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from the prow of his ship poured libations into their streams from golden goblets. The Jews held in the highest veneration Siloa's brook, that flowed “ by the Oracle of God.” Varro invokes water as a deity'. The Adonis was esteemed sacred by a great portion of western Asia; the Peneus, as we are informed by Maximus Tyrius, was adored for its beauty; the Danube for its magnitude; and the Achelous for its solemn traditions. The Phrygians worshipped the Marsyas and Meander ; the Trojans the Scamander?; the Druids the Dees; the Massagetæ paid divine honours to the Palus Mæotis and the Tanais; and water is still worshipped by the natives of Multanistan. The ancients attributed many fictitious properties to rivers. Some were said to make thieves blind; to injure the memory; to cause fruitfulness; and to cure barrenness. Josephus even mentions a 'river in Palestine, which, in compliment to the sabbath, rested every seventh day! Rivers are held sacred too in China; and we find the Emperor in one of the Peking gazettes feeling “ grateful to the God of the Yellow River," because no accident had occurred in consequence of its having overflowed its banks.

The ancient Persians never polluted water; considering those, who accustomed themselves to such indecorum, guilty of sacrilege ®; and they enacted a law, that



· Etiam precor, Lympha, quoniam sine aqua omnis misera est Agricultura. ? Statius, Theb. iv.- Homer. Il. xxi.

Procopius, De Goth. lib. ii. * Pallas. South. Prov. Russ. 254,

June 20th, 1817. 6 Herod. Clio. cxxxyii.


whoever conveyed the water of a spring to any spot, which had not been watered before, should, beside other immunities, enjoy the benefit of that water even to the end of the fifth generation 1. The custom is still observed; and the day, on which it is first introduced, is a day of rejoicing among the peasantry. A fortunate hour is appointed for its being let loose; shouts of joy are heard, and exclamations of “may prosperity attend ito," echo on every side. In ancient times their kings were prevented by the laws from drinking any waters but those of the Choaspes, which were carried in vessels of silver wheresoever they went. Elian relates, that Xerxes was once nearly perishing with thirst for the want of it. When the Persians conquered a city, or summoned it to surrender, they required the king or chief magistrate to send earth and water as tokens of submission.

The water of Bala Lake, in Merionethshire, is so pure, that chemists find a difficulty in detecting any earthy matter in it. Its flavour is exceedingly grateful. At the foot of Mount St. Julian, near Pisa, too, is a spring of such excellence, that in the earlier part of the last century it was sold in Florence dearer than common wine 3. The Grand Duke drank no other beverage; and upon dropping a little rose-water into a glass of it, it became as white as milk. The water of the Clitumnus, also, was so grateful to the palate, that the poets fabled 4 it to have


Montesquieu, b. xviii. c. 7.-Polyb. x. c. 25.
9 Vid. Morier, 2d Journ. p. 164.

Misson. v. ii. p. 297.
* Vossius, de Orig. et Progr. Idolatriæ, lib. ii. c. 79.

6 The Ganges ;-Warren Hastings; the Gentoos.

the power of causing bulls to be of a white colour. The water of the Straits of Magellan 1 is rendered delicious by touching the roots of the canella winterana; and that of the Gamboa by flowing among the roots of sarsaparilla.


So general is the veneration for rivers, that there is scarcely one in any part of Europe, that is not observed with respect by the natives of the districts, through which it flows. Of the affection and veneration of the Indians for the Ganges“, Stavorinus affords several curious instances: an instance, too, has recently occurred. When Nuncomar, first minister to Mier Jaffiere, was executed during the administration of Warren Hastings, the multitude, that witnessed his death, considering it an illegal and barbarous act, ran to the Ganges to wash away the pollution of having witnessed it. The Gentoos believe, that this river will remain to eternity; but that the earth will be destroyed by the Supreme Power; who, in the days of perfect felicity, will recline upon the leaf of a pisang, rapt in ecstatic meditation, with two betel plants, floating on its bosom.

Memnon offered up his hair to the Nile; the ancient Assyrians cut off theirs, and threw it into the lake, near Argyrium, as an offering to Hercules ; and Peleus vowed that he would perform the same ceremony, in the event

· Humboldt, Pers. Nar. vol. iii. 450.

· For the fables of a hero, said to be the son of this river, vid. Philost. in vit. Apol. iii. c. 21.

of his son's returning from Troy covered with victory'. The Cingalese worship the Mahavillaganga; the Banians venerate the Tappi; and such a sacred character is attached to the Tumrabunni, that innumerable devotees annually resort to the grand cataract of Puppanassum, among

the mountains of Tinnivelly; and return to many of the most distant parts of India, laden with the waters of that holy stream. The Hurdwar, too, is esteemed holy over a large portion of India; and more than 15,000 persons are annually employed to carry it in flasks, tied to the end of bamboos, and slung over their shoulders, to princes and families of distinction, who use it at feasts”; but chiefly on religious occasions.

It was Bramah}, who first taught the Indians to worship rivers. Their affection for the Ganges is such, even at the present day, that many hundreds of them have been known to go down, at certain periods of the year, and devote themselves to the shark, the tiger, and the alligator; thinking themselves happy, and their friends fortunate, thus to be permitted to die in sight of that sacred stream. They believe it to issue from the foot of a goddess; and that the deities themselves take delight

· Pausanias represents the son of Mnesimachus as having cut off his hair, and sacrificed it to a river god. This custom is still observed at Benares, and other parts of the East. Wordsworth alludes to it:

“ Take, running river, take these locks of mine;"
Thus would the votary say ;

6 this severed hair,
My vow fulfilling, do I here present,
Thankful for my beloved child's return.”

Excursion, p. 174, 5. • Tenant.

The Burrampooter signifies “Son of Bramah.”


in seeing it flow. When the British Government took off the imposts on those, who were in the habit of making pilgrimages to Juganath, such vast numbers of Hindoos entered that province, that a scarcity of food was the immediate result. The water in the towns and villages, through which they passed, became polluted with their ablutions, and the native inhabitants were, in consequence, obliged to fly to the woods". To prevent a recurrence of this, the British Government levied an impost on all those, who performed the pilgrimage, in order to defray the expense necessary to provide for their sustenance.


Near the source of one of the branches of the Ganges is a temple, dedicated to Ramachandra. This temple, the Bramins, who live near, insist, has been in existence upwards of 10,000 years. One part of the duty of these Bramins is to feed the fish, which are so tame as to suffer themselves to be handled, every day with bread. In the place, where the united streams of the Ganges first enter the plains of Hindostan, is a meeting every twelfth year, for the double purpose of holding a fair and bathing in the stream. The multitudes, associated on these occasions, are incredible. They pour in towards the end of the festival from all parts of India. Captain Raper reckons their number at two millions; Colonel Hardwicke at two millions and a half. They bring their own provisions with them; and the festival is called the “ Mela.”

· Conquest of Cuttack, by an officer. Asiat. Journ. v. p. 12.

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