Page images
PDF
EPUB

engines, but who wait for rain to relieve them from the necessity of labouring. Having no faith in good fortune, my argument has ever been in favour of earnest manful working; and if the aim be honest, if the end be the cultivation of thinking habits among the toilers, the result cannot be otherwise than good. I ask you to aid all plans which have this end in view. Do something towards rendering the return of the agonies of this winter impossible; and depend upon it, if you work in love and earnestness, at your latest hour it will prove a consolation to you to know that you have reduced in some degree the pressure of human misery, and have assisted in bringing about that better condition of things which all are sighing for, but which can only come as the consequence of wise obedience to the Eternal Laws.

a

SOUTH PLACE CHAPEL SUNDAY EVENING LECTURES.

BY P. W. PERFITT, Ph. D.
THE LIFE AND CAREER OF SOLOMON.

(Continued from p. 192.) Next to the temple-building, the main interest in Solomon's life passes on to his commerce, and the marvels connected with the visit of the Queen of Sheba. It appears from the history that he had penetration enough to perceive the advantago of trade. It has been suggested that his mind was turned to this through the exhaustion of the ample means left him by David, although how the building of such a comparatively small temple could have crippled his resources, it is hard to understand. If it were said that his commercial speculations were commenced through the influence of his Egyptian wife-through the stimulant the information furnished by her attendants had given him, it would probably be nearer the truth. There is cvery reason for believing the Egyptians to have been far more deeply versed in naval matters than was generally believed a few years ago. Evidently they were pretty well acquainted with the products of Africa and India ; and, although much of thcir information may have been derived from travellers, much must have been gathered by themselves. But, whether sailors or otherwise, it is likely that the Egyptians who attended the wife of Solomon gave him the information which filled his mind with those ideas that prompted him to send forth ships to make discoveries and profit.

Whatever was the causc, it is clear that he called in the assistance of the Phænicians, who at that time carried on a large trade on the coast of the Mediterranean. It appears that Solomon had conceived the idea of trading down the Red Sea, and out by its mouth, either to Africa on the one hand, or Arabia and India on the other. This would not interfere with the Phænician trade, but would rather prove advantageous as opening new routes, and they were always willing to assist in such measures. The men came to Ezion-geber, on the Coast of the Red Sea, wbere, after much delay, a fleet was fitted out to commence its commerce with the world. Whether Solomon was right, religiously, in this, has been sorely debated, but without any practical result. Why he should not have been so, we cannot perceive; although his system, as afterwards developed, was undoubtedly pernicious. There are no reasons for supposing commerce to be a crime, or that protection' should be a part of the Apostles' creed. But the theory is that “God intended the “Hebrews to continue as a distinct people, and to grow great in their confidence “ in Him as the Only God; He designed that they should not communicate with “other nations, until the proper time arrived when he would lead them forth to “have dominion.” And it seems to be the theory that " Solomon, by this “ trading, by sending out ships, endangered the security of the Hebrew nation, " and rendered it likely the people would fall into the heathen practices with which,

through this travel, they were sure to become acquainted." It may be so; and,

[ocr errors]

yet, does it not seem more reasonable to believe that, if the Jews had earlier cultivated a knowledge of the world, they would never have degenerated into the bigotry and pride which marked their later career. But, so far as the theory itself is concerned, I cast it aside as ridiculously, at variance with all the

ways

of God to man.

IIe bids us go out and learn, and is never in any fear of our learning too much. If we stay ever at home, we are cramped, and rendered unfit for human communion, precisely as the Hebrews were.

But where did the fleet sail to? To Ophir, is the answer; but, unfortunately, this only answers the question, without informing us of what we wished to know. For now we must ask, And where was Ophir ? The geographical position of this place is not stated in any of the old books, and hence we are compelled to examine the cargo to learn from whence it was brought. To name the articles is to show whence they came: We find that they brought "gold in abundance," with “ silver and ivory, wood of the almug tree, peacocks, and asses;” precious stones also formed part of the lading, and doubtless other valuable matters. It is said that the weight of gold brought in one year to Solomon by his fleet was 666 talents -equal to about £4,000,000, and if to this we are to add other riches, then, undoubtedly they were richer fleets than ever before or since were in the Indian waters. For, as the cargo shows, the fleet must have gone away upon the Indian coast, and probably as far as China. It appears the first fleet was away between two and three yea:s, but after that he seems to have had a yearly fleet sent to Ophir, and one triennially sent to Tarshish. . And the various articles he obtained from the new coasts, he kept for his own use, or sold to Syrian merchants, so that young Assyria was doubtless decorated with gems, and various articles of show, obtained by Solomon upon the Indian and other coasts. That is, if we presuppose all these narratives to be true in substance ; which is, of course, a large concession, resting upon air and nothing better.

The visit of the Queen of Sheba forms an episode in this history which is worthy of close attention. Not because of its probable truth, for it appears to me to be utterly unbelievable as it is narrated, although there may be some small measure of fact underlying it. The narrative sets forth that, " when the Queen of “Sheba lieard of the fame of Solomon, concerning the name of the Lord, she came “to prove him with hard questions."* These hard questions were riddles however, the silly ones now repeated at little parties, but such as generally involved some large truth": though the specimens furnished by the Eastern nations of those proposed to Solomon upon this occasion are not of the highest order.

Here, however, it is necessary to observe that the Arabis and the Abyssinians have a number of curious stories about this visit and its marvels, many of which are to be found in notes to Sale’s Koran. Dr. Kitto has collected them, and, as one part of his narrative reproduces the riddle portion, I shall here introduce it. It must, however, be remembered that, according to the Arab version, this Queen did not visit Solomon until she bad first sent messengers and tests, in order to discover if he were so very wise.

; not,

a

[ocr errors][merged small]

* 1 Kings x, 1.

LONDON: PUBLISHED BY M. PATTIE, 81, PATERNOSTER Row, AND GEORGE

GLAISHER, 470, New OXFORD Street,
Printed by W. Ostell, Hart-street, Bloomsbury,

[blocks in formation]

THE MORALITY OF OFFICIAL LIFE-FORGERY. It is now known to be utterly impossible for a people to wield anthority in conducting the affairs of the world unless through maintaining in action those moral principles which themselves bave publicly approved, and which are assented to by the most civilised nations. Retrogression in morals is quite as destructive as retrogression in physical science. We cannot abandon vaccination, neither can we give up our sanitary improvements, without multiplying the weight of those calamities against which they were erected as bulwarks. It is impossible to go back so as to retrograde no further than to the position we occupied before taking our retrogressive step. If we retire at all, it must be to sink to a much lower level than that from which we started. Such is the settled law of nature, which operates, in spirit, in the world of human action, quite as forcibly as, in a more tangible form, upon the coastline of our island, where the big wave is thrown back beyond the line from whence it leapt forward to assault our chalky cliffs. We have abandoned the slave trade and the slave system, and can no more return with safety to them than we could

go back to the mud huts and Church authority of the Middle Ages. If a man were to rise up in Parliament to propose the restoration of these infamous systems, he would be esteemed as little better than a lunatic, utterly unfit to represent an English borough, and would hardly meet a wel. come even in aristocratic circles, where, it must be confessed, there is no great rage in favour of freedom.

It will be conceded by all parties in the nation that the same law holds good in relation to certain forms and practices of our government. Nobody believes it possible for us to return with safety to the form of despotism which flourished in the Tudor Age; having once fought against, conquered, and abandoned it, we cannot return to its policy without involving the certainty of national ruin. Why, then, should it be presumed that we can safely revert to that system of official lying, of Ministerial forgeries, and Cabinet frauds, which disgraced England in the days of Queen Anne, through which power was given into the hands of Harley and his associates ? The present Ministry seems to be labouring under the impression that such a course is alike safe and proper ; or, at least, Lord Palmerston, with others, who have been long associated with him, think so; and it is for this English nation to decide whether VOL. V. NEW SERIES. VOL. I.

P

such a system is to be pursued and defended. The principle of Cabinet forgery has been acted upon, and in all its baseness vindicated. We say baseness, for if there be any one thing more infamous than another, it is for such men to vindicate upon the floor of the House, the wickedness of deliberately, and upon system, deceiving Parliament and the nation, as they recently did, in relation to the papers laid before them regarding the Affghan war"; a wickedness which, in the case alluded to, hurried us into the approval of an unjust invasion, and covered the name of an honourable man with infamy.

Every reading man who knows anything of the history of that mourful struggle, is aware of the injustice and treachery which marked the whole course of our proceedings; of the terrible trials through which, in marches and battles, our soldiers passed; of the awful massacre in the Cabul Pass, when only a solitary horseman escaped to Jellalabad to carry the story of how 4,500 soldiers, and 12,000 camp followers, had been slain by cold, hunger, and bullets; and of the utter incompetency, and, in some instances, cowardice of the men who had decided upon commencing the war. The Affghan invasion rests upon Lord Auckland and the greedy band who overshot their mark, for once, in preaching the doctrine of danger from invasion. There is a party among us which is always ready to declare that danger threatens. They do not wish for war, but desire to keep the nation stimulated with the idea of its being a duty to maintain a war expenditure. When war actually threatens, they are especially desirous of preventing an outbreak ; but immediately the danger has passed away, they fall back into the old track, and preach as loudly as ever about the weakness of our defences aud the coming of an enemy. The results are that an immense expenditure is kept up, and these harpies are fed and clothed to their hearts' content. The poor are fleeced, foreigo nations are calumniated, and a spirit of bitterness is kept alive. Yet, what matters, while the scions of our noble houses can strut in their feathers, and the poverty-stricken members can be so easily fed at the public expense !

The cry of invasion was raised in 1836 and 1837, and then the wild statement was ventured in our newspapers that Russia would invade India " through the Affghan country." There was no more danger of this than of an invasion of the moon; but, as a rule, no invasion panic succeeds unless it involve a series of impossibilities. The theory had gone abroad, and Lord Auckland, as Governor-General of India, " became convinced of its truth." So much the worse for India and England, that men so easily duped by idle fancies were in possession of the substance of power. At that time a clever and brave man, Dost Mahomed, held the throne in Cabul, from which, ten years before, Shah Soojah had been expelled. The latter was our pensioner and lacquey--incompetent and fraudulent, his people hated him, and without our aid he was powerless. It was hinted by the immoral class of politicians, those who view the world as a devil's world, that, if he were restored to Cabul by our interference, he would become our slave; and, consequently, if the Russians attempted anything in that direction, we should always have a friend at the outpost. But, it was asked, “May it not be that he who is now “ there—Dost Mahomed—is quite as much our friend as Shah Soojah could “ be, even if we re-established him ? And if so, then will it not be better "to cultivate his friendship than it will be to force a people to receive back a

man whom they hate, and thus alienate them from our cause, rather than “wiu them to our side ?” In order to discover the truth, Alexander Burnes, an experienced Indian officer, was commissioned to visit Cabul and confer with its ruler. He did so, and he found him to be a most able prince, who

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

a

desired above all things to cultivate the good will of the English, " because,' as he said, “ they are famous for their bravery and their respect for treaties.” Thus all we wanted we could have without cost, and if Russia did advance, of which there was no danger, then in Dost Mahomed we had an ally who, as a man of action, was infinitely superior to Shah Soojah.

Lord Palmerston has stated to the House that Dost Mahomed was treacherous, was a double dealer, and not to be believed ; but his memory fails him, or he would remember that it was not resolved to abandon him upon any such ground. And, moreover, the very acts which his Lordship cited against him, were forced upon him through our injustice. The facts are, that when, in 1837, Lord Auckland, accompanied by McNaghten, Torrens, and Calvin, was enjoying the autumn within the cool district above a thousand miles from Calcutta and his Council, they debated which of three courses to pursue. The first was “to do nothing," the second, "to support Dost Mahomed," and the third was “to re-establish Shah Soojah." At that time Lord Auckland was aware of the fact that the Persians were attacking Herat, and that the ruler of Cabul, wishing to avoid a collision with Persia, was desirous of “ being upon the most friendly terms with England ;" he knew him to have " dealt in the most straightforward manner" with Burnes, and was, through the information he had received, placed in a position to do ample justice to the whole case. He did not, however, decide it upon its merits, neither did he consider what was best for the Affghans; but, deluded by the theory that English interests in India would be strengthened if every native power were weakened, he resolved upon setting up Shah Soojah as the Company's puppet. He broke with the ruler of Cabul, not because of believing him to be in any sense unfaithful, but through believing Shah Soojah would be less competent and more flexible. The whole war lay in that conclusion ; for immediately it was arrived at a flaming proclamation was sent forth by Lord Auckland, in. which the vilest falsehoods against Dost Mahomed were coupled with the statement that Shah Soojah was popular in Affghanistan, which was known to be as near the truth as it would be to say Francis II. is popular in Naples. The Governor-General of India descended to the baseness of knowingly publishing a tissue of falsehoods against the man he desired to ruin.

Thus the war, whose first germ lay in misrepresentations about Russian invasion, got up for selfish purposes, was resolved upon as a measure of policy. His Lordship had no personal hate of Dost Mahomed, but fought against him in order to carry out a plan of his own contriving.

It was, as the Auckland party declared," a great game;" and unhappily our army and our treasure had to pay. The Indian Company would not have done anything so foolish. Bad as it was, it shrunk from such treachery and unprovoked

, assaults; so that, from the first, it was pronounced to be a war determined upon in England, which, as a Company, they could not approve. Over the terrible marches and disasters all our people wept; but they knew not that all those agonies were simply a just retribution for the treacherous conduct we had initiated. Eventually the reverses were compensated for by brilliant victories. Sale, Nott, and Pollock, all vindicated our national heroism ; but, even had they done an hundred times more, they could not recover the dead, or wipe off the stain attached by the war itself to the national honour.

In England there were a few men who knew the facts, and, consequently, Parliamentary demands were made for evidence to justify the invasion. The Government of the day needed to prove that Dost Mahomed was a traitor, à deceiver; for it dared not openly ayow the immoral principles, and the defiance

« EelmineJätka »