Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the canopy was carried a lofty fan, composed of peacocks' feathers, and richly emblazoned. Among other things carried in procession before the canopy, were the crucifix, and various caps, mitres, and tiaras of his holiness, most of them being richly adorned with jewels and precious stones. His holiness is a fine venerable looking old man, with a most benevolent countenance, but wanting intellectual expression. He is made so giddy and sick by the motion of his peculiar state carriage, that he has attempted to abolish the custom of carrying him into the cathedral in the present fashion, and would greatly prefer walking, but such an innovation he found could not be effected. Perhaps it was thought dangerous to allow of any change so important as that, lest it should be made a precedent for introducing other changes, and as change or reform of any kind whatever, whether civil, or ecclesiastical, is contrary to the principles and system of those who manage things at Rome, it was perhaps prudent of those personages to insist on continuing to torture their holy father. . The good man therefore shuts his eyes, and bears the thing with all the fortitude he can command. Now and then he ventures to look about him, for a moment or two at a time, in order to make the established motion with his hand, as he blesses the bystanders, on his way up the aisle, or I ought rather to say the kneelers, for all kneel as he passes by.

The procession moved in this way slowly up the aisle to the temporary throne beside the high altar, a choir of singers and the band of the guardia nobile,” (composed chiefly of the sons of the nobility) alternately playing and singing in a beautiful solemn strain.

The pope having taken his seat, the mitres, and different articles .carried in procession, were placed on the high altar. The cardinals, and various functionaries then went up to the throne, and each in rotation paid the usual salutation. The cardinals are allowed to kiss the hand, while the rest kiss the cross on the slipper. A long ceremony of dressing and undressing the holy father was then gone through. Each separate article with which he was to be clothed was brought by a separate person from the high altar, and given to a second, who then gave it to a third, who placed it on the person of his holiness with all due form and solemnity. The mass being what is termed high mass, the greater part was chaunted by a choir of about fifty or sixty men, the pope only taking part now and then. During the course of the service his holiness moved from the first throne to another situated beneath St. Peter's chair, at the extremity of the aisle. The most striking part of the service is just at the moment of consecrating the host. The pope goes to the high altar, where the censer is presented to him, with the incense of which he fumigates the altar on all sides. The host is then consecrated and elevated, the whole audience falling down on their knees, when, amid the most profound silence, the wafer is exhibited in a solemn manner to the people on every side. The military, extended in long lines down the cathedral, on their knees, with their foreheads leaning on their firelocks, a vast assembly prostrate in so magnificent “ a locale," and the fine venerable figure of the pope dressed in white, alone, standing with the host in his outstretched arms, presented altogether one of the most imposing sights I ever beheld. The same ceremony is gone through with the wine. During the exhibition of the elements, the trumpets of the guardia nobile play a slow solemn air in a minor key, which, as it peals through the immense dome, and from arch to arch, adds to the impressiveness of the whole scene. After a few moments, the whole assembly rose, amid the simultaneous clash of the arms of the military, and the choir burst forth with a fine anthem. The pope then returned to the first throne, and the host and the cup were brought from the altar to him, and given him by one of the cardinals. The pope alone partook of either. On the close of the ceremony, the procession out of the cathedral was the same as on entering, and thus ended what is termed high mass. A more imposing spectacle could not well be contrived, and a display more opposed to any thing like rational worship rendered by intelligent creatures to the Supreme Being could scarcely be conceived. I hope, on a future occasion, to be able to give you some further account of popery as now existing at Rome.

Your's, very truly,

THE SHIELDS OF THE MIGHTY.

There are few things, we apprehend, more pleasant and instructive to the devout and inquiring mind, than to study the best narratives of recent travellers, relative to the glorious land of the east. An important and delightful addition to this department of reading has lately been made in Laborde's Mount Sinai and Petra. Rarely has it fallen to our lot to peruse a book with purer satisfaction, or with a stronger sense of the value of those discoveries which modern travel is successively presenting to our regard. Not to advert to the style, the sentiments, or the pictorial taste and beauty of this volume, what a triumphant demonstration does it contain of the truth of those fearful denunciations uttered long ago by the prophets of God! If the sceptic of our times could be induced to read it, and honestly to ponder its statements and deductions, he must surely abandon the chair of the scornful. Idumæa had indeed its morning-a career of prosperity, and of pride, and cruelty ; but in progress of time came its night-a night, the gloominess and eloquent desolation of which are still brooding in solemn majesty around it. Greatly do we rejoice to find such persons as the author of this work, so qualified by their scholarship, their taste, and their inextinguishable ardour of enterprise, engaged in surveying the ruins and investigating the present physical aspect of eastern regions for so laudable ends; and whilst gratefully appreciating their arduous toils, we recur to some portions of the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, for the purpose of shedding fresh light on certain declarations of the holy oracles. This literature we highly prize, as a vast repository of striking historical information, as exceedingly rich in poetry of unwithering freshness, vigour, and beauty, as containing specimens of oratory the most perfect, and as bearing witness in the most decided manner to the best, though exceedingly imperfect efforts of which the loftiest minds are capable, towards the attainment of solid wisdom and happiness. But most of all is it pleasant to commune with its stirring pages, in order to render them tributary to that mighty mass of evidence by which the Bible is proved to be an authentic communication from the Deity, demanding the reverential study and the fervent gratitude of all that possess it; and tributary also to the more complete development of those matchless excellencies by which it is pervaded.

There are many verses in the Old Testament which mention the shield as a piece of defensive armour used among the Jews. Of these verses some are of more than ordinary interest, and have frequently called into activity the inquiries of many a thoughtful mind. It will be the principal aim of the following paper to exhibit, as intelligibly as possible, any peculiarities which may belong to them, and also to introduce a few passages from the writings of classical antiquity, by which their force and spirit may in any degree be more clearly revealed. We shall, at first, offer a few remarks on the modes of warfare which prevailed in the different countries of the east during the earliest ages.

Among all the humiliating and disastrous consequences flowing from the entrance of sin into our world, there is no one, perhaps, invested with a more terrible character than war. Its innumerable and sickening horrors have been depicted in the most thrilling manner by the splendid eloquence of Robert Hall, in his sermon, entitled, “ Reflections on War," a production than which no other need be consulted by any person who wishes to feel rightly affected towards this desolating plague of the human race. Omitting, therefore, any further reference to these, let us glance at the peculiarities of manner, and at the leading movements and practices of the warriors of these primitive times. In studying the historical records of antiquity, whether sacred or profane, and in comparing them with the annals of more recent story, nothing can be more plainly perceptible than the wide difference of mode which distinguishes the military proceedings of these respective periods. Most of the attributes which characterize modern warfare, are undoubtedly traceable to the invention of gunpowder, in connexion with the progress of civilization in all its ameliorating elements. With these attributes most of our readers are acquainted. But what were the almost invariable features of a battle among the ancient Jewish and heathen nations ?

This enquiry may be answered, in some measure, by an examination of those offensive weapons which they were accustomed to use, and the answer may be rendered tolerably complete, by a due regard to other descriptive notices with which we are furnished. The susceptible mind, blending these two sources of information, will find that an accurate and even vivid conception of their actions in the field may be easily formed. Of these weapons five are distinctly mentioned in the Scriptures : the sword, the battle-axe, the spear or javelin, the sling, and the bow. The first and last of these, were employed in the very earliest times, as may be seen in Gen. xxvii. 3, and xxxiv. 25. From this enumeration of their offensive weapons, it will immediately appear evident, that battle among their hosts must have quickly become a close combat. And this we know was actually the case. Many are the striking examples of this, which might be quoted. They fought hand to hand, hurried on by feelings of the most violent nature, sustained by a courage which nothing could quench, and resolved, in the face of the greatest perils, to make their way to victory and renown. The Trojans and Greeks also used exactly similar weapons, for the purpose of annoying and vanquishing the enemy. A mere glance at the Homeric poems, or at the productions of their tragic muse, or at the writings of their historians, would supply numerous examples of this fact. Their mighty warriors are placed before the imagination, grasping with strong hand and employing with the most destructive power, the eyxoç or spear, the Elgos or sword, the ačin or axe, the kopurn or club of wood or iron, the Toxov or bow, and the opevdovn or sling. This last weapon was used with remarkable expertness, and with the most tremendous effect. They cast from it arrows, stones, and pieces of tead of eonsiderable weight, which were aimed with such exactness and flung with such force, that scarcely any defensive armour could resist their stroke. Every reader of Scripture will remember, what a glorious triumph David achieved with this instrument. He mtist have greatly excelled in using it, and had perliaps been in the habit of practising with it from childhood. That the ancients were exceedingly careful in training up the young to manage it with dexterity and precision, may be inferred from the circumstance of many of their most effective ranks being slingers; it is moreover, attested in a very interesting passage of Livy, which will throw light around the conduct of the valiant and blooming son of Jesse. The passage occurs in Lib. 38. cap. 29. where having mentioned a hundred Achæan slingers, he thus proceeds to speak of them: “A pueris ii more quodam gentis, saxis globosis, quibus ferme arenæ inmixtis strata littora sunt, funda mare apertum incessentes, exercebantur: itaque longius certiusque .et validiore. ictu quam Baliaris funditor, eo telo usi sunt: coronas modici circuli magno ex intervallo loci adsueti trajicere, non capita solum hostium vulnerabant, sed quem locum destinassent

oris.”

From these early instructions and repeated exercises, they might well become qualified to employ the sling with the most certain and fatal results. But there is another feature of primitive warfare, upon which we must say a word. The moment in which two hostile armies, distinguished by their numbers and their courage, meet, cannot but be one of intense and awful interest. In what manner then did the ancient Jews commonly enter upon the perils of battle? Was their approach marked by a tranquil consciousness of superior power, and by a calm yet inspiring hope of victory? Did they move towards their foe with a firm and untrembling step, breathing deliberate valour? or did they rush on in wild confusion, with tempestuous violeuce? The latter seems to have been their more general way. In the onset of the conflict, there was a fury beyond

description, terrific, and calculated to make the stoutest heart faint and melt away. This peculiarity is set before us in the Scriptures in figurative language of the utmost grandeur. In Numb. xxiii. 24, it is said, “ Behold the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion.” And again, xxiv. 8: “ He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations, his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows." Comparing these delineations with the narratives of their numerous battles, the fullest agreement will be discerned. They met under the unmitigated influence of impetuous rage. Their ardour was a devouring flame. Every bosom seemed to swell with perturbation, and every tongue poured forth the wildest shouts. They began the engagement with a simultaneous cry, like the roar of encountering torrents, and with blows as deadly as the stroke of lightning. Hence we read that David came to the trench as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle : that the men of Israel and Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines. And hence, too, that vivid picture in 2 Chron. xiii. 14, 15. "And when Judah looked back, behold the battle was before and behind; and they cried unto the Lord, and the priests shouted with the trumpets: then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.” It was the same with the Trojans, the Greeks, and the Romans. The latter part of the 15th book of the Iliad, holds up to the imagination one of the most extraordinary and overwhelming representations of this turbulent shouting and mortal fury. The following passages we venture to translate from their respective writers. Sallust, Cat. Cap. 63, thus speaks : “ But when they (i. e. the forces of Petricus and Cataline) were come near enough for the light-armed soldiers to begin the fight, they set up a mighty shout, rushed with great fury into a close engagement, and laying aside their darts, made use of their swords only." Cæsar Bel. Civ. iii. 92, thus expresses himself: “ It was not vainly instituted of old, that the trumpets should sound on every side, and the whole army raise a shout, to animate their own men, and to confound the enemy." Livy, Lib. vi. Cap, 8, referring to the soldiers of Camillus, makes the following declaration : « They all raised the shout, and rushed forward together, every one crying out eagerly, Follow the general.'” Here then we see a marked resemblance between the offensive weapons and the principal features of warfare among the ancient Jewish and Pagan nations. In attentively considering these, no one can fail to perceive the fitness and the necessity of those pieces of armour with which they they were clothed for defence, such as the helmet, the coat of mail, the greaves of brass, and last, though not least, the shield. On the last we are now to dwell, and we shall consider chiefly the materials of which it was made, and its size and shape.

First-The materials of which the shields of the ancients were made. Of these two are distinctly mentioned in the Scriptures, viz. gold and brass. Among all the peculiarities which distinguished the reign of some of the ancient Jewish monarchs, one of the most

X. . VOL. 1.

« ElőzőTovább »