Page images

they are often referred to in the Sy- It may be doubted, whether there rian writings, the translation itself exists in the world another document has been lost. It has been said that of equal antiquity, which is, at the they were seen about forty years ago. same time, of so great length, and But Adrian Moens, a governor of in such faultless preservation, as Cochin in 1770, who published some the Christian tablets in Malayala. account of the Jews of Malabar, in- The Jews of Cochin indeed contest forms us, that he used every means the palm of antiquity and of preserin his power, for many years, to ob- vation; for they also produce tablets tain a sight of the christian plates; containing privileges granted at a and was at length satisfied that they remote period. The Jewish tablets were irrecoverably lost, or rather, he are two in number. The Jews were adds, that they never existeil. long in possession of a third plate,

The learned world will be grati. which now appears to be the profied to know, that all these antient perty of the Christians. The Jews tablets, not only the three last-men- commonly shew an ancient Hebrew tioned exhibited in 1599, but those translation of their plates. Dr. Leyalso (as is supposed) delivered by the den made another translation, which Syrian archbishop to the Portuguese differs from the Hebrew; and there on their arrival in India, which are has lately been found among the old the most antient, have been recently Dutch records at Cochin a third recovered by the exertions of lieute- translation, which approaches nearer nant-colonel Macaulay, the British to Dr. Leyden's than to the Hebrew. resident in Travancore; and are now In a Hebrew manuscript, which will officially deposited with that officer. shortly be published, it is recorded

The plates are six in number. that a grant on brass tables was given They are composed of a mixed me. to the Jews in A. D. 379. tal. The engraved page on the As it is apprehended that there largest plate is thirteen inches long, may be some difficulty in obtaining. by four broad. They are closely an accurate translatiou of all these written, four of them on both sides tablets, it is proposed to print a copof the plate, making in all eleven per-plate fac-simile of the whole, pages. On the plate reputed to be and to transmit copies to the learned the oldest, there is writing perspicu- societies in Hindostan and in Euously engraved, in nail-headed or rope.

rope. For this purpose an engraver triangular-headed letters, resembling is now employed on the plates, at the Persepolitan or Babylonish. On Cochin. The Christian and Jewish the same plale there is writing in an- plates together will make fourteen other character, which bas no affinity pages. · A copy has been sent, in with any existing character in Hin- the first iustance, to the Pundits of dostan. The grant of this plate ap- the Shanscrit college at Trichiur, by pears to be witnessed by four Jews direction of the rajal of Cochin. of raok; whose names are distinctly When the wbite Jews of Cochin written in an old Hebrew character, were questioned respecting the anresembling the alphabet called the cient copies of their scriptures, they Palmyrene; and to each name is answered that it had been usual to prefixed the title of " Magen,” that bury the old copy read in the synais, Chief.

gogue, when decayed by time and

[ocr errors]


use. This, however, does not ap- and China; whose respective places pear to have been the practice of of residence may be easily discoihe black Jews, who were the first vered. The places which have been settlers; for in the record chests of already ascertained are sixty-five in their synagogues, old copies of the number. These tribes have in gelaw have been discovered, some of neral (particularly those who have which are complete, and for the passed the Indus) assimilated much most part legible. Neither could to the customs of the countries in the Jews of Cochin produce any his- which they live; and may sometimes torical manuscripts of consequence; be seen by a traveller, without being their vicinity to the sea-coast having recognized as Jews. The very imexposed their community to frequent perfect resemblance of their counterevolutions. But many old writings nance to the Jews of Europe, indihave been found at the remote syda-cates that they have been detached gogues of their ancient enemies the from the parent stock in Judea many black Jews, situated at Tritoor, Pa- ages before the race of Jews in the roor, Chienotta, and Maleh ; the last west. A fact corroborative of this of which places is near the moun- is, that certain of these tribes do not tains. Amongst tbese writings are call themselves Jews, but Beni-Israel, some of great length in Rabbinical or Israelites. For the name “ Jew" Hebrew, but in so ancient and un- is derived from Judab; whereas the common a character, that it will re- ancestors of those tribes were not quire much time and labour to ascer- subject to the king of Judah, but to tain their contents. There is one the kings of Israel. They have, in manuscript written in a character re- most places, the book of the Law, sembling the Palmyrene Hebrew on the book of Job, and the Psalms; the brass plates. But it is in a de. but know little of the Prophets

. cayed state, and the leaves adhere Some of them have even lost the so closely to each other, that it is book of the Law, and only know doubtful whether it will be possible that they are Israelites from tradi. to unfold them and preserve the tion, and from their observance of reading.

peculiar rites. "It was sufficiently established by A copy of the Scriptures belong. the concurring evidence of written ing to Jews of the East, who might record and Jewish tradition, that the be supposed to have no communicablack Jews had colonized on the tion with Jews of the West, has been coasts India long before the long a desideratum with the Hebrew Christian æra. There was another scholar. In the coffer of a synacolony at Rajapoor in the Maliralta gogue of the black Jews in the inteterritory, which is not yet extinct, rior of Malayala, there has been and there are at this time Jewish found an old copy of the Law, writsoldiers and Jewish native officers in ten on a roll of leather. The skips the British service. That these are are sewed together, and the roll is a remuant of the Jews of the first about fifty feet in length. It is in dispersion at the Babylonish capti- some places worn out, and the holes vity, seems highly probable. There have been patched with pieces of are many other tribes settled in Per- parchment. - Some of the Jews supsia, Arabia, Northern India, Tartary, pose that this roll came originally from Senna, in Arabia ; others have never, according to tradition, been heard that it was brought from Cash- subjugated by invaders froin the mir. The Cabul Jews, who travel north of Hindostan. annually into the interior of China, The design of investigating the say, that in some synagogues the law bistory and literature of the Chrisis still found written on a roll of tians and Jews in the East, was subleather; not on vellum, but on a soft mitted to the marquis Wellesley, flexible leather, made of goats' skins, before he left India. His lordship, and dyed red; which agrees with judging it to be of importance that the description of the roll above the actual relation of the Syrian mentioned.


Christians to our own church should Such of the Syriac and Jewish be ascertained, and auguring somemanuscripts as may, on examination, thing interesting to the republic of be found to be valuable, will be de- letters from the investigation of the posited in the public libraries of the Syriac and Jewish antiquities, was British universities.

pleased to give orders, that publie The princes of the Deccan have aid should be afforded to Dr. Bumanifested a liberal regard for the chanan in the prosecution of his inextension of Shanscrit learning, by quiries, wherever it might be practifurnishing lists of the books in their cable. To the operation of these temples for the college of Fort Wil orders it is owing, that the proposed liam, in Bengal. His excellency the researches, of which some slight norajah of Tanjore was pleased to tices are given above, have not been set the example, by giving the volu- made in vain. minous catalogue of the ancient Cochin, Jan. 1807. library of the kings of Tanjore. And his example has been followed by the ranny of Ranınad, patroness Antiquities at Soddington, Worcesof the celebrated temple of Ramis- tershire. By Mr. J. Milner. seram, near Adan's Bridge ; by his highness the rajah of Travancore, Soddington, in the parish of who has given lists of all the books Mamble, and the county of Worcesin the Travancore country; and by ter, at a small distance from the road the rajah of Cochin, patron of the belween Bewdley and Tenbury, is ancient Shanscrit college, at the the ancient seat of the Baronet fatemple of Teichiur. It is under- mily of the name of Blount; though stood that a copy of any book in at present they reside at a new seat, these catalogues will be given when erected within these thirty years, at required. The brahmins of Travan- Mawley, near Cleobury. The mancore consider that their manuscripts sion at Soddington has been built at are likely to have as just a claim to different times; but the most anhigh antiquity, or at least to accurate cient part of it seems to be about preservation, as those in the temples four hundred years old. The workin the North; and for the same rea- men at present are taking down the son that the Christian and Jewish whole of it, which has given me an records bave been so well preserved; opportunity of making the following which is, that the country of Tra- discoveries. vancore, defended by mountains, bas In digging beneath the oldest part Vol. XLIX.

3 M


of the house, at the depth of about an oak quite decayed with age, bethree feet, the workmen struck upon sides other trees, stood, at the depth an antiept focus, formed of thin of about two feet from the so:l, the bricks, which had each of them a workmen found a complete bricksemicircular termination, and had kiln, consisting, by computation, of eviilently been framed m a similar 10,000 bricks, the greater part of mould. Iu digging at a small dis- which were well-burut, the rest being tance from the focus, five feet below only ball-burnt. The kiln was not the level of it, a pavement, laid with made as kilus are usually made at large, thin bricks, such as the Romans present; nor were the bricks of the are known to have used, and as are same size with our bricks, being commonly to be met with at Verulain larger and thinner. and other Roman cities, was disco- These being the facts, it remains vered. In levelling the ground near for learned and ingeniouis antiquaries t'ie house of Soddington, the labour- to determine to which race of the ers have dug up a vast number of successive inhabitants of this island curious tubes, which formed an an- these articles originally belonged, and tient aqueduct. The existence of what is the date of them? It is plain this was previously unknown to the they belonged to a people who were inhabitants of the place. The tubes in the habit of building with brick, are formed of the finest clay, and es- and of making their bricks larger and ceedingly well baked, being of a grey thinner than we do at the present colour on the outside, and, when day. It is equally plain, that the broken, of a dark colour in the in- people in question inust have been a terior. They appeared to be exactly civilized and, in some degree, a re. of the same composition with several fined people, from the discovery of Roman urus which I have seen. the aqueduct, and the perfection of Each tube is about two feet long, and the tubes of which it consisted. I four inches in the total diameter; think also it may be asserted that the the aperture for conveying the water brick-kiln was made just before some being about an inch and three quare great change in the state of the coupe ters in diameter. They have hollow try took place, as the workmen seen tenons at one end, and mortices at not to have had time to finish the the other, so as to tit together very burning of their bricks. It likewise exacily, ard to appear air-tight with appears to me that this change must out the use of mortar. They were have been attended with dreadful poJaid in the direction of a spring which litical consequences, and the desolaHows at the distance of a mile and a lion, if not the destruction, of the half from Soddington, at the top of former inhabitants. This I gather an eminence still higher than the site from so large a number of brichs, the of the mansion, though the latter is greater part of them fit for use, being very high ground, and they have left unemployed in an open field, til, been traced a great part of the way by degrees, a bed of earth was to it.

formed over them, upon which an But the most curious discovery of oak tree, now rolten with age, acthe whole occurred in a field within tually grew. a quarter of a mile of the old house; My conjectures are, that Soddingwhere, in levelling a hillock, on which ton was a Roman fort; the situation


of it being adapted to this purpose, gory, bishop of Neocesarea, in Ponand the ground on the sides of it still tus, instituted, that festival days earing certain vestiges of a Roman should be celebrated to them who ntreochment; that the brick-kiln had contended for the faith, that is, was built for the use of the Romans, to the martyrs.” And Nysen adds or for their civilized British subjects, this reason for the institution, viz. about the year 418, in which year, “When he (Gregory) observed that according to the Saxon chronicle, the the simple and unskil in multitudes, Romans left this island, carrying with by reason of corporeal delights, rehem all their treasures; that, in con- nained in the error of idols, that the sequence of this event, and of the principal thing might be corrected confusion which followed it, from among them, namely, that instead of the inroads of the Piets, Scotch, and this vain worship, ihey might turn Saxons, the Britons had no leisure their eyes upon God, be permitted, nor iuclination to raise new buildings; that, at the memories of the holy until, at length, they were driven out martyrs, they might make merry, of the open country, and confined to delight then-elves, and be dissolved the mountains of Wales and Coru- into joy. The heathens were dewall; that the Saxons were too much lighted with the festivals of their employed, and too little civilized for gods, and unwilling to part with almost a century after their arrival those derights; and therefore Grehere, to think of new buildings; and gory, to facilitate their conversion, that, when they did begin to build, instituted annual festivals to saints they, as was the practice with their and martyrs.” Hence it came to successors the Normans, used stones, pass, that for exploring the festivals or even flints, in preference to bricks; of the heatliens, the principal festivals that, during all this time, the dust and of the christians succeeded in their earth accumulateil

, as I said before, room; as the keeping of Christmas upon the heap of bricks, till they with ivy, and feasting in the room of completely covered it. With respect the Bacchanalia and Saturnalia: the to the focus, floors, &c. at the house celebrating of May-day with flowers, which I suppose belonged to the in the room of the Floralia ; and the Roman fort, these being in situations keeping of festivals to the Virgin where no cellars were dug, they must Mary, John the Baptist, and divers have escaped the mattocks of the of the apostles, in the room of the workmen, when they were dieging solemnities used at the entrance of the foundations for the old house, the sun into the signs of the zodiac How demolished.

in the old Julian calendar, “ The church (says an ingenious writer)

hath only christened these heathen fesOrigin of placing Holly in Churches tivals with the name of some saints ; at Christmas.

and as December was a dead time

of the year, when the heathens bad The great Newton, in bis disser- their Saturnalia, and gave loose to tations on prophecy, says, “ Gregory recreation, the christians honoured Nyssen tells us, that after the perse- the season with lle name of their cution of the emperor Decius, Gre. Saviour.”

3 M 2


« EelmineJätka »