Obrázky stránek



treated by the finest Roman poets. Catullus, in his Nuptials of Peleus and Thetis, and Ovid in his Epistles, have sung Ariadne deserted by the faithless Theseus, on the desert island of Na

Both are highly finished pictures, particularly the first. There is, however, a charm of innocence in the wailings of Damayanti, who, regardless of herself, thinks only of her husband's fate, that is not to be found in the furious transports of the daughter of Pasiphaé. After a variety of adventures, in which she is exposed to the greatest perils, her state approaches to distraction. She sees a lofty mountain, holy, with innumerable cliffs, with rocks of refulgent brightness, stretching to the skies, placed as if for a rampart to the subjacent forest. Its recesses gave shelter to the lion, the tiger, the wild elephant and the boar : the voices of innumerable birds resounded from its sides, covered with the deep dyes of many flowering shrubs. I will interrogate, said the distracted queen, the genius of this sacred mountain, with his streams and birds and cliffs, concerning the king of Nishadha. God of this holy mountain, whose aspect is divine, affording refuge to multitudes, hail ! Salutation to thee, O pillar of the earth! Having approached, I reverently salute thee. Know me for the wife and daughter of a king, and called Damayanti. The mighty warrior, Bhima, who rules Vidarbha, is my father, a monarch affording protection to the four casts. He has performed the royal sacrifice of a horse, and the rite was accompanied by royal gifts. Nala, the slayer of foes, is my husband,—devout, skilled in the Vedas, munificent, attentive to holy rites. In sacrifice, in beneficence, and in war, equally renowned. I have approached thee, deserted by fortune, forsaken by my lord, and sunk in calamity, seeking my busband, the king of men. Chief of mountains, from your lofty summits rising to the skies, have you beheld the king of Nishadha wandering in this frightful forest ? Has Nala been seen by you? Holy mountain, why do you not console me, as your own daughter, by a reply?'

The Hindu mythology, animating all nature, assigning to each fountain its nymph, and to each mountain its divinity, prevents the above spirited apostrophe from appearing forced or unnatural. Such notions, indeed, pervade the whole poem. Journeying through the forest, she comes to a secluded dell, to which a party of the philosophers, called Gymnosophists by the Greeks, though partially covered with the bark of trees, had retired from the busy world. On her entrance, the hermits, surprised at the appearance of a form of so much delicacy and beauty, thus address her,

• All hail, fair vision ! Speak, Othou of faultless beauty, who art thou, and what do you require? Beholding thy fair form in this forest, astonishment fills our minds. Compose yourself, and cease to grieve. Art thou the goddess of this forest, or the genius of this niountain, or the nymph of this stream?'

* Illa dixit his vatibus. Non ego sylvæ hujus divinitas, Neque etiam hujus montis, Brahmani, non etiam amnis divinitas,

Humanam me noscite, cuncti devotionis divites !' Her progress through the forest is thus described • Ea vidit arbores multos, multasque amnes ita, Multasque montes amænos, multasque feras et aves,

Specusque, collesque, fluminaque mira visu. It is not certainly in a version, of which the object is to render each word by a corresponding one, similarly placed, that poetical beauties must be sought. Yet, even in this, we think, Mr Bopp has succeeded, as far as success was possible.

Our readers will not expect us to trace further the wanderings of this celebrated pair, nor to pursue the fable to its termination. The adventures which led to the restoration of Damayanti to her father, to the exorcisement of the king of Nishadha, and to his again ascending the throne with his faithful partner, must all be left to the imagination of those who do not choose to pursue them in the Latin translation, which is accompanied by the Sanscrit text, printed with singular correctness in Mr Wilkins's elegant types.

The return of Mr Colebrooke to this country, who, after the death of Sir William Jones, contributed to the Asiatic Society the articles chiefly calculated to attract public attention, has rendered the publication of their researches less frequent, and their contents somewhat less interesting. We must, indeed, except some valuable additions to our geographical knowledge, from the observations of recent travellers, beyond the northern boundaries of Hindustan. The fields of Indian antiquities have been of late less diligently cultivated. As we may not again have an opportunity soon, we may be permitted here to cast a glance on those extensive regions.

History, considered in a philosophical view, is chiefly conversant with the manners, opinions and circumstances, public and private, of individuals united in society. The manners of barbarians present everywhere a great similarity, modified only by climate. Of civilized nations, it may be affirnied, that the interest excited, and the inferences suggested, by their history, bear some proportion to the discrepancies it exhibits with that state of society which we habitually contemplate in our intercourse with the world. But these divergencies may very naturally be supposed to increase by remoteness of time. In our endeavours to rend the mysterious veil which ages have drawn between us and the nations of high antiquity, we are justified in expecting to trace moral combinations hitherto unremarked, political institutions unknown, and man acting under the influence of opinions and circumstances, to which we have not before seen him subjected.

Although the succession of dynasties that have ruled, or of petty wars that have desolated particular countries, may not be entitled to much attention from the philosopher; yet the great revolutions which have dissolved antient societies, and produced new ones, sometimes sweeping from the earth all record of the preexisting order of things, must be known in order to account for what now exists. But these mighty events, with all their extensive train of moral consequences, have often occurred. England, though protected by her insular situation-penitus toto diviso orbe Britannos, has at different periods witnessed the solemnities of the Druids, the holocausts to the Capitoline Jupiter, the barbarous rites of Woden and of Freya, and, finally, the establishment of the true faith.

It is probable that none of these great landmarks have perished, since the age in which Homer lived, with respect to Greece, and since the reigns of Cyaxares and of Alyattes in Asia. But what would have been the astonishment of the Father of History, could he have been informed, that, of the language in which he spoke and wrote, the most cognate dialect was that of India, a country so remote, that even his inquisitive mind had learned little respecting it, excepting that it was the most populous of countries then known ?- That the divinities worshipped by his countrymen, which he generally states to have been recently introduced into Greece from Egypt, by Homer and succeeding poets, had their altars established on the shores of the distant Ganges, where they were destined to continue for ages, after they had abandoned Olympus? The causes to which these unquestionable facts are to be attributed, are beyond the period of history;—but are they also lost to tradition ?- Into the immensely voluminous literature of the Brah-, mans, who has sufficiently penetrated to answer this question ?

Independently of this curious problem, the civil history of India, from the era at which the Puranas professedly date, to the period of the Musulman invasion, is an object of rational inquiryand its chronology might, to a certain extent, be supa ported by establishing synchronisins, such as the identifying Chandra Gupta with Sandrocottus. The name of the Indian sovereign who reigned over Magadha, when Behmen (Vahuman endowed with arnis), whom the Greeks call Artaxerxes Longimanus, invaded the west of India, is preserved by a Persian historian, and accords with the Indian genealogies. Such synchronisms, when they can be discovered, afford confirmation to other facts.

To the Geography of the Puranas, we earnestly wish that some of the members of the learned Society to which we have alluded, would devote their attention: but not merely by specifying the situation of countries incidentally mentioned in other works. Each Purana contains a chapter on geography, usually entitled Bhuvana darsa,' or the mirror of regions. A similar work seems to have been current in antient Persia, which M. Anquetil du Perron translated from the Pehlevi, with the title of Bhaun deesh. If a Sanscrit scholar in India, taking for bis text one of those Puranica chapters, would give a local habitation and a modern name to the countries, he would supply an important desideratum; and might derive great aid from the Pandits, and from the strangers who now resort to Calcutta from all parts of India. The names of antient nations, of whom the Hindus have retained little besides, attest the authenticity of their traditions; as the Pehleva, the Sacæ, and, more recently, the Huna. Ptolemy places in northern Asia, a region which he terms Ottorcora. The Uttara Curu, or northern land of the Curus, is allotted to the same quarter in the Purana.

An inquiry of an extremely interesting nature might also be made into the doctrines of the different schools of Philosophy, with a view to ascertain whether the sects founded by Pythagoras, Epicurus, Zeno, Plato, and Aristotle, stand in the relation of parents or offspring, to the sects supporting similar opi: nions in the East.

With respect to Science, we certainly never supposed that the discoveries of Newton or of La Place had been anticipated by the Brahmans: nor that the existing boundaries of scientific knowledge were likely to be extended by our intercourse with India. We still think, however, that the history of science may derive important contributions from that source. The discussions to which the publication of the Indian Algebra gave rise, have elicited some valuable information. Before we determine that the knowledge existing in the East, and bearing the marks of originality by the peculiarity of its forms, ought to be attributed to the Greeks, it should, we think, be very distinctly demonstrated, that the Greeks themselves possessed what they are said to have communicated.

ART. VIII. A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland,

including the Isle of Man, comprising an Account of their Geological Structure ; with Remarks on their Agriculture, Scenery and Antiquities. 'By Join MACCULLOCH, M. D. 2 vols. 8vo. and 1 yol. 4to. Plates. London and Edinburgh. 1819.

W E have had frequent occasion to speak of Dr Macculloch

in terms of high commendation, in our Reviews of the Transactions of the Geological Society, the channel through which the chief part of his scientific labours has been communicated to the public, until the appearance of the present volumes; and we have great pleasure in again introducing him to the notice of our readers in a more extended work. It is

seldom that we find a person with such high qualifications for å scientific traveller; for, besides a strong natural understanding, and a thoroughly good education, he possesses a variety of accomplishment that is very rarely found combined in the same individual. He is, moreover, one of the few men of powerful mind and high cultivation, who have hitherto directed their attention to Geology; for it is unquestionably true that, with a very few exceptions, this branch of science has not yet attracted the higher order of intellects, but has been very much in the hands of a minor class of philosophers, who, at an easy rate, get that dig. nified title from the world by accumulating facts, without one idea of generalization having ever entered into their mind. We do not mean to deny the usefulness of that class of persons, because more powerful minds may afterwards turn to use the materials which their industry has heaped together; but he alone is fully qualified to investigate and describe the phenomena of Nature, who bears steadily in mind, that the facts he is collecting are valuable only in reference to some great general law. On the other hand, an accurate acquaintance with the minute details of the subject is of the highest importance; and it is to be regretted that some of the distinguished persons who have led the way in the higher departments of the science, have not been sufficiently familiar with its more minute branches: a deficiency in this respect has very often given an appearance of inaccuracy to their observations, and has afforded a petty triumph to those cavillers, who, while they are incapable of understanding the great views of the author, exult over these little flaws, and magnify their importance-very often, indeed, when they do not in the least degree affect the general conclusion that has been drawn. It is this rare combination of general views, with accurate information in all the elementary branches of his subject, which places Dr Macculloch so high above most of his cotemporaries as a Geologist. No work descriptive of the physical structure of an extensive range of country, that has appeared since the invaluable Travels of Saussure, possesses such high merits as that now before us. We discover in it the same patient industry of observation, directed by a powerful and well regulated understanding, and controuled by a candid and unprejudice:d philo


« PředchozíPokračovat »