Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

DRUID'S ALTAR ÎN CORNWALL. We have no authentic history of Britain till the landing of Julius Cæsar, about fifty years before the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The religion of Britain at that period was the superstition of the Druids : their name is supposed to be derived from an ancient British word which signifies an Oak, because they reared their rude massy temples and altars in the forests of oak, with which the island at that time abounded. These groves they considered as the sacred residence of divinity: chaplets of oak were worn by the worshippers in their religious ceremonies, and the altars were encircled with its leaves. These Druids were the priests of the island : the chief Druid was a kind of pontiff or high priest : he had authority over all the rest; and when the office was vacant, it was contended for with savage ambition.

The engraving is from a sketch taken on the spot, by the Rev. Basil Woodd, July 27, 1814. The Altar is situated on the heights of Karn-brê Hill, about two miles from Redruth, in Cornwall. “Karnbrê” means the hill of stones, with which it abounds, interspersed with circles and other relics of Druid

VOL. V. 3d SERIES.

worship: there were also, when this drawing was taken, remains of the oak-trees which those idolaters cultivated, which have since been removed : their worship was performed in the groves of oak-trees; and they regarded the misletoe as sacred. “ Redruth” means the Ford of the Druids. The Altar is about eight feet in height, and twelve in length.

On the

upper

surface are hollow excavations, like basins, supposed to have been designed to collect the morning-dew, which the Druids regarded as sacred. In the smaller basons, it is conjectured, they used to lay children, and in the larger, men, for particular disorders; that by the healing virtue attributed to the god who inhabited the rock, they might be cured of the disease. Church Missionary Papers.

A SUNDAY AT DIJON.

Having met with so much ill success in my two Sundays spent at Boulogne and Paris, I began to feel hopeless of anything better in a Catholic country, though why I should have ever had an idea that it was possible for any external forms to give a sanctity (even in appearance) to a day, the privileges of which are all entirely spiritual, I cannot account for, unless by stating the truth, which is this, that although I knew something of the great western Anti-Christian power, through the hearing of the ear, I was as yet unacquainted with the effects of this form of error on the minds of those who are or have been long under its influence. In short, I had a better opinion of the Roman Catholic religion, or rather of the preseni ministers of that religion, than as a Protestant, and in some degree an enlightened one, I ought to have had. But my error arose from this—that I had taken up my notions, in the first instance, from what I had happened to see in my own town, where there is a Catholic chapel, and an old priest with white hair and meek deportment, whom I used to meet in my walks culling plants under the hedges, wherewith at once to enrich his knowledge of botany and to improve the flavor

of his soup maigre; and had heard this old inan spoken of as being always ready at the bed-side of his sick and dying people, and of being far more attentive to his flock than many of our own clergy. I had also heard those politicians, who pleaded for Catholic emancipation, assert, that we were not to judge of Papists now by what we read of them in past agesthat they are now quite of a different spirit-mild, amiable and attached to their religion from natural and laudable motives : in short, that they are not at this present time so far different from ourselves as their enemies would have us to believe. I do not say that my reason had been convinced by all these assertions, but it certainly had been warped, although I was not aware of it, otherwise I could not, even for a moment, have thought it possible that I should have found any thing like a decent observance of the Lord's-day in a Roman Catholic country, the religion of which is founded in a lie, and built up with error, having force and fraud for its main supports-the one serving its purpose where the other fails. But I had been in France some weeks, and had had time for much observation: the Roman Catholic religion is not now in force in France—that is, there is now no authoritative interference with men's consciences and modes of worship, neither any public slur cast on the character of the man who never worships at all; thus it appears, that, in this kingdom at least, Popery is losing its influence, but not antichristianism ; the serpent is changing his skin, indeed, but not his nature; nor is his venom mitigated, or his sting less deadly, for in measure as he changes his color and his hue, he assumes even a more hateful aspect, and the progress of his worshippers bearing reference with his external profession, or coloring, is not from a false religion to a true one, but from a system of blasphemous errors to open infidelity; the mass of the French nation being in a state of irresolution or doubt, being ready to relinquish their old broken anchors, yet half afraid to launch into that sea of hopeless atheism which has neither shore nor bottom.

Infidelity, in the mean time, is most frequent amongst the stronger and bolder sex, whilst that which is more timid and mild still clings to the old forms, and still professes a sort of subjection to the priests and directors of the old system,

with this modification, however, that infidelity prevails more decidedly in the capital, and Popery in the smaller towns. Hence in our perambulations of Paris during the last Sunday, we had seen little of what I must be permitted to call the parade of Popery; and though we had heard the bells toll, and the doors of the churches were open, we saw no priests in the street, nor even any other individuals except aged women repairing to mass. It seemed, however, at Dijon, that the Roman Catholic worship had not as yet fallen so low; but I must not anticipate, my reader shall have a full account of our Sunday, with every thing in its order. We were proceeding from Paris to Geneva ; our journey was to occupy us ten days, including the Sunday, which according to our custom is devoted to rest. Dijon was one of the capitals of the dukedom of Burgundy, and is now the chief town of the department of the Coté d'or. It is a fortified place, watered by the river Ouche, and has five handsome gateways, some of which are very old. What strikes a stranger most in the approach to it is the spire of the cathedral, which is covered with slate, and built so as to have the appearance of being twisted like a cork-screw. All French provincial towns more or less resemble each other, the houses being of stone, high and heavy, having many windows, but these being deep set in the wall do not produce an air of cheerfulness; and as houses are never cleaned or painted again, after their first freshness is gone, a general appearance of want of cleanliness must strike every English person who sees them. The gutters, too, run through the middle of the streets, and with all their pretensions to taste, the French know not how to

arrange

their wares in the windows of their shops, so as to render them inviting to passengers; but these are after all unimportant matters to those who look for better things, nevertheless the writer wishes to enable every reader to understand the circumstances of the scenes to which he may be introduced. It was late in the evening when we were driven to the Chapeau Rouge, as the best hotel of Dijon; of its comparative merits I know nothing, but we could obtain no parlor, although they gave us a suite of rooms, all gilt and varnished, and set forth with tables of acajou, and hangings of silk, and chairs of

velvet. Being all one family, we could dispense with a sitting room, though not so well with the obligation of taking our meals in a long hall, where there were at least a dozen tables, occupied by various parties of men, who might pretend to be gentlemen, but who undoubtedly did not understand the character. And here perhaps it might be well to remark, that although a false religion may serve to maintain false pretensions to politeness, courtesy to man generally disappears in those societies where respect for divine things is laid aside ; hence since infidelity has ceased to be a reproach in France, much of that polish in which the nation prided itself is wearing off, and roughness and brutality of manners are succeeding, which fill the mind with terror and disgust; but we had travelled far during the week, and were anticipating a day of rest, and we were not in the mind to disturb ourselves with slight inconveniences.

We slept well, and in the morning were awakened, as at Paris, with the jingling of bells, one at least sounding from every steeple in the town, and looking out, we saw the people crowding in various directions, each in their holiday clothes, as they passed and repassed under the window. They were hastening to obtain a merit for themselves by hearing a mass, which being done the day was their own, and there was, according to their ideas, no further need of attention to the care of their souls; they had witnessed what they call the sacrifice of the mass, and there was a good work performed to set against the offences of the past week. I cannot suppose that many of my readers are ignorant of the nature of the mass, but as there may be some who are so, I shall take the liberty of requesting my better instructed friends to pardon me, if I attempt to explain it to those who are less so.

The mass in some respects answers to our Lord's supper, or rather, I should say, is a perversion of this ordinance. The Roman Catholic church asserts that when the priest blesses the elements, that is the bread and wine used in the sacrament, they are changed into the real body and blood of Christ; and this change is effected by the will of the priest; or by his intention, for if he should openly make a show of sanctifying the elements, and does not intend it, the change does not take place.

« ZurückWeiter »