« ZurückWeiter »
made, no light kindled, no food prepared, and no water drawn.
(5) The new moon is observed as a monthly feast; also the 10th, the 15th, and the 18th day after each new moon. Other feasts are observed annually—the Feast of the Passover, the Harvest Feast, the Feast of Atonement) the Feast of Taber» nacles, the Day of Covenant at the new moon in November, and Abraham's Day, on the 11th day after the new moon in July. The Feasts of Purim and of the Dedication of the Temple are not observed.
(6) Sacrifices are offered, consisting of heifers, kids, the passover-lamb, and the bread or meat-offering, also some other sacrifices not prescribed by the Levitical law. These sacrifices are offered in any place hallowed for the purpose in the village in which the Falashas dwell. Sacrifices are also offered in newlybuilt houses, and for the dead. M. Halevy states that the sacrifices are purely of a commemorative character.
(7) The mesgeedn,* or places of worship of the Falashas, seem to present a singular combination of the characteristics of the Temple and of the Synagogue. As in the case of the former, the Altar of Sacrifice stands within an enclosure on the Eastern side of the building. The Most Holy Place, into which the Priests only enter, is surrounded by a court according to M. Halevy, by a building according to Mr. Flad, which he speaks of as the Holy Place, in which the men assemble on the North, and the women on the South. Within the Most Holy Place are the table on which lies the Orit, i. e. the Book of the Law, together with some of the historical books, the vessels for the ashes of a red heifer, and the holy water, the place for the priestly vestments, &c., and that in which the books used in Divine Service are kept. There is an outer enclosure which encompasses the whole of the Mesgeed and the Court of Sacrifice.
One of the most remarkable of the institutions of the Falashas is the Monastic. The appointed times of probation last for several years, at the* expiration of which, unless they desire to return to their friends, those who have chosen or have been set apart for a monastic life take the vows; and are consecrated in accordance with the Levitical ceremonial. The ordinary priests are found in the villages, in which there are no monks, and are commissioned by the monks to perform the various ceremonies of religious worship. The priests marry once, but arc not allowed to contract a second marriage. Polygamy seems to be unknown both amongst the priests and the people. Education is at a very low ebb amougst the Falashas. The Hebrew language appears bo be entirely unknown; the art of writing is culti> * This word is sometimes Sjoclt meyla*
vated only as a distinct employment, like any other trade; and the course of education amongst the monks appears to be restricted to the art of reading the Ethiopic character, and acquiring so much knowledge of the language as to be able to render into the Amharic, for the benefit of the people, those portions of Holy Scripture which are read in the Ethiopic.
M. Halevy speaks of the strict Monotheism of the Falashas; but Mr. Flad describes, at some length, their idolatrous worship of the goddess Sanbat, whom he identifies with the Ashtaroth of Holy Scripture. "The Falashas" (he writes, p. 6) "not only pray to Sanbat, but they bring her meat-offerings and drink-offerings, consisting of loaves of bread and beer. They also offer her incense, and Various burnt-offerings." Mr. Flad concludes his interesting but melancholy sketch of the "moral and spiritual degradation of this people with a brief account of the promising results of the mission which was carried on for some years amongst them; and he notices with deep regret one peculiarly dark feature which was the result of the enforced withdrawal of the mission at a time when it seemed to promise a rich harvest of blessing; viz., the requirement of the king and the Abuna, that the proselytes should join the Abyssinian Church—a Church, the members of which, according to Mr. Flad's representation, are, in a moral point of view, yet more deeply degraded than the Falashas themselves. After recording the fact, that fifty-six persons were brought, by means of the Mission, to an open profession of Christianity, and that several more were baptized by the Scotch missionaries, Mr. Flad continues thus :—" We cannot as yet trace the reason of God's dealings, in thus permitting His work to be overthrown; but we know that it is in His hands; that present defeat shall only ensure a greater ultimate victory. The Lord will not leave His word unfulfilled—'In a little wrath I hid my face from them for a moment; but in everlasting kindness will I have mercy on them/ May it please Him soon to bring about the religious liberty so earnestly desired, that our proselytes may no longer be compelled to enter a corrupt Church, but may worship Him in spirit and in truth. May He speedily pour out upon His scattered people the spirit of grace and of supplication: then shall be fulfilled the words of the prophet Zephaniah, 'From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, my suppliants, even the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.5"
We caunot conclude this notice of a people, to whose condition so little attention has hitherto been directed, without informing those amongst our readers who may desire to become acquainted with the results of Mission work amongst them, that Mr. Flad has published an account of those results in a little book entitled "Twelve Years in Abyssinia."
"we have received the following communications, to which we readily give insertion :—
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
St. Mary's, Oscott; Nov. 6, 1869.
Sir,—My attention has been called to an article, in the current nnmber of your Review, on my recent work upon the Roman Catacombs. Had the writer confined himself to mere criticism of my interpretation of ancient monuments, I should have had no right to find fault with him, or at least certainly not in your pages. But when he accuses me of " deliberately manipulating and disguising an important monument to which I make appeal," he can hardly expect me to be silent, even though, with an amiable inconsistency, he is pleased to add that "of course, I am not consciously and intentionally deceiving my readers."
Our work professes to be " compiled from the works of Commendatore De Rossi, with the consent of the author." Your Reviewer's capital charge against us is, not only that we have "not adhered religiously to De Rossi's guidance, "but that whereas "he has the rare merit of stating his facts exactly and impartially, precisely as he finds them," we have "selected, manipulated, and moro or less disguised them, so as to suit a predetermined conclusion." And again, he writes that "De Rossi's fidelity presents an honorable contrast to the manipulation of which we have to complain on the part of Dr. Northcote." If these charges can be substantiated, I think, Sir, you will agree with me that we ought to be " at once ostracized from the republic of letters;" we shall have been proved guilty of a double crime—both of attempting to deceive the English public, and also of abusing the confidence bestowed upon us by our friend De Rossi, who entrusted to us the task of abridging and translating his work. But I hope you will also agree with me that such charges ought not to be lightly made, and that, if they have been made falsely, they ought to be retracted. I think it worth while, therefore, to demonstrate their falsehood, in the only two instances which are specified.
The first and special instance of " manipulation " which is insisted upon as presenting such a contrast to De Rossi's "fidelity " is Plate VIII at the end of our volume. It is no news to those who received our prospectus inviting them to subscribe to the work before publication, but it is a fact which was unaccountably omitted in our Preface to the volume itself when published, and therefore is new to your Reviewer, that all the twenty Plates, as well as the Map, were prepared for. us by De Rossi himself, executed under his own eye at the Cromolitografia Pontifica in Rome, and the impressions sent to us from that city exactly as they now are; so that your Reviewer is really saying that De Rossi's fidelity presents an honorable contrast with De Rossi's [careless or fraudulent] manipulation. Eighteen of the drawings for these Plates were taken from the originals. For Plates VIII and XI, he had an order from us to provide a specimen of Noah in his Ark; the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace; the Raising of Lazarus ; and an orante. [I have the corresixmdence before me as I write.] When sending me the proofs of the impressions, he apologised for the different and inferior style of these; but said he did not understand us to want any special instances of these subjects, and therefore he had not hesitated to spare himself trouble by taking them from books instead of going to the Catacombs for them; and he wrote on the back of the proofs the references to Bosio which we printed. I neither looked into Bosio myself, nor was at all aware, until I read the article in your Magazine, that the necessity of getting into the same Plate a representation of Noah and his Ark as well as an orante, had caused De Rossi's artist to omit a single line of the drawing which he copied. The omission was certainly to his mind quite unimportant, or he would not have allowed it; whereby, according to your Reviewer, " he shows himself utterly destitute of every quality most required in an archaeologist, and utterly unfitted for the task of interpreting ancient monuments." Your Reviewer, indeed, pronounces these censures upon me, but solely (as he himself acknowledges) for the one offence which has been spoken of; and now that he knows the real culprit, I presume he will either retract or transfer them. In the former case, we shall all be satisfied; and in the latter, I venture to think that De Rossi's reputation will •still survive.
However, I certainly should not have taken the trouble to write this letter, merely for the sake of transferring to De Rossi's shoulders any weight of censure supposed to belong to my own. I write to show that no blame properly belongs to either. De Rossi had no means of knowing what use would be made of his imperfect drawing in my text; and I, as a matter of fact, made no use of it whatever, for the best of all reasons, that I never saw it, nor knew it was coming to me, till my text was both written and in type. I made no appeal to it, therefore, nor even gave a reference to it; and had I drawn up my own Index to the list of Plates, after they had arrived, I might just as probably have described it simply as an orante as the Blessed Virgin. However, it stands in the Index as the Blessed Virgin ; and if this were the only picture of the kind, or if 1 had made allusion in the text of the Volume to any one such picture in particular, no doubt the use of this title would have been of some importance. But my statement was very different; and as I am accused of having departed from my author in this matter, I must beg leave to quote what I really said, and the authority I found in De Rossi's books for saying it. I said, then (p. 254), that "among the innumerable oranti, a woman is frequently found as a companion to the Good Shepherd," and " a multitude of considerations lead us to believe that this figure was intended for our Blessed Lady, or else for the Church." De Rossi had said, in his Images de la T. S. Vierge choisies dans les Gatacombes de Rome, "On ne saurait vraiment nier qu'en peignant leur oranti les premiers Chretiens aient souvev.t voulu representor la Vierge Marie" (p. 1); and again, "surles anciennes peintures et sculptures, le pasteur et Vorante sont parallules, et ils se font pendant, on bien ils alternent l'un avec l'autre On ne saurait nier que ce motif soit tres ancien et frequemment reproduit. ... II me semble tres vrai que Forante rapprochee du pastenr, nommement sur lea plus anciennes peintures, symbolise, de preference a tonte autre femme, la Vierge Marie, type de l'Eglise." (pp. 9, 10.)
No doubt it is open to your Reviewer to say that he can only find one such rapprochement of an orante and a Good Shepherd in the •works of Bosio and Aringhi; but he should have remembered that De Rossi's statement does not profess to be founded upon those works, but upon what he has himself seen and shown to others in the Catacombs, and that our statement professed to be only a repetition of De Rossi's. I think no one can deny that here, at least, we have "adhered religiously to our leader's guidance."
The second specified instance of which we are accused of not representing faithfully the author whose works we professed to be introducing to English readers, may be dismissed more briefly. We had said, in describing another picture of our Blessed Lady, that "as far as we could make out from the imperfect remains of the painting, both the Virgin by herself, and with her Holy Spouse and Child, have been repeatedly represented in other parts of this l-oculus." Upon this your Reviewer observes, that " with De Rossi's drawing before him, he interprets the figures referred to very differently;" and if he had stopped here, we should have had no ground of complaint against him ; but, he continues, "And De Rossi, in his description, suggests nothing such" (sic). Let me quote De Rossi's own words, and then, "at any rate, your readers will have, between your Reviewer and ourselves, the evidence that on both sides is available, and upon that evidence base their own conclusions." De Rossi, then (at pp. 8, 9, of the same work already quoted), after describing what he is able to make out of the paintings and ornaments in question, comments on them thus:—" La vue d'un pareil groupe ne fera-t-il pas penser sur le champ a Jesus, Marie et Joseph; et cette penseo n'est ni deraisonnable, ni inspiree plutdt par la devotion que par lY'tmlo du monument." He urges this argument through nearly a page; thus he speaks of the Good Shepherd which occupies one-half of tho vault, and says of the other half, "Selon toute probability, a mon avis, la composition disparue representait une orante placee £galement entre deux arbres "—and we have already heard him say how he understands this orante when found in juxtaposition with the Good Shepherd. Lastly, he again says, in concluding, "Que Ton no m'accuse pas an reste d'exagerer en signalant tant d'allusions a la Ste. Vierge dans les peintures et la decoration de ce tombean;" and he insists upon it that the interpretations he has suggested spring naturally from a study of the scene. They may, or they may not; your Reviewer interprets them very differently; but how we, who professed to bo translating De Rossi, could interpret differently, I cannot see. I am equally at a loss to conjecture how a Reviewer, one too who makes such loud promises of "scrupulous exactness of statement," can have read De Rossi's article and then say that it suggests nothing like what is simply a translation and abridgement of his very words.