« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ever and anon, urged them to remember the sufferings of the holy Imaum, and strike harder.
“ Three orators then entered, bearing a standard, and accompanied by the professional beaters, with their breasts bared. They mounted the platform at the upper end of the tazeer, and chanted a narrative of the events attending the death of the saint; the beaters kept time with their blows and vociferous choruses, first of. Mahommed Rassoul,' then of • Alee,' and lastly of Shah Hoosein.' The orators occasionally paused to smoke their kaleeoons, an occupation freely indulged in by the mournful crowd. A pigeon with pink feet and wings was introduced, who, by the mouth of one of the performers, told the sister of Hoosein, that he had flown from Kerbelah to Mecca, sprinkled with the blood of the martyr, to bring her the direful news of his death : she answered this amiable and active pigeon through the same channel. The lamentations of the ladies now increased, and our friend, the Moollah, thought it decent to put his handkerchief to his eyes. The beaters were sixty in number, many of their breasts were discoloured and bleeding from self-inflicted blows; but I detected several shirkers, who tapped themselves with extreme discretion. When they had retired the great show commenced.
“ Hoosein first appeared alone. A flourish of Surbâz drums and trumpets ushered in his enemies dressed in chain armour. After abusing and threatening the Imaum, they retired, and he then had an affecting interview with his sister. When she left him, he laid himself down to sleep on one of the platforms, whilst little cherubs with black crape veils sang and capered around him. On awaking, he repeatedly embraced his sister, wife, niece, sister-in-law, and children ; and snatching up two little nephews, whose father had just been killed, he knelt with them in his arms and implored for them the protection of the Father of the orphan. This part of the performance was most touchingly acted; deep sobs were audible on every side; I could have scarcely restrained my own tears, had I not turned and seen the wry faces made by old Meerza Aly Nuckee, the Maimoon,' who sat blubbering behind me. Our Gholâms and servants, men with long black beards, wept like children.
“ Hoosein's sister hung a winding-sheet (a very ragged napkin) round his neck; his relations fell at his feet exhausted by their grief, and he threw a black covering over the afflicted circle. After a pause they rose and withdrew; his enemies reappeared,-he refused to receive any favour at their hands, and forced them to retire, following them with his drawn sword. He soon returned staggering, faint, and bristling like a porcupine with the arrows by which he had been struck, and threw himself on the body of his
His sister and relations came and wept over him, after which he rose and prayed. The murderer then entered, and drawing a long knife, whetted it on his thigh, walked round and round the Imaum, whom he held by the head, and occasionally amused
himself by making false thrusts at his throat. Hoosein's youngest child, whose part was particularly well acted, threw himself with a Korân into his father's arms, and interposed to save him. After a great deal of pantomime, the boy was killed : I could not obtain a satisfactory explanation of what followed, but it appeared that the murderer was touched with remorse, and at the termination of this day's proceedings, his dagger was in the Imaum's hand. To-morrow the death-scene will be acted.
“According to the Sheeah tradition, a Feringee ambassador expostulated with the murderers of Hoosein, and fell a victim to their rage; but not until he had embraced the faith of Islam. Dresses are borrowed from Europeans to rig out this · Elchee' of the seventh century: cocked hats are in particular request, and at one tazeer' his Excellency is this year to appear in the uniform of his Majesty's 4th Light Dragoons. These representations must be costly, for the theatres are decorated with cloth, glasses, and pictures; and the dresses are valuable. The female parts are of course acted by boys, which is a sad drawback; and the performers hold in their hands long rolls of paper, from which they frequently read their parts. Every year some Persians are severely injured from the laceration which they inflict on themselves—death even in some cases ensues ; while bloody fights constantly take place during the Mohurrem between the youths of different districts, to assert the superiority of their respective tazeers.'
THEOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY, &c. An Inquiry into the Principles of Church Authority; or, Reasons for Recalling my Subscription to the Royal Supremacy. By the Rev. R. I. Wilberforce, M.A. Longmans. Mr. Wilberforce is a fresh illustration of the truth of Bossuet's anticipation, that the learning which has always been cultivated in the Anglican Church, would give many children to the Church Catholic. Men who are in the habit of withdrawing their eyes from the trickeries of Acts of Parliament and the conventionalisms of Protestant theology, and fixing them on the realities of past history, cannot fail at last of recognising the great fact, of the existence of the Christian Church as an organised body, one Catholic, and Apostolic, untouched by State interference or national peculiarities, from the earliest ages. Apart from all controversy and all interpretation, there stand the bold outlines of a living system, which conscience whispers must be filled up in harmony with its existing features by every consistent Christian man. Till this is done, discussions as to the present exaggerations or additions of Rome are premature. Born and brought up in the English Establishment, Mr. Wilberforce has honestly applied himself to test the pretensions of that community by applying its theory and practice to that of the early Church, as an organised active body. We need hardly say what is the result. Anglicanisın breaks down at the very outset. Whatever else may be true, the English Establishment is the creature of the secular power, and its rulers are not those wbich the primitive Church recognised as its own.
In the learned, calm, and lucidly-written volume now given to the public, Mr. Wilberforce examines the subject purely from the historical point of view, taking the New Testament as an historical document, and the earliest of the records of Church history, and pursuing his inquiry through the earliest subsequent centuries of our era. His belief is that, from the earliest moment, St. Peter was divinely appointed to the primacy; and that as the Church grew, so that primacy ripened, by its very nature, and in accordance with the will of Jesus Christ, into the Papal Supremacy. The conclusion, of course, is, that without union with Rome there is no true Church.
We have not space or opportunity for a more complete analysis of Mr. Wilberforce's book; but it may be justly recommended as a most interesting picture of the results of an original investigation of the undeniable facts of ecclesiastical history, conducted with unwavering fidelity of purpose, and stated without a shade of exaggeration or excitement of feeling.
Siluria; the History of the oldest known Rocks containing Organic Remains, &c., by Sir R. I. Murchison (London, Murray). The names of Lyell and Murchison stand at the head of two parties of English geologists. Lyell's is the “uniformitarian" school, which takes known changes, still going on under our eyes, as the keys for the interpretation of the ancient phenomena of the world ;-all the great geological deposits were formed as gradually as the mud that is now collecting at the mouths of great rivers, all the great upheavals of mountains and plateaus were effected as gradually and noiselessly as the present upheaval of Sweden or the elevation of volcanic cones and islands in historical times. This school disbelieves in any age of catastrophes and revolutions; sudden changes have at times occurred, but, on the whole, the present state of the world results from the prolonged action of gradual changes.
Again, there is no evidence of a beginning; as strata sink deep into the earth's crust, by subsidence and the successive deposition of newer strata they become subject to plutonic agencies, by which they are metamorphosed, and all traces of organic remains are melted out of them; the granites at the base of all known strata are only formed by the action of heat from strata still older; this heat only arises from mechanical and chemical agencies, not from the original condition of the mass of the earth, which cannot be proved to have been in a state of fusion at any one time, since its spheroidal form may result as easily from the ordinary transporting action of the ocean currents, continued through an indefinite succession of ages, as from an original state of fusion. This school, therefore, disbelieves in the astronomical theory of the aggregation of worlds from cosmical vapour; no beginning can be assigned to the earth, or to animal and vegetable races which have successively peopled it. Geology has demonstrated the successive existence on the earth of distinct habitable surfaces, each peopled with its peculiar races. Living nature is only the last of a great series of pre-existing creations, of which we cannot estimate the number or limits in times past." “We can prove that man had a beginning, and that all the species now contemporary with him, and many others which preceded, had also a beginning; and that, consequently, the present state of the
organic world has not gone on from all eternity, as some philosophers had maintained.”
This is the doctrine of Lyell; Murchison represents the opposite school. He adopts the “ favourite hypothesis, founded on astronomical and physical analogies, that our planet assumed the form of a flattened spheroid from rotation on its axis when in a fluid state ;" hence “ the theory of a central heat, at first sufficiently intense to maintain the whole terrestrial mass in a state of fusion, but subsequently so far dissipated by radiation into space as to allow the superficial portion to become solid,” has been adopted by most geologists; this central heat, and not local chemical agencies, is the cause of the upheaval of mountainchains and plateaus. In a word, it is this theory that we adopted as explanatory of the words of Moses, in some papers we formerly published, entitled “Religion and Modern Philosophy.”
In the present volume Sir R. Murchison presents us with a positive proof of one of the propositions which he holds in contradiction to the school of Lyell. Lyell declares that no evidences of a beginning can be traced ; that if no fossils are found in some low beds, it is because either these were formed in deep seas, where there was no life, or because the traces of fossils have been destroyed by heat. Murchison proves that almost all over the world the lowest fossiliferous strata lie on other strata of enormous thickness, which are almost entirely azoic, and which, in many places, are quite unaltered ; lying upon these, and therefore evolved after them, other strata succeed, in which some few relics of a primeval ocean are discernible, and these again are every where succeeded by newer deposits in which many fossils occur. But the azoic bottom rocks constitute, in all countries that have been examined, the natural base of the lowest fossiliferous strata. After this azoic base, the series of organic beings begins from the lowest types, only gradually running into higher forms; so that it would be contrary to all analogy to expect, with Lyell, to find hereafter some stores of fossils beneath all these beds, of more perfect development than those of the most ancient known fossiliferous strata.
Murchison also attacks the notion of the uniformity of natural agencies during all ages. “ The magnitude of the grand dislocations of former periods is enormous when compared to any thing that passes under our eyes, or is recorded in history.” “It is impossible that any amount of these smail agencies, though continued for millions of years, could have produced such results.”
Murchison, therefore, and his school, produce evidences of a beginning, before which it is impossible to prove that organic life existed in the world. Lyell says that the documents which would prove it have been burnt. Murchison answers by pointing out immense storehouses of documents which have not suffered from fire, but which contain none of the evidence which Lyell expected to find. We think that Murchison proves his point; but we await Lyell's answer. We are far from attributing to either of these distinguished men the opinion that matter is co-eternal with God; both believe in God as the Creator, but one places the creation of animals in an age so distant that no evidence can possibly reach it, while the other contends that he has evidence to prove the era of the commencement of this creation. In both we should be glad of a more formal renunciation of the prevalent modern heresy, which regards God simply as the Demiurge or Former of matter already existing independently of Him; though we have no right to demand such a declaration in works which only profess to treat of the formation, not of the first creation, of things.
The Stranger's Guide to the Church. By George Gretton. (Burns and Lambert.) It is not often that a floridly-written and slightly ecstatic brochure like Mr. Gretton's little work awakes any feeling in us but that of weariness. The Stranger's Guide is, however, an exception. Its idea is excellent. Mr. Gretton supposes a Catholic to enter a church in the evening, just before Benediction, and describes the thoughts that naturally spring up in his mind, and
the association suggested by every object to which he turns his eyes. Then he carries the subject on to Low Mass, High Mass, Vespers, and so forth, and to the various seasons of the ecclesiastical year; describing all that is done in the material Church as by the spiritual Church, who makes the sacred building a home for her devotions. The style, as we have intimated, wants a little more sobriety; but the substance is so good, and 80 thorougbly strengthened with passages from Holy Scripture, and there is such a hearty earnestness about the whole, that the reader is disposed to sympathise rather than to be critical. In a second edition, however, we must beg Mr. Gretton to omit his phrase about the great electric shock” at pp. 14 and 15; together with such words as "the Invocation of the Saviour," and the chef-d'oeuvre of God's power. This kind of phraseology smacks of a certain notorious person, whom we are sure Mr. Gretton would be the last to wish to imitate.
Is Physical Science the Handmaid or the Enemy of the Christian Revelation? By the Rev. James A. Stothert. _(Marsh and Beattie.) There is a story told of Laplace, the celebrated French astronoiner, that he used to declare that transubstantiation was the crowning absurdity of absurdities, because it violated the laws of form and space. So far as Laplace's idea is felt, as a practical difficulty, by religiously-disposed men, we have no hesitation in saying that Mr. Stothert has disposed of it in a way which will be as satisfactory as it is probably new to most persons who are not Catholics. His little work is directed to show, that science itself furnishes the best proofs of the ignorance of man, when he chooses to follow blindly the dictates of any one of his senses; and that
; the first lesson taught by the achievements of the present day is the profoundest humility in the study of the works of God, both natural and supernatural. He quotes passages from some of the most celebrated scientific writers as to the fallaciousness of the theory that the eye, or the ear, or the touch, are alone to dictate to the understanding, which really seems an echo of the Church's hymn:
“ Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur;
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.” He then illustrates his views by a detailed reference to the most marvellous results of scientific discovery in relation to the properties of matter, to electricity, the laws of storms, and so forth.
With Mr. Stothert's general principle, that science and religion cannot be opposed to one another, because the God of nature is the God of grace, we most heartily concur; and we think with him that the Church has nothing whatever to fear from the spread of scientific studies. On the contrary, they are to be encouraged rather than feared. All we ask is, that when men have attained to the utmost knowledge of nature which man has ever attained, they will recollect that they are yet contemplating but fragments of that created universe which is the work of God's hands. We have not space to say more; but we cordially recomn Mr. Stothert's essay to every thoughtful person, masterly performance, with the rare fault of being only too short. VOL. II.- NEW SERIES.