Page images
PDF
EPUB

“Frequently," writes Mr. Williams, in his Mis- was also a relative, he stretched out his arm and sionary Enterprises,“ have our feelings been most exclaimed, 'You, my brother, saw me kill child powerfully excited, at the examination of our after child, but you never seized this murderous school children; and scenes more affecting than hand, and said, Stay, brother, God is about to bless us, some which have been witnessed on such occasions, the Gospel of salvation is coming to our shores.' Then it is scarcely possible to conceive. One of these, he cursed the gods which they formerly worshipwhich occurred at my own station at Raiatea, Iped, and added, " It was you that infused this satage will briefly describe. Upwards of six hundred disposition into us, and now I shall die childless, although children were present. A feast was prepared for I have been the father of nineteen children !' After this them, and they walked through the settlement in he sat down, and in a flood of tears gave vent to procession, most of them dressed in European gar- his agonised feelings." ments, with little hats and bonnets made by those Can it be needful to add any comment on this very parents who would have destroyed them, had simple narrative ? It shows, in one, and that a not Christianity come to their rescue. The chil- very pleasing aspect, what the Gospel has effected dren added much to the interest of the day, by in improving the condition of a people deeply sunk preparing flags with such mottos as the following: in moral degradation and misery. It is but one of *What a blessing the Gospel is ! The Christians many such pictures which might be brought forof England sent us the Gospel.' 'Had it not been ward, as illustrations of what has been accomfor the Gospel, we should have been destroyed as plished by means of missionary exertions. The soon as we were born.' On some, texts of the great work is yet proceeding. Still are hundreds Scripture were inscribed : 'Behold the Lamb of of unoffending infants falling a sacrifice to the God which taketh away the sin of the world ;' ignorance and superstition of their wretched pa'Suffer little children to come unto me;' and other rents. Let not their touching appeal he made in similar passages. Insensible, indeed, must he have vain ; but let all to whom the improvement of the been, who could have witnessed such a scene with human family is an object of regard, unite in reout the liveliest feelings of delight. After proceed- newed efforts to sweep that dreadful evil, infantiing through the settlement, they were conducted to cide, from the face of the earth, and to lay open the spacious chapel, and opened service by singing new sources of heartfelt pleasure, such as thrilled the Jubilee hymn in the native language. The in the bosoms of the converted parents of Raiatea. venerable old king then took the chair. He had been worshipped as a god, and had led fierce warriors to battle and the fight ;' but he evidently felt that he had never occupied a station so

THE LOST TRIBES. delightful or honourable as that of presiding at the examination of the children of his people. These were placed in the centre of the chapel, and the A FORMER paper described a visit paid by Dr. parents occupied the outer seats. Each class was Grant to the Nestorians *, who, in every point of then called up and examined ; and after this, in- view, are an interesting people. They have a tradividuals from the different classes were selected, dition that the Magi, who were guided by the star and questioned by the missionary. While this to the manger at Bethlehem, went from ooroomiah, was proceeding, the appearance of the parents was a city of the Medes ; and it is supported by some most affecting. The eyes of some were gleaming predictions of Zoroaster, supposed to have been a with delight, as the father said to the mother, or disciple of Jeremiah, who was a native of that city, the mother to the father, “What a mercy it is that and the leader of the Magi. It is said he foretold we spared our dear girl !' Others, with saddened the coming of a personage corresponding in chacountenances, and faltering voices, lamented in racter with the Messiah ; he described him as bitterness, that they had not spared theirs ; and the “the Almighty Word, which created the heavens ;"' silent tear, as it stole down the cheeks of many, md he charged his disciples to hasten when “his told the painful tale that all their children were star” should appear, to pay their devout adorations destroyed ! In the midst of all our proceedings, a to this “mysterious child.” The light he had on venerable chieftain, grey with age, arose, and with this subject appears to have been derived from the impassioned look and manner, exclaimed, “Let me Old Testament, to which it is evident, from his speak; I must speak!' On obtaining permission, Zend or Zendavestama book which the ancient he thus proceeded — Oh that I had known that the Magi and modern Parsees regarded as Christians Gospel was coming! Oh that I had known that do the Bible-he was much indebted. Some of the these blessings were in store for us, then I should Magi may have seen Christ in his visits to Jeruhave saved my children, and they would have salem ; but whether they did or not, Jews from the been among this happy group, repeating these pre-country where the ten tribes then lived were precious truths ; but, alas ! I destroyed them all, 1 sent, and spectators of the marvellous events that have not one left. Turning to the chairman, who

* See page 299.

NO. II. A CHAPTER FOR THE YOUNG.

THE LOST TRIBES.

389 occurred on the day of Pentecost. It is natural, mediately after the death of Christ; and with this therefore, to suppose that they bore back with the statements of the Nestorians themselves fully them the tidings of the Gospel to their country. harmonise. The learned men of the present race of men,

Mohammedans (the Affshars) also say that the There is also reason to think, that to them the Nestorians are, where they now appear, before message of mercy was proclaimed by some of the the Christian era. Apostles, in that spirit of missionary enterprise That the lost tribes are discovered in the Neswhich was one of the glories of the primitive torians Dr. Grant zealously labours to prove ; we church, and also that success attended their labours. may, therefore, glance at some of the facts included “ Thus, then,” says Eusebius, the father of eccle- in his argument. It is certainly singular that there siastical history, “under a celestial influence and is a close resemblance in physiognomy to that of the co-operation, the doctrine of the Saviour, like the Jews of the country in which they dwell. Even rays of the sun, quickly irradiated the whole world. the natives, accustomed to discriminate between Presently, in accordance with divine prophecy, the various classes of people by their features, are sound of his inspired evangelists and apostles had often unable to distinguish one party from the gone throughout all the earth, and their words to other. the end of the world. Throughout every city and Not less strikingly alike are the names of these village, like a replenished garner, churches were people. “I have seen," says Dr. Grant, “promisseen abounding and filled with members.” ouous circles of ten or twelve Nestorians, in which

That there should be an extensive prevalence of every individual had a Jewish name. From fortythe Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem five members of our seminary, who were taken was distinctly foretold by our Lord; and this in- promiscuously, thirty-two had Jewish names, found creases the probability of its ministration to the in the Bible. Others had received names of signiten tribes. It is also remarkable that Paul, when ficant import, in accordance with the custom of the pleading before Agrippa, and alluding to the hope Jews, and such as are common among those of of happiness beyond the grave, says “Unto which ooroomiah.” promise our twelte tribes, instantly serving God day On thelanguage of the Nestorians, he lays considerand night, hope to come;" thus including the ten able stress, observing :-"Itis well worthy of remark, tribes led into bondage with the other two; and that only among the Nestorians, and nominal Jews it is no less worthy of notice, that the Epistle of of Media and Assyria, is the Syriac, at this day, a James, addressed to those who are repeatedly living language ; unless an exception be found called “ brethren," and " beloved brethren,” was among the Syriac Christians, dwelling west of the written to “the twelve tribes.” It appears from Tigris, and who may, perhaps, also have a Hebrew these circumstances, that not only was the exist- origin. The use of a Syriac liturgy by other ence of the captive tribes recognised, but also their Christians besides the Nestorians does not militate piety; for, as Bishop Tomline has remarked, “ the against the justness of our conclusions. The most object of the apostolic epistles was to confirm and of those who use this language in their churchnot to convert ; to correct what was amiss in those service live within the bounds of Syria ; and the that did believe, and not in those who did not famous Syrian school at Edessa introduced it into believe. The sense of the above inscription to the the churches in its immediate vicinity. But, with twelde tribes, secms to be limited to the believing them, and with the Christians of Malabar, it is the Jews.”

language of books only; and it no more proves It is, therefore, argued by Dr. Grant, that of that the people among whom it is used are Israelthese persons the Nestorians, whom he visited, are ites, than the use of the Latin language in the the descendants. Seleucia was, from the earliest churches of Ireland proves that the sons of the times, their chief seat of authority and influence; / 'Emerald Isle' are Romans. The cases are obtheir archbishop and patriarchs residing there, and viously parallel. Throughout Syria and the greater ruling over the whole country inhabited by the ten part of Mesopotamia, Arabic is the spoken language tribes. “Nestorian churches and prelates," he of the Syrian Christians; while in Orfa, the ancient says, “have flourished in an uninterrupted suc- Edessa, where the Syriac literature was the most cession in the same places where they were founded cultivated, the Syrian Christians speak only Turkby the apostles among the Israelites. Succeeding ish. Neither in Diarbékir, Mardin, nor Mosul, is those first apostles of the Persians (Thomas, Thad- the Syriac spoken, except by a few who have deus, &c., who preached in Adiabene and Media), learned it as a classical attainment, or acquired it the prelates, subject to the archbishops of Seleucia, among the Nestorians of Assyria. Their churchaided either in imbuing the same people with the service in Syriac is not only unintelligible to the sacred rites of the Christians, or in confirming them common people, but even to some of the officiating in the faith which they had embraced.” The clergy. Were the Syrian Christians to make conJews assert very positively that the Nestorians verts in Africa or India, they would introduce the were couverted from Judaism to Christianity, im- | Syriac language into their religious worship; but this would not identify the Africans or Indians and her hands hold the distaff; both being literally with the Nestorians. It is, however, a very differ- held in the hand. Women are seen grinding at a ent thing when two people, having other strong mill or braying wheat with a pestle in a mortar to points of resemblance, use in common a vernacular separate the hull, or churning milk (not cream) to language peculiar to themselves. This they must bring forth butter, or gathering the grass,' which have acquired in common, at a remote period of today is and to-morrow is cast into the oven;' antiquity, since an entire want of social inter-making bottles of skins or leather to contain the course between the Jews and Nestorians forbids wine which has been trodden in the wine-press by the idea that they have learned it from each other the feet. The vineyards, the threshing-floors, the in modern times."

winnowing of wheat while the chaff is driven before Another singular fact is, that the Nestorians the wind ; the threshing instruments having teeth; have existed, from time immemorial, in distinct the reaping and the shouting of the harvest ; the tribes, nearly or quite corresponding in number with turning the rivers of water to fertilize their fields; those of ancient Israel. The family of the patriarch planting of willows and other trees by the water. claim to be descended from Naphtali ; of this they courses; the ploughs ; the pruning-hooks ; the lodge affirm there was proof, in records lost with a large in the gardens of cucumbers or melons ; their food quantity of manuscripts, in conveying them across and drink, and the time of their meals ; their dothe Zâb, at high water, about sixty years ago; mestic animals, beehives, and sheepfolds; their and it is difficult to conceive of a motive for the dwellings and amusements ; their walking and practice of imposition. Their chiefs, too, retain sleeping upon the house-tops, and many other custhe Hebrew Melek, or Mälek, which designated toms and peculiarities, are equally common to the the royal head of the Israelitish people. At the ancient Israelites and the modern Nestorians.” same time they have little more than the name of The feasts of the Nestorians are worthy of notice. office. The patriarch presides in the judicial as- A servant invites the guests, and often does so a sembly of the elders.

second time when the entertainment is ready. All The dress of the Nestorians accords with that of sit on the carpet or floor, and lean forward, eating, the Jews. A staff may be observed in the hand, in a primitive manner, their plain food. The meswhen the feet are shod with sandals and the loins ter of the feast presides, each of the guests being are girt. The women braid their hair, and in the seated by him according to his rank, the more homountains wear but few ornaments. Others have nourable being called up higher, while the others ear-rings, and wear jewels, chains, and mufflers, or give him place; the social bowl circulates ; all dip spangled ornaments, head-bands, and stomachers; their hands in the dish, and, occasionally, as an act bracelets on their wrists, and rings on their fingers. of special kindness, one dips a sop and gives it to They clothe their household in scarlet or striped another. In joyous seasons there are music and cloth, made of wool, and resembling Scotch tartan, dancing, the tabret and the viol, the harp of David of a beautiful and substantial texture. In seasons and the voice of singing. of mourning they often rend their garments, put Another class of facts adds greatly to the evi. on sackcloth or other coarse attire, sit in the ashes, dence thus adduced in favour of the Nestorians and cast dust upon their heads.

being descended from the lost tribes. It is evident Equally Jewish are their manners and customs. from history, that Jews converted to Christianity When two persons meet, the salutation is offered, added to it a partial observance of the ceremonial “Peace be with you,” and the other replies, “ Your law, and among the people now referred to this company is welcome.” Similar forms, on other practice is still apparent. Acknowledging, as they occasions, are of constant occurrence; as are ardent do, that Christianity reveals the final offering for sin, gesticulations, prostrations, falling on the neck, they continue to present peace-offerings on returning kissing of the lips, cheeks, beard, and hands, and thanks for God's benefits, or with a view to obtain weeping for joy on the return of those long absent. fresh favours, as restoration to health or the reco

Among the Nestorians the stranger readily finds very of afflicted friends. All the circumstances of a home : they promptly bring water for his feet, this rite are of a Jewish character. set food before him, and make every provision for Vous, like those under the Old Testament dishis comfort and repose. He salutes the house on pensation, are common among the Nestorians. entering it, and he departs with a blessing. “ The most intelligent priest,” says Dr. Grant, "in

He will not fail to remark, however, the practices the employ of this mission (Priest Dunka) was deof early antiquity. “We see,” says Dr. Grant, voted to the service of God by his mother, who, “the damsels coming daily to draw water with their like Hannah, asked him of the Lord under a solemn pitchers on their shoulders, gleaning wheat in the vow. The right of redemption is acknowledged, as fields in the time of harvest, or, like Rachel, tend- it was among the Jews. I saw in Tirgâry a priest ing their father's flocks ; while the virtuous woman who had lived for years under the vow of a Nazaseeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with rite ; allowing his hair and beard to grow, eating her hands. She layeth her hand to the spindle, none but the coarsest food, and avoiding all cere

NO. II.

THE IRISH WAKE.

391 monial impurities, and whatever else is forbidden church of Rome appears to be intent. Dr. Grant under this vow. A young Nestorian, who accom- was assured by the Papists in Mesopotamia, that panied me on my late tour, on leaving home, made no effort will be spared with this design ; and it is a vow that, if he were returned in safety, he would said that three bishops and priests were about to give a certain quantity of frankincense for the use proceed to Môsul, to hold a convention, to devise of the church in the city of Ooroomiah, and a pre- means to bring them all over to the Romish faith. sent of corresponding value to another church near As yet they have been aware of the evils that thus his native village. At the same time, the young threaten them; and they have declared, that they man's mother vowed that, if her son were safely will prevent the emissaries of Rome from entering returned, she would sacrifice a sheep, and divide it their mountains. Surely, then, Protestants will among the people of her village. Though special appear to afford their sympathy and their help. reference may have been had to the poor in the oblation, a piece was designed for every house in the village (about eighty in number); while a se

THE IRISH WAKE. cond animal was provided as a feast for their more immediate friends, as in the case of the returning The keener is usually paid for her services—the prodigal. While vows are made on many and va- charge varying from a crown to a pound, according rious occasions, the paying of them is regarded as to the circumstances of the employer. They matter of religious obligation."

live upon the dead, The offering of the first-fruits to the Lord appears By letting out their persons by the hour to be a practice so peculiar, as to be identified at To mimic sorrow when the heart's not sad. once as a remnant of Judaism. The sabbath is It often happens, however, that the family has a regarded among these mountain tribes with a friend or relation, rich in the gift of poetry; and sacredness which Dr. Grant saw among no other who will for love of her kin give the unbought Christians in the East. They have also the prepa- eulogy to the memory of the deceased. The Irish ration before the sabbath, commencing about three language, bold, forcible, and comprehensive, full of hours before sunset on Saturday, when all labour the most striking epithets and idiomatic beauties, is should cease, except that which is necessary for peculiarly adapted to either praise or satire-its spending quietly the following day. Another pre- blessings are singularly touching and expressive ; caution is no less remarkable. The Rev. Eli and its curses wonderfully strong, biting, and bitSmith says, in reference to the Nestorians :"Iter. The rapidity and ease with which both are observed that a door conducted into the sanctuary, uttered, and the epigrammatic force of each conand was about to enter. But the bishop com- cluding stanza of the keen, generally bring tears manded me, in an authoritative tone, to stop. I to the eyes of the most indifferent spectator, or told him that I too was a priest ; but he replied, produce a state of terrible excitement. The drathat that place can only be entered by fasting, and matic effect of the scene is very powerful; the betrayed, by his manner, such an earnestness that darkness of the death-chamber, illumined only I desisted.” A small recess in the wall of their by the candles that glare upon the corpse, the church is called the “Holy of Holies.” Swine's manner of repetition or acknowledgment that runs flesh, and other meats prohibited by the Levitical round when the keener gives out her sentence, the code, are regarded by many of the Nestorians with deep yet suppressed sobs of the nearer relatives, little less abhorrence than they were by the Jews. and the stormy, uncontrollable cry of the widow or A close analogy appears between the fasts and fes bereaved husband, when allusion is made to the tivals—the chief of which is the passover--of both domestic virtues of the deceased-all heighten people. “In one instance,” says a friend of the the effect of the keen ; but in the open air, windwriter," while I was hearing the bishop and priest ing round some mountain pass, when a priest or read the New Testament, the difference between person greatly beloved or respected is carried to the Jewish and Gentile converts was alluded to; the grave, and the keen, swelled by a thonsand and one of the priests remarked to me that the voices, is borne upon the mountain echoes, it is then analogy was quite similar between ourselves. absolutely magnificent". “We,' said he,' were formerly Jews, and hold to

* Mr. Beauford, in a communication to the Royal Academy, our fasts ; but you are Gentile Christians, and do remarks that the modes of lamentation, and the expressions not wish to adopt our customs.'

of grief by sounds, gestures, and ceremonies, admit of an

almost infinite variety. So far as these are common to most We trust that the account now given will induce

people, they have very little to attract attention, but where many to read the valuable volume of Dr. Grant, they constitute a part of national character, they then become to which we have repeatedly referred, and of which

objects of no incurious speculation. “ The Irish," continues

that gentleman,“ have been always remarkable for their funeral we have furnished only a slight sketch. His ob- lamentations, and this peculiarity has been noticed by almost ject, as we have already intimated, is to excite pub. every traveller who visited them;" and he adds, “ It has been lic attention to the importance of missionary labours affirmed of the Irish that to cry was more natural to them

than to any other nation, and at length the Irish cry became among the Nestorians. On their conversion the proverbial.”

The keen is very ancient, and there is a tradition hands over the body, and then tossing them wildly that its origin is supernatural, as it is said to have above her head, she continued her chaunt in a low been first sung by a chorus of invisible spirits in monotonous tone, occasionally breaking into a the air over the grave of one of the early kings of style earnest and animated ; and using every Ireland. The keener having finished a stanza of variety of attitude to give emphasis to her words the keen sets up the wail, in which all the mourners and enforce her description of the virtues and join. Then a momentary silence ensues, when the good qualities of the deceased. Swift and sure keener commences again, and so on, each stanza was his foot, she said, on hill and valley. His ending in a wail. The keen usually consists in an shadow struck terror to his foes ; he could look address to the corpse, asking him, Why did he the sun in the face like an eagle ; the whirl of his die ? &c., or a description of his person, qualifica- weapon through the air was fast and terrible as tions, riches, &c., &c.—it is altogether extempo- the lightning. There had been full and plenty in raneous; and it is sometimes astonishing to observe his father's house, and the traveller never left it with what facility the keener will put the verses empty; but the tyrants had taken all except his together and shape her poetical images to the heart's blood, and that they took at last. The girls case of the person before her. This, of course, of the mountain may cry, by the running streams, can only appear strongly to a person acquainted and weep for the flower of the country-but he with the language, as any merit which these would return no more. He was the last of his compositions possess is much obscured in a trans- father's house; but his people were many both on lation.

hill and valley; and they would revenge his death! The lamentation is not always confined to the Then, kneeling, she clenched her hands together, keener ; any one present who has the gift of poetry and cursed bitter curses against whoever had aimed may put in his or her verse, and this sometimes the fatal bullet-curses which illustrate but too occurs. Thus the night wears away in alternations forcibly the fervour of Irish hatred. May the of lamentation and silence the arrival of each near light fade from your eyes, so that you may never friend or relation of the deceased being, as already see what you love! May the grass grow at your observed, the signal for renewing the keen. But door! May you fade into nothing like snow in we have witnessed the arrivals of persons, who, summer! May your own blood rise against ye, instead of going over and sitting down by the and the sweetest drink ye take be the bitterest corpse (which indicated an intention to join in the cup of sorrow! May ye die without benefit of keen,) fell on their knees immediately on entering, priest or clergy! To each of her curses there was and offered up a silent prayer for the repose of the a deep Amen, which the ban caointhe paused to departed soul. The intervals in the keer are not, hear, and then resumed her maledictions. Akin however, always silent; they are often filled up to this is another keen, of which we have been by small plays on the part of the young, and on

favoured with a translation-a keen, by a poor the part of the aged, or more serious, by tales widow on her two sons, executed for treason on of faerie and phantasie ; nor is it uncommon to the testimony of a perjured informer, whose name have the conversation varied by an argument on it appears was Hugh : translated as literally as the religion, for even in the most remote parts so large idiom of the English language will permit. an assemblage is seldom without a few straggling

My beloved, my faithful boys, Protestants.

When yesterday your case was called, The keener is almost invariably an aged woman; Soon started up Hugh, or, if she be comparatively young, the habits of her How many falsehoods did he not swear, life make her look old. We remember one, and

That would hang men'a hundred and one.

Then shook the court to its foundations, we can never forget a scene in which she played

The earth shook, and the skies, a conspicuous part. A young man had been shot The bolt of heaven fell. by the police as he was resisting a warrant for his It blasted the bloom of the trees, arrest. He was of decent people, and had a fine It stopp'd the song of the birds. wake. The woman, when we entered the apart

Alas! Alas! a thousand times,

That the bolt fell not on Hugh. ment, was sitting on a low stool by the side of the

Evil befal the grand jury, and the judge ; corpse. Her long black uncombed locks were Evil befal the twelve who tried you, hanging about her shoulders ; her eyes were the

That did not look upon your brows, deep set greys peculiar to the country, and which

To see the bloom of youth there,

And give arms to each upon his shoulders, are capable of every expression, from the bitterest

And send you beyond the waters far away; hatred and the direst revenge to the softest and For even then your mother would hope for you. warmest affection. Her large blue cloak was O, that she was not your judge or your jury! confined at her throat, but not so closely as to She would spend days twenty and one conceal the outline of her figure, thin and gaunt,

Without or food, or drink, but exceedingly lithesome. When she arose, as

That she might save her boys.

Hall's Irdand. if by sudden inspiration, first holding out her

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »