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From The Spectator.
Lab CASA8 during a debate on the iniquity of subjecting the American Indians to toil and slavery was hard pressed by some monkish casuists, who pleaded in support of the right possessed by one race to enslave another the revered names of Plato and Aristotle. The philanthropist could not restrain his indignation at this line of argument, and wondered that Christian men could refer to the authority of writers who were themselves undoubtedly burning in the fires of j hell. No one could impeach the Spaniard's orthodoxy, and his inference as to the condition of the.two greatest philosophers who have enlightened the world was the most logical of deductions from the most undoubted premises of the narrow orthodoxy. His expressions, nevertheless, shocked the best feelings of the theologians of his own age, and are felt to need some sbrt of apology when recorded by his modern eulogists. He brought out in its plainest colors a con-' tradiction of sentiment which subsists in the minds of almost all men, but of which most persons are little more than half conscious. Heathendom wears two different aspects. Clergymen in their pulpits dilate on the folly, the vice, and the ignorance which degraded the heathen world. The same men when they turn from a parish congregation to a class of University pupils adopt a different tone. In each line of Plato they find a foreshadowing of Christianity. Aristotle's name crushes their judgment by the weight of his reputation, for no long time has passed since Oxford lecturers hunted in the Stagyrite's works for arguments in favor of human corruption or of baptismal regeneration. In all this there is no hypocrisy. The same contradiction may be traced in the opinions entertained by different writers and by different ages concerning those times, of which we know at once so much and yet so little, before the triumph of Christianity divided history by a gulf which neither genius nor learning finds it easy to bridge over. Of recent years authors such as Mr. Kingsley discover in the circumstances and passions which influenced the Pagans of Alexandria
* Tlit Gentile and the Jew in tlte Courts of the Ttmple of Christ. From tlie German of J. J. I. Dollinger. By the Bev. N. Darnell, M.A. 2 vols. Longman.
a type, as it were, of the difficulties and perplexities which beset the men of the nineteenth century, and perceive in history nothing but the struggle of the human soul with "foes," whose "faces" may now, indeed, be slightly "new," but who are in their nature old. The eighteenth century drew unconsciously even nearer to heathenism than does the nineteenth. The imaginative mind attempted to recall the scenery which surrounded Epictetus or Tully, and in the whole phraseology and thoughts which marked the moralists of the day there are' traces of heathen parentage. Even Butler shows as much sign of the influence exercised over him by Epictetus as of the effect produced on him by the writings of St. Paul. Johnson's morality does not appear very dissimilar from the prudential ethics which may be supposed to have guided the conduct of Cato the Censor, and in the pages of the Spectator are embodied quotations from stoic philosophers, mingled with extracts apparently equally unknown to its readers from Solomon's Proverbs or from Job. A whole generation drew its moral sustenance from diluted renderings of Cicero's Offices, and when the eighteenth century terminated in the French Revolution, the men and women who aimed to reform the world were, one and all, like Madame Roland, imbued with the rhetoric and the principles of Plutarch. No one can venture either to disdain the influence of heathendom, or, on the other hand, to deny that, in spite of this influence which can be traced in the arts, the morals, and the religion of the Christian world, there does indeed exist a sharp contrast between the ages of pagan darkness and the time of Christian light. What students who cannot be contented by mere words which convey little impression demand is an investigation into the nature of heathendom which may bring forth both the lights and the shades of the ancient world, which, in other words, can show both why Plato and Cicero may still claim our reverence; and why, at the same time, it was a true and enormous step in the progress of humanity when the preaching of Galilean fishermen swept away the system which had nourished the patriotism of Pericles and the exalted virtues of Marcus Antoninus. To give the results of such an examination is the object of M. Bellinger's work. He has attempted, to use his own words, "to represent the Paganism of the period previous to our Lord with at least an effort at completeness, the sketch embracing the heathen religious system, heathen modes of thought and speculation, heathen philosophy, life, and manners as far as they were severally connected with the religion, were determined by it ond reacted upon it in their turn." In a certain sense he has succeeded. In his book is contained a mass of information which nothing short of German learning and German industry could have brought together. Readers, if they find in it none of those flashes of insight by which Hegel occasionally throws a gleam of light over the whole tendencies of an era, and none of those humorous touches in which Mommsen explains the feelings of the ancient world through analogies drawn from modern life, are still rewarded by obtaining a knowledge of facts which the lifetime of an ordinary individual would scarcely suffice to collect. M. Dollinger has written a book which all students of ancient religions will be compelled to consult1. Many of his opinions and conclusions deserve criticism, but an author of his learning and research claims to have his opinions clearly stated before they are made the subject either for eulogy or censure.
The history of Paganism divides itself into two great periods, which, though their limits cannot be very accurately drawn, are distinguished from each other by very clearly defined characteristics. Paganism, in its earlier stage, may be described as natural heathenism. Whilst the world was yet divided into numerous states, each country held to its separate gods and its different modes of worship, and the idols of Greece or Egypt were as little connected with one another or with the gods of Rome as were the citizens who listened to the speeches of Pericles with the Romans who, about the same period, were occupied in remodelling the laws of their city. Of course there were, during this condition of the world, infinite differences between the religious usages of various races. StiM certain features were common to all the heathen institutions of at least the western world during the first stage of pagan development. Unconsciousness was the main trait of heathendom during its
youth. Priests existed, but no organized body such as since the rise of Christianity has been known as the priesthood. Sacrifices were universal; but though the idea of expiation was not entirely foreign to them, and is even prominent in those human offerings which, according to M. Dollinger, were more frequent than is ordinarily supposed, they were rather occasions for festivity than means of atonement, and in many cases the popular notion obviously was that the sacrifice was a feast wherein gods and men each took a part. Oracles again, or auguries, were general; but little moral significance j attached to the character of a prophet, and generally ethics and religion occupied, as it were, distinct spheres. Even when moral philosophy arose, the opposition between its teachings and the doctrines of the received creeds was but indistinctly recognized. The priests of the temple, since their influence did not depend upon the support of moral doctrines, were little inclined to condemn ethical speculations as heresy. Socrates might have easily escaped death; and it is typical of the slight opposition of his views j to the prevailing religion that his last injunction was to pay a sacrifice to 2Esculapius.
.Changes in the condition of the world, the progress of speculation, and, above all, the spread of the Roman empire, wrought a gradual revolution in the whole condition of the heathen religious world. Philosophy inevitably encroached upon the domain of religion. The teachers of the Porch or of the Garden were far inferior in intellectual power to Plato or Aristotle; but the questions which occupied their minds were inquiries far more akin to the problems which have perplexed and harassed modern metaphysicians and moralists than were the intellectual enigmas proposed for solution in the groves of the Academy. The nature of free will, the power of Providence, the existence of God, the relation of man to God, the respect due from philosophers to the religion of the people, were all topics which agitated the minds of men after the fall of Grecian freedom and before the Roman Republic gave place to the empire. As centuries rolled on Paganism itself was so revolutionized that the heathenism which was overthrown by Christianity was essentially distinct from the religion of either Greece or Home, in the days of their youth and vigor. The gods of all nations had met and mingled at the Capitol; I sis and Anubis claimed more worshippers at Rome than the Capitolcan Jupiter. Strange rites of expiation, the Taurobolium and the Criobolium, were invented to appease the growing sense of human guilt and misery. Soothsayers, astronomers, and magicians, swarmed in every corner of the empire; and whilst philosophy itself became mixed up with Theurgy, tales abounded of the gods appearing once more to their worshippers. The unconsciousness and the gaycty of the pagan world had deserted it and left but a sense of sin without knowledge of any certain means of atonement, and a desire for happiness without the hope either of liberty in this world or of bliss in another.
M. Dollinger concludes his account of heathendom with an estimate of the moral results flowing from Pagan life and institutions. The picture he draws is a dark one. All the intellect of Greece gradually sank
into cunning, and the countrymen of Socrates and Thucydides became the basest of sycophants to Roman masters. Rome herself fell nearly as low as the races she had conquered. Bravery degenerated into brutality, and combats of gladiators occupied citizens who had ceased to do battle for the state. Slavery ate up the vitals of the people, and the grossest immorality, whilst it degraded both men and women, made marriage an intolerable burden, and the increase of the population an impossibility. On the 19th of December, B.c. 69, the Roman capital was consumed by fire, kindled by Roman hands. When, ten months later, the Temple at Jerusalem was also reduced to ashes, if Romans and Jews of the first century saw but a spark of the hatred of heaven to man, modern writers may be pardoned for perceiving the sign, as it were, that the days of heathenism were numbered, and " that ground was to be cleared for the worship of God in spirit and in truth."
The Momogram.—The monogram on the sacred standard of Constantino became for a long time conspicuous on Christian monuments in the East and West, and is now curved on most of the sepulchral tablets of modern Italy. Yet there is a mystery about what it really means, without a pretence of anything miraculous as to the way in which it came to be used. It is doubtful whether any one besides the Emperor himself can have known whether ho took its upper part to represent the Latin letter P, or the Greek one for R. The great comparative prominence of the said upper part on early monuments, joined to Constantino's ignorance of Greek, inclines us to the former opinion, and perhaps Eascbias as an enthusiastic Oriental gave rise to the latter. There is some evidence that the Roman Emperor Frobns brought the monogram, or something like it, from Egypt in the third century. His name and virtues perhaps suggested the appropriation of a sign which had long before been attached to representations of the more popular members of the Ptolemaic dynasty.—Once a Week.
Mni"M.\ i• • i \v, In Ewolaxd Fob The RebEls.—The model of the fixed cupola and armor-plated ship, invented by Mr. Turner, master shipwright of Woolwich dockyard, has been inspected and approved by numbers of the
leading private firms. A few days ago, some of the most eminent ship-builders of Liverpool waited on Mr. Turner with a desire of negotiating permission to adopt his principle in ships which they are about to construct for the purposes of the American war. The single cupola to be fitted on the deck of Mr. Turner's new ship will require no turn-table or other machinery, and will contain twenty-six guns, capable of being fired at any required point or deflection, with sufficient space for the free circulation of the gunners. It is two hundred and thirty feet in length, ten feet in depth, and fiftv feet in breadth. The armor-proof plates will bo applied by a patent invention of Mr. Turner, requiring neither grooves nor tongues, and will bo removable singly in case of fracture or damage, and also easily replaced. The Board of Admiralty, who inspected tho model on their visit to the dockyard a few days ago, have called on Mr. Turner to furnish specifications of his method for their consideration. His royal highness Prince Adalbert, Admiral of the Prussian fleet, has also ordered draughts of the model to be transmitted to him for the service of his own country. Tho ship to be built after Mr. Turner's design will carry 8,700 displacement burden, and will be a most formidable ram, having a powerful weapon of eight feet in length projecting three feet under the water-line. Precantions are adopted to have her rudder, sternpost, and propeller thoroughly immersed, and, consequently, out of tho reach of damage from. without.—Liverpool Times.
From Once a Week. MEDUSA AND HER LOCKS. Along the sandy shores at low water may be seen in the summer months numbers of round, flatfish, gelatinous-looking bodies, scientifically called Medusae, going popularly by the expressive though scarcely euphemious titles of slobs, slobbers, stingers, and stangers, and called jelly fishes by the inland public, though the creatures are not fishes at all, and have no jelly in their composition.
As these Medusa; lie on the beach they present anything but agreeable spectacles to the casual observer; and, as a general fact, rather excite disgust than admiration: and it is not until they are swimming, in the free enjoyment of liberty, that they are viewed with any degree of complacency by an unpractised eye. Yet, even in their present helpless and apparently lifeless condition, sunken partially in the sand, and without a movement to show that animation still holds its place in the tissues,'there is something worthy of observation and by no means devoid of interest.
In the first place, be it noted that all the Medusae lie in their normal attitudes; and, in spite of their apparently helpless nature, which causes them to be carried about almost at random by the waves or currents, they, in so far, bid defiance to the powers of the sea, that they are not tossed about in all sorts of positions as is usually the case with creatures that are thrown upon the beach, but die, like Cffisar, decently, with their mantles wrapped round them.
Looking closer at the Medusae, the observer will find that the substance is by no means homogeneous, but that it is traversed by numerous veinings something like the nervures of a leaf. These marks indicate the almost inconceivably delicate tissues of which the real animated portion of the creature is composed, and which form a network of cells, that enclose a vast proportionate amount of sea-water. If, for example, a Medusa weighing some three or four pounds be laid in the sun, the whole animal seems to evaporate, leaving in its place nothing but a little gathering of dry fibres, which hardly weigh as many grains as the original mass weighed pounds. The enclosed water has been examined by competent analysts, and has been found to differ in no perceptible degree from
the water of the sea whence the animal was taken.
Though the cells appear at first sight to be disposed almost at random, a closer investigation will show that a regular arrangement prevails among them, and that they can all be referred to a legitimate organization. So invariably is this the case, that the shape and order of these cells afford valuable characteristics in the classification of these strange beings.
Just below the upper and convex surface may be seen four elliptical marks, arranged so as to form a Maltese cross, and differently colored in the various specimens, carmine, pink, or white. These show the attachments of the curious organization by which food is taken into the system, and may be better examined by taking up the creature, and looking at its under surface.
Now, take one of the Medusae, choosing a specimen that lies near low-water mark, and place it in a tolerably large rock pool, where the water is clear, and where it can be watched for some time without the interruption of the advancing tide.
The apparently inanimate mass straightway becomes instinct with life, its disc contracts in places, and successive undulations roll round its margin, like the wind waves on a cornfield. By degrees the movements become more and more rhythmical; the creature begins to pulsate throughout its whole substance, and before very long it rights itself like a submerged lifeboat, and passes slowly and gracefully through the water, throwing off a thousand iridescent tints from its surface, and trailing after it the appendages which form the Maltese cross above mentioned, together with a vast array of delicate fibres, that take their origin from the edge of the disc, or umbrella, as that wonderful organ is popularly called.
Words cannot express the exceeding beauty and grace of the Medusa, as it slowly pulsates its way through the water, rotating, revolving, rising, and sinking with slow and easy undulations, and its surface radiant with rich and changeful hues, like fragments of submarine rainbows. It is often possible, when the water is particularly clear, to stand at the extremity of a pier or jetty, and watch the Medusa; as they float past in long processions, carried along by the prevailing currents, but withal maintaining their position by the exertion of their will.
The reader is doubtlessly aware that the title of Medusa is given to these creatures on account of the trailing fibres that surround the disc, just as the snaky locks of the mythological heroine surrounded her dreadful visage. Many species deserve the name by reason of the exceeding venom of their tresses, which are every whit as terrible to a human being as if they were the veritable vipers of the ancient allegory.
Fortunately for ourselves, the generality of those Medusae which visit our shores are almost, if not wholly, harmless; but there are some species which are to be avoided as carefully us if each animal were a mass of angry wasps, and cannot safely be approached within a considerable distance. The most common of these venomous beings is the stinger, or stanger, and it is to put sea-bathers on their guard that this article is written, with a sincere hope that none of its readers may meet with the ill-fate of its author.
If the bather, or shore wanderer, should happen to see, either tossing on the waves, or thrown upon the beach, a loose, roundish mass of tawny membranes and fibres, something like a very large handful of lion's mane and silver paper, let him beware of the object, and sacrificing curiosity to discretion, give it as wide a berth as possible. For this is the fearful stinger, scientifically called Cyanea capillata, the most plentiful and most redoubtable of our venomous Medusae.
My first introduction to this creature was a very disastrous one, though I could but reflect afterwards that it might have been even more so. It took place as follows.
One morning towards the end of June, while swimming off the Margate coast, I saw at a distance something that looked like a patch of sand occasionally visible, and occasionally covered, as it were, by the waves, which were then running high in consequence of a lengthened gale which had not long gone down. Knowing the coast pretty well, and thinking that no sand ought to be in such a locality, I swam towards the strange object, and had got within some eight or ten yards of it before finding that it was composed of animal substance. I naturally thought that it must be the refuse of some
animal that had been thrown overboard, and swam away from it, not being anxious to come in contact with so unpleasant a substance.
While still approaching it, I had noticed a slight tingling in the toes of tho left foot, but as I invariably suffer from cramp in those regions while swimming, I took the "pinsand-ncedles " sensation for a symptom of the accustomed cramp, and thought nothing of it. As I swam on, however, the tingling extended further and further, and began to feel very much like the sting of an old nettle. Suddenly, the truth flashed across me, and I made for the shore as fast as I could.
On turning round for that purpose, I raised my right arm out of the water, and found that dozens of slender and transparent threads were hanging from it, and evidently stiH attached to the Medusa, now some forty or fifty feet away. The filaments were slight and delicate as those of a spider's web, but there the similitude ceased, for each was armed with a myriad poisoned darts that worked their way into the tissues, and affected the nervous system like the stings of wasps.
Before I reached shore the pain had become fearfully severe, and on quitting the cool waves it was absolute torture. Whcrecver one of the multitudinous threads had come in contact with the skin was a light scarlet line, which, on closer examination, was resolvable into minute dots or pustules, and the sensation was much as if each dot were charged with a red hot needle, gradually making its way through the nerves. The slightest touch of the clothes was agony, and as I had to walk more than two miles before reaching my lodgings, the sufferings endured may be better imagined than described.
Severe, however, as was this pain, it was the least part of the torture inflicted by these apparently insignificant weapons. Both the respiration and the action of the heart became affected, while at short intervals sharp pangs shot through the chest, as if a bullet had passed through the heart and lungs, causing me to stagger as if struck by a leaden missile. Then the pulsation of the heart would cease for a time that seemed an age, and then it would give six or seven leaps as if it would force its way through the chest. Then the lungs would refuse to act, and I stood gasping in vain for breath, as if the arm of a garroter were round my neck. Then the sharp pang would shoot through the chest, and so da capo.
After a journey lasting, so far as my feel