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HAVE you not sometimes seen, in a village, Pierré Aoudri and his wife Peronelle striving to go before their neighbours in a procession?" Our grandfathers," say they," rung the bells, before those who elbow us now had so much as a stable of their own."
The vanity of Pierre Aoudri, his wife, and his neighbours, knows no better. They grow warm." The quarrel is an important one, for honour is in question. Proofs must now be found. Some learned churchsinger discovers an old rusty iron pot, marked with an A, the initial of the brazier's name who made the pot. Pierre Aoudri persuades himself that it was the helmet of one of his ancestors. So Cæsar descended from a hero and from the goddess Venus. Such is the history of nations; such is, very nearly, the knowledge of early antiquity.
The learned of Armenia demonstrate that the terrestrial paradise was in their country. Some profound Swedes demonstrate that it was somewhere about Lake Wenner, which exhibits visible remains of it. Some Spaniards, too, demonstrate that it was in Castile. While the Japanese, the Chinese, the Tartars, the Indians, the Africans, and the Americans, are so unfortunate as not even to know that a terrestrial paradise once existed at the sources of the Pison, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates, or, which is the same thing, at the sources of the Guadalquivir, the Guadiana, the Douro, and the Ebro. For of Pison we easily make Phæris, and of Pharis we easily make the Bætis, which is the Guadalquivir. The Gihon, it is plain, is the Guadiana, for they both begin with a G. And the Ebro, which is in Catalonia, is unquestionably the Euphrates, both beginning with an E.
But a Scotchman comes, and in his turn demonstrates that the garden of Eden was at Edinburgh, which has retained its name; and it is not unlikely that, in a few centuries, this opinion will prevail.
The whole globe was once burned, says a man conversant with ancient and modern history; for I have read in a journal, that charcoal quite black has been found a hundred feet deep, among mountains covered with wood. And it is also suspected that there were charcoal-burners in this place.
Phaeton's adventure sufficiently shows that every thing has been boiled, even to the bottom of the sea. The sulphur of Mount Vesuvius incontrovertibly proves that the banks of the Rhine, the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Great Yellow River, are nothing but sulphur, nitre, and oil of guiacum, which only wait for the moment of explosion to reduce the earth to ashes, as it has already once been. The sand on which we walk is an evident proof that the universe has vitrified, and that our globe is nothing but a ball of glass,-like our ideas.
But if fire has changed our globe, water has produced still more wonderful revolutions. For it is plain that the sea, the tides of which, in our latitudes, rise eight feet, has produced the mountains, which are sixteen to seventeen thousand feet high.* This is so true, that some learned men, who never were in Switzerland, found a large vessel there, with all its rigging, petrified, either on Mount St. Gothard or at the bottom of a precipice, it is not positively known which ;+ but it is quite certain that it was there. Therefore, men were originally fishes-Q. E. D.
Čoming down to antiquity less ancient, let us speak of the times when most barbarous nations quitted their own countries to seek others which were not much better. It is true, if there be any thing true in ancient history, that there were Gaulish robbers, who went to plunder Rome in the time of Camillus. Other robbers from Gaul had, it is said, passed through Illyria to sell their services as murderers to other murderers in the neighbourhood of Thrace: they bartered their blood for bread, and at length settled in Galatia.
* See the articles SEA and MOUNTAIN.
+ See Telliamed, and all the systems built upon this fine discovery.
But who were these Gauls? Were they natives of Berry and Anjou? They were, doubtless, some of those Gauls, whom the Romans called Cisalpine, and whom we call Transalpine, famishing mountaineers, inhabiting the Alps and the Appennines. The Gauls of the Seine and the Marne did not then know that Rome existed; and could not resolve to cross Mount Cenis, as was afterwards done by Hannibal, to steal the wardrobes of the Roman senators, whose only moveables were, a gown of bad grey cloth, decorated with a band, the colour of bull's blood; two small knobs of ivory, or rather dog's bone, fixed to the arms of a wooden chair; and a piece of rancid bacon in their kitchens.
The Gauls, who were dying of hunger, finding nothing to eat at Rome, went to try their fortune further off; as the Romans afterwards did, when they ravaged so many countries; and as the people of the North did at a later period, when they destroyed the Roman empire.
And whence have we received our vague information respecting these emigrations? From some lines written at a venture by the Romans; for, as for the Celts, Welches, or Gauls, whom some would have us believe to have been eloquent, neither they nor their bards* could at that time read or write.
But, to infer from these that the Gauls or Celts, afterwards conquered by a few of Caesar's legions, then by a horde of Goths, then by a horde of Burgundians, and lastly by a horde of Sicambri, under one Clodovic, had before subjugated the whole earth, and given their names and their laws to Asia, seems to me to be inferring a great deal. The thing, however, is not mathematically impossible; and if it be demonstrated, I assent: it would be very uncivil to refuse to the Welches what is granted to the Tartars.
Bards.-Bardi-recitantes carmina Bardi. They were the poets, the philosophers of the Welches.
On the Antiquity of Usages.
Who have been the greatest fools, and who the most ancient fools? Ourselves? or the Egyptians? or the Syrians? or some other people? What was signified by our misletoe? Who first consecrated a cat?-It must have been he who was the most troubled with mice. In what nation did they first dance under boughs of trees in honour of the gods? Who first made processions, and placed fools, with caps and bells, at the head of them? Who first carried a Priapus through the streets, and fixed one like a knocker at the door? What Arab first took it into his head to hang his wife's drawers out at the window, the day after his marriage?
All nations have formerly danced at the time of the new moon. Did they then give one another the word? No: no more than they did to rejoice at the birth of a son, or to mourn, or seem to mourn, at the death of a father. Every one is very glad to see the moon again, after having lost her for several nights. There are a hundred usages so natural to all men, that it cannot be said the Biscayans taught them to the Phrygians, or the Phrygians to the Biscayans.
Fire and water have been used in temples. This custom needed no introduction. A priest did not choose always to have his hands dirty. Fire was necessary to cook the immolated carcases, and to burn slips of resinous wood and spices, in order to combat the odour of the sacerdotal shambles.
But the mysterious ceremonies which it is so difficult to understand, the usages which nature does not teach, -in what place, when, where, how, why, were they invented? Who communicated them to other nations? It is not likely that it should, at the same time, have entered the head of an Arab and of an Egyptian, to cut off one end of his son's prepuce; nor that a Chinese and a Persian should, both at once, have resolved to castrate little boys.
It can never have been that two fathers, in different countries, have, at the same moment, formed the idea of cutting their son's throats to please God. Some nations must have communicated to others their follies, serious, ridiculous, or barbarous.
In this antiquity men love to search, to discover, if possible, the first madman and the first scoundrel who perverted human nature.
But, how are we to know whether Jehu, in Phoenicia, by immolating his son, was the inventor of sacrifices of human blood?
We seek to know the origin of ancient feasts. The most ancient and the finest is that of the Emperors of China tilling and sowing the ground, together with their first mandarins. The second is, that of the Thesmophoria at Athens. To celebrate at once agriculture and justice, to show men how necessary they both are, to unite the curb of law with the art which is th the source of all wealth,-nothing is more wise, more 4 pious, or more useful.
How can we be assured that Lycaon was the first who ate human flesh, when we do not know who first began to eat fowls ?
There are old allegorical feasts to be found everywhere, as those of the return of the seasons. It was not necessary that one nation should come from afar off, to teach another that marks of joy and friendship for one's neighbours may be given on the first day of the year. This custom has been that of every people, The Saturnalia of the Romans are better known than those of the Allobroges and the Picts; because there are many Roman writings and monuments remaining, but there are none of the other nations of western Europe.
The feast of Saturn was the feast of Time. He had four wings; Time flies quickly. His two faces evidently signified the concluded and the commencing year. The Greeks said that he had devoured his father, and that he devoured his children. No allegory is more reasonable: Time devours the past and the present, and will devour the future.