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The good die first,
Then those whose hearts are dry as summer dust
Burn to the socket.
Even Sidney's good and noble-hearted old friend Languet, who had experience enough of courts and men, warned him to be on his guard against the advance of age and its frigid caution and affected virtues; to examine carefully every new feeling before admitting it into his bosom; to be jealously watchful of the selfish and creeping maxims which, under the guise of duty and necessity, slip like serpents into the heart. He said it was rare that men grew better by being older.} We doubt not that Sidney would have withstood the trial, but at all events he was spared it—his heart did not grow cold nor his head grey in vain. On Languet, too, the practised old diplomatist, the conviction gradually stole, that Sidney's nature was too bright and too good for the daily intercourse of court and camp. The character Spenser gives of Sidney, as the honest courtier, shows how out of place he was at court, how unfit he was—
To lose good days that might be better spent,
To feed on hope, and pine with fear and sorrow.*
So Sidney, happily for him and for us, was taken away in the fulness of youth and beauty, and uttered in his mortal agony the sublimest words to which human lips have given utterance, which are the essence of all Christian doctrine and philosophy, the symbol and sum of meaning of his earthly existence, germs pregnant with immortal fertility, and an aureole of glory about the head of the dying poet and soldier. We may say, indeed, with Tacitus, that whatever was admirable in him, and to be loved, cannot perish from the minds of men or the book of time: and, moreover, that his earthly career, closing where it did, leaves him before posterity clothed, like the Apollo Belvidere, in unfading youth; that those divine words of his show him in the same victor attitude and serene glory launching a deadly shaft at the Pythian dragon of selfishness, which yet in no small measure holds the world in its coils.
*Mother Hubberde's Tale.
THE ANCIENT BASHAN AND THE CITIES OF OG.
T has long been a matter of dispute among ethnologists
peopled by the descendants of those few persons who escaped in so marvellous a manner the general destruction at the time of the Deluge.
Without entering here into such considerations as thesewhether the Deluge was universal, or only affected a certain portion of the earth's surface-or whether there was only one creation of man, or a plurality of creations of men—or whether the words Shem, Ham, and Japheth really represented persons, or some idea only, we shall at once commence by tracing the migrations of the human race, on the supposition that the account given in the Book of Genesis of the different persons and tribes, and of the respective localities of these tribes, is correct; and from the first we wish to state that we ourselves place the most unqualified reliance in the relations given in the early chapters of Genesis of the history of the colonization of the Earth; and we equally believe in the accuracy and authenticity of the many names given in the early genealogies.
We are well aware how few ethnologists at the present day will assent to this: it is the fashion now to throw much doubt on these names. Many believe them to be names adapted by the Jews from some vague traditions, in order to account in a plausible manner for their descent, and for the works which existed of an old people before them; and in this way they occupy very much the same place in Jewish history that such names as Romulus and Remus do in Roman history. Others go even farther, and look upon the whole as a complete fabrication, or at best as an ingenious species of Jewish mythology. But we believe, on many grounds, that most of
these names are not only accurate, but are really the names of men, or of tribes of men, who once existed. There are difficulties, no doubt; but it is our conviction that, as in the case of the geography of these countries, so in the case of the proper names of men, each addition to our information, every new light thrown upon the history of these lands, will tend to show that every name has its meaning, and is of real value. How strongly has this been illustrated in the names of places! Before the present century-with the exception of the larger and more noted towns-scarcely a site was known in Palestine. Those long lists of places which we read in the Old Testament might have been equally deemed collections of fabulous names coined for the purpose of giving the appearance of additional accuracy to the narrative.
Shunem and Jezreel might have been placed near together, with Endor not far off, to tell with more point the story of Saul on the eve of the battle with the Philistines. Recent research has shown that even now a Shunem is standing halfan-hour from a Jezreel, and an Endor exists at a distance of three hours' walk from either. Who after this can help reading the story of Saul with additional interest? And what we have said of the identification of old places in the case of Shunem, Jezreel, and Endor, is so constantly recurring with regard to other sites mentioned in the Old Testament, that all researches made in the present day in Palestine, lead us more and more to see with what scrupulous accuracy, even in the matter of some small point connected with the topography of the country, the sacred historian has written his narrative.
It may be urged that what we say with regard to the accuracy of the names of places, does not apply to the names of people; that although a chronicler might invent a long genealogy in order to deduce a descent from some mythical personage, yet he would hardly venture to invent names of localities, since in these the truth of his account might immediately be brought to the test.
But we think that those who would invent names in the one case, would invent them in the other; since, in aftertimes, if no spot could be found bearing the name mentioned, this answer could always be given-that the name had changed. Nor would this be deemed unsatisfactory; on the contrary, it appears at first sight striking that the same names should still be preserved, and our impression on finding them is that we have the strongest confirmation possible of the truth of the Old Testament history.
It is with the especial desire and hope of throwing light on some of the earlier and less studied portions of Scripture, that
Truth of Scripture.
we have undertaken to write this Essay. We do not pretend to greater learning in the Scriptures, or to a more profound knowledge of them than other persons, but we have had the advantage of travelling in the lands, and of beholding many of the scenes described in the sacred writings, and have enjoyed the privilege of being able to devote more time to the careful examination of these countries than most modern travellers; and thus many points connected with topography which would necessarily escape the reader who is personally unacquainted with the country, have become of deep interest to us. Indeed it is not too much to say, that to the student of the geography of the Holy Land, every single name has a new and real interest; and even those long chapters of names which are so wearisome to the general reader, are studied with delight.
Before visiting these countries we never could have conceived what numerous and powerful testimonies would each day be forthcoming to the truth of the Scriptures. Compare the country, the people, their language, their customs, carefully with the history of the country and its people three thousand years ago, and at every page such proofs, internal and external, are laid before us of the integrity of the account, that we can require no stronger vouchers for the truth of the sacred writings.
We shall devote the following pages chiefly to the description of the country east of Jordan, which was originally peopled by that remarkable race the Rephaim. We shall trace as far as we are able, by collecting the different notices we have of them in the Old Testament, their history and the history of their country; we shall tell of the cities which they built, and which were subsequently taken by the Israelites from their king Og; and we shall tell how in the present day large towns and cities of stone are still standing, many of them so perfect that they might again be inhabited in that very country, and which answer exactly to the account given of the cities of the Rephaim in the early Scriptures; and we shall, lastly, point out in how remarkable a manner the prophecy has been carried out with regard to the whole of that country, which was spoken two thousand five hundred years ago by Jeremiah.
We shall now commence by a short description of the
*Perhaps it would be difficult to find any other case in which so many examples of undesigned coincidences are perpetually recurring, as in the comparison between different portions of Scripture with each other, and with the country, at the present day.
country in which the descendants of Noah were settled not long after the Flood, and from which those tribes came who peopled Palestine and the lands near it.
From the high mountain range in the south of Armenia, which forms a portion of the territory of Kurdistân, and from nearly the same part of the range, two great rivers take their rise. For some distance they make their way through rocky country; but as they approach the vast plain which lies to the south of the mountains of Kurdistân, and gradually escape from the wild rocks which fettered them, they appear as two broad streams; and as they penetrate farther into the plain, each making its way towards the same point, and each endeavouring, as it were, to rival the other in importance, they acquire so broad a bed, and compass so much land ere they reach the sea, that they are justly entitled to be placed among the great rivers of Asia.
Shortly before they actually reach the sea, their courses, which had been gradually approaching more and more to each other, actually become one. At one degree north of the Persian Gulf these two great rivers meet, and flow the remaining short distance together. The land between the sources of these rivers and their junction, is thus nearly an island, and may well be termed, as it has been termed from time immemorial, 'the land within the rivers,' or Mesopotamia.
The greater part of this land is a vast plain, interrupted now and then by slight undulations of the ground, and out of which a few solitary hills are seen to rise; but occasionally higher mountains, and even mountain ranges appear. The most remarkable of these is situated in the heart of Mesopotamia, and known by the name of Jebel Sinjar. From this range, and from most of these mountains, tributary streams flow down to the two great rivers. It was somewhere in Mesopotamia that our first parents originally dwelt, but the exact position of the Garden of Eden' has long been, and still is, much disputed. In the Mosaic account the names of four rivers are mentioned as watering the Garden; but of the four rivers we recognise only two, the Tigris and the Euphrates, while the remaining two, the Pishon and the Gihon, may have been smaller streams, which, taking their source from one of the hills, or chain of hills, which we before mentioned as arising out of the plain of Mesopotamia, flowed in a circuitous course until they met the great rivers.
Admitting this supposition to be the correct one, we may not despair of one day being really able to determine the exact position of Eden, as conceived by the writer of the Book of Genesis. Much of Mesopotamia remains unex