let us ask Mandeville. hear, nor no man dare enter into it. And “Cathay is a great country, and a fair, nevertheless, they of that country say that noble, and rich, and full of merchants. sometimes men hear voices of folks, and Thither go merchants, every year, for to horses neighing, and cocks crowing; and seek spices, and all manner of merchandises, more commonly than in any other to the great Khan, neither of might, nor part.
of nobleness, nor of royalty, nor of rich“ In Cathay is the great city of Xana- es; for in all these he passeth all earthly du; and in this city is the seat of the princes. Wherefore it is great harm that great Khan, in a full great palace, and he believeth not faithfully in God.” the most passing fair in all the world, of And here we naturally recall that the which the walls be in circuit more wondrous vision which Coleridge conthan two miles; and within the walls it jured up, when, opium-rapt, he dreamed is all full of other palaces. And in the in his study-chair of Kubla’s enchanted garden of the great palace there is a ground. great hill, upon the which there is another palace; and it is the most fair and “ In Xanadu did Kubla Khan the most rich that any man may devise. A stately pleasure-dome decree, And there is the great garden, full of
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran,
Through caverns measureless to man, wild beasts; so that when the great Khan
Down to a sunless sea. would have any sport, to take any of the So twice five miles of fertile ground wild beasts, or of the fowls, he will cause With walls and towers were girded round; them to be chased, and take them at his And here were gardens bright with sinuous windows, without going out of his cham
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing ber. The palace where the seat is is
tree; both great and passing fair ; and within
And here were forests ancient as the hills, the palace, in the hall, there be twenty- Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. four pillars of fine gold; and all the walls are covered within with red skins of beasts, “ Five miles, meandering with a mazy motion, that men call panthers, that be fair beasts, Through wood and dale the sacred river and well smelling; so that for the sweet
Then reached the caverns measureless to odor of the skins no evil air may enter
man, into the palace. And in the midst of this
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean; palace is the mountour (high seat) for And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far the great Khan, that is all wrought of Ancestral voices prophesying war! gold and of precious stones and great pearls ; and at the four corners of the
“ A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw; mountour be four serpents of gold, and all
It was an Abyssinian maid, about there is made large nets of silk and
And on her dulcimer she played, gold and great pearls hanging all about Singing of Mount Abora. the mountour. And the hall of the pal- · Could I revive within me ace is full nobly arrayed, and full mar
Her symphony and song, vellously attired on all parts, in all things
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long that men apparel any hall with. And at
I would build that dome in air, the chief end of the hall is the emperor's That sunny dome! those caves of ice! throne, full high, where he sitteth at his And all who heard should see them there, meat; and that is of fine precious stones, And all should cry, Beware! beware bound all about with purified gold and
His flashing eyes, his floating hair! precious stones and great pearls; and
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your lips with holy dread, the steps that he goeth up to the table
For he on honey-dew hath fed, be of precious stones mixed with gold.
And drunk the milk of Paradise !" Under the firmament is not so great a lord, nor so mighty, nor so rich, as the The account which Herodotus gives of great Khan. Neither Prester John, that the gifts that Cræsus sent to the Oracle at is emperor of the high India, nor the Sul- Delphi is a splendid example of barbaric tan of Babylonia, nor the Emperor of magnificence. First, the King offered up Persia. All these be not in comparison three thousand of every kind of sacrificial beast, and burned upon a huge pile couch- bagged abominably at the waist, drew es coated with silver and gold, and gold- on the biggest buskins in Sardis, dressed en goblets, and robes and vests of purple. his hair loose, and, marching into the Next he issued a command to all the treasure-house, (imagine what the treasupeople of the land to offer up a sacrifice ry of Cræsus must have been,) waded according to their means. And when this into a desert of gold dust. He crammed sacrifice was consumed, he melted down the bosom of his tunic, crammed his boma vast quantity of gold, and ran it into bastian buskins, filled his hair full, and one hundred and seventeen ingots, each finally stuffed his mouth, so that, as he six palms long, three palms broad, and passed out, he could only wink his fat red one palm in thickness. He also caused eyes and bob to Cræsus, who, when he the statue of a lion to be made of refined had laughed till his sides ached, repaid gold, in weight ten talents. When these his funny, but voracious guest for the great works were completed, Cræsus sent amusement he had afforded him by not them away to Delphi, and with them two only confirming the gift of gold, but conbowls of enormous size, one of gold, the ferring an equal amount in jewels and other of silver. These two bowls, Herodo- rich raiment. tus affirms, were removed when the tem- But we must not remain to marvel ple of Delphi was burned to the ground; among the overwhelming displays of barand now the golden one is in the Clazo baric profusion.
baric profusion. Akbhar, the imperial menian treasury, and weighs eight talents Mogul, who on his birthday caused himand forty-two minæ; the silver one stands self to be weighed in golden scales three in a corner of the ante-chapel and holds times, — first against gold pieces, then six hundred amphoræ (over five thousand against silver, and lastly against fine pergallons) ; - this is known, because the fumes, — who scattered among his courDelphians fill it at the time of the The tiers showers of gold and silver nuts, for ophania. Crosus sent also four silver which even his gravest ministers were casks, which are in the Corinthian treas- not too dignified to scramble,-even Akury; and two lustral vases, a golden and bhar must not detain us. Nor Aurengzea silver one. Beside these various offer- be, who made his marches, seated on a ings, he sent to Delphi many others of throne flashing with gold and rich bro less account, among the rest a number of cades, and borne on the shoulders of round silver basins. He also dedicated a men; while his princesses and favorite female figure in gold, three cubits high, begums followed in all the pomp and which the Delphians declared was the glory of the seraglio, nestled in delicious statue of his baking woman; and lastly, pavilions curtained with massy silk, and he presented the necklace and the gir- mounted on the backs of stately elephants dles of his wife.
of Pegu and Martaban. When Cræsus sent his Lydian messen- We must get away from these ; for the gers to the Oracle, one Alemæon, who realm of the Supernatural and the Marseems to have been a shrewd fellow, with vellous lies open before us, and on the a sharp eye to the main chance, enter- very threshold, over which Sir John Mantained them with generous hospitality; deville conducts us, broods in his fiery which so pleased Cræsus, when he was nest that wondrous fowl, the Phenix. told of it, that he immediately invited “ In Egypt is the city of Eliopolis, that Alcmæon to visit him at Sardis. When is to say, the City of the Sun. In that he arrived, the King told him that he was city there is a temple made round, after at liberty to enter his treasury and help the shape of the temple of Jerusalem. himself to as much gold as he could carry The priests of that temple have all their off on his person at once.
writing dated by the fowl that is called said than done. Alcmæon, without bash- Phænix ; and there is none but one in fulness, arrayed himself in a tunic that all the world. And he cometh to burn himself upon the altar of the temple at with the Scythians, and the king was the end of five hundred years; for so slain in battle, and with him all of the long he liveth. And at the end of the best blood of his realm. So when the five hundred years, they array their altar queen, and the other noble ladies, saw carefully, and put thereon spices and live that they were all widows, and all the sulphur, and other things that will burn royal blood was spilled, they armed themlightly. And then the bird Phænix com- selves, and, like mad creatures, slew all eth and burneth himself to ashes. And the men that were left in the country; the first day next after, men find in the for they wished that all the women might ashes a worm; and the second day next be widows, as the queen and they were. after, men find a bird, quick and perfect; And thenceforward they never would and the third day next after, he flieth suffer men to dwell among them, espeaway. And so there is no more birds of cially men of the De Sauty sort, who, as that kind in all the world but that alone. Hans Christian Andersen says,
quesAnd, truly, that is a gre miracle of God. tions and never dream. And men may well liken that bird unto The town of Lop, says Marco Polo, is God, because there is no God but one, situated near the commencement of the and also that our Lord arose from death great desert called the Desert of Lop. the third day. This bird men see often It is asserted as a well-known fact, that flying in those countries; and he is not this desert is the abode of many evil much more than an eagle. And he hath spirits, which entice travellers to destruca crest of feathers upon his head greater tion with extraordinary delusions. If, than the peacock hath. And his neck is during the daytime, any persons remain yellow, after the color of an orial, that is behind on the road until the caravan has a stone well shining. And his beak is passed a hill and is no longer in sight, colored blue, and his wings are of purple they unexpectedly hear themselves callcolor, and his tail is yellow and red. And ed by their names, in a tone of voice to he is a full fair bird to look upon against which they are accustomed. Supposing the sun; for he shineth full gloriously and the call to proceed from their compannobly.”
ions, they are led away by it from the Let us pray that our Phænix may not direct road, and, not knowing in what fall into the clutches of the De Sautys, to direction to advance, are left to perish. be made goose-meat of; rather may they In the night-time they are persuaded themselves be utterly cast out, — into the they hear the march of a great cavalcade, land of giants that are hideous to look and concluding the noise to be the tramp upon, and have but one eye, and that of their own party, they make the best in the middle of the forehead, — into the of their way in the direction of the quarland of folk of foul stature and of curs- ter whence it seems to come; but when ed kind, that have no heads, and whose the day breaks, they find they have been eyes be in their shoulders,— into the isle misled and drawn into a situation of of those that go upon their hands and danger. Sometimes, during the day, feet, like beasts, and that are all furred these spirits assume the appearance of and feathered, -or into the country of their travelling-companions, who address the people who have but one leg, the them by name, and endeavor to draw foot of which is so large that it shades all them out of the proper road. It is said, the rest of the body from the sun, when also, that some travellers, in their way they lie down on their backs to rest at across the desert, have seen what appearnoonday.
ed to them to be a body of armed men But not into the Land of Women, where advancing toward them, and, fearful of all are wise, noble, and worthy. For once being attacked and plundered, have takthere was a king in that country, and en to flight. Thus, losing the right path, men married; but presently befell a war and ignorant of the direction they should take to regain it, they have miserably forgotten because that Greece drew forth perished of hunger.
Cytherea from the flashing foam of the Marvellous, indeed, and almost passing Ægean, and in her image created new belief, are the stories related of these forms of beauty, and made it a law spirits of the desert, which are said to fill among men that the short and proudly the air at times with the sounds of all wreathed lip should stand for the sign kinds of musical instruments, of drums, and main condition of loveliness through and the clash of arms. When the jour- all generations to come. Yet still lives ney across this dreadful waste is com- on the race of those who were beautiful pleted, the trembling traveller arrives at in the fashion of the elder world; and the city of the Great Khan.*
Christian girls of Coptic blood will look In this rich chapter of horrors how fin- on you with the sad, serious gaze, and ished an allegory for old John Bunyan! kiss you your charitable hand with the With what religious unction he would big, pouting lips of the very Sphinx. have led his Christian traveller from that “ Laugh and mock, if you will, at the unknown city on the edge of the sands, worship of stone idols ; but mark ye this, across the Soul's Desert of Lop, with its ye breakers of images, that in one re“ Voices calling in the dead of night,
gard the stone idol bears awful semAnd airy tongues that syllable men's
blance of Deity, - unchangefulness in names,"
the midst of change the same seeming safe into the City of the Great Khan! will and intent, forever and forever in
Leigh Hunt declares that he has read, exorable. Upon ancient dynasties of in some other account, of a dreadful, un- Ethiopian and Egyptian kings, – upon endurable face that used to stare at peo- Greek and Roman, upon Arab and Ottople as they went by.
man conquerors,—upon Napoleon dreamThe Barbaric has also its features of ing of an Eastern empire,— upon battle solemnity and grandeur, filling the mind and pestilence, - upon the ceaseless miswith exalted contemplations, and the im- ery of the Egyptian race, - upon keenagination with inspiring and ennobling eyed travellers, — Herodotus yesterday, apparitions. Surroundings that contrib- Warburton to-day,-upon all, and more, ute a quality of awfulness embrace in this unworldly Sphinx has watched and such scenes the soul of the traveller, and watched like a Providence, with the hold him in their tremendous thrall. same earnest eyes, and the same sad, Mean or flippant ideas may not enter tranquil mien. And we, we shall die ; here; but the man puts off the smaller and Islam will wither away; and the part of him, as the Asiatic puts off his san- Englishman, leaning far over to hold his dals on entering the porches of his god. loved India, will plant a firm foot on the Of such is the Eternal Sphinx, as Eothen banks of the Nile, and sit in the seats of Kinglake beheld her. We cannot feel the Faithful; and still that sleepless rock her aspect more grandly than by the aid will lie watching and watching the works of his inspiration.
of the new, busy race, with those same " And near the Pyramids, more won- sad, earnest eyes, and that same tranquil drous and more awful than all else in mien, everlasting. You dare not mock at the land of Egypt, there sits the lonely the Sphinx!” Sphinx. Comely the creature is; but Not less stupendously placid than the the comeliness is not of this world; the Sphinx, and even grimmer in his reonce worshipped beast is a deformity and moteness from the places that have heard a monster to this generation ; and yet Messiah's name, is the Boodh, throned you can see that those lips, so thick and in trance, and multitudinously worshipheavy, were fashioned according to some ped. Shall I tell you how I first beheld ancient mould of beauty, now forgotten,- him in his glory? * Leigh Hunt.
We were approaching some sacred